Lockdown upsides…

A return to my local hospital this week – not because I am ill but to deliver food for the staff – and I dare I say it, but more cakes and muffins than govt guidelines on obesity might approve of.

That said, I am part of a wholesome and warm endeavour which I am sure is familiar to many of you wherever you are in the world – local people feeling a need to do something worthy and very galvanising it is to. This particular operation is headed up a man I didn’t know before lockdown. His surname is Otter but he’s more Lion by example and the way he leads his team to provide food to clinics, hospitals, shelters and hostels. An ex-military man which is obvious to all – a man on a mission and leading his army of volunteers.

We take a photo outside the hospital and then he throws open the boot of his car; heavily laden with it seems, mostly cakes and muffins.

With his infectious energy he explains…

‘Took delivery of a tonne of muffin mix last week. It was going out of date. Bakery couldn’t use it. So I mobilised twelve hubs to get baking. Each hub organising and coordinating people cooking in their homes.’

This is some feat and I fight the urge to shout, “Sir, yes sir”.

He loads me up with box tray upon box tray and then he’s off – ahead of me and marching at pace.

‘Follow me’. He calls out.

Which is easier said than done. Longer legs perhaps but as likely, he is just much stronger.

It’s a hospital that has been very kind to the Holland family over the years.

All four boys were delivered here – on-time and in good order.

My broken leg was repaired here, twice.

Harry’s broken arm was reset.

Harry’s appendix was removed.

Nikki had an ectopic pregnancy operation.

Nikki’s eyes have been worked on – and particularly so when they realised who she’d married.

Plus numerous other minor procedures less noteworthy but gladly received at the time.

And so it feels nice to be back and armed with food, as Commander Otter continues his charge at a pace so fierce I wonder how out of date this muffin mix is and how pressing is their consumption?

We pass the outdoor garden for paediatrics – designed and kitted out by Momentum – a local charity that The Brothers Trust support. This year, we will give them £50k towards their work for families with kids battling cancer and other life limiting conditions. As I pass, I would wave – if I had a free arm – and I have no time because The Lion King is now way off in the distance.

It occurs to me that he might have given me the heaviest muffins – and he’s got meringues?

I inject some pace and get within a respectable distance. The hospital is spotless I note and I think of the cleaners who are rarely thought of or praised.

We round a corner and a bunch of medics in their greens are congregated. Nurses, doctors and surgeons. We are definitely a high point of their day.

‘What have we got here?’ A middle aged doctor calls out – and I fire back quick as a flash.

‘Sore arms but don’t mind me, I’ll be fine. Stand down.’

Finally we get to the room and we can unload – what feels like a few miles from his car. I am out of breath and I can’t straighten my arms but I manage to conceal this from Rambo.

He is a remarkably good bloke – and to all the volunteers up and down and across this country and others – their community efforts are certainly the upside of this lockdown and no doubt, they will live long in the memory.

And finally, speaking of Lockdown upsides…

Some people love lockdown of course. Being paid to be at home and do very little – not that many people will admit to such a thing.

Others much less so. The people who are unable to work from home and who have insufficient savings to mitigate their plummeting income. This is not me, but I do miss working. That feeling of doing a gig and getting back to my car.

But whenever lockdown eases and finally ends – I expect that stand-up comedians will be amongst the last workers to get back at it. And like the voluntary groups, people are keen to find their lockdown upside. A distraction and something to show for their time indoors. Me included and so after some deliberating, I have decided to write a new novel. A novel with a twist and I don’t just mean a plot device.

I am going to write this novel on-line.

And whether I eventually publish it or not as a book, it will be my lockdown novel.

A sequel to Only in America – reprising the characters, Milly and Jonson.

I am six chapters in and I am about to publish them on my Patreon site.

So if you’ve read Only in America (free on Amazon) – and you fancy something novel (gettit!) you can see how a novel evolves – and as a further twist – you can critique as I write and also make suggestions.

I have a story in mind – but that’s not to say my ideas will be better than yours. And if your ideas are better than mine – then believe me, they will be used.

It’s said that we each have a book in us. This will be my 7th. And if nothing else, you can share in the pain and the joy that is gestating and giving birth to a novel.

Working title – An English Lesson Set to Music – which will become clear on reading – but even this is open to suggestions.

All very welcome – but particularly clever types with great ideas and with a keen eye for typos.




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30 thoughts on “Lockdown upsides…

  1. Pamela says:

    Your and your family have done some pretty amazing things for others!! I know that they appreciate all that you do! Having a chance to be a part of the writing process will be so much fun and interesting to see a book from start to finish. I can’t wait to see the new chapters! It’s Mother’s Day here in the states so please wish Nikki a Happy Mother’s Day from me. I believe you celebrate that at a different time in the UK, but I want her to know what an amazing mom she is!! ❤️

      • Defne says:

        When will you do your next facebook live and can we talk about the online lessons with Paddy , stay safe and lots of love

      • Defne says:

        When will you do your next facebook live and can we talk about the online lessons with Paddy? Lots of love and stay safe

      • Pamela says:

        Yes, I did! Exciting! This will be a wonderful opportunity to read the chapters and provide feedback. Now that school is almost finished and the classroom packed, I’ll have even more time on my hands! What better way to spend it, reading a new book in progress!! Of course as soon as they open up the hospitals for elective surgery, second surgery on my foot to look forward to! (Not, but the numbness is driving me crazy and hopefully once all the hardware is removed my foot will feel somewhat normal again)

    • Kayla says:

      If you want an extra editor for this novel, I’d be happy to help out! I often annoy people with being the grammar police, so maybe I can put that to good use while I’m at home!

  2. Juliebatco says:

    Good luck in all your endeavors. Fantastic job at the hospital. Way to give back. Paying it forward is what life should be about. We need to give back when we have been blessed. You have done so much with great success. Keep it up. Blessed be from San Antonio.

  3. Freya says:

    I love hearing stories like this where people are really appreciating the hard work of the nhs in these times. I have recently ordered a copy of open links which I am looking forward to receiving and I look forward to reading the blogs and listening to the podcasts on your Patreon site.
    Stay safe

  4. Carla says:

    For more people like you and your friend in this world! Congratulations!
    Good luck with your novel.
    Have a good day!

  5. Lorraine says:

    Good for you in helping to feed the front line staff who deserve so much for their hard work. I know Sam has also been involved in feeding the front line too. Every gesture is appreciated without a doubt. Looking forward to following Millie’s next venture Dom. Take care and have a good week. BTW think the ad about earwax is much less attractive than a picture of a broken leg. Gotta love the ads. ☺️

  6. Roc says:

    I have to write a lot, and find it an excruciating process. Suffice it to say, I am intrigued by the opportunity to watch a master at work! Do you struggle with your internal editor? I find my perfectionism constantly kicking in, which makes it hard to just let things flow.

    • Dom says:

      This word ‘perfection’ you use…
      The thing with writing – it is never perfect and it is never finished.
      If I read any page of any previous novel or blog – I will see things that I want to change.
      So it’s just a matter of letting go…
      More pearls of faux wisdom (just like this) on Patreon as I start to write my new novel with people watching!

  7. Jane Nova says:

    It’s very kind of you to become a volunteer during these troubled times (not counting particularized The Brothers Trust activities, of course). And as far as I see it also became a good work out experience hah
    Can’t wait to read the first chapters of “An English Lesson Set to Music” on Patreon, and pretty sure this one will become some kind of masterpiece, Mr. Holland
    Thanks for this post, have a nice week!

  8. Yasmin says:

    I love the fact that you volunteer! especially when it makes someone else’s day better
    witch is what you are doing by writing this blog (and on patreon) also, make my day and many others better
    thank you <3

  9. Cherval Royster says:

    I love giving back to the community. I always visit the hospital I grew up in (asthma was no joke). Brings back good memories. I’m also writing a few projects!

  10. Jessica says:

    You have such a caring and giving heart! Keep up all the wonderful things you do! I’m sure it all is much appreciated 🙂

  11. Victoria says:

    I love how you (and your family) work so hard to help others. I wish there were more people like you in this world that would help with the sick or unfortunate.

  12. Michelangelo says:

    I just have to admit that this is my very first time in this blog but i have heard of it many times; actually not too much because i’m a 19 years old Venezuelan that wanted to read something new and you showed up… This is such a great page and i really admire you about everything you do, you and your family do such a great activities and actions to help people that i feel myself so selfish. Three words left to say… “You are amazing”

  13. Beth says:

    How wonderful I wish everywhere was showing the same support the UK is. Like I’ve said before, and I know I’m not alone in saying this, the nurses, Drs, paramedics and other medical workers do the best they can to save lives and keep everyone safe (I say this from experience- appendicitis, unknown gas leakage in the school science lab, endometriosis…) and they are never credited enough for what they do.
    Good luck with a title!

  14. Ms.Rangan says:

    I am so happy that Mother Earth is blessed with people like the Hollands who never fail to bring joy into the lives of others with various family endeavors.
    I am an aspiring writer and your blogs make my Sunday every weekend! So good to read and keep in mind some advice from a wonderful writer like yourself.
    I’ve heard Tom and Harry are also taking interest in the field. Would be thrilled to help them if I can.

  15. Mia says:

    Thank you. i have been rejected my all 3 close and ONLY (literally) friends tonight for doing a facetime call, so as usual i go to my room and to see that you have posted yet another fantastic blog and i am not gonna lie i have read it twice now because i just, it sounds crazy but i feel like these blogs are my only friends and if it weren’t for you and your blogs i would be completely insane by now. i think you are an amazing person for volunteering to help others and for bringing a smile to everyone’s face. you are an amazing person and i think you and your family are all incredibly kind people who put others first when needed. I would like to thank your oldest son Tom because he has been keeping me entertained throughout isolation, i have watched both spider-man movies and some of his older movies from when he was younger. I would also like to thank you because i have been keeping busy reading eclipsed at least twice in the past two months and being a 14 year old i find that pretty impressive and didn’t know that i was capable of that much reading in such a short time. i usually read about two books a year if i’m lucky so i am proud of myself. once again thank you for a brilliant blog and i hope that there is another one coming soon.

  16. Beth says:

    Sorry this is related to the podcast- and good source for picking up typos is grammarly.com . I use it to proof read my assignments and it isnt perfect but it is still very good.
    Happy belated birthday btw

  17. Faaiz says:

    Its good that your getting busy and writing an online novel, I think you should include some Harry Potter concepts, I love Harry Potter books and movies! I have to say the lock-down has been especially difficult for me. I miss that freedom that I had before. Of course, I can make it productive by preparing for my courses and planning ahead but I had a routine before, activities and sports that helped me with my stress. And now that’s all gone. I wanna play PS4 like how your sons are, it seems one of the few things to keep distracted the most. Its my last resort. I read your blogs and podcasts though. They help keep me distracted for a while.

  18. Júlia Hoffmeister says:

    My mom is a doctor and while me and the rest of the family are staying home, she still goes out everyday to work. Unfortunately here in my country people are not taking the pandemic seriously, and it makes me sad to see my mom and millions of other doctors risking themselves while some people just don’t care. But fortunately people like you exist! What you do is amazing.
    And about your novel: is the offer still up?

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