Almost everyone I know has been taking advantage of the internet to enjoy virtual meet-ups of all kinds, from book groups and coffee morning to cocktail and poker parties. How very grown-up! On the other hand, I seem to have used the wonders of modern technology to time-warp back to my childhood in England and at least part of my days have been structured around PE lessons and choir practice. The experience is proving strangely nostalgic and fun, and despite my doubts, both have left me feeling more connected to the outside world even though I have participated from my basement.
The daily YouTube Joe Wicks, ‘PE with Joe’ lessons, and the ‘Great British Home Chorus‘ brainchild Gareth Malone and Decca Records. were hastily put together ideas to entertain the British public during lockdown, but have swiftly become international success stories. In contrast to other online activities I have tried, both projects feel both profoundly personal and collective, and surprisingly rewarding for body and soul. I don’t doubt that some of this is due to the lovely haphazard way in which they are put together, Joe filming on his phone in his living room and Gareth with a fancier setup from his garden shed studio. They feel inherently British, make-do-and-mend, to me which is very comforting, but their audiences suggest a much wider appeal, and the number of people taking part around the world is staggering. The lessons are coming to us via hi-tech, but they are old-fashioned and homey and feel very personal even though thousands are taking part. Things go wrong all the time but nobody minds, in fact that somehow adds to the appeal. The lessons go out live, Monday to Friday, (you would need to be up at dawn to catch Joe’s PE at 4am, the choir rehearsals are at 12.30pm here), but recordings are available following the initial broadcast.
My body is sore, I can’t really sing but I am enjoying feeling a bit like a kid again – complete with the frustrations of having homework, somewhat disorganised teachers and being pushed to do things beyond my comfort zone. I have had some interesting chats with others who have got involved and there’s a positive ‘we’re all in this together’ vibe. Another plus, Gareth and Joe say they are in this for the duration so it’s not to late for you to join in.