Newsletter 4

Living History NEWSLETTER No.4 March 2020

This is a year like no other – none of us, however old, have experienced anything remotely like the present situation.. We’re all separated, isolated, worried and of course, ‘vulnerable’! But just because we’ve been around so long, we can apply the strategies that we’ve all had to use in the past, even if the details are very different. But it’s also a huge opportunity, especially in our line of work. We’re living through a unique period – new surprises every day, even if they’re unwelcome ones, and so much time to write about it all. We’re all involved in recording history, for ourselves and our own communities, but if we all get together on this we could produce an eyewitness view of the whole story – we could call it ‘Old Age in the Time of Coronavirus’.

Think of all those books about the Home Front – it’s not the policy decisions we find fascinating, it’s the personal details, the effects on daily life, the unintended humour. Just as we’ve read those, we can now provide an hour by hour account of what we are living through and our great-grandchildren will find it just as fascinating. If we all combine our experiences we can cover so much more. Are you self-isolating or do you nip out when no-one’s looking. I’ve had to convince my children that a border collie needs a daily walk – our woods are isolated enough. Are you using the offers of the services that are springing up? Is this more of a rural response or is it going on in the city centres as well? And don’t forget the humour – when I refused to stay totally at home my son sent me this – I think he was being sarcastic? Screen grab from video of a man using a giant circle around his waist as a social distancing measure at Testacco market in Rome.

It would be great to include how we feel about what’s going on, as well as the practical details. Do you feel ‘vulnerable’? or just annoyed. My first reaction when I heard that was to refresh my hair dye, so I could pass for 68 in the supermarket (I’m 75). Many people on radio and TV seem to be furious at being written off in this way but probably many more think it’s all totally justified. Where do you stand?

In most cases WW2 comes over as one great national effort with very few dissenters. It can’t possibly have been like that all the time but then the only way of recording it was in diaries (if they had time), a few of which were published years later and would have been professionally edited. For this emergency we’re all going to have lots of time, along with the ability, if we choose, to record real feelings in real time and have the means to publish it. Our descendants should be grateful! Writing your own diary of this extraordinary time will give you a perspective on what we’re going through – observing an event allows you to step back slightly and can take some of the worry out of it. And if you want to join with other people and share what it’s meant to you personally, we’ll be able to provide the means to do that and we’ll end up with a book or maybe a website that could be the voice of our generation.

This email is being circulated by National Office – you may already have seen it . . . A living history of members’ experiences during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic A Shared Learning Project</P.

We are currently living through an unprecedented period, due to the coronavirus and everyone’s daily lives are being affected. The situation is impacting on people in lots of different ways and you will all have your own experiences, thoughts and reflections on what this time is like for you and how it is affecting you, both on a practical and on a psychological level. We would really like to capture all of this as part of a UK wide living history project.

Why are we doing this? The more members that undertake the project the more information we will have about what this period has felt like. As well as being an interesting and engaging piece of work, it could also add value to planning should this type of extraordinary situations ever face the country again.<,/p>

Who should get involved?

Everybody who is a member of the U3A!

What sort of information are we looking for? Please make a note of the date you are sending your contribution and you may also like to consider the following to give some context to your thought for other people.

Do you live in a town or village. Is this an urban or rural location? Are there usually lots of people about?

What’s your household like? Do you live alone or with a partner or other family? Have you got people who are still working living with you?

How are you managing your days? What activities are you doing? Are you trying to stick to a routine?

What did you enjoy? What good things happened?

Was there anything you did which you wouldn’t normally have had the time to do? What was difficult? How did you manage this?

How did you feel and what impacted on this?

Who did you speak to or see and how?

What do you think was the most important bit of the day (whether this was something you heard on the news, or a contact you made or an activity you discovered?)

What do we need to do? Please write you contribution (or you are free to use other media such as pictures) and send it to diary@u3a.org.uk [I have asked Fran for this email address. Need confirmation before this goes live] and we will use a selection on the website and via our communications channels. Please let us know whether you are happy for us to get back in touch with you if we would like to discuss it further. [I envisage the SLP co-ordinators would moderate this mailbox and make the selections] Many thanks for sharing your stories!

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