By Lucy Hartery
Like so many people, I have found the lockdown pretty tough going. Whilst many of us have had challenges for different reasons, mine has been around living by myself, being furloughed from work.
And almost overnight being cut off from loved ones plus the day to day interactions and routine that I had been so used to.
Exercise has been a huge plus for me during this time, not only to help counter the inevitable urges to spend all day eating but for my mental health too.
Being out in the fresh air has definitely kept some of those negative thoughts at bay. I’ve also been trying (successfully I might add) not to develop a drink problem, especially during the amazing weather we have had. As well as the health implications, it would certainly be frowned upon as I work for a Brewing Company and responsible drinking is certainly the order of the day.
For all the downsides of the current time, there are some glimmers of light shining through the darkness. Yes I’m missing a cheeky bottle of fizz at the pub with friends, and having holidays cancelled is disappointing.
But more people are smiling and saying hello when out on walks, our willingness to queue up for basic necessities without major huffing and puffing, as well as the phenomenal acts of kindness we are seeing from people helping others in this time. Though said before I do so hope that some of this sticks as we move forward.
As many of us do things differently in these times, one other thing I did was have a stab at poetry. I’m ashamed to say I’m not really a book buff and certainly don’t do a lot of writing so this was a bit of a challenge for me.
My B grade at O Level English seems a long time ago now. Those who know me well will testify that I also don’t always take things as seriously as maybe I should, and I tend to find humour in most subjects……. even those I shouldn’t so this was going to be very different.
The poem came about partly after hearing the incredible Max Boyce reading “when just the tide went out” recently. As I listened to it, as well as finding it beautiful, funny and emotional, I thought to myself, “I can do something like that”.
As someone who has never attempted any sort of poetry since those O Level English days over 30 years ago, this wasn’t going to be easy, but I went about putting my thoughts about this pesky virus down on paper.
I wanted to try and encapsulate the past few months and how quickly we had gone from getting on with life in relative blissful ignorance to it ingulfing each and every one of us. A few verses were completed quickly then a couple of weeks of procrastination (another one of my many skills) followed. A final push and I had finished it.
By my normal standards, it’s actually quite serious and I’m sort of proud of that as it proves I can do serious if I put my mind to it. I hope you enjoy it.
It was New Year’s Eve singing Auld Lang Syne
The end of the year two zero one nine
We hugged, drank and laughed with dreams a plenty
For a new year was dawning, it was twenty twenty
As the days went by some news was breaking
A virus in China and lives it was taking
A few people asked, “could it kill me & you”
“Don’t worry” they said, it’s no worse than flu
But soon it was real we were starting to hear
China had cancelled its famous New Year
News of more death was beginning to break
But according to Trump, the whole thing was fake
Not just the old but young people too
Could it really be coming for you and me too?
But Boris was chilled, he had lots of plans
He’s even seen patients and shaken their hands
Herd immunity was their latest tune
We’d get it, recover and then be immune
As ITU wards began to overflow
A different direction we’d soon have to go
So Boris suggested “avoid certain places”
Yet two hundred thousand attended the races
A sunny weekend and the beaches were packed
Enough was enough, time for a different tact
Lockdown announced, few people around
Shops and pubs closed, planes on the ground
Nightingale hospital building to start
Queuing for food, two metres apart
We’re in it together, there’s no us and them
It even caught up with the British PM
As more people died no end seemed in sight
But strong and resilient we continued to fight
Clapping for carers, a newfound routine
Add all the great people who keep our streets clean
Truckers, shop workers and bus drivers too
Our modern-day heroes to name just a few
As lockdown continues, we stay and sit tight
And look to the future with an end in sight
We hope and we pray and maybe to dream
For an end to the nightmare that is Covid-19
Lucy Hartery is a 49 year old local – and poet!
Born and bred in Barry, with a brief move to Pembrokeshire for a few months in 2018 , her only time away from our town.
Thanks to Lucy for writing exclusively for Mrs SVJ – the community blog of Sue Vincent-Jones. Sue is a journalist, editor, and communications specialist who blogs about Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a quirky, and queer, girl done good.
One of Wales Arts Review 100 Women Writers of Wales, the dedicated community supporter, passionate arts lover, and award-winning queer activist, will keep you “informed, entertained and inspired.”