Tuesday 29 December 2020

And the award goes to...

It is traditional for newspapers to produce lists of the best of the year - best book, best song, best film etc. I thought I'd do the same with just a few tweaks to reflect this most unusual of years:

Award for the best online facility goes to... Zoom: I've taken part in celebrations, discussions, religious meetings, not to mention catch-ups with family and friends all thanks to Zoom. It has brought many, many familiar faces into my home, faces of people who I miss very much. It has made the lockdowns and tier restrictions almost bearable.

For the best art event the award goes to... Grayson Perry's Art Club: This TV series lifted my mood. I challenge anyone to watch it and not feel less stressed. Grayson Perry is a highly acclaimed UK artists. He is unique, outlandish yet totally grounded. The art work that members of the public submitted to the programme was wildly varied and at the end of the series Grayson Perry chose a selection for an exhibition in the Manchester Art Gallery. It has not yet opened to the public because of yet another lockdown but it's still there. Maybe one day I'll go to Manchester and view it in real life.

This is the promotional photograph of Grayson Perry launching the Art Club Series:

Award for the best food delivery service goes to... Ocado: Reluctantly! Ocado has been the best of a fairly wobbly bunch. I know the sudden surge in demand caught them unawares but I have been an Ocado customer for long enough for them to give me a regular weekly slot. Thankfully they are now doing just that but during the hiatus I tried a number of their competitors. I found them all sadly wanting. Here are some of their misdemeanours - AA battery substituted with an AAA, Christmas pudding substituted with a ginger sponge cake, food with short use-by dates or, even worse, non-dated items that are clearly only fit for the compost bin as was the case with a recent delivery of a brown and soggy lettuce. 

Best walk award goes to... our garden: We have been on many walks this year - parks, country lanes, local streets, but by far the best was walking round and round the garden. Last summer our garden was beautiful and this is the first time that I have studied every plant every day. I watched the birds, the bees, the squirrels. I even observed a daily visit from a Woodpecker.

Award for the most inspiring dance goes to... Bill Bailey with 'The Show Must Go On': He danced a tango with Oti Mabuse to the rousing Queen song on Strictly Come Dancing and Bill and Oti won the trophy. 

The words of that song touched a nerve for many of us because our show, or more precisely our world, really must go on. We can't let Covid-19 win which leaves just one more thing for me to say on this week's blog post...

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Heal the World

I'm thinking back to 1993. I was teaching in a local primary school when Michael Jackson's song Heal the World inspired me to plan an entire topic of work about the threat to our climate. For those who don't know the song it begins with the line:

🎵 Heal the world, make it a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race... 🎵

I bought a children's book about the Earth Summit Conference that had taken place in Rio de Janeiro the year before and I planned lessons in English, maths, geography, history, biology, music, art and PE. (Remember the freedom of pre-National Curriculum restrictions?!) I timed the project to culminate with the date of my class's school assembly. The whole project was thoroughly enjoyed by my class of lovely Year 5 and 6 youngsters (aged 9 to 11). (The National Curriculum has destroyed all that spontaneity and enthusiasm.)

It may have been a success in my classroom but as for healing the world, I guess nobody actually listened to those lyrics. Few people have taken heed of either the Earth Summit or subsequent conferences on the growing climate crisis. 

By now, almost 30 years later, you'd think that humans would have woken up to the issues, be more prepared to do something radical about it all but no. We are all sleep-walking into disaster. To make matters worse, I read an article suggesting there are links between the climate crisis and Covid-19. This month's Lancet says:

'...the causes of both crises share commonalities, and their effects are converging. The climate emergency and COVID-19, a zoonotic disease, are both borne of human activity that has led to environmental degradation...' (Lancet, December 02, 2020)

It goes on to say that neither crisis was unexpected and related loss of life was preventable. That can bear being repeated. It makes me ashamed of humanity. 

Both crises had been predicted.

Related loss of life was preventable. 

There are people, not least of all Greta Thunberg, and organisations trying to persuade us to join together and tackle this world-threatening issue. 

The Friends of the Earth UK website makes for interesting reading. They talk about:

  • Lobbying Parliament: They are pressing for a fair and green recovery from the pandemic which really makes sense. We've got a chance to look at how life was before and change things, even if it's just encouraging home-working to continue for part of the time to reduce traffic congestion.
  • Planting trees: They are urging us to double the amount of tree cover in the UK. That's got to be a good idea and I do love trees.

Friends of the Earth also talk about: 

  • protecting nature
  • plastic and the environment 
  • trade and climate
  • reducing air travel
  • saving our bees
Sorry if I sound like an advert but I do feel passionate about this issue. Let's face it, so should we all.

I'll end with the final line from that Michael Jackson song because, in spite of any feelings you may have about his personal life, he certainly understood world issues:

🎵 There are people dying, if you care enough for the living make a better place for you and for me. 🎵 


Saturday 12 December 2020

Chanukah thoughts

It's already the third evening of Chanukah. I have three candles plus the lighter candle flickering away on the table but I'm feeling pensive. There are so many people who I miss - family, friends. It hurts to be separated from loved ones for so long. I know we have Zoom and it's great that Son has lit the candles with me this evening from over 100 miles away but I wish we could have hugged as well. 

Chanukah marks an entire year of Jewish festivals experienced without family and friends (So pleased that Daughter has moved round the corner - her hugs are keeping me sane.) But Chanukah should be a time to gather together, to laugh and sing and share lots of delicious fried food, especially sugary doughnuts. It's not quite the same making doughnuts just for us. (Ok, ok, so I've never actually made doughnuts but you get my drift.)

Who would have thought last Pesach that this madness would still be going on at Chanukah. What a year! But that doesn't stop me from wishing everyone who celebrates...

🕎  Chanukah Sameach 🕎

Wednesday 2 December 2020

Vaccinations and making music

Out of Lockdown - Woohoo!


Placed in Tier 3 (the most restrictive tier) - Boohoo!

I'm not even sure what this means. I shall carry on acting as if we're still in lockdown and then no one can tell me I'm getting it wrong. 

The vaccine

I suppose the next major decision in my life will be whether or not to have the vaccine - assuming that I'm offered one. I don't believe all these conspiracy theorists. I don't think for one minute that anyone will be planning to subdue us all and take over the world... or do I? NO! Joke! Truly I don't! What do you think? Will you agree to have the jab?

I've never liked having injections. I only agreed to have the flu jab this year because of the pandemic and it's only my second ever flu jab. The first time was when Rod was in the isolation unit after high dose chemo. My GP stuck the needle in my arm when I went to him about something else entirely. I've made it sound as if he accosted me. It wasn't quite like that but it wasn't what I was expecting to receive that morning at the surgery! 

Making music

I'd like to say that I'm using this stay-at-home time to tidy out drawers and cupboards and I have made a start... many times... but I keep getting distracted. The other week I was about to clear out some papers when I found an old piece of sheet music. I dived to the piano to see if I could still play it but sadly piano playing is not like riding a bike. (I can't actually ride a bike but you know what I mean) And so I am now revisiting all those old pieces that I learned for piano exams, the ones that I could play in my sleep, and I am endeavouring to relearn them. (Apologies to my neighbours if they're reading this.)

I didn't start learning the piano until I was in my forties. We were living a few doors away from a concert pianist. She took me to a piano shop, helped me to select a suitable piano (second-hand but still a much-loved possession) and she taught me for a number of years. I'll never be good enough to play in front of you but it is a satisfying hobby.

I still have my two guitars, an acoustic and a classical. I restrung my acoustic one a few months ago but I soon realised that arthritis in my shoulders means that I have to severely restrict this once-favourite pass time. It's a bummer getting old... if you'll pardon my language!

Right, I'm off to do my Fitness for Seniors class on YouTube. I'll fight this darned ageing process if it's the last thing I do!!