Live from the Homefront – from royal bloomers* to digging up our past and keeping in control of our present

by Susannah Grant

posted on May 8, 2020

A Grandmother scales the front door of a block of apartments

Many families have come up with ingenious ways of keeping in touch with their loved ones remotely to avoid screen fatigue. Some of the family meetings require some amusing planning in advance, the rewards of which are more than reaped by all the participants on screen.

For example, joke day or hat day where each member has to come up with a joke in turn or appear on screen wearing some millinery creation, or perhaps read out a poem, composed by themselves or another. Or even story day where a set of 4 words are set to the host in advance and she has to pull them out of a hat and invites the author to explain their significance. As a natural progression I can see that charades might be fun, a quiz (on the eccentric ancestors?), or even dressing up as a character or a citizen from a different nation that the other participants have to guess. Let me know what you have tested out successfully.

Susannah and her sister investigate our grandmother´s acquisition from Queen Victoria

I would probably need an extra-long confinement to exhaust the Spanish Inquisition on my forebears. Here are some of the questions I might include in my family´s quiz: “Who bought Queen Victoria´s knickers (otherwise known as *bloomers)?”, “Which male ancestor was devoured by a tiger at Ooty, in India?”, “Which relation has Margaret Thatcher´s former lavatory in his hotel?” “Who fell backwards into the swimming pool in a kilt at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town during a business meeting?” “Who checked a shotgun into the cloakroom of the Royal Albert Hall at a concert in London after a day´s pheasant shooting?” “Whose former castle featured on the front cover of a U2 album?”

As various countries start to relax their confinement rules it is becoming increasingly apparent that normal life as we knew it is not going to resume any time soon. This may be a very harsh reality for some, particularly vulnerable, people so we may benefit from adjusting our mindset to focus on our more immediate present, over which we have more control or, alternatively, on the more distant future, perhaps in a year or so from now.

This advice is echoed by a US navy vice admiral, James Stockdale, who having spent seven years as a prisoner of the Vietnam war, advocated a “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” mentality. If socialising or travelling is going to be restricted or inadvisable for some of us, we should plan accordingly for a longer-term constraint and consider how we can turn this situation into an opportunity to clarify what areas of our life we should focus our attentions on. This will give us a sense of control, purpose and conceivably, achievement. Additionally, our hope for a brighter future can be boosted by a daily acknowledgement of gratitude for our present.

Give me another few weeks to practise my moves

I have had a highly productive time unsubscribing from the deluge of daily emails from various so-called “just-in-case” sources that are no longer relevant to the current life stage of my family or to the circumstances I now find myself in, temporarily confined to a wheelchair. I no longer beat myself up for not answering to the daily pressurised call of baking with masa madre or shaking my booty to cardio salsa ….

Aurora shows us her foolproof recipe

Some of us, however, have been very industrious in the kitchen, such as Aurora who has posted a useful tutorial on how to make a fabulous fideuá. This is the short fideo pasta variation on the traditional paella and much enjoyed in my household as I find it more forgiving than its rice brethren.