The news that Greggs was to close all its stores broke before the Prime Minister’s announcement last night. It felt like that moment when it all became very real, and I was immediately reminded of Dad’s Army’s Private Fraser’s catchphrase ‘we’re all doomed’. Not being able to buy that rich comfort food, a sausage roll or its vegan equivalent, seemed like the ultimate end of civilisation as we know it.
The Andy Warhol exhibition at Tate Modern also opened and closed last week. Warhol’s iconic pictures of Campbell’s soup cans and prints of Marilyn Monroe will now be locked away for the next few weeks or months. But the 1960s images are very well known and will readily stay in our minds, as will, for some of us, the taste and smell of a Gregg’s sausage roll or other pastry based product. An icon of our times, the convenience of a warm snack on the go. No wonder George Osborne’s pasty tax caused such a stir.
As we remain at home, what will be the small things we will hold in our minds, that we will savour vicariously at a distance? Of course we will greatly miss family and friends however much we Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams, but what are those things that oil the wheels, ease the pressure, or provide a space that we take for granted? These are not the guilty pleasures of a sausage roll but real life actions and experiences that get us through the day – safely.
Here’s the thing about safeguarding. It’s often the small things that make a difference and these generally rely heavily on human interaction and connection. Emotional wellbeing is going to be at a premium over the next few weeks, and so as our churches close and our folk start to hibernate, cocoon or self-isolate, depending on your definition of what you are doing, its critical for us to think about how we can support those we are concerned about to access their safe spaces.
This will not be easy of course and so it’s great to learn about volunteer groups springing up. The Methodist Church is publishing guidelines about safe best practice, but the latest announcements about gatherings will potentially make it harder to deliver some services. Creativity will be the order of the day.
Andy Warhol’s images are pure pop art and speak of a vibrant and colourful time and place when the world could be your oyster. Greggs sausage rolls may not be the most healthy and nutritious snack you can buy, but one can hit the spot when you need it. Let’s try to make sure we all get our daily crumbs of comfort, joy and hope.