Shared Moments: ‘Freedom Day’ written by Maureen Kershaw

Dear all,

Freedom Day? Well it’s not what I expected when we awaited its dawning some sixteen months ago. When we thought – and hoped – it would happen when a vaccine was found, I made my choice of tune to be played upon the day. Not ‘Freedom’ sung by Aretha Franklin nor ‘Freedom Comes, Freedom Goes’ by The Fortunes ( though this may be more appropriate) but ‘A Brand New Day’ from the Musical ‘The Wiz’. Playing it on Sunday a couple of times instead of Monday, being rather wary of what exactly dawn would bring, it would have been so perfect, if only it meant complete freedom.

Trains and buses in anticipation of many more passengers – the latter certainly increasing numbers onboard to full capacity – must have been quite disappointed. I travelled to town during the ‘morning rush’ to find the same numbers as before and thankfully all wearing masks. Walking around Morrison’s the only customers not wearing face coverings were, shall we say, probably amongst those who discarded theirs long ago. So far so good. A cuppa and catch up with a friend  in M & S Cafe was enjoyed, observing  how tables had been maximised but not the number of takers.

However, I got the gist that the majority of people are continuing with their daily routine as they have chosen so to do until now, never mind what our Prime Minister said was available to us in relaxing the rules. Certainly queuing to enter a nightclub at the midnight hour held no interest to me but there again I would have had to have been approximately 50 years younger to appreciate that.

My trolley will be at my side on the bus or train so I do not have to share a seat with a stranger, consequently I am nervous at the thought of sitting close to anyone unknown to me in a theatre –  for the time being. One thing I did notice in town was the signage still indicating ‘keep left’ or ‘no entry’ plus the floor stickers at one or two metre intervals reading ‘stand here’ although it could be they are stuck fast by now and will stay for the remainder of time.

I’ve never been ‘pinged’ but without the App there’s no chance of that anyway, which is probably a good thing. I still don’t fully understand the workings of leaving one’s name and telephone number as surely the only way one can receive a call to “Isolate” is in the event of someone calling particular establishments to report a case, and how many actually do? We will probably never know with any accuracy.

The Country is in a mess now with short staffing through being pinged, even being referred to as the ‘Pingdemic’ but so far no-one has come up with a name for the rest of us who leave our details on a piece of paper with the assurance that after 21 days, all evidence will be destroyed. Rather like the disappointment of “if you haven’t heard from us within 21 days, your application has been unsuccessful”, except in this case no news is good news . So I will continue with my regular lateral flow tests,  wear a mask, observe safety measures and carry on as though ‘Freedom Day’ hasn’t happened. What a joyous day it will be though when eventually I can play my favourite ‘Wiz’ tune “A Brand New Day” when all this is behind us. I may even join in with the Hoedown section.

Specialist Gardens outing at Roundhay

Good morning,
 
Below are some beautiful pictures from a recent outing to the specialist gardens and tea room in Roundhay.
 

The specialist gardens are opposite the Roundhay Fox pub on Mansion Lane, LS8 2EP. There are also specialist gardens in the Canal and Coronation Gardens off Princes Avenue by Tropical World. We had a  look at these too after our cuppa.

The opening hours are: 9am to 3:30pm daily.

  • The Coronation Garden is home to our winning entries to the Chelsea Flower Show. Formerly a kitchen garden there are thousands of rose trees and bedding plants
  • The Monet Garden is based on gardens planted by the impressionist at Giverny in France, was introduced to the park in 1999. 
If you would like to join us on future outings just get in touch. Such outings are born out of members suggestions so please do let us know of other local places you would like to venture to. Open to members, friends and family.
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Either email: Lisa@caringtogether.org.uk  or call Mobile: 07436 530073
 

Shared Moments: ‘Conversation’ written by Oliver Cross

One of the most regrettable side-effects of the Covid pandemic, aside from death, illness and impoverishment, is that it encouraged people to talk more, even though there’s less to say.

For example, there was a time, at the height of the vaccination drive, when everybody wanted to tell everybody else that they had had one or both of their inoculations, that staff were friendly and efficient and that they felt fine afterwards, or if they didn’t that they weren’t grumbling, even though what they were doing might easily be mistaken for  grumbling.

The larger implications of the global pandemic, along with associated concerns such as the sausage shortage, were largely ignored. This is what happens when the nation pulls together; we all focus on the big issue, in this case getting everybody jabbed, at the expense of ordinary, pleasant conversation.

The big issue as I write is the European football championships. I don’t know anything about football, especially as played by foreigners, but I do know, because so many people say so, that beating Germany last month was one of the finest moments in England’s history.

It almost exactly replicated our win against a country which no longer exists at an earlier stage of a different competition which took place before most people were born. If football really were to come home, it would find itself in the middle of the Vietnam War.

As well as the much-heralded ‘great summer of sport’ we also face a summer of quite unnecessary talk in which experts tell the viewers what they think is about to happen, although if the viewers wanted a definitive view of how the game might progress, they would be better advised to wait for it to start, maybe filling in the time by darning a sock or making a mug of Bovril (which is my attempt to recreate the spirit of  ’66.)

Commentators try to help by offering insights like ‘Both teams will be hoping for an early goal’, or ‘Andy Murray will be looking dour’, as if that might deepen our understanding of what sports people do, other than to demonstrate their hard-won skills with or without the help of chattering pundits.

Although chattering has, over the pandemic, become a declining skill. Just because we’re living through our greatest health emergency since the last one, we’ve started taking things too seriously and chattering opportunities have become scarce.

Before we even start we’ve got to check we’re socially distanced and correctly masked or, if the conversation is being conducted by Zoom, that we’ve hidden the discarded beer cans and takeaway cartons, which wouldn’t sit well with our claims to have spent all day making artisan vegan quiches.

(Incidentally, I join with a group of friends in regular Zoom get-togethers at which the chief problem is not that we’re lying our heads off; it’s that the honest, unvarnished truth of our lockdown lives is seldom more entertaining than algebra, or curling).

At which point, as I often do, I turn to my guru, Dr Samuel Johnson, who thought the happiest conversations were the ones which left a pleasing impression, even though nobody could remember later what the heck they were about. These may resume when bars and cafes reopen fully and when we all drop our guard a bit.

Shared Moments: Catching a clip from “A Show Of Hands” written by Maureen Kershaw

Catching a clip from “A Show Of Hands” on Radio 4 Extra took me back to the days when I had lovely hands with long slender fingers – almost worthy of being a model for hand cream or nail polish adverts. As a child Mum would tell me I had ‘a pianist’s hands’ and she being an accomplished player herself, probably knew. Having lessons from early childhood in the 1920s, she was forever in demand at school – St Michael’s in Headingley, now the Parish Centre. Mum would often play for morning Assembly but then would come the call “Dorothy can you play for singing (or dancing class)?”. Goodness knows what happened to the school pianist as Mum always put down her lack of learning to having been called upon to play.  The boy sitting next to her in class often complained to the teacher how Dorothy was cheating by copying his work. That boy was Alan Pedley who in 1975-76, became the Lord Mayor of Leeds.

Mum came from a talented musical family, her brothers playing violin, saxophone and banjo and on the keyboard side, her uncle was an extremely gifted pianist and accompanist who sadly passed away at the age of 31. The family tree reveals many church organists and organ builders living around Woodhouse and Hyde Park, so all must have had those wonderful hands. We had a piano in the front room of my childhood home, a wedding present to Mum & Dad in 1937 and I remember well its beautiful Burr Walnut casing. Mum would play at any family gathering, but at other times when the front room was out of use and the coal fire unlit, she would put on her coat and headscarf against the chill and play some of her favourite melodies, in particular ‘Vilia’ from ‘The Merry Widow’ or – in the style of Charlie Kunz – “Tea For Two” and “Walking My Baby Back Home”.

Any attempts to teach myself to play failed miserably so I was not to continue the tradition sadly, something I have since regretted. When moving house in 1970, Mum’s beloved piano was sold – for £3! It included the piano stool too, full of sheet music. Oh how I would have loved to have been able to look through those gems now. My late brother in law was a brilliant pianist, excelling in jazz and classical was a Lecturer on the first Jazz & Light Music Course in 1967 at Leeds Music Centre, now the City of Leeds College of Music. His sons and mine all are musicians, guitar, bass and percussion. Me? After years of choral and show work I can ‘follow’ sheet music but still cannot sight read. I used to love knitting, mainly baby clothes and simple crochet but advancing osteo-arthritis put a stop to that. As was mentioned in the radio clip, although I needed no reminder, advancing years can bring along crooked fingers and nobbly knuckles. Mine are no exception and coincidentally my Sister had the same misshapen hands, as did our Mum. All hail Arthritis! Child-proof tops are impossible to open without the assistance of a special gadget, necklaces which pop over the head are preferable and as for securing earrings, the ‘backs’ almost always end up on the floor. Can I have a ‘show of hands’ from anyone else sharing this plight? I certainly don’t show MY hands more than is necessary and the only keyboard keys ‘played’ being on my laptop.

‘Digital Animation’

We had a bit of fun yesterday with some digital animation.  Click on the first image to see the sketches come to life.

 

Shared Moments: ‘keep talking sez Oliver’ written by Oliver Cross

It’s fortunate that we, meaning people living in Yorkshire or similar counties, if there are such things, now have only one infection to worry about. We can reasonably expect not to be felled by smallpox polio, TB, diphtheria or any of teeming diseases that once shadowed our lives.

So, along with the amazing progress of the Covid vaccines, we should all be as cheerful as Pollyanna on a good day. It’s sad  that we’re not and it’s largely, I think, because we’ve accepted the notion that physical disease and mental disease cannot be separated, so that even if we don’t die of Covid or find ourselves permanently disabled by it, we can still find something to moan about.

Of course, physical and mental health are very much connected but to force them both into the same playground, under the vague and modish heading of ‘wellbeing’, doesn’t help.

Mental diseases can be alarmingly acute and life-threatening, as much as strokes or heart attacks; they can also be destructive and debilitating on a less violent level but the usual mental effects of the pandemic –  the ones that people complain about on just about every radio call-in show all day and all night – are in a different class.

Anxiety over the possibility of losing your job, natural distress over the early loss of a parent, insomnia or depression are not, in most cases, medical or psychiatric problems because they don’t have professional solutions. They are, like indigestion or low-grade mouth ulcers, part of life. They lie within the is the remit of not being dead.

Dr Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) suffered crushing episodes of depression and was beset by so many verbal and physical tics that, if you didn’t know he was the wisest man in the land, you would have gone to great lengths to avoid eye-contact.

He also, I think, had the best the best advice for people who want to improve their mental state without recourse to drugs, mindfulness classes or other unnecessary expenditure: ‘If you are idle, be not solitary; if you are solitary, be not idle.’ In other words keep busy and keep talking.

Johnson would sometimes turn up uninvited at Covent Garden market after a troubled night and take his mind off things by helping early-morning fruit and veg traders to set up their stalls (they didn’t mind; he was a big, energetic man and good at arranging vegetables).

On his journey to the Western Islands of Scotland he employed a translator (the islanders didn’t generally speak English) to answer questions about, for example, where they got their food or, which started an interesting controversy, who made their shoes.

He did not use ‘talking therapies’ in the modern sense; he was not interested in examining his own ego. But he did perhaps find talking, particularly to strangers with experiences other than his own, therapeutic – the best way to stop the demons which would otherwise be tormenting him.

Which, since we’ve all served our time in solitary, is a very good reason to get back to the pub.

‘Volunteers Week’ thanks from local Councillors

Dear all,
Councillor Abigail Marshall Katung wanted me to share this message in relation to ‘Volunteers Week’.

Message to our volunteers from:

Councillor Abigail Marshall Katung,  Cllr Kayleigh Brooks & Cllr Javaid Akhtar
“Just to say a huge thank you to all of you and all the wonderful volunteers we have serving throughout each year and especially in the last very difficult year. We truly appreciate you all and looking forward to when things are normal we can all meet again properly and celebrate being alive and to say thank you to you all” 

‘Volunteers Week’

About Volunteers' Week – Volunteers' Week

We are delighted to have the spotlight on our volunteers this week (although for us it is all year round), for volunteers week. And this includes those who usually volunteer but were not able to due to Coronavirus. From all at Caring Together we are sending a heartfelt thanks to you all for being a valued part of our organisation and the community. We salute you all and hope you enjoyed your chocolate treat with your thank you card :). We look forward to celebrating together again soon.

Eyes down for Bingo from our new base last Wednesday

We had bingo in our new premises last week, as well as online. It felt lovely to be slowly using the space as well as being online. It was also an impromptu iPad/Zoom training session beforehand. Those who joined us in the office made themselves at home; got a cuppa and washed up afterwards too 🙂 Prizes will be on their way to the lucky winners in the coming weeks.
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“it was a good afternoon full of surprises and new ways of getting together” .
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If you wish to join us for the next one in June just call me: Lisa 07436 530073, or email: lisa@caringtogether.org.uk.