12 November 2020
Charlotte Soares invites us to record memories of history in the making, showing our descendants what it was like to live in the time of Coronavirus.
At the beginning of lockdown I lost interest in family history for a while. In the fear of Coronavirus, if this was to be my last year, did I really want to spend it on the computer?
I had just completed a complicated research project for a friend involving hours spent online and I now wanted to live in the present. But the present was such a scary lonely place to be.
The search for nostalgia
I needed cheerful escapism which I found by watching Talking Pictures channel with its archive of films depicting a host of great actors and lots of nostalgic locations. Some filmed in the 60s and 70s showed fashions I had worn and crockery I recognised.
These were glimpses that gave moments of happiness but I had no one to share it with. If only my children or grandchildren were there for me to say, I know that building, that’s where…
A lockdown journal
I began a lockdown journal and wrote about these films and the memories they invoked, including the daily briefing figures and anything creative I did, painting, baking, gardening.
One day my jottings might be another interest to grandchildren adding perspective to this time they lived through as children. The thought occurs to me every day, enjoy this day, make the most of this time, don’t waste a minute, make your life count.
This is history in the making that we are living through. It’s also the end of an era, where we took travel for granted with no consequences. Like my grandfather must have taken horses and carts for granted before motorised vehicles came to make them redundant. Like our childhood with no television and certainly no computers.
Our families have lived through worse, two world wars with civilian bombing. My mother once told me that as a teenager she lived the whole war in a state of fear. She took the tube to go to college in central London and remarked on how unnerving it was seeing the rows of children asleep in bunk beds in the early evening, she said looking for all the world as if they were dead.
My father talked of learning how to wrap a parcel home from a grocer’s assistant in his battalion who told him he was making a pig’s ear, and showed him how to make tight folds and a neat job, that would not come undone in the post even if the string broke, a skill he passed on to me and I remember that link to my Dad’s war when I wrap my Christmas presents!
There were my Dad’s hairy reminiscences of parachute accidents during training and my mother’s horrified scolding, 'don’t tell them that one'. But the stories were insights into their lives in a time of crisis they lived through. We thought we’d escaped, the peace time generation, but this is our testing hour.
No doubt in a year’s time we will look back and think that this a tough time, we had to be brave and make sacrifices. But lockdown has suggested a new project to me, it’s time to write an anthology of the spoken memories of the family. I hope I am granted time to write them, so each grandchild can have a copy.
Article extracted from an in-depth piece on lockdown stories, published in the December issue of Family Tree magazine. Get your copy here.
About the author
Charlotte Soares' passions are writing, history, music, travel and making patchwork quilts. She has self-published family histories and undertaken trips with other people to further their research on location.