My dear old Dad’s allotment shed had been family folklore for as long as I can remember, it was a bit like Dr Who’s Tardis housing two of the Old Dear’s discarded armchairs, some old blankets, a camping stove, battery radio and wind up gramophone. Also his collection of homemade wines which my mother refused to have in the house since one of her fellow WI members referred to him as the “Village Moonshiner”!
On the occasions when I used to accompany him as a child, he’d make a mound of sandwiches, big wedges of mum’s lemon drizzle cake or Victoria sandwich along with bottles of pop and flasks of tea. We’d walk the length of the lanes hand in hand past hedgerows full of bluebells and Queen Anne’s lace to retrieve the shed key from under the plant pot by the door.
I was always puzzled when he’d re-wrap the remainder of picnic in greaseproof paper and leave it on the work bench assuring me with a wink it was for the allotment fairies that looked after his flowers. It was only years later that I realised that itinerant farm labourers and fruit pickers regularly used his shed as overnight accommodation and the remnants of our substantial picnic would have provided a much needed meal.
When I now recall those days I recognise that these gestures were widespread community currency. I don’t for a heartbeat think my father thought he was being kind; it was just a time in our society when we looked after our neighbours because it was simply a way of life for our parents and grandparents. As was never passing someone you knew without offering a lift or sharing an apple tree harvest. Good deeds were regularly carried out with intention not for attention.
This pandemic for many has certainly generated an overwhelming urge for many to spread kindness. It’s heart-warming that families are realising that games night can be every night, mums & dads enjoying regular stay at home date nights when the kids have gone to bed and connecting with long lost friends and family members online; not forgetting during all this time Mother Nature is recharging her batteries. I’d like to think that simple acts of kindness will remain an integral part of our daily lives because when eventually our NHS white knights have fought and slain this fire-breathing Covid Dragon and we emerge into the light once again, we shall have a chance to do things better; let’s not waste it!