The Online Showcase
There’s a group of covid captives all under four.
They’ve no soft play or play groups to go and explore.
Not yet at nursery so they’ve been forgotten.
No social activities for them, it’s rotten.
They can exercise outside but it’s cold and wet.
Places near their doorstep are as far as they get.
On trips to the park they view some kids with fear.
They’re not use to children being so near.
No peers to observe and with which to interact.
Does not sharing toys have an impact?
Zoom classes and family exist in 2D.
A generation only knowing a cyber Granny.
Extra home time and cuddles with Mum and Dad.
A chance to bond deeper has now been had.
But 2021 please can these captives now be free?
Let them explore a world with friends and possibility.
I have mixed feelings about you. A bit like the toffee in a bag of Revels: not what I would have chosen, tough at the start, but the promise of something ultimately satisfying. The turn of the year brought with it fear, despair and feelings of hopelessness: here we were stuck indoors once again, with cold nights and scary news reports to keep us company. I felt angry and helpless, not least because my boy is going to reach his first birthday without all the squidges and smiles he’d have had from his family, all the firsts that have been missed by others. That’s been hard to come to terms with. But a year on from when the world shut down, I feel a huge sense of gratitude:
Gratitude for all the kindness I have witnessed and received from others, the inspiration drawn from people in really, really difficult circumstances; Gratitude for my children’s adaptability and wonder; they have taught me more than they will ever know; Gratitude for creative possibilities; Gratitude for my health and the health of loved ones.
And gratitude for realising human resilience. I am stronger than I knew, as are so many I know and have encountered – in person, online, over the phone or in print. So, 2021, when it comes to thinking about what you might have in store for us, I hold on tight to this collective resilience, and I feel hopeful.
Oh, you are here. You are utterly unrecognisable to the years that have gone before you. The year that has just been 2020, brought a virus. A new illness, unknown to humans, scientists or Drs and it has obliterated the way the world is used to living. Day to day life has become solitary – with just household bubbles remaining together. Stay home, the government inform us. That is the clear consistent message. I don’t think I’ve found the words to quite describe your predecessor. Maybe I’ll find them here.
I think I feel mostly bamboozled. I feel this has been like living in a parallel universe. Emergency school for our eldest, her little sister delirious that her big sister is constantly at home to play, argue with, scream at, laugh with and be with! And the littlest – born just before our first national lockdown – is a whirlwind in the wonderful shitty chaos of home. Not being at playgroups, seeing local people has really affected me. I have learnt how much I need – for mind and spirit – the connection. The snatched 5-minute chats or words that help, give me ideas, hope, joy and keep me curious. This is no longer the way I live or a way of life. How can this be? I do not see this returning. Not in your year.
It is not safe to be with your family and friends. What? To write it still seems surreal. It isn’t safe to go to friends’ houses. It is not safe for our children to play games, use each other’s toys, have snacks together and for my friend and I to try and drink hot tea and enjoy half conversations. To gain strength, patience and solidarity in this crazy, hectic, overwhelming, mundane and pressured thing – motherhood. We were never meant to do this alone.
‘It takes a village to raise a child’
I believe that phrase, quote, saying whole heartly.
The virus, the threat has wiped out that village we make for ourselves. My family does not live locally to me – when I became a Mummy I knew, I needed support. Sometimes practical, though much more emotionally. From when our eldest was one year old I have been creating my own village. Will I be doing this, without my village, for the whole of your year? I will need a quiet room and the tears can flow when schools are finally open again. When will that be?
I heard a phrase recently “I’m taking the small grains”. I relate this and I recognise what small, tiny grains I have put in place to help me, support me in the mirky, marvellous, muddy mundane of 3 children under 6 years old and returning to part time nursing shifts. I am miles away from the covid wards. I can’t really imagine the physical exhaustion and compassion fatigue those members of staff in critical care are trying to cope with. The NHS wasn’t busy in 2019 or before. It was overwhelmed and potentially dangerous. And now? What will we all be left with? Will the country continue its thanks, applause, praise and adoration for your year and into the future? Will staff still need to provide our own teabags? Your year seems blank to me. A total unknown. I’m protecting myself I think, not building to many wishing stacks of what could be. What would so desperately help. I write this in your winter. We are heading into spring. Please bring some sun. We all need some sun. Warmer days would be hugely appreciated.
Here is to finding out.
With hope, curiosity, depletion, discombobulation and waiting to see what you hold,
Can I ask you a question one to one?
We all know about 2020
We had drama aplenty
What I ask;
What is your task?
What will you teach?
What ideas do you preach?
The thing we all hope
Is that we can cope
We want it to be better
So I am writing this letter
Let us live
Let us give
Hope for a better year
So no one has to shed a tear
Or is new year just a con?
Here’s to a good 2021
You were the light
at the end of the tunnel
The world looked up in hope
Lives growing asunder
A rocky start
Much like deja vu
You were supposed to be better
But it felt like a coup
We were in and out of lockdown
January already a blur
We hankered after some normalcy
Hollow expectations from the New Year
Slowly the change is
happening for the better
Everyone is waiting for
That coveted letter
Bring back to us
our beautiful community
Restaurants, libraries, theatre
Our sense of parity
Let us hug without fear
Meet family and friends
We’ve now learnt our lesson Be that year when misery ends
It’s the year 2021…
The World is adjusting to a new “normal” …
But while we are keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe…
There is one thing we must not forget…
To keep our Planet safe too…
“Hey there, listen up my name is Nico
I want to talk to you about all things eco
From now on just call me the Nico warrior
Take me seriously then we won’t be sorrier
“one life live it” is a phrase often said
Let’s apply it to our planet, let’s get this phrase in your head
“One planet love it” is what I want you to say
Let’s take some action and I’ll show you the way
Climate change is happening now
Let’s do something about it and I’ll tell you how
If you can why not walk instead of getting in your car
Better for your heart and health by far
Can you reduce recycle and reuse?
Let’s be winners let’s not lose
If everyone makes these little changes to their life
we’ll see a big difference and delay all the strife!
“One planet love it” I want to hear you roar
Let’s keep it safe right down to it’s core
We’re the generation that can make a change
Let’s all do it together then it won’t feel strange
One Planet, love it!”
by Louise Palfreman, with thanks to the pupils, staff and parents at Guildford Theatre School and Cross Farm Infant Academy for helping me to bring the character to life and of course my very own “Eco Nico”.
Tracy Ann Fletcher
Hello again old friend!
I’m surprised to see you, after a year at war with our new foe
yet here we are suspiciously soldiering on
united in compulsory service
You’re a hero old friend
I blindly believe in you, it’s just I
didn’t want to go to war with no weapon to protect me
out there on the battlefield , my fellow men massacred around me by this invisible enemy.
How does it feel old friend?
as you continue your journey while others can’t come along for the ride.
I don’t know why but someone has to decide
I think that’s the grim reaper’s job.
It’s great to see you old friend
will I see you roll around again? birthdays? Christmas? Dad’s 60th
or will I lose you? Like all those you lost last year,
I’ll make a plan old friend
to see you next year
or maybe just
survive this one.
Hi. How are you? (better than last year I hope).
I just would like, on behalf of all of us, to say thank you for joining us. We need you to run this place for us. Last year was nothing like this company had imagined. We would love you to join one of our struggling departments, such as Economics or Enquiries. You should know what happened. If not, ask your older sibling, 2020, who was appointed project manager and successfully managed to rip this company apart. Therefore, we pleaded with them to step down earlier on, but they spent all their time devising new ways to get back at us. Please inform them they won’t be going anywhere near this world building again.
So, your resume. Not much going on, but the less drama the less mess we must clear up, right? My only issue is that you need to be immune to COVID-19, through one of the company-approved jabs that we can ship out to you. That way, life can continue as normal. Interesting to see that you have had an issue with the first few months of the year, but we can smooth that out as you begin to work.
Also, in terms of holiday, national holidays are not included in your paid days off, but you don’t have to come to work. You may have up to 14 days leave this year but be warned that you cannot go abroad with this new contract in place. Christmas is a day off, but we shall see nearer the time if that can happen.
The work you will do here will involve a fair bit of monitoring various screens that we have in the building. The majority will be just documenting important factors that impact the public and then reporting it to human resources where you will work together to fulfil the criteria needed. It will be explained in more detail when you begin work.
I am sure we will work well together as time goes by.
Ms E. Arth,
Founder of the Universal Company of P.P.L
I have lost sight of what’s in front.
I turn to look behind but not even an apparition can be defined.
I denied it because I want to see the truth
but my heart’s too full
to find the words to describe it.
The Empty Darkness Triumphs Every Time,
It haunts me as I stumble along,
trying to direct my step
between intervals of sleep and death.
These blackened days will never cease.
Will gift me peace.
For a view beneath the earth
Will taste like sweet release.
I hope you’ll be kinder,
That the decisions made by you
Will be wiser,
We’ve almost lost our
Ability to clap,
The tension between us
Is starting to snap,
Cut off from the world
Except through a screen,
We are the most connected
We’ve ever been,
We’ve forgotten the taste
Of each other’s company,
We’ve fallen into a state of
Depression and anxiety,
Become all too familiar
With our own four walls,
Continuously texting or
Making video calls,
Trying to make up for
What we have lost,
Some disregard the rules,
Don’t realise the cost,
We are sick and tired
Of seeing more of the same,
We hope and we pray
We will meet again.
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The Dear 2021 Zine is a Write Sparks project.