Lockdown in 50 Objects
For 50 days between the end of March and the middle of May, we were told to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. Even though some of those restrictions are now lifted, Covid 19 continues to have a huge impact on the way we live our lives. For some, lockdown has been liberating and energising, for others it has been frightening and incapacitating. However, in one way or another, we have all faced challenges that we could never have imagined.
Lockdown in 50 Objects is a project to capture our lived experiences of the pandemic. Members of the churches have been asked to choose an object that represents something important about their experience of the lockdown and share it with us.
We will be adding objects over the coming weeks.
My lockdown object is a circular floor rug. During lockdown I have had chronic insomnia and an intense anxiety. I have also felt that the peace which I have been so used to seems to have been removed from my life. ‘I was never this afraid of death’. The round mat has been a raft in my imagination.
Every morning, unable to sleep, sometimes around 4am, I have got out of bed and sat on this mat. I have imagined it to be in the middle of the wild waves and that I am safe and calm on this raft… or coracle. It is a kind of circle of protection. There, cross legged, I will write my diary and sometimes pray in a kind of often-missed tryst with God.
As an armchair survivalist I had always hoped that I would be brave and self-sufficient in a crisis like this. The truth and irony is that I have been a wuss. Beyond the practicalities, I had not prepared for the intense fear. The fear has been paralysing and very unwelcome, feeling alien and forced. I have often thought it sinister in nature.
So I will get up when I cannot sleep and sit on this rug, with some music playing and either writing in my diary or saying little prayers. That has been helpful. And although I am no Samuel Pepys, documenting a plague for society, it has been helpful to order my thoughts into an understandable narrative, to witness events and my feelings about them. To witness. It seems to bring a kind of order to the chaos I have so little control of.
And the round floor rug, the raft, the coracle, holds me up, secure and safer on the waters. Here the sharks cannot reach me. But I fear I will need my raft in the future if the waves pummel us again…
Unsure whether my laptop could be offered as an object, I hesitated, but when the Cambridge dictionary assured me that an object is “a thing that you can see or touch but that is not usually a living animal, plant, or person”, my hopes revived. I must confess though, that when I think of the number of times my laptop tries to influence my opinions, attitudes and shopping behaviour, the “person” idea in that definition worried me a little. However, assisted by my object, I have requested medications, ordered shopping for delivery or click & collect, played chess with my grandson (I could never have imagined my delight at avoiding being beaten by this five-year-old!), joined family quizzes or lunches on Zoom, enjoyed Sunday services and coffee & chat, ordered supplies for the garden, and a skip to take rubbish away. The letters on some of the keys are beginning to fade after so much use. When I began helping my granddaughter with home-schooling, I discovered that Friday, being the end of the week, was not the best day for this. Avoiding a sense of being cut off, I have sent messages to friends we can’t visit, and also to my brothers in France and Florida, and received emails in return. Not having visited an actual bank in over a year, I have still managed to keep accounts, stay on track with financial matters, and paid bills. I have also managed to keep in touch with a group of contributors whose donations support children through Compassion UK, as well as reading uplifting, and at times heart-breaking, stories from Meninadança in Brazil, whose work in recent years has saved many girls from exploitation and abuse. Amidst all of that, I have even tried to make progress with my fourth book. Only two hundred of possibly eight hundred pages, so maybe not so much progress after all.
Previous to lockdown I always aspired to abandoning my car keys and, where possible, walk to places but never seemed to have the time. It’s not that I haven’t tried, but it usually lasted a week or so only to be abandoned because of the weather or an overfull diary. So, when we were locked-down and the diary emptied in a stroke, it seemed the ideal opportunity to get going, literally! Every day during lockdown my youngest son, James and I, donned our sandals (initially trainers) and set off on a lunchtime walk. As we walked, we talked; sharing our views, frustrations and worries about the pandemic and, for James, the issues of working from home and the isolation from work colleagues. There were plenty of laughs too and it helped us both through the hard times. At weekends there were walks around the village with Roger, delivering weekly service and news sheets to people unable to share the Facebook services. How good it was, where possible to talk to people too, socially distanced, through windows, from garden gates etc and smile as we exchanged news! We’ve lived in Shavington for 14 years and lockdown enabled me to find and explore footpaths I had never been on before, and chat to people who in different circumstances I might never had. Post lock down the walking continues, although I have to admit not every day and the sandals, well I am afraid had to be replaced in August, after 180+ miles of walking the soles wore out!
21. Tribute to a trowel
Deciding to move house after 40 years and with Brexit looming, the spectre of a General Election on the horizon and the rumblings of a pandemic not seen for a hundred years, my timing could not have been worse.
However, I soldered on and moved unceremoniously on lockdown day. Alone, in a new house, with no friends or family to visit, I looked out onto a very flat empty stretch of grass. I ordered sleepers by the score, mountains of topsoil and compost and bags of seeds. I looked up the internet and created a ‘No Dig’ vegetable garden.
Enter my friend, the Trowel. Uncomplaining, he dug, he raked, he drew lines, he sowed, he weeded and, despite his lack of conversation, kept me company through the sunny days of lockdown.
And our reward, a harvest of vegetables!
Now his time is done, I shall mount my faithful Trowel on the garage wall and know he served me well.
My object is a radio – to be precise an Eddystone model S750 communication receiver manufactured in Birmingham in 1958.
As some of you will know, I am a licensed radio amateur and I particularly enjoy restoring old equipment to working condition. Over the years I have amassed quite a number of items that need to be refurbished – these generally date from between 1950 and 1975 and contain valves (perhaps you are old enough to remember when radios and televisions didn’t switch on instantly – you had to wait a minute or so for the valves to warm up!).
Such refurbishment takes time – I didn’t have much spare time, so the projects accumulated. Lockdown, however, stopped many things happening, which was sad, but it released a lot of free time and I was, at last, able to start on my projects.
First in line was the Eddystone which I had purchased in 2008 – it was in a poor unloved state – rusty with seized-up controls. I started in earnest and after a couple of months it was finished; looking as good as new and working well. The work involved electrical, mechanical and cosmetic restoration and seeking out new sources of assistance (for example I found a great company in Burton on Trent specialising in black crackle painting!).
Other projects have followed, so I have made good use of my newly found spare time – I wonder how you spent yours?
19. Daily Walk
When I think of “Lockdown” I immediately think of my local daily walk. Being part of the vulnerable age group meant avoiding, wherever possible, contact with the general public. We were lucky our family organised delivery of the shopping, we have a fairly large garden so plenty to keep me busy there, but I had a need to have a change of environment.
My husband has always gone for an early morning walk but keeps to the same route. I tried several local routes each one lasting 45mins – 1hr. kitted out for the days weather.
My second decision was to either turn left or right out of the drive. The rules of the daily walk were important too, keeping a reasonable distance from other walkers sometimes meant crossing the road or stepping into a driveway until the path was clear. A special bond developed, strangers now said “Good Morning”, moving to one side to give others more space was usually acknowledged with a with a “Thank You”. Meeting friends by chance gave us an opportunity to ask “how are you coping”.
The social aspects of my daily walk were just as important as the exercise. Houses and gardens decorated for VE day were amazing, tables, chairs set out on front lawns already for afternoon tea. One family really upped the bar, as I passed their house champagne glasses were being brought out by a gentleman wearing his dinner suit, white shirt and bow tie, a very grand affair it brought a smile to my face, a bonus during Lockdown.
I have never had so much time to spend in my garden, but with lockdown it has been a delight. My vegetable plot has produced some wonderful vegetables, i.e. beetroot, broad beans, new potatoes, currently there is purple sprouting broccoli ready to harvest, runner beans, curly kale, and I have put in over sixty leeks which will be ready over winter. At the bottom end of the garden it needed redesigning as there was a great big hole there which needed filling in, with numerous wheelbarrow loads of soil this was filled in and as you will see the rose arch is in place with shrubs growing up behind it. Since I have now retired hopefully next year I will be able to spend more time in the garden to keep those dreaded weeds at bay. Elizabeth
I have always enjoyed taking photos, of family and friends, our little dog, Bea, following Worcestershire Cricket Club all over the country and the wonderful Northumberland coastline. We started 2020 opening a calendar featuring photos of all of the above in great anticipation of the year to come.
And yes – this year my camera has still been busy, fewer family gatherings, no Northumberland, no cricket, but I have been busy creating my visual diary, a series of memories of this strange historic moment in time.
I’ve watched Spring move through to Summer and on towards Autumn, through the flowers in the garden, the babies growing on the canal and in the hedgerows and the changing dresses of the trees from their Spring blossom through to autumn colours.
I’ve photographed sobering street signs, taped off playgrounds and closed church doors but also the joy of secretly placed painted pebbles, National Trust gardens, rainbows in windows, our Easter garden at home, VE Day socially distanced street gatherings, 100s of photographs, each a memory, a story.
My camera reminds me of what we lost and gained, the constant of the seasons and, that in a year when we pressed pause, God’s blessings came into even sharper focus. Margot
This difficult period has been for me a stark contrast of emotions ranging from fear and despair right through to hope and joy. At the beginning the shock of the speed and the severity of the measures put in place was really hard. As time moved on all the acts of kindness and caring surfaced giving me hope that our human spirit would prevail. In terms of the timing, the fact that Easter occurred at the start gave me a real chance to re-engage with God.
As a 50 mile commuter, for many years I have not had the opportunity to experience Lent and Holy Week to this depth and it was a real blessing to be at home and have the time to reflect on that special time.
In trying to find an object that summed up all that, I have to look no further than something in my back garden throughout April to August, a host of poppies! Everyday a new crop giving hope and beauty to the new day. Starting with one or two in April as time went on more and more.
Helping us to remember those who have gone before and to look forward to the future. Every day a new crop different colours and sizes, always there through the window to cheer me. Bees, hover flies, spiders and even our friends the dreaded wasp bumbling through their blooms!
Making me thankful for what I have during this most strange of times.
Covid 19 has changed the way we think and live. It has made us all step back and look at the way we run our lives.
Carole and l had been so busy since our retirement that we seldom had time to spend gardening, or going out for walks.
Covid has changed all that! We both walk for one to one and a half hours each morning and l have spent many happy hours gardening. I had completely forgotten, over the years, the pleasure and excitement in harvesting vegetables grown by yourself.
Some of the evidence can be seen in the photo.
My lockdown object would have to be my pair of wellies. They have been worn so much during the lockdown, because having the extra time has meant that we have been out walking so much more than usual. Although, on a daily basis, l walk an average of 4 miles, the large part of that is early morning and it has now become a routine – we get up, walk, then back for breakfast. Our walks are nearly always from home and we can go so many different ways that we don’t get tired of going the same way each day. We have walked through squelchy mud, baked hard ground, watched the seasons changing with such variety in plants & trees, seen hares boxing, listened to the skylarks singing and really appreciated God’s wonderful world.
13. Red Cabbage
With the instruction to stay home and stay safe and after an anxious flurry of collecting my eldest from uni we suddenly adjusted to a very quiet family life. I decided our family’s health needed to be priority as did avoiding the shops as much as possible. A usual weekly shop with top ups changed to a once a fortnight shop for essentials. With so little in our control the one thing I could do and what we needed particularly to do was to eat healthy food but seemed to quickly run out of fresh fruit and veg. The more bananas and apples I bought the more were eaten so the fruit bowl was usually empty by end of first week. The red cabbage though was a staple at lunchtimes, often made into coleslaw or simply chopped and mixed with other bits and pieces from the fridge. It brightened up a stir fry and became a standing joke when it appeared at yet another meal time in different guise. The teens kept busy with home school and tech, and hubby and I focussed on home study and DIY. I insisted we all came together for lunch and tea, and so mealtimes became a special occasion. We felt very fortunate to have company during this time, and continue to eat well, although perhaps just I enjoy red cabbage now.
For my lockdown object I have chosen this microphone. Maintaining connections to people and retaining a sense of normality has been really important to me. As someone who regularly played guitar and sang in church with other people, the sudden ceasing of this was hard. Lockdown has driven us to find solutions to this, and the advent of the lockdown music video has been wonderful. While we have not been able to meet together to play as a band, we have collaborated on line, met via Zoom calls and created a number of videos. To help with this I bought a microphone. I have loved recording, either as the ‘first’ performer for other band members to join in with, or while listening to someone else on my headphones and singing and playing along. It has given me a real sense of belonging, an activity to engage with beyond work and housework and we have also been able to see that others have appreciated and enjoyed our efforts. My microphone will always remind me of lockdown. It will always be one of the things that helped to keep me going through it all.
11. Soldering Iron
At my usual ringing practise on Monday 15th March the bells of St Mary’s Wistaston were rung for the last time amid rumours of imminent ‘lock-down’. Scout meetings were suspended the following day, followed shortly by all our own church services and social events.
With all my usual weekly commitments cancelled I had to resort to digging out my long list of “Jobs needing to be done”. First thoughts went to redecorating my sitting room – unfortunately thwarted at the first hurdle as all paint shops closed.
Classic Cars are one of my other hobbies – I have a collection of 3, all family heirlooms: A 1938 Morris 8 2-seater known as “James”, my mother’s first car which she bought second-hand in 1940; a 1950 Mk VI Bentley originally owned by my grandfather and a 1955 Riley RME owned by my father’s cousin from new. Driving these in modern traffic is still practical and enjoyable – but relying on a combination of the original “Semaphore” indicators and hand signals was becoming increasingly hazardous, as few other drivers now recognise their significance.
The time had come to upgrade to discreetly fitted flashing indicators with Hazard Warning lights. This entailed a lot of additional wiring and electrical relays, with around 30 terminals per car all requiring soldering – hence my elderly soldering iron (which I’ve had since I was a teenager) was called into daily use during the early weeks of lockdown.
All lights now function as planned, so if you end up following me, hopefully you will no longer be surprised by unexpected changes in direction.
This small, unassuming pebble has sat at our front door for a year or two. In truth, it had become completely overlooked – a little piece of beach treasure picked up by one of the children from a rocky shoreline.
Then, as lockdown came, I noticed it where it always been but now I looked it at afresh, just as we were suddenly made to look at all our actions, our surroundings, our priorities with fresh eyes.
As I held it in my hand, it felt comforting. Smooth, heavy, still. It was a link back to days out, to casual freedoms and wide horizons. But it was also a kind of promise – its quiet, its unchanging persistence – was reassuring. It was here before, it will be here after. The pandemic that has changed all our lives shrinks to different proportions when I think of the millions of years that have made the bands of colour on the pebble.
Thinking of the beach made me realise how much I missed going to the sea. We’re lucky to have been locked down in the peaceful countryside that surrounds Weston. But suddenly I felt landlocked and it made me plan for the time when I would hear the waves on shingle again. It became a little sentinel on my doorstep – guarding a threshold that I used to cross unthinkingly but that now seemed like a border crossing in a foreign land.
Now of course, I’m getting used to crossing that threshold more often. And I’ve been to the sea – an empty windswept strip of shore that filled me with happiness. The waves washed over the stones, sometimes changing what I could see, sometimes moving things out of sight. But the mass of pebbles still remained. And the stripy stone? It still sits on our step.
9. Fruit Cake
I have baked a great deal of fruit cakes during lockdown, which my husband, Ian, really loves. The recipe is from a very old Mary Berry cook book. I can get away with only adding a very small amount of sugar, which suits Ian’s health condition. I think he will miss my fruit cakes when we get back to normal! I found the first five or six weeks of lockdown okay and enjoyed gardening and watching the birds and butterflies. After this time I began to really miss my friends, U3A classes and of course church each Sunday. I began to enjoy seeing more of my daughter, albeit several metres away, as she and my granddaughter were doing my shopping for me. I enjoyed my regular phone calls from my son, though I worried about my Caribbean daughter-in-law as apparently black people are more vulnerable to the Covid virus than white people. I also worried about my daughter as she was travelling to Stoke to teach key workers children. However I was grateful that they were all able to work and keep their jobs. I did dwell on my past life too much and felt quite emotional at times. My daughter’s mother-in-law passed away during lockdown and it really hurt that I could not attend her funeral, as I was very fond of her. My telephone conversations with my sister were good and it was great when she and her husband could join us for coffee one morning in the garden. Jigsaws, books, exercises, cooking and most of all family contact has kept me going during lockdown. Dot
For six months of every year for the past ten years I am custodian of Shavington Panto’s piano. Over the years I have attempted to learn to play it but there have always been more important calls on my time. So when we were locked down in March I decided to make learning to play the piano my goal. I decided that 30 mins every day should become my normal routine.
Unfortunately my arthritic right hand thought that was too long, so I had to divide it into two twenty minute sessions instead. Over the weeks, I have become more adept at reading the music and playing at the same time. I can even play some pieces at the correct speed and even sing at the same time.
I continue to practice knowing that without my daily routine my newly learnt skill will disappear. Rene
7. Kitchen Table
Being pregnant during lockdown with no nursery open meant 4 months of just me and my little man Zak who is 4. With the new baby coming and this being the last summer before he starts school I wanted to try to make the most of our time together. Keeping a 4 year old entertained for months at home has been tricky but this is where my kitchen table became ever more important. It’s where we have painted, created, crafted, moulded play doh, made cakes, coloured, enjoyed a 4th birthday party tea and shared countless home cooked family meals together. It’s been precious, quality time with my son that I will remember forever. Pip and Zak
What do you go to when you have time on your hands? Most of us will have found our answer to this in the last few months. Mine has always been jigsaws since I was young. Whenever I was ill the boxes would come out, mostly old favourites some easy and small, some very complex especially one which doesn’t have interlocking pieces. Since moving here I haven’t done any, except with the grandchildren, but have been given some as presents so lockdown has given me the opportunity to try out these new intricate, colourful and large jigsaws. The first was a panoramic view of Salisbury Cathedral which needed the dining table to be able to fit it on. Another was about Gardening which had so many different aspects to it that every time you looked for another piece you noticed some comedic person or feature. I have done a Cornish village with lots of white houses and sea and a Christmas market scene with lots of red. They have also involved large areas with lots of blue or green which means trying pieces every possible way and some have meant redoing the edges as I have made mistakes there as well. I intend to carry on doing these even after lockdown as it gives me time to switch off from the daily routine, and keep my brain active!
Before Lockdown I was a complete technophobe. I wasn’t interested and shunned anything to do with computers. I couldn’t turn it on never mind boot it up. During Lockdown I reluctantly accepted that without the computer my main interests and indeed passion would be suspended maybe forever.
I slowly learnt how to switch it on and progressed from there.
Where would I be without my on line Zumba classes twice a week ? Flinging myself around in the comfort of my own hallway and frightening the postman on days it was too hot and had to leave the front door open. Where would I be without my virtual choirs ? No concerts in St. Mark’s or St. Mary’s but who would have thought I would be involved in an on line concert singing Handel’s Messiah globally with 3800 choristers, and professional singers and orchestra? More recently rehearsing for the SAS Remembrance Day concert under the guidance of our MD Chris. Last but not least, being able to worship on line with my wonderful church family Rachael and Jonathan every Sunday morning and enjoying a true sense of togetherness even though we were all apart.
However, none of this has been possible without its fair share of trauma…..There has been plenty of angry frustration involving me bellowing downstairs to my husband to tell him the computer has broken. Never my fault I must add. Many a time I was late for Zumba…’ What is the Zoom password again !!!’ Many a time l was late for Choir rehearsal….. ‘How do I find Self Isolation Choir on You tube ?’ …’ Yes I know you have shown me a hundred times’… Never late for church. I always gave myself half an hour head start to get a grip of Facebook. Now after months of effort and energy I push the start-up button with confidence. This techno dinosaur has had a Lockdown life thanks to my computer.
Spring clean, decorate a room, garden or paint the fence
Watch birds, butterflies and bees
Listen to and learn new bird songs
Observe how social interaction has changed for the better
Contact family, friends and neighbours by phone, face time or in person
Clap in support of the NHS and Key workers
Celebrate VE Day with afternoon tea on the front lawn
relax, walk, read, crochet or even
follow the St. Mark’s lectures from Chester Cathedral
for the sick, and the suffering, the anxious, the bereaved or the lonely wherever they may be
for the doctors and nurses fighting the infection or caring for their patients
for scientists working on a vaccine or understanding the nature of the virus
for politicians endeavouring to keep the country safe.
Gwyneth and Dennis
3. Scone Cutters
One of the ways I found to cope during lockdown was to bake. Perhaps this isn’t surprising, given that I have always thought of cake as one of life’s greatest pleasures! However, baking seemed to take on a new significance during lockdown. When I couldn’t go out to work or be with people, I felt very disorientated. I felt as though I ought to be doing ‘something’ but I wasn’t entirely sure what that ‘something’ should be. I found that baking helped, perhaps because it was something that I was able to do at a time when so much else was not possible. I baked a lot of scones, hence my choice of object. I hadn’t really baked scones before, but I discovered that I could turn out a batch in 20 minutes and it felt like a real afternoon treat with a cup of tea, especially as there were a few weeks when it was difficult to get any flour. Scones were also a way of getting the family together. I found that I could persuade the children to come out of their rooms with the offer of a warm scone, even if they then retreated back into them shortly afterwards! I made scones for local friends too, so baking helped to restore my sense of being connected to others. I’m not sure that I would say that my experience of lockdown has taught me any major life lessons, but it has certainly been a reminder of the importance of simple, everyday pleasures – like cake!
2. Order of Service
My lockdown object is the order of service for the funeral of my dearest friend of sixty years. She went into hospital following a severe stroke at the beginning of lockdown so I and her family were unable to visit her. Following the stroke she was unable to speak so I could only send her little notes and cards. I was unable to go to her funeral service in Telford because of restricted numbers but was able only to stream it.
I feel as if a light in my life has been extinguished and miss her terribly; she was the one I could tell everything to, good or bad and she supported me through some bad times in my life. We were kindred spirits. Her daughter always said we were joined at the hip! We spoke every week – well, often she speaking and I doing a lot of listening!
I am trying to concentrate on all the happy times we spent together and realise that it was a blessing that she slipped away at the end; she was such a social person, involved with her church, running a book club being a very active member of the WI, and not being able to communicate would have been the worst thing that could happened to her.
My baby was 6 weeks old when we went into lockdown.
I had already struggled with becoming a mum, so as Boris made his announcement, I watched and sobbed whilst trying to rock this tiny human to sleep.
They say it takes a village to raise a baby, and just like that my village disappeared overnight. I was absolutely flooded with panic.
Lockdown in a picture for me would be endless nappies, night feeds, cups of tea and lots of chocolate. But if I had to pick one object it would be this bench at the front of my house.
When things were bad, my mum would come and sit on this bench and talk to me from where I stood at the front door; remind me I was doing a good job and that I wasn’t alone. She brought me flowers, chocolates and bottles of squash so that I wouldn’t get dehydrated while breastfeeding.
Small little gestures of kindness that meant the world.