The village lockdown poem

Carved into a fallen tree at the entrance to Lewesdon HIll, early in lockdown. Picture: Karen Murphy

Some months into lockdown, I invited villagers to send me a couple of lines each to sum up their days.

I put the lines together and added a few of my own. This is the result:

BROADWINDSOR IN LOCKDOWN 2020

Nature, you were never lovelier,

when the world stopped, but the Earth kept spinning.

And then the world turned upside down, freedom could not be found

We all became experts at social distancing – no grandparents would be visiting.

Sunshine, birdsong, a much quieter life but life still went on.

Thursday night clapping for our hard-pressed carers,

a ripple of applause from one end of the village to the other.

The Sound of Music every day at one o’clock.

Business booms at the community shop

as sales of fruit, veg and alcohol go pop.

Takeout drinks from the pub

and Vikki’s quiche and coleslaw in the shop.

The Tuesday night chip van at Comrades Hall,

Friday morning Post Office, chairs six feet apart.

Anxiety calmed by WhatsApp and Zoom, meeting family and friends by the touch of a button.

People chatting with new friends while standing next to bollards in the shop queue.

Heart attacks, cancelled operations, masks, gloves and Perspex screens.

Food deliveries for the vulnerable.

Our church went blue for the NHS.

The Sound of Music every day at one o’clock.

And we had time to just be with the one we love without duty or obligation stealing the day.

Doing all that we can to keep a company viable,

sorting wages and furlough staff, all reliable.

Farmers cut the fields for silage and tractors trundled through the village.

Up on Lewesdon Hill, bluebells didn’t know about coronavirus.

VE Day flags and afternoon tea outside our homes.

Socially distanced wildflower planting – digging, sowing and watering.

A beautiful sight to welcome visitors to our village when all this has passed.

The Sound of Music every day at one o’clock.

Lock down with the family – fantastic at the start, learning through the struggles, stresses and worries, tears, laughter and love.

Dusting flour from my hands, I pick up my book;

to bake or read, my lockdown dilemma.

There’s only one village in the west for me, Broadwindsor is the place I love to be.

It’s music at one and clapping at eight to rid us of the virus we love to hate.

Virtual Bananagrams, with gin, on Skype; virtual birthday parties on Zoom; virtual running – for medals – on Strava.

Virtual life.

The village roads, now used much less, speeds traffic onward faster;

too fast for the slowworm outside the shop, who is now not just slow, but flatter.

The sun beckons and mocks. Enjoy what you have, count your blessings.

The Sound of Music every day at one o’clock.

The church buildings are silent, dusty, locked, empty, paused.

God is active, loud, renewing, unrestricted, present, recreating and filling us every day.

Time to listen to the birds, watch the flowers grow, to smell the air, walk up the hill and to be still.

The warmth, love and friendship uncovered and blossoming as we all work together through this strange, uncertain  time.

House quiet, headphones on, five laptops glowing, each immersed in our own virtual business and learning,

waiting for the next punctuation point in days we can’t name.

Then kettle on, frisbee out, meals prepared, conversation flows, reconnected again.

The Sound of Music every day at one o’clock.

Free loo rolls from the village shop. The kindness of strangers.

And then a huge blue ball hurtles down the road, like the ever-present Rover bubble in The Prisoner.

A small army of tireless volunteers, stacking, selling, delivering.

Painting, writing, reading, decorating – my furniture has never been so upcycled.

The village phone box becomes a book exchange, tales of a community bound up on donated shelves.

Take-outs from the pub, food and drink, got to keep it going.

The call of rooks from their satellite rookery at the Old George,

while the parish councillors discuss village affairs over Zoom.

The space station goes over, the sun’s fading light makes it glow for all to see.

Endless sunshine, we will never see this blue a sky again.

The Sound of Music on the World Service and Desert Island Discs.

Slippers or flip flops worn all day.

The garden glorious in all this sun.

A tank of petrol lasts for months.

A time of reflection for the things that really matter. The birdsong and beautiful countryside.

Teaching the children, online bitesize that doesn’t bite back.

A fish van arrives in the Square at half past eleven, a shoal of customers in single file down the road.

Gardens and allotments provide solace and colour.

The Sound of Music at one o’clock

Afternoon briefing, highlight of the day.

What day is it, by the way?

Lockdown poetry please

There’s been a bit of a mixed reaction to Boris Johnson’s televised speech yesterday evening on what happens next in the country’s fight against coronavirus.

And when I say ‘the country’, I mean England. The other three nations that make up the UK have already decided to stick to the ‘stay at home’ message, fearing it’s too soon to dismantle the lockdown and maintaining that the ‘stay alert’ slogan adopted by our government is confusing.

The prime minister’s speech was a bit of an anticlimax for some and lacking in clarity for many others. On Facebook last night, this meme fell into my lap:

Lines from Prefab Sprout’s classic song King of Rock ‘N’ Roll. Perfect. The new slogans make just about as much sense as this wonderful lyric.

Any road up, it got me thinking about words, their meanings and turning things into catchy sound bites. There must be a whole team working on that at Number 10. Or perhaps not.

With that in mind, I had an idea. It’s about time the village had its own Lockdown Poem. A few years ago, with the help of performance poet Matt Harvey, the village came up with The Ode To The White Lion when our pub was shut and we wanted it back.

Here are two of my favourite lines:

The White Lion lives with my husband under the kitchen table

A warm glass of Chardonnay from a fridge too far

A few years later, we had the Village Poem, written for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, which summed up how we all felt about the place where we lived.

Here’s two sample lines from that poem:

Friends on our doorstep, people you can rely on for support

There is often some fog, and there is often some mist

The thing that linked both of these poems was that residents were asked to each come up with two lines, which were melded together to create the whole.

The lines didn’t need to rhyme or, like the Prefab Sprout lyrics, make sense. So I’m now looking for local readers to submit up to two lines each to sum up your lockdown life in this village.

Your lines could be about things we miss during this crisis or that which is keeping us going. Or strange or joyous happenings. Your lines can be as sad, funny, banal or interesting as you like. The lines won’t be attributed to individuals so you can say what you like, within the confines of decency and taste.

All I ask is that you send them to me, either by email or direct message me via my Maddie Grigg Facebook page so I can put them together into a poem.

And then, when this is all over, as well as a playlist curated by you from the requests from our one o’clock Sound of Music Through The Square Window, we’ll have the Lockdown Poem to entertain us at our village party.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x