Self Isolating to Learn

Wendy is due to start her harp lesson. Normally she would put it into its protective cover, lug it downstairs and drive over to Ham to meet her tutor. Today she switches on her laptop and tunes into Skype for an online session instead.

Like millions of other people in self isolation during the Covid-19 outbreak, she is making the most of her time to learn new skills or rediscover hobbies using the latest technology.

In the meantime, Laura is in her tiny shed. She has cleared a bit of space, found oil paints and brushes, last used many years ago, and is copying a favourite painting to hone her skills.

Later each of them will unroll their mats on their living room floors, tune into Zoom on their laptops and practice yoga with Nina, a popular class that usually takes place on Eel Pie island.

Social media platforms are keeping brains and bodies active.

Janet who lives opposite Wendy spends time between her nearby allotment and stitching a cushion in the Japanese style of Sashiko, a technique she has just learnt from the internet with the help of the Embroiderer’s Guild.

Chris in Lion Road, joined a choir called The Kingston Singers two years ago. They normally meet at the Rose Theatre every Monday evening but now all rehearsals are via Zoom. She also posts recipes on Facebook to inspire others. Last week she was surprised and delighted to hear a tap on her window and outside was Annie’s Whizz from Park Lane Stables. The little white pony was doing the rounds near Twickenham Green and Chris’s house was on her list.

Cathy clicks away with needles to make a brown bear from a book she found called Knit Your Own Zoo. She says this is just a dry run before she starts on the very complicated pattern and wool she bought two years ago from Tribal Yarns in Richmond.

Parents up the road, are keeping busy devising new ways to entertain and educate their young children. Cathy’s neighbours have bought artificial grass to cover their stone patio to make it safer for their little daughter. Play tents have become very popular as have bicycles for family outings.

A local WhatsApp group has suggested that everyone in the road plants sunflower seeds in their front gardens to create a bright and cheerful display.

For those that venture out in Twickenham, it is obvious that life has changed. The streets are quiet; restaurants, pubs and non-essential shops closed. There are chalk drawings on the pavements and rainbow paintings in windows with messages thanking the NHS and delivery drivers.

Keeping the required distance of two metres apart from other people has come the norm yet after a while the novelty of this hostile approach to your fellow human fades and you wave hello to strangers and make a joke. Creative people have made their own face masks using colourful patterns to add a bit of individuality to their permitted daily exercise.

Walk around Twickenham and you become aware of the absence of planes flying overhead. The air smells fresher and the silence is broken by the sound of birdsong and there is an abundance of bees and butterflies. Nature knows nothing of what is happening in the world and so continues with its own daily routines. It could be very easy to get used to this simpler, more natural way of life and to know that time spent indoors was not wasted. Hopefully we will all emerge with new talents and a different viewpoint on life.

Article by Cathy Cooper, Twickenham Photographer

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