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Keeping Mum#11 – Reasons to be cheerful

If you haven’t yet watched Russell T Davies’ Channel 4 series “It’s a Sin” – then you’re in for a real treat, and a bit of a sob; particularly if like me you were just post school or uni in the 80s; the music, the clothes, the cars, the exuberance of youth… if you’ve yet to settle down to watch, it’s about the tragic early years of HIV and AIDs and how a new virus targeted, particularly, young gay men. 

One of the scenes that really got me was when the tombstone tv ad was shown.  If you’re my vintage, you would remember – enormous tombstone like an iceberg, sombre monotone voiceover.  Fast forward 40 years and oh, here we are.  Fear. Isolation. Doom.  And, of course, hope.  Genius timing and programming aswell.

It wasn’t only the earworm of the fantastic 80s music or the tragedy of that lost generation that stayed with me after the final credits rolled, but also the joy, laughter and love.  How close the friends were, how the community looked out for eachother; how people helped and were kind.  More parallels.

In the spirit of similar positivity, out walking with a friend this week we tried to list all the good things that have happened in the last year that we hope will continue long after we’ve all been vaccinated.  The fact that she is about to spend a second birthday in lockdown didn’t deter us.  

Walking with a friend has become more than just walking with a friend:  it has become the highlight of the days; such a civilised way to keep in touch, and get some exercise; definitely a keeper into the future;

Walking with a friend has we hear morphed in the workplace to walking meetings and have decided to adopt this strategy as soon as we possibly can;

Local restaurant deliveries:  whilst we’ve forgotten what the inside of a restaurant looks like, being able to enjoy some of their food at home has been a real treat; broken the monotony of “what to cook tonight”, and a side hustle of trying to support our local high streets;  long may collections and deliveries last;

Cocktails in the post: quarantinis agogo – also a great way if they don’t come in the post to clear out the booze cupboard of all those funny holiday drinks that didn’t quite travel home in the way you hoped;

Birds, gardens, nature;  the sky is definitely bluer (maybe not today) and we both remarked on hearing birdsong in central London; 

The great British queue; somehow standing in a mask, waiting to go into a supermarket, the post office or the chemist has become a Good Use of Time;  a quick text or call; mentally reorganising the fridge, again;  but not the stressful I’m In A Real Hurry moment of pre-pandemic;

The kindness of strangers; my sister-in-law packing PPE with hundreds of other volunteers in a church hall during lockdown#1; she loved it, and so did they – friends for life;

An empty diary: lots more time for walking with a friend, swigging quarantinis and eating local restaurant food obvs;  but also just TIME; for projects that were previously way down the to-do list; reorganising the cupboards has been so satisfying;  reading much loved or brand new books;  writing letters and cards;  making excellent use of Netflix subscriptions.  It’s all good. 

Of course so much of this has been, and continues to be a total nightmare for many.  But somehow we are beginning to emerge, and whilst hindsight is a beautiful thing, some of the last year will travel well into the future.  Maybe via a quarantine hotel for a bit, but hey ho.  Have a great weekend.

Annabel James is the founder of Age Space. Her views are her own.

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