A series of interviews with villagers in lockdown by Frances Currey
1: David Gresham
In these unprecedented and unusual times, our small village has never seemed more isolated yet united. In hopes of shedding light onto this confusing situation, I decided to interview individuals within the village. These informal chats will endeavour to look at the lives of different people and see how they are coping with the lockdown.
The first person, generous and brave enough to put themselves forward as a Guinea pig, was David Gresham. David is 63 years old and has lived in the village for around 15 years.
The first question I asked David was, ‘What good have you seen come out of the village as a result of the coronavirus pandemic?’. He pointed out how the village had banded together. People have been doing their neighbours shopping, some have been carrying out odd jobs. This lockdown has certainly brought out our generous, caring side. David has seen people sharing everything, some have given a simple cup of sugar, others have even let people use a spare bedroom to isolate safely. Many people have opened their doors to those in difficult
situations, David himself is doing this. He also touched upon the fact that many young people have returned to the village and are now volunteering in the Shop. He expressed his gratitude to those who grew up here and have now returned to help their community.
We then went on to talk about the hobbies he has picked up to pass the time during lockdown. David has been re-visiting interests that, normally, when life is busy, get pushed aside. If you walk across the churchyard as part of your daily exercise, you may be surprised to hear the sounds of a Saxophone coming from David’s house. After 35 years, he has picked up the instrument again and started playing.
For the past 15 years he hasn’t had the time to make big inroads in his garden. Recently, however, he has been able to spend much more time getting his hands muddy.
David is not alone, walking around the village, I have noticed how well tended everyone’s garden is looking.
David promised himself, at the beginning of lockdown, that he would learn to bake bread. Despite an initial shortage in ingredients, he is now able to do this. Let’s hope he washed his hands properly after all that gardening.
I also asked David whether he has learnt anything during lockdown that he will take into his post-quarantine life.
He said he has noticed he doesn’t need as much money as he thought. Although he does miss going to the theatre and out for dinner, he has realised that these luxuries are not essential.
He described how liberating it has been to appreciate the simple things in life.
As retirement approaches, David was concerned about not having enough money put aside. However, lockdown has taught him that he can survive, and live happily, on a smaller budget. David hopes that on a world-wide scale, people will become less materialistic and appreciate the things that matter most.
One thing that David will not be sorry to leave behind is the tedious bleaching of shopping as soon as it is brought in the house and the constant washing of hands.
Aside from the fear that comes with coronavirus, David has been rather enjoying the simple, quiet life. He is now taking pleasure in the things that seemed like chores before. Life seems less rushed.
He is full of hope that life may have permanently changed for the better; politically, environmentally and socially. David is hopeful that all communities, like ours, are being strengthened.
The recent hotel accommodation provided for homeless people is something David is very pleased about. He is encouraged that this idea will not be reversed when lockdown ends.
Finding time to contact old friends has also been something David has appreciated over the last seven weeks.
David is moved every Thursday at 8 pm when, standing outside his cottage and clapping, he hears others in the village doing the same. The fact that people linger outside, having saluted the NHS, and start chatting is a nice bonus, and he is reminded that we are all in this together.
David pointed out that finding new and resourceful ways of having fun has been a positive thing. The flower show, the VE day celebrations and the art re creation competition have all put a smile on peoples’ faces. Technology has come into its own during lockdown and people have found new skills and ways of communicating.
On the negative side, David has found it tricky to get some practical things sorted. A broken cooker and birds nesting in his chimney have been more of a headache than normal. Most importantly, if Ella, (David’s lovely old Labrador) fell ill, it would be problematic getting her to the vet.
Not having the mobile Library visit the village is also something David regrets and hopes it will be able to resume its valuable service soon.
He also misses hosting and going to dinner parties with friends.
One of David’s relatives died recently and he was sad not to be able to go to the funeral and mourn with his family.
I asked David how he was keeping in contact with his loved ones. He has been using internet platforms like “Zoom” and “House party” to chat with friends. He recently enjoyed a three-way “Facetime” conversation with his sister and brother-in-law. David has even rediscovered the joys of putting pen to paper. He sent an old fashioned letter through the post congratulating his brother and sister in law on their diamond wedding anniversary.
I very much enjoyed chatting to David and I’m very grateful that he was so open and entertaining in his answers.
I hope this article has given you an insight into the life of a fellow villager. There will be another article in two weeks.
Please stay safe everyone.