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It’s VE Day, not VC Day, but we are still digging for victory.




08.05.20 – Darrell Priestley

This morning, a few reflections. Today we celebrate victory in Europe, in the company of Dame Vera Lynn. Spare a thought then for the VE day generation, who endured the last great challenge of the Second World War, many of them today residing precariously in care homes. It’s disturbing to think, after all they have come through, how very vulnerable they are once again, seventy five years on. We should all be intent on protecting them, and that means we must continue to be vigilant with regard to social distancing, return to work or no.

If you have developed a bit of lockdown fever, that’s understandable. Most of us long for a return to normality, but everything we have achieved so far in tackling coronavirus must be sure to count for something. Though victory in Europe was achieved, with a peaceful prosperity following a slow recovery, there has as yet been no victory over Coronavirus. Despite our desire to pick up things where we left off, the current crisis represents unfinished business, which cannot be concluded any time soon. Baby steps may be the order of the day then, as we slowly begin to resume our lives, but as we do so we must learn to adapt. New behaviours will need to be learned, and familiar situations dealt with in new and unfamiliar ways. Will queing for shops become the norm in future? Will we continue to manage the numbers and behaviour of people in shared spaces, especially indoors?

Meanwhile, those of us responsible for shared spaces, as with the Music Academy, must plan for the return in such a way as to protect everyone, which includes modifying behaviour. For instance, compulsory hand washing on arrival is likely to remain for some time, and there will be spacing measures, and very likely a transitional timetable. We all have to learn to adapt, and indeed we will adapt, because managed behaviours will continue to be required thoughout our everyday lives if we are to counter Covid-19.

Last night there was a full moon. The moon is very interesting, but learning about it can make it still more so. We learn while young that the moon has an effect on the Earth’s tides, which is very significant for life on Earth. But the phases of the moon have an effect on water here on Earth on this planet more generally, even on our kidneys! Some people report irritability during a full moon. But it’s not only people that are affected. It may well be that plants grow differently according to the phase of the moon. It has been observed thast seeds sown during the phase when the moon is waxing produce plants which develop stronger above ground growth than those sown when the moon is on the wane. Conversely, seeds sown during a waning moon have been noted to favour root development. Further, these growth habits would appear to persist for the life of the plant. The crucial determining moment would appear to be when germination begins, as the seed ‘s growth is triggered by it’s first contact with water. This would have profound significance if you were trying to raise plants for food, say. For this reason, I now take care to sow leafy vegetables and fruit when the moon is waxing, up until the full moon, but wait until after the full moon to sow parsnips or potatoes.

Growing anything from seed, indoors or out, can be very therapeutic. It is calming, as you learn to care for seemingly inert things. The remarkable thing to me is that plants seem to love you back. It’s quite uncanny, but as you learn to care for plants, and care about them, you are if anything overcompensated by feelings of well being that are difficult to describe. During lockdown, I have spent more time working in our relatively modest garden than in perhaps all the years since my mid twenties. Before that I clocked up serious garden hours, raising food and flowers, but in some ways it was like the the garden at my family home was raising me. In my teens, I would get up early before school, and go outside to greet the dawn and put in a shift in the garden before my regular day began. I thrived on it. Those days are now long ago, but amazingly it’s as if I have them back, decades on. Gardening in lockdown is making me feel more alive, so much so that on an evening I often stay outside working until the light has completely failed and it’s no longer possible to see to work. But I always come inside with a big grin on my face.