7 May 2020. Bunting is appearing on houses and across streets ready for the 75th anniversary of VE Day tomorrow. One garden wall near us has been decorated with bunting drawn in chalk for its entire length. Must have taken ages. At least a day – wasn’t there when we walked the dog past there two nights ago.
Tonight was another Thursday Clap for Carers at 8pm evening. Here a single bell tolls to signal the start and continues throughout until it is the last sound. Can’t work out where it is coming from. All the churches are locked and entry for any activity is banned. I have been reading an impassioned Twitter argument between various organists all separated from their organs and unable to practice. Quite a bit of civil unrest brewing among the organ grinding community. One or two threatening to do it anyway!
In our street people pop their heads out of their front doors to see who else is there; spend time chatting nonchalantly in case they looked eager; wave a bit, and then, by mutual agreement, clap as loudly as possible. No saucepans, fireworks, bagpipes or heavy metal performances. But certainly a moment of solidarity.
Listening to my father-in-law on the radio today for the VE Day celebrations. He spoke of D-Day. At 19 he commanded a flotilla of landing craft. As he guided his little boats into Utah Beach he heard a strange noise behind him. It was the full complement of crew and soldiers on an American battleship cheering them on. Next day, his was the first Royal Navy ship back into Plymouth harbour and the same noise greeted him. The people of Plymouth lined up along the docks and the shoreline – cheering. He choked in the telling – ‘that was the most emotional moment of the war.’
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