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What shall we learn from our enforced time together?

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Tomorrow we have a bank holiday on a Friday!  Special because this normally only happens for Good Friday at Easter.  Not so special because the majority are at home already and have been for at least 7 weeks.  The Covid-19 outbreak has turned normality on its head.  As indeed did World War II, the end of which on May 8th 1945, is why we have the aforementioned bank holiday.

My 89 year old mother, who experienced the war first hand during her school years, says “do we really need to keep bringing all this up again?”  Not everyone is romantically nostalgic for the war years.  Many of the younger generation may not even understand the implication of the Allies losing that war.  Others feel the glorification of war is inappropriate in our cosmopolitan, multi-cultural society.

As for home education, that didn’t happen during the war years.  My Dad, who lived in Manchester during the war, missed what amassed to a couple of years of schooling.  Well, traditional schooling, anyway.  His classroom was bomb sites, fields, a 2 up 2 down terraced house in industrial Gorton.  His lessons?  Plane spotting, how to roll down a hill in a tractor tyre whilst avoiding concussion, why you don’t swap your toy submarine (that your parents saved up to buy) for a piece of German bomb shrapnel.

Mum had a different war, helping with the family ice cream business in Blackpool.  Re-homing evacuees, wandering the fields and beach with her friends for hours on end.  The only rule, be home for tea and find a shelter if the air raid goes off.  Both loved their childhoods, both are intelligent, kind, community spirited people.  Did their upbringing and childhood freedom influence that?  I think so.

Colonel (Captain) Tom Moore encapsulated that community spirit recently with his amazing fund raising walk for the NHS.  I think that is what people hanker for when they reminisce about the 1940s.  Pulling together, working for the common good, defeating something that affects the everyday way of life.  That’s why the comparisons between war and the current pandemic are being made.

So, whether you are celebrating the liberation of Europe tomorrow or just having a well-earned bank holiday Friday in the sunshine with your family, let’s think about what we want to learn from this enforced time together.  The fact that some of the lowest paid workers are now revered as heroes.  The fact that the garden can be a really effective classroom as can a tent made from bed sheets in the living room.  The fact that you actually know who your neighbours are now.  Let’s take these lessons seriously and work together to make our world braver and safer.  Who knows in in 2095 we may be celebrating CV day – Covid Vaccine Day!

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