‘Observations during Lockdown’ by Maureen Kershaw

Please find below some observations during the lockdown from one of our members Maureen Kershaw.

Day 5 – Walked to town from Hyde Park, very early, so I could fall in with the doors at M & S to purchase a few items from the Food Hall. I headed down Lands Lane turning onto Swan Street, towards the City Varieties Music Hall. As a volunteer there , it was the first time I’d passed since the beautiful theatre closed for Lockdown. The overhead sign was defiantly lit but of course stuck on the doors were the notices we’re so used to seeing everywhere now – Closed. A lump in my throat – and a few tears were shed as I hurried past along the cobbles, treading the same route as hundreds of theatricals going back over 150 years. The Theatre has survived all these years and it must continue when this awful crisis is over.

Briggate was empty and how wide did it look? Not a sound except for what I think was a rook, so it sounded eerily more like a churchyard than a City high street. Every seat unoccupied and each shop window displays goods which will need a good dusting in due course. This was like Leeds used to be on a Sunday or bank holiday, everywhere closed. It was the ideal time to window shop but instead of thinking “I’ll be back on Monday to buy that” it’s anybody’s guess when the opportunity will arise. No-one buying in Marks, except food of course, well where would you wear swimwear now? I passed rows of Summer clothes; linen trousers which, in my book, needed a good iron and wondered whether they would end up in a half price Sale. Will the seasons change from Spring to Summer and then to Autumn before we are back to normality? Bright hues replaced by autumnal shades before being able to flash the Sparks card?  Everything is so uncertain……

Day 8 – The great Jimmy Greaves refers to football as “A funny Old Game” and the same could be said of the World at the moment. I’d taken my permitted daily exercise choosing to walk round Woodhouse Moor.  Fresh ,  and a quite warm, sunny March day. People at a distance walking, jogging, a young mum playing with her toddler and two boys whizzing round the Skatepark. I noted some of the daffodils were already past their best whilst dotted amongst the grass were the last remaining purple crocus. Didn’t seem two minutes since snowdrops were heralding Spring yet, here we are, nature is rushing along. I found myself smiling and saying ‘hello’ to passing strangers. We cannot stop and chat but we can speak from afar. There are those of us who are connected through social media, but there are thousands of us who are not. I vowed to make a point of speaking to at least one stranger on my daily outing. We are all in this together and to refer to the football legend Jimmy Greaves – “It’s a funny old…..World”.  Stay safe.

Day 10 – Are the birds really singing louder or is it that we can just hear them above the sound of the occasional car driving past? Each morning I notice how many more tree branches have buds bursting open into rich green leaves. From my apartment during the Winter months, it is possible to see part of the busy Woodhouse Lane, but now the view is closing as the Spring sunshine forces the trees to grow their leafy coats.

Yesterday I caught the bus to Morrisons for a few essentials and was overwhelmed at the cleanliness of the vehicle! The buses never go anywhere alone, always having one or two ‘friends’ in tow, which is useful at the moment as if one is busy, then the other may be quiet, They are all quiet now, two of us boarded yesterday and the same coming home. I board, smile at the driver and pass the time of day to which he replies. I compliment on the bus’s clean interior and he agrees. There are no Metro papers any more, jolly useful to read but could harbour many germs.

I gaze out of the window and notice things I don’t usually see. It’s not about looking up and seeing beautiful architecture, I look for that anyway, No, it’s about being able to see an unusual door, a broken gate, a graffiti tag or simply a sign. Sights which are hidden by hordes of students or people going about their daily business. Packed pavements are now clear and I am transported back to the 1950s when I see a piece of low wall which, then, surrounded a Church long since demolished and replaced by block of student flats and convenience stores.  I used to walk so often down Woodhouse Lane or University Road to visit Grandad at his coach painting and sign writing firm on Blenheim Terrace. Mum and I probably paused to sit on that wall I admired yesterday. I remembered when the 56 bus travelled down University Road, now taken up with the various Departments, before coming out by the Parkinson steps but Mum and I would always walk, unlike so many today. It is refreshing and most therapeutic to take in these simplest of urban sights. Today is sunny again so where will my daily exercise take me this time?….

See picture below of Briggate

By Maureen Kershaw, Caring Together member

We look forward to more of your observations Maureen, take care for us all at Caring Together