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Post "Lockdown" Dreams Anyone?

What I Will Do When the Pandemic is Tamed? By John Kohut

Lock-down won’t be over, as far as I am concerned, until theatres, opera houses, and other performing arts institutes reopen their doors. I have been in mourning since 6 pm on Monday, March 16 when my partner and I arrived at the Donmar early only to discover the evening’s performance of Far Away had been cancelled. Not only that, there was no lifeboat this side of the Ural Mountains for those of us who turn to theatre more times a week than devout Catholics attend mass during Lent.

 Theatres across the country had decided to close their doors due to something Boris Johnson had just mumbled during the 30 minutes it had taken us to walk from the National Gallery to Covent Garden. Gone were my several nights per week riding the underground to the Noel Coward, Young Vic, Old Vic, Almeida, Arcola, Colosseum, Bridge, National, Royal Opera House, Pinter, or Hampstead Theatre.

No longer would I sit just a few yards away from the likes of Maxine Peake, Tom Huddleston, Daniel Radcliffe, Simon Russel Beale, Laura Linney, Mark Rylance, Emilie Stauton, Juliet Stevenson, Glenda Jackson, Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, David Walliams, or Eddie Redmayne.

In other words, when England's theatres went dark, my world became very dim. 

My theatre-going for most of my life was sporadic, I admit, a way to find entertainment, enlightenment, or a night out when I was striving for work-life balance. But when I became very ill a few years ago, and was in and out of hospitals, suffering constant pain, my world shrank to my apartment and medical clinics and hospitals. London’s theatres became my substitute for vacations on the Continent. Join the dots marking the theatre locations on the map and you will see Stratford was my Far East, Southwark and Waterloo my Mediterranean. Theatre was where I connected the world without having to look at a screen. A play, musical, or opera was no longer just a “nice thing to do for a change,” or tool to unwind from the things that were supposed to matter. Theatre for me had become a serious affair. 

Of all the London theatres, the one I have thought about most over the past couple of months is the Regents Park Open Air Theatre. I keep thinking: this time last year, I would cycle two and a half miles through St. John’s Wood, around the Outer Circle, turn left at York Bridge, peddle towards the Inner Circle in low gear, arrive at the magnificent black iron and partly gilded Jubilee Gates which loom like a giant warship from the Imperial Navy, bearing the cypher, GVR, for his majesty, George V Rex.

I would get off my bike and walk it through Queen Mary’s Gardens to my destination. When I think of those soggy, chilly summer evenings at the amphitheatre last summer, what disturbs me is not the thought of the unseasonable chill at the time, but nostalgia, regret, longing, and heartbreak of being so close and yet driven apart now from the outdoor theatre. This year’s glorious summer weather makes the waste seem all the more disturbing. The impossibility of reconciling me with having been exiled from Queen Mary’s Gardens this summer brings on anxiety attacks. I have to stop thinking about fate’s cruelty, or I risk going nutty myself.

I read a few days ago that the Open Air Theatre may stage a live performance of something or other at the end of the summer. When that happens, the pandemic will truly be over and I will be spending my evenings and Saturday afternoons in Regents Park’s theatre, or at the National, the Bridge, Old Vic, Young Vic, Almeida, Donmar, English National Opera, Royal Opera House, or maybe even one of the theatres I have not yet visited.

To See the Generations by Sheila Evans

My dream right now, is to physically see more members of my family as we slowly come out of lockdown. I am excited to see all three generations of my family, and be able to gather together in the same room.  Where my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, can all congregate.

I am looking forward to our family coming together like before, and being able to see all the babies and toddlers. I have not been able to see them while I am have been shielding. This has been hard and very isolating especially when you have a big family.

Even through some restrictions have been lifted for shielding vulnerable people, I still remain cautious, and have shielded for a little while longer. My children have been great, they have brought me my shopping, and everything that I need to get through this time.

People always say to me “you are so lucky having a big family”, and I know that I am and really appreciate it.

Another thing I have missed is people, you don’t realise how good it is to talk. Having that human contact and daily communication each day is a powerful thing. So I plan to catch up with people as I come out of this lockdown.

Small things like trips to the supermarkets, and shopping are things I am looking forward to getting back to, independence is important. Shopping has always been a part of my social routine and I am look forward to doing my own shopping again, can’t wait!


To the land of my forefathers by Yasmine

During this crisis I have decided that I will travel to countries that I have always dreamed of visiting.  The first place I would like to visit is India, the place of my forefathers. I was born in Africa and have never travelled to India before.

It would be wonderful to learn more about my forefathers and the places where they lived and to generally understand more about my past.

When you are young, you don’t really think about these things, they don’t seem that important. When you are older you see things differently and want to learn more.  I want to learn about my past, because it is important.

When I go to India I would like to learn about the culture, foods, etc. So that I can connect with the country, that I originate from. I also want to visit countries like Egypt and Australia and learn more about them.

I look forward to going out to restaurants, and going to see movies, plays, and museums. Visiting these types of places, are lovely ways to learn about different things and taste different culinary cuisines. I also miss the lovely trips and other outings, organised by Open age and other community centres.

I have missed visiting my friends and family, and attending my Prayer House for prayers. These are all important parts of my life.  

I have made a decision to not hold back on things I like to do.  In life we have opportunities, especially when you are well, and able to accomplish your plans and wishes. It is best to do things when you can, and not to delay them as we don't know what is round the corner.

I would like to add that open age have organised a great deal of activities that have helped to keep me active.

I take this opportunity to thank all the staff for their hard work and help.  This has really helped me to get through this difficult time.   


The Blitz, Doodlebugs, and walking 50 miles a month by Carlos Gastron Johnson

I have been shielding since March, and I am really looking forward to seeing my way of life get back to normal. I am trying to keep myself motivated and as busy as possible but it is not always easy.

Recently I have been approached by a friend/staff member, from the Queens Park Resource Centre. To do some talks about the Blitz, in some of the local primary schools in Queens Park. I am really looking forward to doing this, sometime in the future, when it is safe to do so.

Being able to do these talks after lockdown is so important. This generation of children really don’t know about World War ll, the Doodlebug Bombs, the underground bunkers, and the night raids. They don’t have an understanding of what our generation went through, to fight World War ll and what we had to give up. I have been asked to give the children an insight into what it was like, from first-hand experience and I hope it will be educational.

I personally remember having to put my hands over my ears as the Doodlebug Bombs came down, and the long periods of time I spent queuing for food. When you have lived through something like this, it makes you a stronger person. It was such a different time, with so many parallels to what is happening now with Covid 19, and has given me a lot to think about in the last three months.

Finally I am really looking forward to my 50 mile a month walks. I like to visit a lot of the local parks and I generally spend a huge amount of time walking. I like to keep myself fit and healthy, which is important at my age. I have not done much exercise indoors, but hopefully when lockdown is fully lifted I can start my walking again.

I look forward to seeing Open Age when our lives get back too normal, hopefully very soon. I will pop in and say hello to staff.


The Two Necessities by Daniel Kassem

I am looking forward to two specific things, after this lockdown. The first thing is getting back to Westminster Library Service, and the second thing is returning to Open Age (physically). I can’t wait to access these two services again and see all my friends.

When I retired from my job I decided to go to Westminster Adult Education Service, to learn more about computers and mathematics.  When the course finished I spent most of my time in Westminster library. Using their facilities and using the library computer, to practice what I had learnt in the class, in order to refresh my memory and keep it sharp.

Using the Westminster Library Service has been a big blessing to me. As well as brushing up on my mathematics at the library. I would watch strategic YouTube videos, based on what I have learned, in my weekly classes with Open Age.

Westminster library Service has provided a lot of support for me and others who don’t have the internet at home. Through this service I have been able to go to the library, whether it is for information or to use their facilities which have been a huge help.

Alongside Westminster Library, I had been attending Open Age. This time of being away from Open Age (physically) has really opened my eyes, to the importance of having Open Age. My classes are so important. My learning has expanded, and I am really lucky that I am a member.

Open Age gives me something to do, something to focus on and it is a part of my weekly schedule. I am able to socialise and be a part of a fun community. I bumped into another Open Age member recently and she was commenting on how much she (physically) missed Open Age, and needed to get back, we had a long conversation in the street.

Open Age is a part of my life and I am looking forward, to us all (physically) coming back together again, maybe we could all have a big Open Age sing along! when we get back! 


Bursting To Get Out There by Gerardine Heneghan

I am planning to do so much when I come out of this lock down. I really miss going to my meetings, getting my shopping, talking to people in Sainsbury’s, going for long walks and linking with friends and family.

So much freedom has been removed from my life because of my age group. Which has been very frustrating for me and others of the same age. I am classed as vulnerable but I don’t feel vulnerable.

I feel strong and vibrant, and I believe that I can do so much after the lockdown and really make a difference. I am about as vulnerable as Mike Tyson! I am bursting to get out there, and do new things and am really looking forward to it.

I have been talking with Queens Park Council, to put together a Street Party for adults and children, in a socially distanced manner. Queens Park Council is really enthusiastic about me putting something like this together, for the community.

It could be either fancy dress, dancing in every street, or gate. Where the neighbours could gate-crash any party. It would be a lot of fun and something to look forward to in the community. I don’t know all of my neighbours, but this event would be a good chance to get to know them. Where we could all feel part of a community.

I also wanted to create a booklet with information. About what people in the neighbourhood do e.g. finding out what neighbourhood plumbers or builders we have, who would be willing to help out other people when needed.

Or people available to help, other neighbours who need food or a meal. It is just a way, where we could come out of this crisis, looking after each other a bit more. Basically to build a community directory of handy people, in the neighbourhood that could help everybody, out when needed.

Most importantly what I really miss in this lockdown are my trips to Primark, every person needs a trip to Primark! I love Primark and I miss visiting it and getting my bargains.

Just The little Things by Theresa Murphy

I am looking forward, to exiting this long lockdown and seeing my everyday life begin to resume as normal. I look forward to getting back my independence, and going about my daily life as I did before.

I am also looking forward to being able to carry out the little everyday tasks, that you don’t really think about, when you are not in lockdown. Buying my own shopping from the supermarkets, going for walks, etc. These were all a part of my daily routine. As well as travelling on various buses, to get to my many destinations, which I really do miss.

All these daily tasks become so precious, especially when they are taken away. And you haven’t been able to do it, in a long time.

My neighbours and friends have been amazing during lockdown; they have brought me my weekly food shops and have helped me, in many various ways. It is wonderful to have such a caring community, looking out for me which I am very grateful for.

But I am looking forward to traveling again on the buses, seeing familiar faces getting out and about, and having that freedom again to do the things that I did prior to lockdown. You don’t realise how important these little things are until you lose them.

Catching up with friends is another thing; l am looking forward to doing. The little things in life are so important.

A Restful Lockdown by Mary and Pat O’Sullivan

Myself and my husband have been taking it very easy. We never realised how much rest we needed and have spent a lot of time, managing our new found free time.

We have always been a very active couple. We would go out every day, whether at classes, with Open Age or other organisations.  We have always thought that keeping active and having a varied social life, is a positive thing and we still believe this. But it has also been really nice to slowdown, do nothing, and have time to think and plan for the future.

In the past our days have been so busy, that we have had no time, to watch the TV. The lockdown has created a time of rest that we were not aware that we needed. Even though our daily routine has been altered in a big way, we have been able to maintain a happy frame of mind and just take each day as it comes.

Myself and Pat have been using our back garden to grow some potatoes and cabbages .This is something which is relatively new to us, and it has been a lot of fun. We have become green fingered in this lockdown and have enjoyed eating what we have grown.

This has also been something nice, for me and Pat to be able to do together. We have spent a lot of time having fun on our patio. And there is always a job to do in our house, that hasn’t been done before.

We have celebrated Pats birthday, in lockdown and a Wedding anniversary, and have really enjoyed each other’s company. We both have been able to adapt to the new way of living and we are really grateful for the small things in life.

Myself and Pat are looking forward to getting back, and looking forward to seeing other Open Age members and staff.



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