By Nesta Cook

What a year 2020 was for the world
From March the news of the pandemic unfurled
A sinister link to the phrase ‘gone viral’
When the COVID cases began to spiral

In March the numbers were rapidly growing
Across the world, there’s no sign of it slowing
Spreading infection, this virus was harming
Extreme symptoms, deaths, all very alarming

Some drastic measures were now what was needed
Stay at home, wash hands; advice we all heeded
For months in lockdown, release we awaited
Hoping for signs the virus had abated

The shortage of items became headline news
In the shops we witnessed rationing and queues
With the threat of no paper to wipe one’s bum
It prompted the hoarding of loo rolls by some

After loo rolls there was little flour and yeast
Many wanting to bake their own bread, at least
Over-buying of stuff was a tad manic
As those in fear began buying in panic

The pandemic view in humour has been etched
With comical takes in cartoons, they are sketched
To lighten the mood, make us laugh and titter
Flooding in on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter

Commonplace terms, shielding and isolation
Vulnerabilities grouping our nation
Watching the updates, the news from number 10
Hearing from all the experts, good news? But when?

The daily briefings included Q and As
Reporters, their critical, nit-picking ways
Asking and probing in their usual quest
Are politicians doing their very best?

The numbers, the charts and graphical data
Explained projections of what would come later
Much talk of the need for testing and tracing
To find treatments the medics were all racing

Hospital admissions and loved ones dying
It was all consuming, there’s no denying
These worrying times took its toll on our minds
How we would cope and darkest thoughts of all kinds

The NHS heroes were our shining lights
We thanked them all with our Clap for Carers nights
They’re not immune to the effect of the spread
Tired and apprehensive, they worked with some dread

Some serious problems protecting the pros
They needed cover from their heads to their toes
Personal Protective Equipment we see
As a new term in our vocabulary

Keyworkers, they are a very special kind
Selfless and committed these people you’ll find
Keeping key systems and services maintained
All our sincere gratitude should be sustained

Volunteers with their help stepped into the breach
Providing support for those caught out of reach
Gathering essentials, their work unyielding
For those people stuck in their homes while shielding

The stories of compassion and charity
Makes a big difference towards parity
When we lose all sense of our normality
Restores belief, we can show humanity

Impact on businesses brought some good, some bad
Some companies lost the employees they’d had
The stop/start situation, lots had to go
Others kept on part time some were on furlough

In the office, working from home was a must
Those short-sighted bosses would now have to trust
Their employees to work well when out of sight
New ways of working ahead; the time is right

Scientists and virologists work flat out
Findings, research and results to bring about
A vaccine to provide us with protection
To keep us safe from the spread of infection

The measures and restrictions we have in place
Stay at home, wash our hands and cover our face
Began to reduce the numbers affected
Schools and business reopen disinfected

From July we see some form of new normal
No hugging, no contact, life’s become formal
We are all mindful of keeping our distance
Wearing our masks and ‘mind the gap’ for instance

With the schools and business all doing their ‘thing’
Along came a new peak with an added sting
A new variant: COVID has mutated
Easier to catch; numbers escalated

The battle so far has been nearly a year
Restrictions and lockdowns, the long-haul we fear
A stratum of tiers governs all of our days
As we all get used to adapting our ways

As last Christmas rolled into the New Year’s Eve
The old year we were more than happy to leave
Thanks to the scientists’ hard work in their labs
We are looking forward to getting our jabs

Why did I write an ode? I’ve always been moved to write a rhyming verse or few about special events, achievements, birthdays and the like. Absorbing the information about the pandemic moved me to want to capture the feelings of what we were all going through. It became quite addictive and organic as more facts emerged and the lines tumbled out.

Writing COVID ODE 2020 was a very helpful pastime during the lockdown weeks of 2020 as it helped me to absorb, reflect and put things into perspective on how the pandemic was affecting the world’s population. I suppose because of the very levelling effect of all in the same boat, so to speak, the pandemic has had I felt the urge to share the ode more widely. 

I find writing ‘rhyming ditties’ a very therapeutic, mindful pastime. I’ve never really viewed them in the realms of ‘poetry’ – let alone ‘lyrical stanzas’…

All these years of writing the odd ditty
Expressing thoughts in lines that are witty
Who knew they were poetry in motion
This naive Hampshire lass had no notion

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