A recent column for The Wokingham Paper:
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Any kind of celebration during lock-down was bound to be somewhat muted compared to the less restricted version, but nonetheless this turned out to be one of those lovely memorable occasions.
The preparations began earlier in the week, with our neighbour up a ladder hanging bunting from house to house, and all the way down the street. It was the perfect backdrop to any socially distant street party.
We didn’t exactly stick to the official VE Day schedule, nor did I make a cake (for the best), but we did enjoy the day’s atmosphere, and met some new people.
Despite moving into our home nearly six months ago, we still only really know the people we knew before we moved in. (Which happens to be half the road anyway, my highly-sociable partner grew up nearby and over the years has accumulated quite a number of locally-residing familiar faces. I’d describe myself as sociable also, but the man seems to know every third person in the Wokingham town area.)
So it was lovely on Friday, to introduce ourselves from across the road, to neighbours neither of us had ever really met before. No friendly handshakes or proper eye contact of course, just big smiles, over-enthusiastic waves and some “What did she say her name was? I couldn’t hear..”.
My partner barbecued vegetable skewers and some veggie-based alternatives to meat whilst my pork sausages sizzled in our oven. I have had to slowly ease meat into the house. My partner, a life-long vegetarian, has made the bumpy transition from our home being a plant-based, meat-free zone to seeing his utensils stabbed into fishcakes, chicken strips and last week, several sausages. Although he has come to accept the presence of meat in his home, he understandably refuses to let me share baking trays and suchlike with him. Any sign of meat juices would be enough to make him retch.
I once again managed to avoid his direct but loving and well-intentioned: “I can’t believe you’re happy to eat dead animals” monologue. (I am sure one day I will be swayed into vegetarianism, but that day will not come during lockdown. I consumed a total of nine sausages last weekend.)
Meanwhile, as we cooked our lunches separately, Maia spent her time arranging her Polly Pockets on a small table in the front garden (and by garden I mean gravel-patch) and writing numbers in chalk on the paving by our front door to create a hopscotch. Which she would then ask repeatedly to go out and play on, after bath time and right up until 11pm. Given it was a Friday, and we no longer have anywhere to be on a Saturday morning, we let Maia stay up late. Ridiculously late. The notion is designed to give us a bit of a weekend lie in, but all it does is leave us all rather weary-eyed. She still manages to rise earlier than us.
All in all, a joyful afternoon, packed with all the little things you’d expect from a celebration, minus the physical contact of a hug, handshake, or close-by dance move. We appreciated the festivities all the same and took comfort that keeping well away from the friendly faces across the road was our only concern of the day. That and keeping my hotdogs well away from his vegetables skewers.