Happy Birthday

I have been lucky. I have not lost anybody close to me in the pandemic. I have written poems in tribute to Captain Tom and others who have inspired. It is such a tough time to lose someone. It is always tough but restrictions on meeting people make it harder to share grief.

It would have been my Dad’s 91st  Birthday on the Saturday of the weekend just gone. and although he passed away 27 years ago, I still wanted to give him my best wishes. Before I go any further, I just want to forewarn you that my maudlin has been misplaced and left behind ineffable calm. This is not a sad blog.

I have just used a measuring tape that was his. Dad. Many of the tools I have belonged to him and he is with me when I use them. Although he is possibly shaking his head at my lack of DIY skills. Sometimes less DIWHY and more DIWTF. Possessions give him a physical place in my life but there is much more to it than that. He is still with me and he is still part of me. Memories are not just past events that I can rewind and play as though they are repeats on TV. They form part of who I am.

This was harder to see at an earlier age. It was easier then to just focus on the differences such as bigoted views he learned from his surroundings. I am a Diversity and Inclusion Representative as part of my employment duties but the first time in my life I felt a passion for this was in my teenage years as I argued with my Dad often to little avail.

When I think about him I think about how hard he worked to support his family. The small times in his life when he was unemployed were an anathema to him. As a family man he was the real deal. Loving, caring and hard working. I always felt he related to my brother more another practical man but I know he had immense pride when I graduated from Portsmouth with a Physics. Degree.

The toughest times for him were when he was unable to work due to heart problems. At other times when he was unemployed, he could do some work on the house or garden etc but the restrictions led him to spend a lot of time inactive. He was a little compulsive and I found his repositioning of items others had just touched maddening. At that time, I felt mortified every time one of my fellow classmates sang the line “just another burden on the welfare state,” at me. This was a line from a song by the Specials. My Mum still worked and as a family we were not anyone’s burden.

I have often recognised I shared qualities with my Mum but, actually some of them such as kindness I shared with them both. I am now the family man and my family comes before everything and despite the challenges it sometimes brings, it comes complete with the greatest rewards.

I am sorry if you have lost someone who was a large part of your life. I know that words offer little comfort, but those who were close to us stay with us not just as memories but part of who we are.

A couple of days ago I took my Dad some daffodils and said Happy Birthday. It has been several years but I think I finally realised what he meant to me

Jon

Spring Forward Fall Back

A phrase used to remember which way to adjust the clocks when we change them but also describes my experience of Covid. Last week it was a spring forward with the vaccine, but it was followed by falling back when I got the letter adding me to the clinically vulnerable list. My life seems to be a Yin Yang of balance. My job is secure but close family members are not so lucky. I have tried to apply some elasticity to my finances but they remain frustratingly rigid. For me the pandemic has been a sort of weird hokey cokey where anything I put in has to come out again. The Parkinson’s takes care of shaking it all about.

Usually at this point I would clarify my metaphors, but these are not normal times. Instead, I will ask you to go with the flow, because in times like these no-one can have control and sometimes it is all we can do. There is a duality on the news reports at the moment either they discuss with optimism the vaccine roll-out or worry about new variants. We can have little influence on either of these issues, but we can still play our part. Individually we may seem insignificant but our combined actions matter.

Silent Announcement

The silent trumpets herald Spring as they sway

Their gentle motion blessed by the breeze

Swans on patrol duty vigilant on the water

Glide across the pond to intercept interlopers

Geese in pairs keep a low profile as the hoover

Crusts floating on the surface before others notice

Ducks sleep standing beaks cosseted behind

Pondlife bask in the sun pondering springs onset

This afternoon seems to confirm winter has Marched on but it probably will not retreat without a fight. There are usually some rearguard actions. but natures promised new life is destined to arrive  New life, in a new year that brings hope.

Jon

One Sigh Fits All

One sigh fits all.

Anybody else just wanted to sigh recently?

I often like to start with a question but sometimes it is as much a prompt to myself as the reader. Over the last ten years I have done a lot of writing and at times have been amazingly prolific. When the lockdown started, I expected the writing to flow but the opposite happened. I have rarely written a blog over the last year. I have written less poetry and short stories. I have not at any point stopped writing but have not felt the same enthusiasm or drive. Not writers block but perhaps writer’s apathy.

We talk of getting back to normal, but I want more. I still want to save the world. In the past I have harangued the world about excessive plastic but can see little improvement. In fact, the masks I see on the ground dropped as litter suggests it is worse. I have shopped online and had my shopping delivered. I usually buy individual peppers as one of my small contributions to reducing plastic, even this simple interaction is failing. I have received peppers in plastic packaging as a substitute or individual ones put in clear bags.

Peter Piper picked a peck of plastic free peppers.
A peck of plastic free peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of plastic free peppers,
Why’s the pack in plastic. peppers Peter Piper didn’t pick?

Peppers not only a tongue twister but also seems to defy logic. This week the combined pack of peppers were discounted but the single ones were not. Do not tell Peter Piper. It took me weeks to try and get my bread, unsquashed by potatoes, apparently part of the new normal. I have not had the will to take on the Supermarkets about plastic.

The lockdown has narrowed my interactions with other people and reduced the size of the territory I roamed in. I lost interest in writing about politicians and Parkinson’s. I did not want to repeat what I had done before. I set up a website that contains most of my writing suitable for children, so it was available for free to anyone who wanted to use it  for reading with their children. When I look back, I have still written a large amount, but it is not all as visible. I have written blogs for work and articles for Diversity and Inclusion newsletters. In the last six months I have learnt a lot. I did not know how much I had not taken in. It has made me aware that there is more I can do. .

All the minorities listed as protected under UK law have some similarities in their messages. They need allies. People who are willing to listen, understand and support them. Why?

The clue is in the word minority. They are a smaller number and for the world to change we need to take the majority with us. Social representation is another issue. Traditionally minorities lack the provision of a proportionate number of visible role models. This causes a cyclical issue of discrimination developed from the lack of understanding that in turn perpetuates more failure to understand.

I have decided I can help this within my writing by showing diverse families in a loving context. I am working on a project to try and achieve this. I can remember my daughter writing a poem at school saying I was her hero .I believe all those who give a child a loving home deserves the opportunity for their child to see them as a hero, without it being undermined by peers who question if their family set up is valid. I am not going to include any of that poetry here. I have, to be careful as if I make this poetry freely available it may prevent a literary agent’s interest.

Yes, I have suffered a bit from Lockdown pen down, but I am still here. I am wondering who I have written this for? Even if I have just written it for myself, I matter, as much as anyone else. I guess that will have to be a good enough answer.

Thank you for reading

Jon Best

A steak in Christmas

Yesterday evening I unsuccessfully tried to take a photo of the Christmas Tree Fairy with my phone using a pair of binoculars as a telephoto lens. It was suggested by a professional wildlife photographer on Countryfile. It did not go particularly well. I had not established the need for a third hand in advance and my attempt at taking a photograph of an inanimate object does not bode well for me trying to capture a picture of a living potentially mobile entity.

Television has been disappointing this Christmas. Less specials made due to social distancing complications and less blockbuster films released as some were held back for after the pandemic. Bill Bailey provided some entertainment on Strictly, although not as I expected, with verbal jousting with Craig. Instead, a work ethic combined with an unexpected aptitude brought him plaudits and a Glitterball.

It has not been a typical Christmas and I have tried to meet it on its own terms without seeking to create an insipid version of previous years. Last year was a headbanger of a Xmas literally with Rhi and Charlie(to hilariouseffect) bashing heads and Metallica Monopoly. Rhi was not able to get back this year. The year had been different and sometimes I have had to look for different choices. That also applied to Christmas Day. Less options were open and the gathering would be smaller. In fact, it would just be my Mum and myself for Christmas Dinner. A turkey for two? No thanks. Instead, I got two rib-eye steaks. My Mum is an excellent cook on traditional meals and even at 88, wants to take part or even take over. A roast would mean a day rush for my Mum. Steak is different. She knows I cook a better steak than she does and left me to it. I made a stilton sauce to accompany it. My Mum ate the steak said it was better than a roast and was so pleased with the sauce she tried to scrape the gravy boat I had put it in, clean with a fork(I have never seen my Mum do that before). It has been a difficult year for my Mum, knowing now that I made her day has made my Xmas. We may not have the same choices but even on this unexpected year the sun still rose on Xmas day. We always have choices but sometimes we have to look a bit harder than normal to see them.

There is hope for 2021 but hope often accompanies uncertainty. The new strain of the virus and changes due to Brexit are the most obvious uncertainties. Whatever 2021 brings we need to look for the opportunities and make it a year to remember.

Christmas Eternal

Christmas will be Xmas

And it will always be

Even if we forego roast turkey

Christmas bigger than presents

Christmas Carols can be pleasant

Not a competition to get the most cards

Laughing at cracker jokes can be hard

Family times watching a nativity

But what has happened

To Xmas TV?

When I was little we heard the Sound of Music

Christmas staple, fixed every year could not lose it

Then the channels began to multiply

Film premieres audiences high

Christmas specials truly special editions

Like the Queens speech TV became tradition

Christmas will be Xmas

And it will always be

Even if we forego roast turkey

Without Christmas Dinner there still cooking shows

Meals that repeat on you as much as ho ho ho

When you press the button on the remote

But couch potatoes so full we  bloat

Family times nothing comes for free

But what has happened

To Xmas TV?

No big premieres no Xmas Superheroes

Specials culled although not quite zero

Oh no the cat is attacking my baubles

Pet lumberjack Christmas tree wobbles

Fairy’s high perch has become precarious

Below board monopoly cheating nefarious

Christmas will be Xmas

And it will always be

Even if we forego roast turkey

Christmas bigger than wrapping

Christmas Highlights TV guide mapping

Not shortage of Xmas pudding or mince pies

But where is the gogglebox treat for the eye

Family times or zoom may have to be

But what has happened

To Xmas TV?

Strictly Bill Bailey

In 2020 cometh the man cometh the part -troll

Bill Bailey Strictly winner topped the audience poll

Would he Doolittle an elephant in the room?

Or with Ma Beauty be OT and quickstep with a zoom

Amongst the glitter released his tinsel worm

Never mind his buzzcocks his show dance would confirm

Enter the sandman thankfully not Bills last Tango

Metallica  pure cosmic jam he stay as others go

A qualm peddler he may be but ended up on Craigs list

Judged to bring so much delight with his rappers twist

Black Books Bill Bailey mannyed up can stand up tall

With Remarkable Happiness can boast of a Glitterball

Picanto and Aramis

I have never really been a car person. Cars are functional machines to get us from A to B. I have never named a car or been overly bothered by make or model. I did like my Mazda and it felt comfortable. I don’t think I have driven another car in the five years I had it. Last year it broke down in a junction amongst the traffic lights. It was no longer guaranteed to get me from A to B. I had a list of concerns about it, brakes, warning lights, alternator belt, catalytic converter, etc. I did take it to the garage who confirmed it was safe with a minimum of work but said to address all faults and wear, to get it through a future MOT would cost a small fortune(far more than its worth).

I have since been living in a strange sort of limbo. I restricted my journeys since the pandemic as I need the car to support my family. I regularly checked and topped up the oil as the engine burned more suggesting it was struggling. About 6 weeks into lockdown I had to call recovery out to start the car as the battery seemed dead. They did start the car but advised I needed to use it more for longer journeys to keep it charged.

This provided me with an ongoing dilemma. How long did I keep it? I needed to save to afford a reliable car. It would take a while as I didn’t have the knowledge to assess a car from a private sale so I wanted to buy from a reputable dealer. I needed to buy before the Mazda brokedown. I needed it to be able to get to other cars to look at and test drive. Without my own transport this would have been very difficult to arrange in the pandemic.

Time had come to look for a new car . Cars often have an odd number of doors either 5 or 3 but these cars only have 2 or four. They may be hatchbacks but is a hatch a door? Should I ask people to get in and out that way. If I can’t even understand the technicalities of doors what hope do I have with engine specifications .  Anyway after much thought and some internet research I decided I could just stretch to a Peugeot 107 or Kia Picanto from Hawkins motors (not the cheapest of dealers but with a very good reputation). I negotiated a price with Trade in and bought a red Kia Picanto. It has a pretty good miles per gallon and requires no tax and running costs are important to me. It is also serviced and MOT’ed so I should have no immediate extra costs.

I found Hawkin’s Motors as expected, very good to deal with helpful but not in any way pushy and I bought the car. It has a much smaller engine than I am used to but is reasonably responsive. I wasn’t looking for a fast car but it is relatively nippy around the corners and I find it comfortable to drive. It is not too low, so my Mum can get in and out.  It has not only taken the worry out of driving for me but in these times of restriction returned some of my freedom. Decisions to drive are not made on a potential risk assessment of whether the journey is necessary. My first trip on my birthday.

I had a great time yesterday on my birthday trekking with Alpacas on the moor. We were introduced to 9 Alpacas and allowed to make our own choice. The weather was good and my Alpaca Aramis (named after the musketeer not the perfume) was friendly but had personality. They had feeding spots around the trek and he speeded up every time we got close to one. Standing still for a selfie was not of interest and I took an array of pictures that did not make a full jigsaw. One of the staff took a picture for me. My daughter had Jack older and in no rush but easy to handle. Jack was deaf so she had to use his lead more to get his attention.

Family, a new car, alpacas and an avalanche of birthday wishes from friends combined and made it a very good birthday.

Milking the Medication

Parkinson’s is a progressive condition but how it affects you is more of a rollercoaster that a straight downhill decline James Parkinson’s Theme Park

Strap in prepare for the ride

No Disney world to stride

Diagnosed shown on poster

Board PD’s roller coaster

A ticket lifetime award

Many scares to be explored

Shaken in land of tremor

Symptomatic to the core

A ride called diagnosis

Sudden drop scary it is

Holding on with white knuckles

Facing fears with brave chuckles

Ride of life not all down hill

Nor mountain  to climb until

You realise park not linear

Ups and downs it is quite clear

Theme life is roller coaster

Not yet toast not in toaster

Face fears and find all the thrills

On the ride of taking pills

One of my symptoms that became more regular recently was a muscle cramp in my left foot which makes my toes curl a bit like a claw. It is difficult and painful to walk on. Until recently it was quite rare and only happened if I went out early before taking the medication for the day. It was a symptom pretty much under full Yet sometime after the start of the pandemic it became more prevalent. At first it seemed that maybe it was happening before my drugs kicked in. Sometimes though it was an hour or two after my first tablets. This seemed to me to have happened too fast.  Sudden changes in symptoms can be caused by infection or constipation. I was able to rule these out. This was reducing my exercise and denting my confidence to go out and walk.

I established this only happened within the period my first daily dose. Several weeks into the pandemic I had started to buy larger bottles of milk this was to ensure I didn’t run out. I drank the extra to avoid waste. I drank at breakfast time. Some of the Parkinson’s medications are absorbed into the body by protein receptors . It is advised not to eat protein in the period from 45 minutes before to 45 minutes after taking the medication.

I stopped drinking milk at breakfast time and the problem seems to have disappeared. It is so easy when things get worse to assume it is inevitable progression of the condition but sometimes there is something we can do. If in doubt consult the medical professional.

Life with Parkinson’s can be a roller coaster and it can make you scream. Sometimes though it is possible to just enjoy the ride.

Ease the lockdown

Hello to everyone here. I haven’t posted much here lately as I have been busy trying to move my life forward in these strange circumstances we are facing. I have adjusted to the change of working at home and with my family we have been deciding how to cope with the lockdown.

My family includes my 87 year old Mum and my shielding daughter 24 who has an auto-immune condition. We don’t live together but we are part of a family that works together for mutual support.

I am not going to tell anybody what to do and how much to ease your own personal lockdown. Like me you may have Parkinson’s, another health issue or no condition at all.  There are so manty separate circumstances that this is no time for one size fits all. What I am going to do is suggest a way to approach any fears or anxieties you may have.

IMG_20200722_191537

Walk on the beach

I keep hearing the term “the new normal” but that is misleading. It may become the new normal but right now it is just change. Change in the best of times can be unsettling. I imagine that some of you like me, have not been to a supermarket for four months. If we go now most of us are expected to wear masks. Previously wearing a face covering in a shop meant a  possible robbery. Over the last few weeks we have seen shops, pubs and hairdressers open. Some people are now expected to return to work. The familiar has changed due to potential ambush from a virus we can’t see. I have been to the hairdressers but I am not ready for the pubs. I choose to have my groceries delivered.

You may be expanding your life in different ways but may be afraid or anxious. One approach for coping with that is to turn your fears into questions. If you can  turn your fears into questions you can start to put them into context, Perhaps they can then be written down and you can see what your anxieties are.

Once you have the questions you can hopefully start to answer them. If you can break down your fears, you may be able to find answers to all or part of them. Maybe you can make a plan My daughter had barely been out for 4 months and wanted to walk on a beach. We selected a beach we knew. It was a place we understood the access and the parking and went in the  evening, when it was quieter. We had a lovely walk. She wants to visit Charlestown, which is busier, so I went there a few days ago to check it out. We will decide how to do it together.

IMG_20200728_192715

Charlestown

So just to summarise. If you can question your fears and write down your questions, you can then seek answers. You can break down the issues and minimise the risk with a plan. Hopefully this approach can help you take back some control in these changing times. One thing is for sure he change has not ended.

Good luck.

Jon

The Minack and the Kneehigh

 

This morning I turned on BBC News to a stunning but familiar sight. The report was on the Minack Theatre at Porthcurno. A venue like no other, carved out of the rocks of a cliff. A place I have visited 40 to 50 times.

DSCN0331

 

Minack

In 1931 a rocky place

Heralded drama on natures face

Ninety feet above the cold sea a perch

Where  gorse congregated a wild church

Tempest was forecast at a cliff top garden

Seed was sown for hands to bear the burden

Rowena Cade began to carve and shape

Venue for imaginations escape

Terraces built as huge boulders sundered

Split granite the rocks quarry plundered

Whilst Rowena Cade architect of this build

Her bare hands gaps with earth and stones filled.

A lifetimes chore sacks carried from the beach

Sand and concrete  platform for future speech

Artist she was and etched complex designs

Old screwdriver her tool crafting her signs

Legacy to host artistic wonder

In a setting of natures splendour

Inspiration across a stone stage

Story telling still turning the page

 

The Minack is one of those places with an individual magic all of its own. I have seen some fantastic plays there and will always carry some of the memories with me. I first took my two oldest daughters there at the age of 5 and 6 to see a version of Alice in Wonderland. I watched them as they watched spellbound by the performance. For years I organised coach trips from my workplace every year  and was always entertained. Although a performance of Cymbeline with an actor in the lead role who unintentionally  seemed to channel the drollness of Paul Merton with a queen who seemed costumed as Emperor Ming, provided  unexpected humour. Some troupes managed to use the darkness as part of the drama and in other the sea provided the extra’s with seals giving their own performances.

The Minack is part of a rich vein of theatre in Cornwall and outdoor theatre performed in many wonderful garden settings. I first saw the Kneehigh theatre company at Heligon Gardens and they were the masters of using the darkness to highlight the intensity of emotion in their plays. This they did in spectacular effect in a version of the Red Shoes. This was one of may plays where they made you laugh and cry. Comic timing, engaging the audience, using music to enhance the drama and always well written and directed. Their plays often modern (or even not so modern) fairytales contained large dollops of invention that filled me with wonder.

Kneehigh

 

In Cornwall stands an institution

For those with imaginative constitution

They have taken over the asylum

Turned it to magical theatrical fulcrum

Giants of performance yet only Kneehigh

Magnificent milkers of emotion laugh, cry

Tragedy, comedy, in tales of wonder

Lyrical roleplay your dreams they plunder

Atmospheric sensation artistic invention

Style of the own darkness needs a mention

Human frailties and strength included

Wise men, as well as fools and deluded

Nights to remember over the years

Always end with audience cheers

Heligan’s Red Shoes used the dark

Raw emotions hit the mark

Stalwarts of the past and new talents

Entertainment always prevalent

Newer shows more polished like Rebecca

Masterfully directed by Emma

Rice dramatic, comic timing of Paddy

Experienced Shepherd watched gladly

Acting, dancing music combine all in the blend

Anarchic energy and emotion mixed to extend

 

Cornish vigorous and challenging

Miraculous with humanity engaging

Insanity just enough for everyone to try

Cornish theatrical legends known as Kneehigh

I didn’t grow up with a liking of theatre. I saw a wooden version of Arthur Millers the Crucible at the age of 14 or 15 that I endured as much as watched. I was in my twenties before I discovered Theatres delights.  Cornwall has been enriched with many talented actors and theatre companies. The Miracle theatre another regular favourite have shown how to cope with actors playing multiple parts . Although it was a comedy seagull that was one of my strongest memories of them. The Cornish Theatre company showed parts that other companies didn’t reach. I was not expecting one of the actors to have his private parts on display and my surprised female companion probably had the best view in the house.

As well as the local theatre performances we have also had larger shows like Julius Caeser in the Hall for Cornwall. Unlike me, my children have grown up appreciating the theatre and I can remember one telling me after the Royal Shakespeare Company performance of Julius Caeser that they didn’t understand it all but loved the acting. The other with a gleam in her eyes said she didn’t understand it but loved the stabbing.

Of course, as well as plays these venues provide music and comedy. Festivals and the Eden Project also ad to the mix. STERTS is a theatre on the moor. Carnglaze Caverns provides a cave as a music venue. There is so much more than I mentioned but I can’t mention it all. There has always been a richness and diversity also combined with talent to make Cornwall an excellent place for entertainment. It would be a shame to lose any of that because of the virus. If you can support or attend an event, please do.

Thank you for reading

Jon Best

Lockdown Time Off

After tomorrow I have a fortnight off and  I am ready for it. Ready for it but unsure what to do with it. I want to spend some time outside in the fresh air. Over the last month I have battled the IT to work at home. A keyboard worrier and at times I have been unsure who is winning.

In this the “new normal,” I feel restricted and impatient. I hate that phrase it just does not mean what is used to imply. We are in strange times and so much has changed but the we are all a bit unsettled by change. So to make it palatable this stranger has been disguised as normal an old friend. The new normal though gives undue comfort because until it becomes usual it can’t be normal. They have coined a phrase that is fitting because it keeps returning like a bad penny. Pennies that form our loose change. Loose because we have not yet got control of the virus. We still need to understand it better to save lives. The message may have changed but we still need to stay alert and minimise risk. Maybe if we dropped the “normal” branding less people will be complacent and less will die.

I am lucky. I have not lost anyone to the virus, and I want it to stay that way My Mum is 87 and one of my daughters has an autoimmune condition that makes her very vulnerable. My Parkinson’s may possibly make me vulnerable, but it is much easier to be careful, for others. I have not yet taken advantage of some of the freedoms we are being allowed. I will not be going to the pub in the near future. I have been offered the opportunity to reconnect with colleagues and spend a day a week within the office. This is so tempting but the time is not yet right.

At the moment, I am slowly assessing each situation for myself. I have avidly watched the news UK and Worldwide and sometimes been stunned by leaders behaviour. It seems clear to me that countries who drop their guard take a big hit.

My week ahead may be undecided, but I will expand my life in a controlled way. I will rebuild some of the connections and look to the future. I will post some details and pictures of my time off.

I hope you have a safe and enjoyable week.

Thank you for reading.

 

Jon

Bubble Bath and Family Bubbles

 

I had a bath at the weekend and as I ran the bath, I put in some Radox. Radox Muscle Therapy (bath soak in very small letters) for men looks much like bubble bath. In fact, it is bubble bath but I guess that Radox must assume that my masculinity is fragile enough to be damaged by the use of bubble bath. Even more likely is that they can actually sell more to men in that guise. That may be so, but I like bubbles  and a bubble gave me a great weekend.

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In England households have been allowed to form a bubble. This is a system where a single person (or single parent and children) have been allowed to form a bubble with another household(can be any size). These two households are allowed, to behave as one household interacting with out social distancing. I live with my daughter 17 here for part of the week every week and we reunited with my Mum 87at the weekend, We went for dinner at my Mum’s and reunited three generations. It was a lovely occasion where we were able to hug Mum for the first time in 3 months.

It had been a lonely time for my Mum but she has not uttered any complaints. I have been delivering food and her prescriptions to her porch and have spoken on the phone almost every day. My Mum has no internet so no video calls but also no internet banking. She also had no phone banking and as well cutting her social interactions she lost her financial independence. She needed others to shop and bank for her. She doesn’t drive so her exercise was confined to a central patch of grass in her avenue. Her main role in helping the family was to cook dinners and to bake muffins, pasties etc. Not only did she not have the access to the people but often couldn’t get the ingredients. She spent a lot of her time reading. She. usually bought second-hand paperbacks from charity shops. If she wanted to go anywhere on her own she would previously have used a taxi.

I have listed these aspects because I wanted to illustrate how this lockdown denied her much more than social interaction.  My daughter 24 is shielding she also has hearing problems and was unable to phone her Granny. We will shortly be arranging to video call and I will bring my Mum here so she can speak to her granddaughter via the internet. My daughter 24 has an autoimmune condition and needs to attend medical appointments. Facemasks provide a barrier not only to the virus but lipreading as well. Despite the communication challenges she has bridged the generation gap sending a card with photo’s  and a message to her Granny. Despite her restrictions under the shielding system she gives thought to helping her Granny from a distance.

My oldest daughter 25 lives and works in Lanzarote and her employment is under threat. My 3 daughters Mum is having to find another house to move to and this directly affects my youngest daughter 17 as she lives in both of our houses. Just within my family the different members face loneliness and other issues. I have Parkinson’s and the lockdown has undermined the way I usually cope. I work from home with my routine massively changed It has cancelled activities and exercise I enjoy and challenged me to think about things, I fear. Loneliness is a long- term possibility and at some point my body my initiate a sort of lock down of it’s own.

One way I cope with my darker thoughts is by bringing them into the open. My writing not only allows me to debate my feelings but sometimes to let them go. Doing things for others is a powerful way of easing your own worries. Everyone is facing a different situation and there is no way of quantifying whose circumstances are hardest. I have had good emotional and practical support from friends as well as family. Having an awareness of your own feelings can contribute to your own welfare if you are willing to allow yourself to be kind to be to yourself or ask it from others. I feel lucky as I have always found support when I have needed it.

I want to finish as I began with the bubble bath. Whether I call it muscle therapy or bubble bath it is the same thing. Whatever someone’s situation loneliness is loneliness. We should not evaluate and compare mental health issues but listen as we are all individuals, in individual situations. Being aware of others is vital if we can offer support. Sometimes bubble-wrap can cushion us against a very bruising world.  If someone else is struggling for whatever reason, a little kindness and compassion can go a long way.

Thank you for reading

Jon