u3a - u3a

1ST – 7TH June

Tuesday 2nd June 

A bird in the hand  While I believe that having any kind of animal to share your life is a good thing,  being home almost constantly for the last ten or so weeks has made me even more aware of the daily habits of our cat.    With the weather being so unseasonably warm from the beginning of lockdown, the kitchen door from which she usually accesses the outside world is left open during the day.  The familiar click and snap of the cat flap as she comes and goes on her many investigations of the garden and her wider territory seem a lifetime away, as does the hesitant disappearance of back legs and tail as she squeezes through the opening.  As a cat owner, this time of year makes me nervous, with nests full of newborns and fledglings.  Unlike previous cats in the household, B is not a prolific hunter, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been presented with tiny embryonic sightless bodies, dead on the doormat.  Last year we tried to keep an injured robin alive by placing it in a shoebox with water and birdseed overnight. It died before I could take it to the vet.           

A couple of days ago I heard the command, “No B, drop it, drop it! Leave it alone!”, and the agitated voice of my partner. I knew we had trouble. Going downstairs to the kitchen, J was cupping a tiny live bird. It was beautiful, full feathered and speckled, possibly a wren or a young sparrow.  The bird wasn’t flapping or trying to escape, just sitting quietly, we assumed, in shock. It looked around unmoving, eyes blinking very slowly.    There were no obvious wounds, but we knew from past experience that it was unlikely to survive. I put a little water in a dish and dripped drops on to its beak. To my surprise the red mouth opened wide and swallowed, as it would being fed a worm. What to do? Our local vets had reduced opening hours and an appointment only service. We didn’t know of any open wildlife rescue centres, and did they take tiny wild birds anyway?   

Finding a secluded bush to shelter the creature while it died might be the kindest option, hoping all the time that B didn’t revisit to finish the job. J walked to the garden, all the time still holding the bird which, although quiet, was looking more interested in its surroundings. I returned to the kitchen, brooding on the unfairness of it all. A sudden excited shout from outside, “It’s flown away! Brilliant!”. A huge sigh of relief: one less thing to have to make a decision about. There is a small addition to this story. As it suddenly flew away it left a small token of bird dropping in Js hand.   

Jill, Middlesex 

Wednesday 3rd June 

Zoomatation : getting the balance right  

I was somewhat taken aback recently when l heard announced that 300 million daily Zoom meetings are conducted. Most of us know someone who uses Zoom, we might even use it ourselves. Well if it’s good enough for our British lawmakers to use it, disrupting a 700 year old tradition in the Houses of Parliament then we will have to learn to accommodate this new technology. 

My interest in using Zoom was triggered by a chat l had with my daughter Dominique, right at the start of this pandemic. “If your going to use it Mum put a nice T shirt on, no one will see whether your dressed below the waist, do your hair and put some lippy on”. 

I took her advice but fast forward twelve weeks since l have been in lockdown l find myself on various calls with all manner of people, my GP, committee , Governor meetings, a birthday celebration and connecting with friends and family members. 

So here goes:- 

To start your Zoom connection l found l needed to take a short breath, before clicking Start. 

Greet the faces on the screen - take in that warm smile and wave, give your full attention now. 

I choose Speaker view as it shows you the one person who is speaking so they get more of my attention. Looking at 15 faces on the screen can be challenging and my mind wanders at my age. 

Ah what a great time to multi task, you can compose and send emails, write your shopping list, do a crossword. No l am being facetious, stay focused and let your attention lightly rest on what’s before you. 

In 1 day l had to use Zoom 3 times, in and out l was with short periods of rest in between. It was important to take a refreshing pause, have a glass of something nearby to swig or leave the meeting temporarily to go to the toilet, with the intention to join it later. 

Well what the eyes don’t see the heart won’t grieve over. Whose to know that a pet is perched lovingly on our lap. What if your the host and you accidentally mute or remove someone in a way that would never be socially acceptable in person. Or you can feign a poor connection and disappear into the ether. 

But seriously let’s remind ourselves that this is a new place for us over 55s and we are all learning as we go along. Where would we be without FaceTime, Zoom 

Skype and the rest. Let’s grasp and appreciate the benefits of online communication which is keeping us connected to our U3a groups. 

Jacqueline, London 

Week One

23rd - 29th March

Week Two

30th March – 5th April

Week Three

6th – 12th April

Week Four

13th – 19th April

Week Five

20th – 26th April

Week Six

27th April – 3rd May

Week Seven

4th – 10th May

Week Eight

11th - 17th May

Week Nine

18th - 24th May

Week Ten

25th - 31st May

Week Eleven

1st - 7th June

Week Twelve

8th - 14th June

Week Thirteen

15th - 21st June

Week Fourteen

22nd - 28th June

Week Fifteen

29th June - 5th July


Week Sixteen

6th - 12th July

Week Seventeen

13th - 19th July

Week Eighteen

20th - 26th July

Week Nineteen

27th - 31st July