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Published on January 17th, 2021 | by The Town Crier

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An unusual year

By Carolyn Gray

I’m writing this in Lockdown Two, which hopefully should be nearing the end when Town Crier December 2020 magazine comes out. So far it’s a rather lightweight Lockdown, but it has meant a swath of pre-Christmas events postponed, and a pause of outdoor dining and drinking at our local establishments. It’s looking hopeful that both The Assembly Hall and The Ice Rink will open on December 3rd, including more “Forum Music Nights”, and it was great for Tunbridge Wells to get funds across the board from the DCMS Cultural Recovery Fund. Let’s hope that culture can recover. I’m going to say that I haven’t particularly enjoyed live-streamed music events, although this will probably be the way to ease artists back into live performing during 2021. I saw a clip from 10 years ago on TV of a band in front of an audience, who were all smiling, swaying in time to the music, and I realised it is the lack of audience that is so sad in a livesteam from your bedroom show. However, with a few more months of winter to go, hopefully there will be some chances to get out and see some live entertainment, otherwise: hibernate!

I’ve been fortunate that over the past few years I have gained many Facebook Friends who are artists, and often have a Facebook page stream that includes some optimistic artistic pictures, which has been cheering through these darker days. If you are looking to support local this Christmas, check out this Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/twellschristmas 2020 has been a time for reflection – I know of many people who gave over sections of their back gardens to vegetable growing, as well as all the people baking during the Spring Lockdown. I was involved, in April, with sewing extra scrub clothes for the NHS, a whole community movement where even people who hadn’t sewn for years got their sewing machines out and made bags and masks. Those who couldn’t sew, donated old bedlinen to be cut up and sewn, or money to buy new fabric, thread and tape. At that time I was reading a World War Two real life histories book, and it really felt like we too had that make do and mend psyche. When the demand for additional hospital clothes died down, I remembered back a few years to when we had a Transition Town group in Tunbridge Wells, who made “morsbags”. (morsbags.com) and I decided I would use some of the left over donated bedding to make some bags. Basically these are fabric shopping bags, but having the label made them a talking point at a time when supermarket plastic bags were still free. The idea is, once you have made yourself some washable, reusable bags, you make more and give them away. Some of the donated bedlinen wasn’t any good for NHS clothes, or re-selling in a charity shop, so I have been cutting around tears and holes, and making bags. So far I have given them away to friends, and to The Mayor at Heritage Open Days, Zero Waste Co, Locality, DW Audio, Fine Grind, and to Nourish Foodbank. Nourish pack their shopping into ‘Bags for Life’ – however these are still plastic bags, and still have environmental consequences when discarded and not recycled. It’s not been a full on operation by me, but I’m aiming to sew a few more – I have a “pod” – Sunny Tunny – and to keep giving them away into 2021.

Whatever that year may hold. By the way, if you don’t know what a Transition Town is, it’s well worth having a look, and a read… Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year


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