Updated: Feb 4
Not a recipe as such but a sustaining winter collection of words and pictures reflecting what the past year has really been like for many living on their own...
Kilburn Older Voices Exchange, KOVE, is a group for older people living in the north-west London suburb. Group Chair, Ags Irwin, explains:
'When coronavirus reached Britain and lockdown was announced in late March, KOVE’s immediate concern was the well-being of its members. One of our chief objectives is to improve the quality of life for older people by combatting social isolation – and now we were being officially told to isolate! Social activities and local campaigns ground to a halt: no more meetings, walks, film club, forums… After ensuring members had the essentials (groceries and prescriptions delivered, daily exercise, phone/email contact with staff and each other), we thought about ways to keep people entertained during the long hours and days at home. Conversations with members about what they were doing and wanted to do revealed that many are very resourceful and creative. From that came the idea to draw together writings and artwork produced during this unique period. Some seized lockdown as an opportunity to deal with neglected tasks; others found it allowed their imaginations to flourish. For some it provided time for contemplation of life; though not everyone has had an easy time of it – this is also reflected in a few contributions. From paintings, drawings, photography and knitting to diary entries, poems and short essays, all aspects of the lockdown experience as lived by KOVE members are contained in Lockdown Pie.'
Lockdown Pie by Ags Irwin
First make a pastry case,
whatever you can bake.
It must be big enough
to take the whole of Lockdown Pie
Now reach for the top shelf,
take down the box
of good intentions and failed tries.
We’ll start with the books:
And, beginning with Proust,
lay the base of the pie.
Add Greer’s Whole Woman
Seth’s Suitable Boy
Knausgard’s Family demise
and the pie starts to rise.
Next for some filling.
Empty those drawers of useless bras,
old socks and tights
too small for your thighs.
Put them in layers for Lockdown Pie.
Bring out that box of old photos
Too painful to see.
The pictures of those you’ve lost
of who you used to be.
Gently place them on top,
add a drizzle of tears.
Now it is time to put in your fears
but don’t fill it too high,
leave room for more
in Lockdown Pie.
You can now add your wishes,
your hopes and your dreams,
your unfulfilled plans,
your fantastic schemes,
all the things that life promised
and you promised back,
just tip ’em all in,
with a terrible grin,
into Lockdown Pie.
And now it is finished,
so put on the lid,
just say ‘Goodbye’
to horrible Lockdown Pie.
An excerpt from A Carer's Lockdown:
I know I am fortunate in that I drive and own a car. On a good day I can achieve 20 things rather than one or two. I am able to drive mum around, which would be extremely difficult on public transport. I clean the door handles and surfaces inside the car with disinfectant to reduce the risk of infection, because as well as fear of coronavirus I have my own health problems to cope with, which adds to the pressure. Anon
An excerpt from Deborah Knight's contribution, March Lockdown:
The 11th was a lovely, sunny spring day and KOVE had a group walk around Swiss Cottage. People said they’d rather go out and be careful than feel like shut-ins. When we said goodbye we didn’t realise it would be 21 weeks until we met again.
Clifford Silverman kept notes in a daily log:
Daily get up at 8.00 am, bath, breakfast and watch TV at 10.00 am, like HealthCheck UK Live or Ross Kemp and Britain’s Volunteer Army, then do my walk, have lunch, then read a chapter my book, 10lb Penalty by Dick Francis. Later I watch Tenable, Tipping Point, then the news, Pointless at 5.15, 6.00 pm Richard Osman’s House of Games; at the end of the week I know their names. Solitude I am walking round the perimeter: 22 laps, 4 miles of my garden. I am alone without any smiles, it is quite a challenge as at the end there is a hill. I watch on TV a programme of dates. I watch First Dates; I fill the hours and think, ‘Oh well’. Retiring. Six weeks before I retired, I told a garden colleague I was leaving. I had my two-week holiday, then gave my notice. I didn’t put it online, I wrote it by hand and gave it in person. I felt relieved that I did it my way and not following rules. I had a party and left the workplace behind me. Being honest I’m not going on my walking holidays, not talking to these social pals, but putting pen to paper letting ink have social capers, it is black write down on white. I look outside the birds are singing, less pollution, trees are greener, a lot less traffic, much less cars, people need to be on your bike, when we’re angry say, ‘Go, have a hike’.
The anthology is dedicated 'to all KOVE members, recognising their resilience during this challenging time, but especially those whose contributions have made it possible. Also to members of the Steering Group for support and guidance, to other volunteers for giving their time, and to our funders, Ageing Better in Camden (National Lottery Reaching Communities). Thanks also to the Mercers’ Company for their support.'
We're grateful to Mercers' Company for bringing Lockdown Pie to our attention. Mercers also help support Anna Chaplaincy, for which we, too, are very grateful.