I have today been chatting to the programme secretary of a branch of the Arts Society, with a view to presenting a Zoom lecture on the Gold Lyre of Ur. We have been in correspondence for some time, but today he told me that he is not continuing after 2020: at a guess he may be in his eighties, and says he feels his memory is fading. And I thought, I wonder who will take over running these societies? U3A, local history groups, the WI? My young friends of 30 or 40 would say, they don’t have the time: both parents working, children at school or being taught online. Yet at that age I was helping to set up a playgroup, I became a parent governor at the primary school, I was the residents’ association road rep, I was part of a campaign relating to planned development in the road, in addition to my “normal” life, of teaching part-time and running a house and family. I don’t think I was exceptional, all my contemporaries seemed to be engaged in something. Churches and voluntary organisations are now very aware of their increasingly elderly clientele. Young blood is required!
I have also been thinking about why the pandemic has sent everyone into a spiral of fear. I have decided it must be a collective and universal fear of our own mortality. We all know of course that we are not immortal, it’s just that we don’t normally all have to face this fact simultaneously. Unless there was an imminent nuclear attack or something similar. So we usually cope by not thinking about it too much. Schools have been forced to think a great deal about the future. I looked at the website of the school which my little friend Yannis will return to next week. There are pages and pages of Covid 19 strategies. For parents, for teachers, for pupils, for cleaners, much of it taken from government websites. It is no doubt intended to be reassuring, but on me it has the reverse effect, it is so…..abnormal, I think is the word.
I was diverted by watching Joanna Lumley on her desert island this evening. It is an old programme and I have seen it before. I remember her making little slippers out of a bra which I thought was ingenious and very amusing. She is very photogenic and resourceful, and I admired her putting up with all the insect bites.