I’m a firm believer that absence makes the heart grow fonder but I never knew how true it would be that a global pandemic makes the neighbourhood grow fonder.
But it’s true, it’s damn true! (Ten lockdown points for anyone who gets the cheap wrestling reference).
Make Britain Great Again
On Friday 8th May 2020 the nation celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE Day in the most irregular exceptional circumstances during the worldwide Coronavirus outbreak but celebrate is what we jolly well did.
And we did it… Wait for it… Together?
In times of strict isolation & social distancing that give a whole new meaning to “stranger danger” (even if said strangers are just Mr & Mrs Busybody from number 18!) there is so much heartfelt togetherness that, let’s face it, was generally lacking due to busy lives & modern times.
These VE Day festivities turned out to be the surprise pick-me-up that we didn’t realise how much was actually needed until Britain came together with our trademark stiff upper lips & quintessential English street parties to commemorate the tremendous sacrifice, courage & determination shown in the face of danger & adversity 75 years ago.
Now, a street party is something I’d be likely to avoid at any given time & even more so at a contagious time like this.
And avoid did I try when the wrestlerman & me caught wind of the gathering in our cul-de-sac using that ol’ working from home chestnut that, luckily for me, didn’t wash as we were ushered out of hiding for one drink.
My socially anxious negativity & my old fashioned housewife ideals were at odds with each other, not knowing whether I wanted get the community wives gathered for a wartime-esque singalong or just awkwardly nod & smile with the conversations around me til it was an acceptable time to go back home.
But neither of these happened.
Welcome To Our Neighbourhood
Instead, a surprise socialite couple appeared from the bungalow & – even more surprisingly – we enjoyed chatting with the people who have kindly sent us Christmas & Easter cards for the four years we’ve lived here despite knowing nothing but our names.
It was so lovely to make new friends from all walks of life, quite literally on our doorstep.
There were laughs that everyone from the teenage son across the road to the older couple on the corner could share as one & there was a very special moment when we collectively fell silent to listen to the Queen’s address.
Something that I had never previously paid attention to before, at that moment, surrounded by a diverse neighbourhood of community comrades amidst a worldwide pandemic that has ended tens of thousands of lives in our country alone, was something so much more poignant than simply a memoriam of past heroes by a respectful lady of power.
Life After Lockdown
This street party is now on the cards to happen annually for our otherwise quiet cul-de-sac & I dare say this whole “should I, shouldn’t I” charade with a happy ending has been reenacted countless times throughout different communities, each with varying tired excuses that were gladly brushed off in the name of community spirit.
And I say long may this continue!
Only, when the 2021 & beyond street parties roll round, they will behold even more significance in not only coming together as one to honour those who lost their lives at the hands of the war in 1945 but also to remember those who lost their lives at the hands of Covid-19 in 2020.
How momentous an occasion it will be to raise a glass to physically “cheers” those absolute champions without the requirements of social distancing.
Every Cloud Has a Red, White & Blue Lining
I don’t know about my wrestlerman, but that heartwarming – nay, heartmelting – display of countrywide strength & community spirit will certainly play an important part in helping me personally get through this crisis with a positive tune ringing in my ears. But probably less of a tear-jerking Vera Lynn song & more of a Glenn Miller number from that era. Or let’s just call it Jive Bunny to amp up the smiles.
A pandemic most definitely makes the neighbourhood grow fonder & now it will make you download Jive Bunny’s Swing The Mood as your audible light at the end of this tunnel!
Stay safe. Stay grateful. Stay home.
Mrs Walmsley | The Unseasoned Wag x