My Virtual School – Quality Street

1 May 2020. The doorbell rang this evening. So rare an event that we weren’t sure where the sound came from. A bag full of Quality Street on the doormat – ‘with love from no 14.’ One on every doorstep in the street. I’ve heard of spontaneous gifts of treats within neighbourhoods but this was our first experience. As we all stood on our doorsteps happily sharing this good deed, another neighbour said ‘it’s from Sue.’ Thank you, Sue. We only moved here in late January so haven’t met many neighbours at all – just observed them from the balcony, shared in the ‘Clap for carers’ but the dog has a number of fans. Someone else popped over to no 14 with a single pink rose, the first to flower in her garden, as a thank you. Sue was clearly very happy with her rose and the general good feeling her gift had given to lighten everybody’s mood on a wet day in lock-down.

It has been very wet for most of the day but even so it is May Day. Here that still means a medieval spring feast rather than any associations with workers’ rights. A day for singing madrigals from rooftops at dawn. The traditional May morning greeting from Magdalen College couldn’t happen this year. No crowds on Folly Bridge followed by early breakfast and punting. But ‘Now is the month of May’ rang out by zoom with the bells to finish.

A wet day to drift through youtube looking for the great performances that have been made available live: here the National Theatre’s production of Frankenstein starring Benedict Cumberbatch, there the Royal Shakespeare Company performing Twelfth Night, a lovely short piece by the Ballet Opera de Paris dancing to Prokofiev in their own homes – children, pets, baths and kitchens included. Everywhere a sense of carrying on.

But best of all, more of the competition between labradors Olive and Mabel, with an inimitable commentary by their owner, BBC sports commentator Andrew Cotter.

All such bright moments for a dark time.

This is my personal Mass Observation blog. I invite anyone, particularly members of Radley College community,  to join in to create a group record of this important period in our history as we face the COVID-19 pandemic.

© Clare Sargent