Before starting my nursing training, I worked for a few months at the John Lewis store in Sheffield. At that time, it was named Cole Brothers and my role involved stocking shelves and being a general dogsbody in the Christmas Decoration section. The store was a landmark in the city centre and I remember meeting many friends and relatives at the entrance.
Every morning I caught the bus that seemed to race along the roads, wiggling across the moors before it slowed for the city traffic. In the evening, I shed glitter over its seats and aisles and no matter how often I washed my waist-long hair, those tiny shiny specs stuck like limpets.
We were a partnership, a group of employees who looked after one another and who genuinely loved working for a company that rewarded our loyalty. I loved being a witness to the excitement of shoppers as they chose their baubles and tinsel. It was a magical workplace.
The distribution of the bonus caused great cheer and even though I was a temporary employee, I took home my share.
The news that John Lewis is closing the Sheffield store breaks my heart. One more thing this pandemic has stolen. My memories of my time there will last forever.
I have done long walks on most of the days I have been well during Lockdown and my legs are beginning to protest. Even though I attended a gym regularly and did spin classes several times a week, these walks are challenging some of the major muscle groups. If I carried weights, it would be a great workout.
My route includes hills, beaches and the beautiful Bournemouth Gardens. This photo is of the Upper Gardens which is filled with a variety of trees, bushes and flowering plants. The great weather of April has produced a pallet of colour and every day this changes.
This pandemic has given me time to enjoy our local beauty and I hope that wherever you are, it is giving you equal pleasure.
I am not a writer of humour. Although I enjoy a joke as much as most, I am hopeless at remembering punchlines and I don’t always have the wit to come up with something funny. In particular, at the present time, it can feel inappropriate to try to lighten the mood with humour.
And yet in my career as a NHS nurse and midwife, humour was how my colleagues and I dealt with difficult times. It didn’t mean that we weren’t sensitive and considerate when the occasion dictated, but it did allow us to express emotion in useful ways.
Once in a while someone makes me smile with a joke about haircuts or other pandemic dilemmas and I know that the human spirit will carry us through this worldwide challenge. So when I think about writing a pandemic journal I try to remember to include the positive thoughts in addition to the negative ones and to inject an item of humour.
This beautiful poem was sent to me recently (thanks to J.C.) and is worth sharing with you today while we go through the difficult days of our own pandemic. I acknowledge the talent and skill of the writer Kathleen O’Mara.
History repeats itself. This poem that was written in 1869 & reprinted during the 1919 pandemic
It was written in 1869 by Kathleen O’Mara:
And people stayed at home
And read books
And they rested
And did exercises
And made art and played
And learned new ways of being
And stopped and listened
Someone meditated, someone prayed
Someone met their shadow
And people began to think differently
And people healed.
And in the absence of people who
Lived in ignorant ways
Dangerous, meaningless and heartless,
The earth also began to heal
And when the danger ended and
People found themselves
They grieved for the dead
And made new choices
And dreamed of new visions
And created new ways of living
And completely healed the earth
Just as they were healed.