Chronicling Covid – staff entries

Tempted by the promise of baked goods (because surely we haven’t indulged in enough of those over lockdown), members of staff were invited to join in a staff special edition of the Chronicling Covid competition. Here are their entries… 

Meet the St Johnians by Thoko Kamwendo 

The St Johnians said Hi! 

in unison 

like pixies 

in a bell jar 

Warm hello’s 

through cold 


As I kept zooming in 

and out 

and in again 

discovering St Johnians 

and covering 

my ears at the birthday singing


St Johnians! 

Here I am again 

Now you see me 

Now you don’t 

Now you see me through the bell jar 

Thank you for welcoming me 

From afar 

Thoko is a Researcher for ECLAS and began working at St John’s during the first lockdown. 

Silent Night by Rebecca Bouveng

The picture Silent Night by Rebecca Bouveng was taken at the outdoor screening of the Carol Service.

Proposed collective nouns for lockdown by Helen Billam 

A souring of lockdowns.  

A respite of lockdowns.  

A fogged-glasses, soap-raw judgement of lockdowns.  

A mither of lockdowns.  

A Thursday of lockdowns.  

A grief of lockdowns.  

A repetition of lockdowns.  

A repetition of lockdowns.  

A repetition of lockdowns.  

One late spring morning at the height of my germaphobia I was out walking and a runner came towards me on the path so I stepped aside for distance’s sake while he sailed on down the middle unconcerned with civic duty or public health and as he passed a fleck of his sweat landed on my lip, thus my proposal:  

a stranger’s sweat on my lip of lockdowns. 

A warm welcome to St John’s College by Kelly Pattinson

Images from April 2020 form this photo, ‘a warm welcome to St John’s College’ by Kelly Pattinson.

It’s Not A War, But  by Helen Billam 

I wonder, when this is all over (“this” being our shared solitude, this most mundane of tumults, in which our lives looked at once similar and very different to each other’s, stripped back to the core) how we’ll signal our own peculiar experiences during this time.  

Perhaps we’ll be like veterans, who with a few concise markers – a place, a year, the name of a regiment – can tell a whole history between them. I’ll nod to acknowledge your trauma, and you’ll grimace upon hearing mine. They won’t be the same, but we’ll be co-survivors of a common upheaval.  

“I was in the 54th Homeschool Division, two under-eights. Did two tours of furlough.” Nod. “And you?” 

 “Me, I was a key worker, stationed at Asda. Saw a lot of action.”  

Low whistle. “Do you know Benny?”  

“Benny? Yeah, helluva guy. What’s his story?” 

 “Moved in with his girlfriend in first lockdown; it was too soon, really, but they felt pressured to do it so they could still see each other. It didn’t turn out too well.”  

“You don’t mean he…”  

“Yep. Dishonourably discharged. Back at his mum’s now.”  

But this isn’t a war, and I doubt I’d be any good at stoicism anyway.  

Covid Verse by Rebecca Bouveng 

Out of the many aberrations 

Of the year 2020 

Was policing Covid-regulations 

Of breaches there were plenty


Informants too, of fellow students 

“I saw her leave Cruddas with no mask” 

Heavy hearted College Officers 

Duly took the guilty to task. 

We issued many warnings: 

Yellow, amber but thankfully no red 

As lockdown eases let us pray  

That Covid discipline be put to bed 

A Reckoning by Helen Billam 

There’ll be a reckoning, one day.  

One day, I’ll sit and tally up  

The missing-outs and the turnings-in.  

I’ll subtract a sister’s wedding,  

The niece I’ve not yet met,  

Restaurants un-sat in,  

Trips not taken.  

Then, I’ll add in the things I’ve learned:  

How to plant a tree  

The fundamentals of yoga  

That there are at least four cuckoos in the woods by my house  

And that people can be so, so good to each other.  

There’ll be a reckoning, one day.  

I wonder if,  

In the columns of  

Things I Have Lost  


Things I Have Learned  

I’ll find a balance.  

10 Things I hate about lockdown by Sally Jackson 

I hate the way we can’t be free,  

And the way it’s made us scared. 

I hate the germs we cannot see,  

I hate all of this despair. 

I hate using hand sanitiser  

And wearing a mask all the time. 

I hate lockdown so much it makes me sick,  

It even makes me rhyme. 

I hate the way we baked all day,  

I hate that I burned my pie. 

I hate it when it makes me laugh,  

Even worse when it makes me cry 

I hate it when there’re no friends around,  

And the fact that they don’t call 

But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate it,  

Not anymore, maybe just a little bit,  

Not very much at all 

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