…in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile. This song has many memories for me, the first springing to mind is the last school show I helped choreograph at a school I previously worked at. However, I also know it as an old war song, from the First World War, sang to boost the morale and maintain camaraderie (I also remember it being on an advert or something on tv). My Granny lived through the Second World War and told me tales of it, as did many of my friend’s grandparents while we were growing up. We studied it at Primary and Middle school, learning the songs of Vera Lynne and stories of how people came together to see themselves through the hard times.

Those wars went on for years, absolute years, with the aftermath carrying on even longer and I cannot even begin to imagine how hard it must’ve been. Yet still, I remember when being told about it, people telling me of games they played, stories they told, songs they sang. As an adult I now really understand it must’ve been horrendous and emotional, but I also know from the tales, that people must’ve learnt very quickly to come together and help each other. Not just practical but emotionally, giving each other the metaphorical crutch they needed, the arm round a shoulder and understanding ear. Most importantly, I get the impression that they found ways to still have happiness, laugh, smile, make the best of a very bad situation and be grateful for what they did have.

I felt a glimmer of that camaraderie tonight. When the whole street came outside and clapped. Everyone clapped and cheered for the NHS heroes fighting on the frontline against Covid-19. I was wary as we stepped out in dressing gowns and slippers thinking that us and my social distancing neighbours across the fence were the only ones but we could hear it all around us. We could see others on the street waving through the hedges, hanging out of their windows smiling, cheering, whistling and clapping. It was brilliant. Emotional. And yes in my true style I got choked up. I couldn’t help it. I love stuff like this. People coming together showing kindness and gratitude!

I even let toddler P stay up late to join in, she jumped up and down on the doorstep smiling and shouting “I cwapping mummy” pleases as punch that she was a part of it despite her lack of understanding as to why. I’m so glad I let her, I’m so glad everyone did it. I’m just so glad that in this trying time, that in reality is (hopefully) for weeks more months in comparison to the years of war the generations before us faced, that there was something so positive. So simple, yet so positive. I hope it carries on, on a regular basis and that as a society we find more of these ways to come together despite the physical distance we have to keep.

I’m glad we did it and I’m glad my mini me got to be a part of it and I hope she remembers it in time to come. I hope we have some more positive stories to tell our future families and friends about this situation. I hope that there’s some silver linings to what’s an uncertain and difficult time for us all. So…

While you’ve a lucifer to light your fag, smile boys that’s the style!

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