A time for reflection

Things are slowly getting back to some sense of normality in the village. The noise of a few more children in the school playground is a wonderful sound for sore ears.

It’s too early for things to be as they were – if they ever are again – but at least we can meet friends and family in gardens, the six of us keeping our distance. No-one in Dorset has been impressed with the scenes on our beaches, with daytrippers packed in like sardines just because they have an urge to see the sea and a lifting of lockdown restrictions allows them to do so.

There is a real fear that the county, which has done reasonably well up until now, could be facing a second wave of the virus.

In other news, the cat went to the vet this week. Nothing serious, just preparation for a pet passport in case we are able to travel to France later in July. It was a surreal situation, with customers waiting in their cars for the masked vets to come to them.

At our local hospital, which I had to attend midweek for a medical procedure postponed when lockdown happened, the corridors echoed with the lone footsteps of patients making their way to long-awaited appointments. Doctors and nurses in personal protection gear, perspex screens around the receptionist, and social distancing notices everywhere.

Yesterday, the dogs finally got the haircut they were due on the first day of lockdown. The little one is now more like a sausage with a head than a gundog. I knew she was thin but even I was shocked. I shall redouble my efforts to fatten her up with potatoes.

The weather has changed, the wind is blowing clouds across the sky but the view from the hill is reassuringly the same. It pays to find solace and escape from it all and reflect on life. A fool, alone on a hill.

My very own desert island.

Which leads me very nicely into the fact that I can breathe out now my Desert Island Discs debut has aired this morning. My bit was a light interlude in a programme full of moving stories.

You can listen to the programme here. I’m on at 32:20.

Time and time again, the programme and theme being broadcast throughout the day on Radio 4 illustrated the power of music. Whether it’s in times of reflection, celebration or just a change of mood, music has the ability to move even the most stone-like of souls.

It’ll be my last Sound of Music Through The Square Window this Sunday, and I’ve put together a finale which I hope will capture the fun-filled spirit and creativity of this community.

I’m hoping people who are socially-distancing dancing in windows, doorways, on pavements and the village green will wear a hat, something colourful and maybe sparkly shoes. As the weather forecast isn’t great, it could be sou’wester and galoshes but as long as they’re bright and cheerful, that’s fine.

I’ll be letting you know how the last day goes. And now that the people aren’t staying at home, I might close the window for a bit until I have something else to write about.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x

Last clap finale?

Tonight’s Clap for Carers will probably be the last time we stand outside our houses on a Thursday night to give our key workers a round of applause for their work in the battle against coronavirus.

Annemarie Plas, the woman who came up with the idea, says it’s the right time for her to stop, although she’s not telling other people to do so.

Some maintain that the eight o’clock ritual has become ‘politicised’ while others, including NHS staff, point to those taking part in the clap who then ignore pleas to stay at home and avoid gatherings, putting more strain on the healthcare system.

There’s been a lot of ‘clap shaming’ talk on the internet, some of it quite bullying, questioning whether saying a massive thank you across the nation is appropriate, particularly when politicians have been underfunding and disrespecting health and social care in this country for years.

‘You can keep your rainbows and applause. We’d rather have a pay rise and respect,’ was the gist of several articles I’ve read by some health workers. On the other hand, there are other carers who say it’s really helped them get through this crisis.

I don’t think it’s fair to make people feel guilty about thanking key workers. And we shouldn’t underestimate the weekly ‘feel-good’ boost for some communities which would otherwise have been cooped-up indoors.

But I do think it’s good that people are questioning the ritual and thinking more deeply about it. As I’ve said before, I hope the energy of the common people can be harnessed to fight against creeping privatisation of the NHS by the powers-that-be.

There has to be some positive action to come out of this pandemic. Maybe I am being naive but I am hoping we as a nation will be far more switched-on when it comes to what is happening around us and to never take things like our health service for granted.

Today’s Sound of Music Through The Square Window will feature a tune for staff and residents at our local care home. I’ll also be playing a song especially for Dominic Cummings, who I figure needs that little uplift only music can give.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x