Lockdown Lamentations

Hi, we’re Beatrix and Becky, two long-term friends who have been helping each other through lockdowns. We know that everyone needs cheering up, so we have started this newsletter to compile art, musings, information and ideas suitable for coronavirus times. We hope you enjoy them, and would love some contributions for future editions – please get in touch with artwork, photos, articles, links, ideas, or whatever you fancy. The first edition is below, and you can also find week 2 (with a Dominic Cummings theme), week 3 (on love in the time of coronavirus), and week 4 (focussing on forgiveness).

We hope that Lockdown Lamentations will help us connect with friends, even those we don’t know well or haven’t seen for a long time. If you want to do any of the activities on the list below together, for example, please get in touch! Also, don’t be shy to get in touch if you are struggling in any way and would like support. It’s too easy to feel isolated, so we are really keen that people who know us can always reach out to us. If we don’t know you, we are very grateful that you are reading this, and want you to know we are thinking of you. Lockdown is hard for different people in different ways, and the many people who may be experiencing different challenges are never far from our minds. If things are getting too much, we have some links at the bottom.

Artwork by Jamie Li. See more of her amazing creations on her website or Instagram.

2020 – Laugh or You’ll Cry

This poem by Rebecca sparked the idea of a newsletter. We’ve all had different experiences in lockdown, and we hope that some of the thoughts shared in the poem will resonate.  

Read the full poem

Lockdown fun

We’ll be constantly adding to our list of lockdown activities, and welcome all suggestions. 

Featured activities this week:

1. Sporcle

It was years ago, one Friday afternoon when I was fighting to overcome that post lunch dip when my colleague and I were introduced to Sporcle. It’s a free repository of trivia quizzes covering a vast array of topics. For awhile, this abundance of quizzes, which allowed us to compete with each other for the highest scores, somewhat affected our productivity at work. However, as we all have time on our hands in lockdown, this may be the perfect opportunity to see how you fare against the Sporcle community.

Do let us know which are your favourite quizzes and if you’d like to challenge Becky or I to one, we would be happy to take on the challenge!

2. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

Each November writers around the world join an online community to support each other in writing 50,000 words of a novel. It’s not about polishing a novel you’re already working on, but about pushing yourself to get the basis of a new one down.

Most people haven’t written any fiction since school, even though many of us took great pleasure from creating stories as children. There’s normally a barrier to trying it as adults, often so great you don’t even consider sitting down to write. It’s not like getting back on a bike or starting running again – for some reason we feel a pressure to only write something if it’s of professional standard. Why? We don’t feel that about any other hobbies, and this should be no different.

Lockdown is the perfect time to try fiction writing again. We all have more time, and are in need of something new to make 2020 feel more positive. Also, we don’t know about you, but we’re craving some creative works that reflect the world we’re suddenly living in. Even if a November novel sounds like too much, we would really enjoy reading your short stories.

Give it a go, and if you like what you’ve written then we would love to publish it here. If you don’t hate it but still aren’t sure, Becky is very happy to take a look and send feedback. She really hopes people won’t feel inhibited from doing that. In the spirit of ignoring inhibitions, she is feeling brave enough to point you towards some of her more successful short stories.

Join our scavenger hunt

Each week we’re going to be collecting photos in our own scavenger hunt. This week we’re looking for autumn leaves that can rival mine (below), and animals that are as cute Spotless the guinea pig (that will be tough). We’ll publish the best next week.

Is there a creature in the world that is cuter than Spotless?!

Art and craft

Lots of us have had creative projects during lockdown, and here’s the chance to share them. We’d love to see your photos so we can post them here.

Becky is thinking of running craft classes online this winter, and is looking for help in two ways. Firstly, would you like to be involved in a pilot? I’d send you some beads and we’d make something together. It doesn’t matter if you’re a craft whizz of you’ve never done anything crafty before – one of the things to work out is how easy different people find it. Secondly, it would be great to hear any thoughts on how to make it work, and whether it is a good idea. Where could they be advertised, for example?

If you’re into art or craft of any description and fancy joining a creative Zoom session where we all do our own thing, get in touch!

Drawing a purple snail is the most productive thing Becky did all weekend. Though resting is productive too, and spending Zoom time with wonderful people.

Latin riddles in the time of coronavirus

Musical compositions by Ed Nesbit.

Events to join online

University of Birmingham Festival of Social Science – link courtesy of Annabelle.

Q&A with Nobel Laureate Stefan Hell – an event organised by Becky and her colleagues. She’ll be handling the questions, so please ask some good ones.

In Conservation With… – fun webinars by David Lindo, the urban birder, tackle issues of conservation, often with a theme of equality and social justice.

Interesting links

Over the week we’ve collected links that have touched us or amused us, with the help of our friends.

Whale sculpture stops Dutch train crashing into water

Six poems by Louise Glück, recipient of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature

Royal Society of Biology COVID bulletin

Covid-19 impact on food waste


Nice White Parents – a fascinating insight into racism in the American school system, which no doubt has plenty of relevance here.

Primordial Deep – science fiction action/thriller. Link courtesy of Dom.

Some entertaining COVID advice

If things are too much…

Most people have had low moments during 2020, and when we don’t see people it can be much harder to tell when someone is in need of support. We therefore hope you will feel able to reach out to friends (whether or not they are us) to help you through. Sometimes, however, the solution may be different, so we have put together some links that might help.

Mind – offers mental health information & support, and a helpline.

CALM – offers accredited, confidential and free support to men anywhere in the UK through a helpline or webchat service.

agenda – a charity supporting women’s mental health, with a particular focus on vulnerable women.

Young Minds – run a free confidential helpline for parents / carers if they are worried about a child or young person.