As our part of the world enters its second lockdown due to Covid-19, our Members have been finding new ways to connect with each other. Today we had our first "Lockdown Coffee Morning"!
Those who regularly travel on planes will recall inflight passenger safety announcements that say something like: "If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person." The reason of course is that you can't help another if you are struggling yourself. And so it is with our Club Members. As we've said before, a few of our members fall in a "vulnerable" category or live alone or far from family, so another lockdown may make them feel added stress. We need to make sure we are all OK while we also do what we can for the community.
A couple of our Members, PPs Richard Kemball-Cook and David Barton, came up with the idea of coffee mornings. It's a simple idea and not that unusual, but with our first meeting today we can already see its benefits and thoroughly recommend other Rotary Clubs take up the idea if they can.
The concept is just like a coffee shop; there's no formality, no speakers, and plenty of scope for random chit chat over coffee & biscuits - the type of chat we might have had over lunch at our face-to-face meetings. It helps us get to know one another better - and for our newest Member, was also a chance for her to learn more about us.
At today's meeting one Member joined between meetings and lectures, another after a walk, one while recovering from surgery and a couple in between work projects.
There was a wide range of topics that randomly came up for discussion from the twelve-or-so folk present. Things kicked off with Rtn Mary McGeary telling us about a talk she attended on "The Myth of Progress". The topic led onto music and fashion (everything from 50s swing through 70s flower power to 80s punk) and before we knew it we were talking about culture & TV (halloween, Strictly Come Dancing to "The Twist", jive and "disco"), travel & holidays (cruises, planes), countries, food, drink and history! Who would have thought it? A morning talking of plastic zebra coats, Carnaby Street, mohicans, kipper ties, Vidal Sassoon, The Beatles, Tommy Steele, Cliff Richard, Butlins, Blackpool, San Francisco, India, Mauritius, Norway, facial hair, Cizano, Baby Cham and disco balls!
One conversation for example, was about 60s/70s fashion house BIBA in High Street Kensington. One Member recalled visiting there and was in awe of everyone as they "were so smooth". By contrast, another spoke of the 70s/80s Westwood/McClaren shop "World's End" on the Kings Road in Chelsea, where things were more "spiky" than smooth and safety pins were in preponderance!
We had a little chat about coffee houses and a touch of misspent youth. A bonus on having things online is that when the "2i's" Coffee Bar came up in conversation, one of our members was immediately able to look it up and share a picture - that led to even more memories!
We were delighted to be joined by Rtn spouses too, and it was nice to have had their input. Richard did a great job in hosting, teasing stories out of Members that were fun to hear. He was, in a sense, our very own Graham Norton! We all showed our assortment of coffee mugs - though not all had any coffee!
After a fun session PP Margaret Griffin commented "It was so good to have this informality, and just to chat," while PP Harry Cragg loved the fact that the topics had just "emanated" from those present, without any set agenda or discussion topics. We hope to have our next "Lockdown Coffee Morning" next week!