by Bruce Goodman, Assistant Provincial Grand Master
Monday again, and the start of another week of isolation. Today would have been a Bank Holiday if that hadn’t been moved to Friday because of VE Day commemoration, but given the current situation, it feels no different from any other Monday.
The challenges posed by a long lockdown are different. I’m sure many living with small children would gladly swap their situations with those living alone, if only for an hour or two, and vice-versa!
The ‘sameness’ of life under lockdown can be more challenging than many of us might have realised when it all began, but after several weeks there’s a real danger that it will rob us of motivation to tackle anything. I’d urge you to resist that by building a structure into your day and your week.
Setting aside the now-old joke that the bins have been out more than we have, I think the answer is to see as a valuable resource all this extra time with which we have been forcibly presented.
Let’s not consider ‘what to do’ first; I’ll come to that later. Instead, let’s consider ‘when to do it’.
Set the morning aside for the tedious tasks; the ‘must do’ jobs like running round with the Hoover, doing the washing, learning a bit of ritual, or even preparing a casserole and letting it get on with cooking slowly through the rest of the day. At least that way you have a meal ready in the early evening without spending all afternoon preparing it. Find a recipe on line, in a cookery book (there must be one somewhere in the house), or on TV.
Set yourself times for doing things – an hour and a half of housework at a stretch is quite enough for anyone, and the same is true of gardening… Each afternoon or evening, make yourself a list of tasks for the following day, and cross each one off when you complete it. Our Provincial Communications Officer tells me he feels a great sense of satisfaction when he sees a summary of tasks accomplished.
That leaves the afternoon free to attend to tasks you may be keener to get involved with, such as indulging yourself in your favourite hobby.
As part of Lincolnshire’s Provincial executive team, I have responsibilities to attend to, just as Lodge secretaries, Chapter Scribes E, and especially Almoners whohave tasks associated with their roles.
Having mentioned the Almoners, I feel humbled hearing about the wonderful and time consuming work they are doing behind the scenes in the care and attention which they are providing or organising for the welfare of our vulnerable Brethren and our Lodge Widows during this time. Especially I should record the Provinces sincere thanks to the Provincial Almoner John Grimwood, who has spent most of his time for the past seven weeks locked in his Office coordinating the Welfare of us all.
If isolation is a problem for you, and it very probably is, to a greater of lesser extent, you should remember that you are not alone. I have no doubt you could name at once a number of people in your lodge in exactly that situation. The answer, as far as that’s concerned, is to reach for the phone.
Chatting to a friend will undoubtedly lift your spirits – and your friend’s, too. Encourage them to ring a third brother. If they do the same it won’t be long before everyone’s getting a phone call, and someone’s ringing you too. Have a look at the MCF’s Factsheet on Loneliness: https://mcf.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Loneliness-factsheet.pdf
For the more technically able, what about video calls using Messenger or WhatsApp? So many of us carry smartphones these days, and few use them to their full potential. Or you could turn to Zoom, which would allow you to talk to a number of people at the same time. The Provincial website has information on how to use both of those. Find WhatsApp here and Zoom here. I’m aware of a London Lodge almoner based in our Province who is successfully keeping in touch with his members using WhatsApp, having never heard of it before the lockdown started.
What about working with others in your Lodge to form a team for the Provincial ‘University Challenge’ competition, which you can read about at this link? You have until Thursday to enter a team! Or how about taking part in the Sunday Evening Isolation Quiz being run by Tom Murray and his wife Clare in Scunthorpe? It’s simplicity itself. Email Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org tell him your team name. On Sunday at 7pm he’ll send out a list of 30 questions via email, and you have an hour to email back the answers. There’s no entry fee, but there are no prizes either; just the fun of taking part. If you don’t have email, buddy up with someone else in your Lodge who does, and work together over the phone…
And to finish, you may ask what am I doing with all my spare time, so I’ve made this little video about my hobby; I hope you find it interesting: