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Lockdown Lexicon part 2

Hopefully you have all been sunning yourselves today and now are now ready for a relaxing evening - here is the perfect way to unwind; part 2 of Brian's lockdown lexicon! 

Lockdown Lexicon

An alphabetical journey through four months of Covid-19.  

PART TWO: J to Q 

J is for Joe Wicks.  With the body of Adonis, the face of Prometheus, and the voice of Joe Pasquale, Wicks has become the PE teacher half the country has dreamed of, but never had.  Until Covid-19 came along.

Beleaguered home-schooling mothers across the UK, mind-blown by Maths, hesitant about History, and seriously stumped by Science, finally found a subject they could embrace.  At 9.00 am each day, clad in lycra, and looking their best (as if YouTube were Skype) they throw themselves into Joe’s dependable arms for thirty minutes of Physical Ecstasy...sorry, "Education".  For the children, of course . . .

K is for Kindness.  It’s good for you!  That’s why it was the theme of Mental Health Week 2020 (18 to 24 May).  The theme was planned long before the outbreak and spread of coronavirus, yet seems so apposite.  Remembering, and caring for, others in all manner of ways has been a significant feature of lockdown.

Research abounds into how both giving and receiving acts of kindness spark up the pleasure and reward centres of our brains.  inChoir members are well aware of this effect.  Wefeel pride in raising money for good causes at each and every performance. It encourages us to do more.

And here’s why we should: Jamil Zaki, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University writes: “The positive effects of kind act are experienced in the brain of each person who witnesses the act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to “pay it forward.” This means one good deed can create a domino effect and improve the day of dozens of people!”

So, in the absence of a vaccination for Covid-19, here’s the antidote – let’s go viral with Kindness!

L is for Latin Lovers.  “For this alliance may so happy prove . . . (William Shakespeare)

On March 17, in Verona, Italy, Paola Agnelli helped set up the speakers for her sister Lisa’s violin recital from their balcony that evening.  As Lisa threw herself into a rendition of Queen’s “We are the Champions” (yes – I was expecting Verdi too!) Paola caught the eye of a young man, Michele D’Alpaos, on a balcony opposite.  She returned his gaze – and was much taken by his good looks . . .

Michele said, “It was love at first sight”.  He then tracked Paola down via Instagram, and a fevered correspondenceensued.  Both in their late 30s, and responsible citizens, they chose to wait until lockdown was eased in Italy before meeting in person.  So, on May 4, the lovers met in a local park.

"We were both nervous but it went really well — he was just like I imagined he would be," said Paola.

I wish them a happier ending than Signorina Capulet and Signor Montague, late of Verona . . .

M is for Masks.  Now that mask-wearing in shops, and on public transport, is de rigueur, we must ensure, at all costs, that we don’t fall victim to a fashion disaaaaster, darling!

So thank Heavens for Vogue, and its list of the top 100 designer masks for the coronavirus season!

Here are my top six picks, in three categories, according to where you are going to be seen shopping (Harvey Nichols, John Lewis or M&S):

HN – Romeo Hunte Multi Rebel Denim Mask, £65; CollinaStrada face mask, £100;

JL – Prabal Gurung Floral Jacquard Mask, £55; Rag & Bone Stealth Mask, £55;

M&S – Cotton Citizen Oatmeal Crystal Mask, £28; Meme Chose Cuomo Mask, £20

(All prices correct at time of writing.)

Of course, most of us will have a poor “friend” upon whom we must regularly be seen bestowing random acts of kindness. So, if you know somebody whose weekly fashion shop is at Poundland, why not gift them an Urban Outfitters Solid Re-useable Mask, at just £8?

BUT DON’T TELL ANYBODY THAT I RECOMMENDED IT.

N is for NHS.  Happy 72nd birthday NHS!  inChoir has a very strong contingent of engaging, interesting, compassionate and highly committed 72-year-olds.  Of course, no 72-year-oldreaches that age without challenges.  Money worries.  Stress.  Doubts about their role in life.  Concerns about the future.  But, with the love and support of family, friends and the community, they make their way through.

Let us hope that “Protect the NHS” becomes a long-term, cast-iron, national commitment, rather than a short-term, politically expedient, slogan. (See also “D is for Durham”.)

O is for Ottilie.  A friend of our daughter recently gave birth to a little girl.  The name her parents have chosen for her is Ottilie.  Such a rare and distinctive name.  When I heard it, I was immediately taken back to “The Six-Five Special” (“Over the points.  Over the points.  Over the points . . .”).

Please don’t tell me that I’m the only person who can remember that fusion of jazz, folk and skiffle that aired on TV at 6.05 pm every Saturday in my very early years.

That’s where I first saw the Chris Barber Jazz Band featuring Ottilie Patterson – the incomparable Northern Irish chanteuse.

Reminiscence and nostalgia – two by-products of lockdown for me.  For you too?

P is for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).  You could dress me in full Level 2 PPE: a long-sleeved fluid repellent gown, two pairs of gloves, an FFP3 respirator and a full-face visor – and I’d last two minutes before expiring, even without exerting myself.  Ask me to enter a covid-19 intensive care unit so dressed, I’d have the screaming heebie-jeebies!

To see dedicated women and men putting in twelve hour shifts in such circumstances simply humbles me.  These people have spent lockdown risking (and in too many cases, sacrificing) their lives in the most hellish conditions.  They do it as part of their duty to serve – even when exhausted.  Even when they are overwhelmed by the unquantifiable risks they are taking.  They are true heroes.

And one of them even had time to win a Sewing Bee.  Remarkable!

is for Quiet.  The first weeks of lockdown were remarkably . . . quiet.  All air travel stopped. People heeded the government direction to stay home (on the whole – see “D is for Durham”) so roads were virtually traffic free.  The soundtrack of our day became – birdsong.  And hasn’t it been beautiful?  International Dawn Chorus Day on Sunday May 3 was the best ever.  

As singers ourselves, we should show our solidarity with the songbirds.  I propose that we start a petition, requesting that, on Sunday May 2 2021, all road and air traffic in the UK is banned.  (Emergency services could be exempted – they wouldn’t have to use sirens on empty roads.)

Then we could all gather at dawn to listen to the best free concert on the planet.

...

Next time, “V is for VinChoir” – learn what they have in common with darts players!

But before that, “T is for Toilet Rolls” – we get to the bottom of an early lockdown crisis . . .