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Sawbridgeworth poet Gary Thaddeus issues warning in verse over coronavirus second spike

Sawbridgeworth’s resident poet Gary Thaddeus finds inspiration in many issues – and the coronavirus lockdown has not escaped his poignant verse.

Gary said he was queuing in the supermarket in the early days of lockdown and, as the only one wearing a mask, was being given funny looks.

He felt everyone had their own reason why the lockdown didn’t apply to them – and that spawned a poem called Locked Down Memories.

Sawbridgeworth poet Gary Thaddeus (39105831)
Sawbridgeworth poet Gary Thaddeus (39105831)

The poem is from the viewpoint of a grandfather answering the question from his grandson: “What did you do in the lockdown?”

He went on to tell the boy “at first it got quite silly, with products running short, but eventually for most of us some lessons we got taught”.

The experiences from the lockdown are revealed by the grandad as “cafés, bars and restaurants were forced to close their doors, as people queued for hours outside the grocery stores”.

He rails at the “selfish fools” who caused a second spike by twisting things to “suit themselves, gathering together”.

The poem, which 57-year-old Gary stressed was fictional, ends with the grandad revealing his wife, the boy’s grandma, had caught a “fatal dose”.

Gary is earning a reputation in town after his poem The Old Sailor was read at a street party held by his neighbours for VE Day 75.

He said he had been “messing about with poetry” since he was a teenager, but had only just returned to putting together verse.

He reads his poems himself online accompanied by appropriate images, something he says is important as he says it means it “comes from the heart”.

His first effort since returning to the art was called You Died Yesterday, which he says came from him being stressed over buying a car.

He realised life was too short to be worrying about such things and wrote what he says is a thought-provoking poem.

“It was meant to be a sort-yourself-out poem, it was quite cathartic,” he said.

Gary says he has had more time to write as he was furloughed from his job as a printer during lockdown.

There are more poems in the pipeline, with more uplifting words on the way, he promises.

But The Old Sailor is likely to be given another airing for November’s Remembrance Sunday.


What did you do in the lockdown? My grandson said to me,

Outside the vegan butcher shop, in 2053

I’ve tried to ask my Mummy but she was just a kid,

So tell me again what it was like and what the people did?

Well, I started slowly... it was very long ago,

People soon adjusted, although the start was slow

At first it got quite silly, with products running short,

But eventually for most of us, some lessons we got taught

For the first time in 70 years, food was not a right,

Nor was work or going out or getting on a flight

My firm closed down and sent me home, but most of us got paid,

Schools were shut, concerts banned and football got delayed

Cafés, bars and restaurants were forced to close their doors

As people queued for hours, outside the grocery stores

Some complained of too much food, whilst putting on the weight,

though many never had enough, reduced how much they ate

The sun was kind to us that year, many days were hot,

Folks began to notice the countryside we’d got

People looked around them, forgot their cars and walked,

We looked out for each other and neighbours even talked

On our daily stroll outside, we’d listen to the birds,

Friends we made on WhatsApp groups would send us funny words

Children painted rainbows, adults met on Zoom,

A bloke called Wicks would keep us fit in the living room

The doctors and the nurses, we'd thank them every week,

They put their lives at risk for us while flattening the peak

On Thursday night we’d line the streets, with clapping, song and cheers,

For once they were appreciated, Heaven's volunteers

As we walked he asked me more, to talk about our ways,

So I delved into my memory to recall those troubled days

Well most of us were pretty good, but others broke the rules,

We almost had it beaten once, but there’s always selfish fools

People started meeting up to enjoy the lovely weather,

They twisted things to suit themselves, gathering together

And sure enough a second spike, more people paid the price,

But those who had the barbecues still weren’t thinking twice

And someone who was close to me caught a fatal dose,

She always did things cautiously, but someone got too close

His questions kept on coming and only did abate

When we turned the corner and approached the churchyard gate

So put the flowers on Nanny’s grave, blow a kiss and give a wave

How she would have wanted the hug she never gave

You see, it’s only you and Mummy that make me stay alive,

My heart was truly broken at the age of 35

I’m really still in lockdown, for me it never ended,

All I lost has born a cost, my life is still suspended

I’m haunted by the maybe, that needlessly she died,

So if it ever happens again, for God’s sake stay inside.

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