How Beeston FC are bouncing back from the pandemic

Whilst professional football makes its return to the sounds of artificial crowd noise, Beeston FC are also trying to adapt to a new normal.

The club’s senior and under 18 teams are gradually returning to training, after the FA announced that clubs were able to train in groups of five with a coach.

At the same time, strict measures have been put in place, including players having to fill out new medical forms to see if they’ve had the virus, whilst regular use of hand sanitizer is being used by all.

Changing rooms and toilets have remained closed and players are encouraged to leave the site promptly at the end of training.

“We’re really pleased to be back,” says club chair Charlie Walker.

“It’s a bit strange and the training sessions take quite a lot of planning because they have to be socially distanced, but it’s gone well so far.”

Unfortunately, the lockdown happened just as the club were hoping to gain some off the pitch momentum, with fundraising events lined up in March and April being cancelled.

The club have been fundraising, due to them needing £50,000 to receive a near £500,000 grant from the Football Association and Premier League, as they plan towards renovating the old Plessey sports ground to build a new clubhouse.

However, Charlie tells me that whilst they still need to raise over £8000, the club have been given the go-ahead to start work on the site.

“We’re hoping that we’ll be able to start the on-site building work In mid-July, that’s our hope.

“We were expecting to hit our target by the end of April, but because of the COVID-19 situation, it meant that some organisations that were going to give us money, weren’t able to.”

To reduce costs, the club have begun clearing out the site themselves, with help from members of the Trent Vale squash club and among others, local councillor, Kate Foale (pictured above.)

“It’s a nine-acre site. Six acres will be used for football, but what about the other three acres of space?”

“Recently we’ve been clearing the old tennis courts, cricket nets and the netball court,” said Charlie.

“We’ve also been emptying the old clubhouse of everything. There were some 30-year-old football boots, which had been cast into the corner of a changing room after maybe somebody had a bad game and decided to retire. They might have even been mine!”

Whilst Charlie acknowledges that the clubhouse will be the obvious focus of the club, he believes that there will be opportunities for the site to be used beyond just football.

“It’s a nine-acre site. Six acres will be used for football, but what about the other three acres of space? There’s potential for it to be used by other sports clubs, such as a running club or something of that nature.”

As covered in a previous issue, one way in which the club have been trying to raise money is by having supporter plaques, with the names of those who have donated towards their efforts, erected on a wall when the new site is built.

Charlie believes that a combination of the plaques and donations will make a big difference, whilst sponsorship from local business’ will also help the daily running of the club, allowing them to put some of their own finances towards the £50,000 total.

“Covering the cost of running the club, gives us a little bit more money from club income to put into the project. It should take us about a year so we’re hoping for it to be completed by the start of the 2021/22 season.

“Obviously, it’s not the right time, but when things ease up, we will also be running some fundraising events.”

The goal of trying to raise £50,000 is a major challenge in itself, but the disruption caused by this pandemic has made it an even greater task.

Yet, the hard work and dedication from everyone involved, has given Beeston FC every chance of reaching their target. Hopefully, for the club and the community as a whole, they will succeed.

IS

Game, set and match Beeston!

I shouldn’t be writing this. I should, right now, be sitting in front of the telly with a glass of red booze, watching as men and women in Persil-bright white clothes whack a ball over a net while grunting.

Alas, another casualty of the virus is Wimbledon, that late June, early July distraction that sees Sue Barker and some former, gone-to-seed players try and keep viewers rapt at scenes of hurtling rain and disgruntled punters scowling under posh brollies.

Not this year. No French open, no US Open, no Queens, not even our own little Open over at the tennis centre that straddles the Beeston/Nottingham border. And with it, no crowding at municipal tennis courts.

It’s a familiar thing each year that coincides with the first strawberry served at Wimbledon: people dig out their dusty rackets, roll a wristband on and hit the courts that pepper the area: the ones on the Uni, the ones at Priory Island. Chilwell, Town Street in Bramcote. Perhaps, for the more committed, the excellent facilities of the two local tennis clubs in Chilwell and Attenborough.

“There is still much to do in getting it ready for the future Federers and neo-Novaks amongst us…”

Despite this, Beeston itself does not have a single court – or so many thought, and would have continued to think if those great folk down at Beeston FC hadn’t uncovered one beneath a thick woody blanket of ivy and bramble.

Beneath this overgrown mat, a fine, well surfaced and clearly marked court lurked, and when revealed was found to be usable. However, a net is fairly essential to play, and a little research by the team discovered the manufacturer of the correct one to fit the posts snugly.

There is still much to do in getting it ready for the future Federers and neo-Novaks amongst us, but for Beestonians the loss of watching the British seeds crash out in the first round down in North London is more than mitigated by the Rylands getting its own court. Game, set and match Beeston!

MT

The carnival is over (but only for this year)

July 11th was meant to be the day of the 15th Beeston Carnival. But due to Corvid-19, organisers Lynda & Pat Lally, made the extremely difficult decision in early May to cancel this year’s festivities. To find out how difficult this was, and history of the carnival, I contacted the dynamic duo for their thoughts on having to postpone one of the town’s most well-loved and visited events. Due to the ongoing pandemic, I sent Lynda a series of questions, and here’s what she had to say…

“During my year of being mayor (2005/06), I had seen how some parts of Broxtowe were still very much communities and thought that my own hometown was losing this, and so our motto for the carnival became ‘Bringing our Community Together’. We have a come a long way in those fourteen years, from having a budget of £250 and the kindness of groups like Beeston’s Oasis Christian Centre, the Scouts, Air Cadets, and various other community-based organisations. Not forgetting Beeston Pipe Band, who performed for free to kick start the revival of the carnival in 2006. Most of these groups are still with us, and many more support the event annually. It is showcasing all the things that are great about Beeston.

“We have been through one of the boxes filled with newspaper cuttings about the carnival. It’s been an incredible 14 years and we have touched so many people’s lives and given some platform to go forward in life with, whether it be to follow their passion or just to raise the profile of a charity and raise some money for many charities in the community. After searching back, we found pictures, videos and Pathe news stories going back to the 1930s.

“Then it was a two-day event over a weekend, with band competitions and a very regal Queen being driven around on a special Bartons queen mobile! The films are on YouTube, and it’s amazing to watch. We never realised how near we were to doing things in the same vain. Beeston businesses sponsored it, bands played, local groups all came together and there was a huge walking parade which spun around Dovecote Lane. The event itself was held at the rugby ground on Ireland Avenue. The Carnival Queen’s cape was made and paid for by local businessman Walter Hayes. It was an extravagant piece, even though times were tough back then.

“I think the biggest thing for us, when reviving Beeston Carnival, was giving the chance to highlight the work that all these amazing community groups do. Mostly run by volunteers. It’s something that makes our town and our community. That, and more importantly, to make them some much-needed funds. It has always been a small team that brings such a huge annual event together and some who started with us back then, are still there holding it all together. I would like to thank them all, as without them we would not have survived for this long.

“You would think that in July we would be reasonably safe with the weather, but we have had many rainy carnival days. Most we have survived when eventually the sun came out. The one that comes to mind which nearly made us postpone was the 2007 event. After continuous rain for weeks, it didn’t stop on Carnival Day. It was touch and go as to whether we could proceed safely. But with a few stalls and groups turning up, we managed to proceed.

“As ever, the public came out to support the event and the very wet parade and entertainment in the park went ahead.

“Last years was a bad one for us, and it nearly ended Beeston Carnival for good. Pat and I, and our very capable volunteers know one thing, and that SAFETY is our main concern.

“I am immensely proud of the way we have always handled the safety of all of the carnival days. So it was with great concern when we were told that the carnival had to pay a traffic management company to manage our parade, even though most of the walking parade is on a pedestrian walkway. Roads needed to be shut off and diversions put in place. This would have caused huge traffic problems, admin fees to be paid and so it went on. There was a great deal of public support for us when it seemed the only way forward was to pay over £2000 for the very important part of the carnival to proceed. I was adamant that if the parade couldn’t proceed, the carnival wouldn’t either. But some common sense was applied, although it had its implications and our stress levels were very high. How is that Red Tape can seek to destroy wonderful community events like this? Some may argue that is necessary. I couldn’t possibly comment any further!

“2020. Well, here we are faced with another dilemma. The Corona Virus. Who could have guessed that this would stop our wonderful annual community event? Yes, it was a big decision to cancel, and we talked to our volunteers for weeks, wondering if things would improve and we could go ahead. However, we knew that eventually, we would have to make the decision to cancel, like so many other groups and organisations across the world, who have had to cancel their events.

“Who knows where we will be next year? And for all those who run events in and around our community, we can only hope that things will return to some normality, for the sake of bringing our community together once again.

CF

Meet the ABCAT artists

In the latest issue, Debra Urbacz spoke to those involved in the ABCAT art trail which started in 2011 as part of Open Studios Notts.

 Rita Mitchell (the founder)

“At the beginning of lockdown, I started this painting which had been on my mind for some time.  It is the third of a series of interiors, initially inspired by Vermeer and his use of light.  The adrenaline rush of a new painting helped to push away, for a few hours, the fears and sadness brought about by the daily news. Each day I could ‘go to work’, shut the studio door and gradually transform a blank canvas into ‘The Bar.’ I published a blog of the process as a spur to keep going and to share my painting journey.”

View Rita’s work here

Adrian Pearson

“It starts with a love for good design, be it typographic, furniture, whatever it is, it needs to be well considered and executed beautifully, ‘if you’re going to do it, do it well or not at all,  I guess could be my mantra.

“Being an Artist, Designer and Signpainter, my work in the main has commercial applications, together with some artworks for the home being installed as statement pieces.

“These vary through the nature of my profession from painted and gilded wooden panels to verre eglomise, (an age-old practice where the artist’s paints and gilds in reverse on glass).

“The last week in May I was kept busy painting a Mural for Tobi Frames in Long Eaton, all designed and painted by myself, traditionally, without the use of design software. This year was to be my first ABC Art Trail.”

 Sara Gaynor Visual Artist

“I’m a visual artist working in the medium of experimental photography and an Associate Member of Backlit Gallery and studios in Nottingham. I have been a participating artist on the trail since 2016. During Lockdown I have created a new unexpected body of photographs titled ‘Searching for light through the Darkness,’ exploring newly discovered, hidden and rekindled spaces, on my daily cycle rides within a 2 – 25-mile radius. I have also been experimenting with found nature in my outdoor space  – converging analogue and digital methods to create new artwork – the image ‘Cornucopia’ is a sample of the new photographs created from this experimentation. I am exhibiting my photographs from the Global Sistaz United Project in a virtual exhibition through City Arts Nottingham as part of Refugee Week in mid-June. I have also been busy hosting weekly photography sessions through zoom to our collective, Beeston Snappers.”

Tony Moss

Tony is a mature Fine Arts graduate and his art references modernist architecture in his own signature style.

It would have been his second year on the Art Trail and is very disappointed that it didn’t take place, as his first experience of it in 2019 was both enjoyable and successful.  He says that ironically the lockdown has been a constructive period for him, as it has concentrated his attention on a Project that started in the autumn of 2019. Basically, he was commissioned by a Company called Little Van Gogh to produce a series of eleven large size paintings to circulate and be exhibited around the UK in various prestigious commercial and office locations.

The theme is ‘Sensing Space via Architectural Modernism’ (see –  www.littlevangogh.co.uk – artists). The first exhibition is currently taking place in Guildford.

 Janet Barnes

“Since the last art trail I’ve been busy painting, and in March I completed a 20-day voluntary social isolation painting challenge (before the coronavirus lockdown) in Wales: www.paintingwithmrp.com. 

“On my return from Wales, I’ve been taking part in a weekly lockdown painting challenge.

“I’ve been using my creative practice as a way of coping and making sense of what’s happening.”

For printed copies of “20 Days in 2020” journal (minimum donation of £5 per copy, with all profits going to Parkinson’s UK), or any other enquiries email janetmbarnes@ntlworld.com.

Karen Attwood

“Like other artists, I found it very difficult to even think about creating new work under such traumatic conditions. But I still needed to make and share. So, I made a few little craft videos for the Beeston Heritage Canalside Centre Adult Craft course and I really enjoyed making a collaborative video with alto members of East of England Singers.

“Since February I have been furiously making a massive rug, a huge blanket and a large quantity of community masks.

“It would have been my third ABC Art Trail this year and even though it was cancelled, I put up a mini-exhibition of my latest work.

“I even managed to sell some via my Felted Embroidered Art Etsy shop. A lot of the local sponsors offered to carry forward their 2020 donation to 2021, which was a very generous investment in the future.

“I am already looking forward to the Trail next year which, all being well, will take place on 5th and 6th June.”

 Oksana Holbrook

“I am a textile designer with a Masters in Textile Design.

“Primarily a machine knitter, I am passionate about sustainability working only with natural fibres.

“I presently design and produce hooked rag rugs from recycled and scrap fabric with a heavy emphasis on colour and pattern; something which I have inherited from my Ukrainian heritage.

“My involvement with the ABCAT trail is now in its fourth year, with me taking over as Treasurer at the end of last year.

“As so many shows had been cancelled, I have been concentrating on producing new work for next year, but have also been spending my time clutter clearing and experimenting with cake and bread making.”

Lynda Child

“I am a local artist/printmaker. Initially, during lockdown, I found it hard to be creative. I turned to sewing, an activity I could pick up and put down rather than printmaking which required lots of focus.

“I got out a part made quilt and completed it.

“As shops were closed I joined together leftover fabrics to make a patterned binding. I had intended this to be one fabric. It meant that I wasted nothing and was really pleased with the final quilt. I’ve called it, ‘Lockdown Logcabin’. Log Cabin is a traditional patchwork design. I’m now designing a child’s cot quilt.

“I’ve also made lots of brightly coloured face masks for a charity supporting vulnerable young adults.
During the sunny weather, I did lots of sketching in the garden.”

 Oliver Lovley SGFA

“I am a fine art painter working mainly in oil on board. I have been producing a lot of new figurative paintings lately that are viewable on my website www.oliverlovley.com. As well as this doing live demonstrations on my social media pages. I was part of the ABC Art trail for the first time in 2019.

“I am a member of the Society of Graphic Fine Art in London and I teach classes locally at Artworks art shop in Beeston. I have also exhibited at the Lakeside Arts Centre.”

View Oliver’s website here

Contact him on 07532 179119 or visit his Facebook page

Zoë Zegzula

“I love working with a variety of media, but textiles hold the greatest fascination for me. The immense variety of textures and colours, natural or manmade, provides inspiration for endless ideas. I find working with textiles very relaxing, rewarding and essential to my well-being.

“The nature of my art requires me to have a ‘stash’. This consists of an extensive collection of new, gifted and pre-used textiles ready to turn into future pictures. I use a variety of machine and hand embroidery techniques to produce my art which I have studied for several years at City & Guilds level.

“Taking inspiration from our British Countryside continuously inspires me with inspiration for new work. I love combining art with textiles which stretches the boundary between art and craft.

“I exhibit mainly in the East Midlands at Art & Craft events, I have had solo exhibitions and attended Art Trails. I have been a member of the ABC Art Trail from the beginning and really enjoy the camaraderie with fellow local creatives which has enriched my life.

“I really look forward to the next Art Trail in June 2021.”

Visit Zoe’s website here

Email her at zoe.zegzula@mail.com

DU

Motherhood: Anyone seen the plot?

Week 47089 of lockdown, time is irrelevant, the ticking of the dining room clock is a mocking call to arms, a reminder that once I had places to be and a timetable I enjoyed.

Now, the seconds plod on and the groundhog in my soul is gnawing gently on all the things I used to think were important. Work? Nope. School? Nah. Doing fun stuff? Excuse me but what is that? My child has morphed into that weird bloke in Shallow Grave who lives in the walls. I think she still lives with us, food is disappearing, but we’ve had no interaction in days.

My cats are utterly sick of being stroked. Craft projects have been abandoned and the early days of having a clean house have long been forgotten. So how is everyone doing?!

I’m well aware that I’m in the lucky category of furloughed workers, so I still have a small income and no immediate childcare issues. I know this and I’m grateful, but the days are long and unfulfilling and the sense of achievement that was getting through a busy day is very much missed.

“It requires a mental energy to teach her an engaging lesson, and I simply do not have it at the moment.”

I’m lucky to be bored, but bored is what I am. Even writing this is like wading through treacle. My child is happy enough to potter about all day, playing Minecraft and Roblox with her pals, but I know I should be doing more school work with her and I clearly have the time. It requires a mental energy to teach her an engaging lesson, and I simply do not have it at the moment.

We do practical things together like baking and lots of artwork, but when it comes to multiplying fractions I’m hoping that being a few months behind at school isn’t a deal-breaker at the age of 8. I’m hoping that in 10 years her university application doesn’t say ‘I’d be good at fractions but my mum didn’t have the energy to teach me during lockdown’ or if it does, I hope the admissions clerk thinks of me and sympathises.

There must be other parents who have reached a plateau of what to do every day. This morning her lesson is ‘art’ (colouring in a Harry Potter picture) and then we will move onto science later (baking scones from a packet). It’s something and nothing.

We are together and healthy, and for now that will have to do. I hope you all are too.

DL

Art therapy

Easing gently out of ‘lockdown’, we are reminded of all the places and experiences we have been missing out on, as more local businesses tentatively open up their doors to the public again. Our wonderful independent shops and coffee stops will have safety restrictions in place, but they will be bringing colour and life back to the centre of Beeston.

Whilst our parks and wildlife have never been so appreciated, many of our indoor pursuits have been curtailed, like nipping down to The Crown for a pint or two after work a Friday, browsing Oxfam’s bookshelves and meeting friends for a catch up over a cuppa with homemade cake. The simple pleasures we may have once taken for granted might still feel like a distant memory, but there have still been many things to enjoy in this period of uncertainty.

We are really lucky to have such an abundance of natural beauty in close proximity to our homes, and it is this that has inspired many of our resident artists. In the first ‘lockdown’ edition, I wrote about the power of creating to help us cope with crisis situations. In this one, I am going to remind you of the importance of art on our well-being, not only as a creative process used to explore our emotions and help manage symptoms of anxiety and depression, but as something to be absorbed by us as spectators.

The philosopher Alain de Botton would argue that certain great works of art can indeed help us to manage the ‘tensions and confusions of everyday life.’ In his self-help book named Art as Therapy, he demonstrates how art can both ‘guide and console us.’ Now whilst we might not be able to wander around galleries and pop up exhibition at the moment, Beeston does boast a rather large selection of creative talent – plus we have some large scale street art to admire.

The first weekend in June should have seen the return of one of Beeston’s most popular summer events, and celebration of our local artists, The ABC Art Trail. This annual event, that is now in its 9th year, inevitably can’t take place in 2020. Nevertheless, since planning was already well established at the start of the year, it seemed fitting to dedicate this edition to this wonderful community event and take a peek at what artistic delights they had lined up for us this year.

Earlier in the year, we announced a competition that the organisers were running, which was open to primary school children in the Attenborough, Beeston and Chilwell area. The theme was ‘Where I Live’ and unsurprisingly there was a great response. Lynda Child chair of ABCAT sent us this update to share.

‘Many thanks for all the wonderful entries we received from local schools at the beginning of the year. We were going to judge these at Easter and announce winners and prizes then. We were so looking forward to displaying the winning entries throughout our Art Trail on June 6th and 7th.

‘Unfortunately, due to the COVID 19 Government guidelines, we were not able to get together to do the judging and our trail had to be cancelled.

‘It is with great regret that the Committee must, therefore, announce a delay in announcing winners. We intend to judge entries when conditions allow a gathering of members. We will make announcements in schools and on our website in due course.

‘Once again thank you for all your entries. Take care everyone.’

I am sure you will join me in commiserating with ABCAT, and many others who have been placed in a similar situation on having to cancel the highlight of their creative calendar this year. Furthermore, I am sure you would love to join us in appreciating a small selection of the participating artist’s work, which we have collated for your enjoyment. Art is still being made and available to purchase via websites and by contacting artists directly. I asked the artists featured in this collection, what creating in ‘lockdown’ has felt like?

The struggle to be creative has been echoed in a few of the artists’ comments and some of them found they had something of an artistic switch, for a while at least. Lynda is well known for her printmaking, however, this generally requires sustained focus and Lynda didn’t feel as though she could manage that at first. Instead, she turned to a past project that she could ‘pick up and put down,’ the bold Lockdown Log Cabin Quilt shown in the gallery section.

Another one of the established artists Zoe Zegzula tells us, ‘When the COVID 19 Lockdown came into place in March, it had a surreal effect on me. As if I was in a nightmare that was unfolding that was not going to end. My creative ideas and thoughts were severely dampened and put on hold. I did not feel at all in the right place to use the surprising gift of more time to be creative.’

She went on to create the exotic piece entitled Toucan, which was kick-started by a commission for brooch at the end of April. This has led to a change in direction for Zoe, prompted by the opportunity to work with such a, ‘colourful subject’ using a range of the textiles design techniques she is renowned for. This piece can also be seen in the gallery of work some of the artists have submitted to us to include in this edition and on the website, along with the rest of the maker’s work.

The great spiritual writer Thomas Merton claims, ‘art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.’ So go on, immerse yourselves in this stunning collection for a little while and discover what resonates with you.

Visit the ABC Art website here

View their Facebook page here

DU

Student retention and the economic effect

Following a recent report conducted by London Economics for the University and College Union, figures suggest that UK Universities are expecting over 230,000 fewer students in September as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This reduction could potentially decrease the incoming finance of universities by billions, putting an estimated 60,000 jobs at risk, both in the universities themselves and in the surrounding areas. Many universities in the country were struggling financially, even before the pandemic, and as a result, they could face serious long-term financial issues.

The University of Nottingham’s financial position has a strong influence on the economic fortune of surrounding towns, most obviously affecting that of Beeston. In previous years, Beeston has greatly relied upon the University of Nottingham to introduce a large number of visitors and students into the area, and to bring money to local businesses. Most recent figures suggest that over 3000 jobs in the Broxtowe area rely upon the University of Nottingham’s presence, whether they are directly linked to the University or not. Additionally, over 4200 University of Nottingham students and 1620 staff members live in Broxtowe, and therefore frequently provide the area with an economic income. International students to the University of Nottingham contribute £17 million to the Broxtowe economy annually, with the University supporting over 500 local businesses. Without the university or its students, it is clear that there would be detrimental effects to all surrounding economies if there were a strong decline in the number of students.

One of the biggest reasons behind the potential loss in finance is a lack of student retention, and university students opting to either study virtually and study from home, or to defer their place at university for the year. Both will have a negative effect on the local economy as students will fail to invest in the local communities and economies. For students starting university in September, the pandemic is still clearly their priority.

Jessica Croft, 21, from Nottingham, is due to start postgraduate study at the University of Nottingham in September but admits she has reservations: “I do have various concerns about attending University in September. However, I trust that student safety is the priority of the University; I am confident that I will not be put in a position where I am at risk of contracting the virus.

“I know of people who are hoping to start their first year in September, as an undergraduate, and a lot of them are considering deferring for a year. They don’t believe they’ll receive the full student experience during the pandemic and its repercussions. For that reason, I do believe that there will be a decline in the number of students attending University in September.

“I know that if I can work under these circumstances, I will come out of this academic year as a dedicated and adaptable individual – something which is invaluable to potential employers.”

“It will be a challenging year for me as a postgraduate student – particularly in terms of my mental health. However, I am trying to make the best of the situation. I know that if I can work under these circumstances, I will come out of this academic year as a dedicated and adaptable individual – something which is invaluable to potential employers.”

Whilst the University of Nottingham is busy making preparations and safety measures to welcome their students back in the new academic year, it is possible that their ‘blended approach’ could hinder the recovery of the Broxtowe economy. A spokesperson for the University of Nottingham said: “All of us at the University of Nottingham look forward to welcoming all of our students back to campus in September. We are committed to ensuring our students can remain safe and make the very most of the opportunities that studying for a Nottingham degree offers. We know that, in turn, our students will support our University community and neighbours in the city by following all government guidelines and local safety measures. Life at university, as much as everywhere else around the globe, will feel different for a while, however, our students’ time at Nottingham will be enriching and exciting, nonetheless. We have successfully welcomed more than 5,000 students back to our campus in Ningbo, China, and we are using that experience to inform how we approach things in the UK.

“We will use a blended approach to deliver teaching, using a combination of digital and in-person sessions to ensure students have every opportunity to engage with our world-leading academics. Social distancing measures will be in place across our indoor and outdoor spaces including dedicated entrances and exits, one-way and queuing systems, and distance markers that have become a familiar feature in other areas of national life.”

They continued: “We are working closely with the city and county councils, and landlords’ associations, to help bring students back to the city safely and efficiently. Lakeside Arts, our gallery and arts centre, is expected to resume its programme in the autumn, and will also put on its events and cultural activities in new spaces such as live-streaming performances on the Portland screen at the Students’ Union. The University and the Students’ Union is working with societies and student groups to develop safe and exciting opportunities to experience what our city and region have to offer.”

Regardless of whether students choose to return to the University of Nottingham this September, the economic impact on Broxtowe is almost inevitable and it is important we work together to mitigate the effects of this to the best of our ability.

FP

The end is in sight…

As the government start to relax the social distancing laws, it looks like we might finally be coming out of this nightmare. The year 2020 will forever be known as the time when your wheelie bin went out more often than you did.

The same people who told us to stay inside are now telling us to go out again. It might be because the infection rate is going down or it could be to help get the economy moving again so that their rich mates can make a return on some of their investments. It’s hard to know the truth, isn’t it?

As I write this, the two-metre rule has been reduced to one metre (except for people who you don’t like) and the pubs are about to re-open. If you listen carefully you can just make out the sound of thousands of webcams being slung back into desks.

So I thought this month I’d do a retrospective review of the whole lockdown experience and reflect on how it might’ve changed us and our society, what the future holds and ponder if this whole experience might’ve been the reset the world needed?

New Terminology

I’ve known people who have been social distancing long before it was trendy, I mean they called it divorce, but it was effectively the same thing. These are terms that are now part of our everyday vocabulary that we had never heard of before March this year.

My children, who are 10 and 4, were playing with their Barbie dolls the other day, I could overhear them talking, “are you coming to the party Chelsea?” “Yes, but we must keep two metres apart and don’t forget your face masks!”
It’s amazing, I’ve got so good at estimating what two metres are now, that I reckon I could plan out an extension without even using a tape measure.

We have had so many new words. “Furloughed” sounds like a medical emergency involving some farming machinery and scientists were constantly talking about how important it was to “flatten the curve” something which I used to do when we were allowed in the gym.

“Stay alert, we don’t want a second peak” I agreed with that, I put on so much weight during the first one, I don’t think my body could take anymore. I’ve already seen my second peak, although you’d probably call them “moobs”

Booze and Baking

It’s been a toxic combination of constant drinking and home baking that’s been my downfall. I went into this pandemic quite healthy, now I’m drinking at midday and my blood group is basically Banana Bread.

When I go for my next health check to the doctors he’s going to ask me how much alcohol I drink. I’ll say “BC or AC doctor, before Corona or After Corona, because those are two very different statistics. I barely drank before, now I’m putting away more units than a kitchen fitter.

We were in a Whatsapp group for our street, wasn’t everyone? You’d see messages at three in the morning, desperate people on the hunt for yeast. At any one time, there would be at least five people walking up and down the road with little bags of white powder, leaving it in plant pots and behind gates, like a really middle-class drug deal.

Motivational pressure

There were, of course, those people who said at the start of this, “I see this time as a gift, I’m going to write a novel, I’m going to paint, I’m going to learn a new musical instrument.” No. To those people, I say this, has any crisis in history been improved with the addition of a Trumpet?

Time wasn’t the issue for me, I’m just lazy. If being productive was just down to time, then why hasn’t every serial killer doing a life sentence written a bestselling novel?

Keeping fit

Who would have thought letting humans out for one walk a day, would be the key to solving Britain’s obesity crisis. We were up at nine, doing lunges in front of the fireplace with Joe Wicks, then we were out for our daily walk, like prisoners on death row wandering around the yard.

Poor old Joe Wicks. As the numbers dwindled he desperately tried to hold onto viewers. He wore fancy dress, had music playing, asked people to write in with shout outs. The only way he could have kept us Brits committed would have been to introduce exercises that involved using KFC bargain buckets as dumbbells.

Zoom Quizzes

The family zoom quiz became a regular feature in everyone’s calendar. Our children haven’t been educated in months but luckily we have been filling their heads with pointless trivia. They’ll not get any GCSE’s but at least they’ll be able to tell you the depth of Lake Tahoe to the nearest millimetre. If Oxford University do a degree in “Disney facts” my daughter will pass with flying colours.

You think you’re popular now, try and organize a Zoom quiz after this pandemic, see how many people are interested then. “No thanks Bryan, we only let you do it because you had the best broadband, we’re off out with our real friends tonight, this is one round you aren’t going to be involved in pal!”

Retail therapy

There are a few people who for them this pandemic has been an unparalleled success. Delivery drivers. I’m not saying I’ve ordered too much online, but the Amazon guy now has his own key.

There have been so many “essential” purchases haven’t there? New trainers. Gallons of fence preserver, Pizza ovens and Chimineas. Can you imagine the conversation I’ll have with my grandchildren in years to come?

“Tell me about the great pandemic of 2020 Grandad.”

“Oh, it was awful son, six weeks we had to wait for that inflatable hot tub and don’t get me started on that rattan patio furniture!”

Homeschooling

People have had very different lockdowns. The people without kids have appreciated the downtime, whereas those with kids have appreciated the teachers.

A lot of things will bounce back after this pandemic, not teacher recruitment though. No-one is going to want to pick that profession, mainly because we have all realised what our own children are actually like.

I never wanted to be a teacher. Let me tell you that there is nothing more humiliating than having to google maths problems aimed at a nine-year-old. Some of the concepts were lost on me, what the hell are Phonics? I think I saw them support the Chemical Brothers at Rock City in the early Nineties!

The new normal

In my last stand up show, “Relax”, I talked about how frenetic the world was and how, because of the pressures of life, humans have forgotten how to relax. Well, I clearly had a direct line to God himself, because along came Corona, and we’ve had three months of sitting on our butts in our jogging bottoms watching boxsets.

In a recent survey, only 10% of Brits were actually looking forward to going back to their old lives. It seems that this pandemic, although terrifying and unprecedented, is nothing compared to the fear of “normality”

This tells me one thing, we were living our lives all wrong. Working endless hours in jobs you could do from home, lives wasted sitting in tin boxes on the A52 listening to Sarah Cox. Meals missed with our children, no time for exercise and no time for each other.

The environment is better, the air is cleaner, the rivers are blue and the birds are singing. Maybe this is the only way we can save the planet? By stopping the human’s living on it.

This is what’s leaving us all so confused. We are all less anxious now, yes we’ve all lost money, the more unfortunate ones amongst us may have even lost our loved ones, but we have all learnt a valuable lesson. We lost sight of what was important and we now need to start making time for ourselves.

Let’s build a new normal, something that improves our quality of life. Although if that involves playing a trumpet, frankly I’d rather we didn’t bother.

SB

All work and no play makes Lulu a dull girl

It is day one million and three since the pubs shut their doors. I’m not even exaggerating it has definitely been that long (I have the emotional scars). The last few establishments I visited was way, way, back on the 17th March, for the annual St Patricks Day jaunt I go on every year with some Irish friends. The Pandemic was yet to fully engulf the Country in full lockdown (that hit in full on the 23rd) and it was only advisory not to go to the pubs. The general unease and quietness of every place we visited made for a short day (even the notoriously busy O’Neil’s was dead as the dodo) but we went, hand sanitizer in hand, (as it were), donning silly oversized Guinness hats and stupid fake beards, this was to be my last pub visit. We sat in the Royal Children pub after being out a few hours and called it a day, the atmosphere was teetering on the eerie it was that quiet.

Even thinking back to then, it seems like a lifetime ago. People either seem to have embraced their new life by becoming the next Joe Wicks, or quite the opposite of aiming for the potato body shape and eating a packet of cookies for breakfast (no guessing which path I took). After a token bike ride out one day from Trent Lock along the river I was walking bike in hand past the Beeston Marina when a sight caught my eye. A plastic pint glass filled with amber liquid. My heart quickened as I franticly looked around, to be confronted by the sight of another in the hands of a man with the biggest smile I have ever seen. Lo and behold, at the entrance to the pub was a table and they were serving pints, it wasn’t a mirage.

“For those who have worked, the thought of catching up with friends over a drink or meal is all that has kept us going.”

A man queued in front of me and said as soon as he heard, he came down. Keeping a 2m distance, I waited as he was served. When my time came I headed to the table and ordered a Fosters, £3 a pint jobs a good un. I asked the lady how long they were doing this and she said that it depended if people were sensible and took their beer and went. I received my goods and walked further down the river finding a spot away from everyone and I can tell you right now that was the best pint I have ever had. In some ways, it was a cruel mirage, a taste of the life we had, but for 20 minutes the world felt normal again. We took so much for granted. For those who have worked, the thought of catching up with friends over a drink or meal is all that has kept us going.

The dream of spending a few hours talking rubbish with long lost friends without a care in the world seemed such a far off idea, and then lo and behold B.J announced on the 23rd of June that pubs and restaurants could open from July 4th, a day that should be now known as IndePubnance day! However, the venues must take strict precautions. Rescue Rooms in Nottingham is operating a booking system, based on 2.5-hour slots, staggered entry time, ordering drinks and food on an app, face masks when not at the table, household only tables, hand sanitizer and strict 2m distancing, one way systems and, COVID-19 compliance checks. Now doesn’t that sound like a barrel of laughs?

Many of the pubs I spoke to were hanging onto the announcement to put ideas into action. With the clock ticking many are planning like there’s no tomorrow, the lovely Berliner, however, got back to me to say this:

“We’re opening on the 4th with an extended beer garden, and revised opening hours (TBC). Our extended beer garden gives us a large open space, with different zones to aid social distancing protocols, and we have gazebos in case of rain! We’ll be serving a new food menu and we will be offering live music at 7 pm – 10 pm every Saturday”.

Fabulous, I shall have an Espresso Martini in no time! All I can say is best of luck to every pub and bar. Some will find things easier than others due to layouts and space etc.

Next issue could quite possibly be me attempting a pub visit!

LD

Coming together at a time of crisis

Beeston Rylands Community Association (BRCA) has brought together a community response team of local volunteers to provide food and support to local Ryland’s residents during this Covid-19 crisis.

Our volunteers (including the staff from the Boat House Marina Cafe) are baking homemade cakes, and making sandwiches that form part of a “pack-up.” We also make use of a donation of fresh pre-packed sandwiches donated by a local sandwich producer. The pack-ups are put together under strict social distancing and hygiene regulations and our cohort of wonderful volunteers deliver the packups to residents. These deliverers knock on the door, step far enough away and then ask if the recipient is okay or needs anything else. We follow up shopping requests and any issues as required, linking in with other voluntary groups as appropriate.

We deliver on Tuesday and Friday lunchtimes to over 145 local residents who are either in social isolation due to age, health conditions or are simply in need of some support.

Most of our Friday Club members (our social dining club for the over 60’s) receive the packages twice a week (including a Friday Club activity), as well as a weekly social phone call, and we have a virtual video Friday Club meeting on a Friday afternoon.

Other recipients include some of the most vulnerable and isolated in our community, and local families feeling the strain of these challenging times.

Feedback is incredibly positive, with most recipients glad of the food, but often more important is the friendly face and the opportunity to have a socially distanced chat. We aim to provide an interruption to the monotony of the week, a welcome distraction from being confined within the house.

BRCA is also doing outreach work with our youth club members to offer help and support if needed. Our qualified Youth Worker is suggesting activities and encouraging communication through safe online methods.

We are so grateful to our team of volunteers, and our funders who are supporting this vital community response: Broxtowe Borough Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, NET Coronavirus Appeal Programme, Martin Lewis Emergency Fund, and individual donors.

We really look forward to being able to start up our weekly Friday club and Youth Club from Beeston Rylands Community Centre in hopefully the near future, welcoming old and new participants. For more information visit: www.beestonrylandsca.wordpress.com.

If you need help, or want to volunteer, please contact Janet Barnes, Development Officer / Volunteer: 07904 06716, janetmbarnes@ntlworld.com.

JB