Portobello: a seaside town in the pandemic

By 7th July 2020 Community Stories


Portobello in the earlier stages of lockdown, May 2020

We are grateful to David for sharing his thoughts on his hometown, Portobello, lockdown and some reflections with Corra. Thank you for joining in on the #SameStormDifferentBoat conversation.

Portobello and the pandemic
The trouble with a seaside town in a pandemic is that on sunny days it naturally attracts folk from ‘round about’ and Portobello is no different. It is sunny today and the beach will be more populated than it should be and social distancing will be somewhat lax. I’ve noticed this about supermarkets too! Outside our local ALDI there is strict observance; two metres apart and a patient wait for the wee shop assistant lassie to give you the nod to enter. Then, when inside, it’s as if we’ve somehow achieved immunity from the dreaded virus simply from being within commercial confines: folk testing then discarding fruit, reaching over one another for bargain items, standing and chatting breezily and generally taking liberties with safeguards so rigidly adhered to on the outside.

Beaches are like that too! They are places traditionally to let your guard down and I guess that impulse remains despite the risk of spreading a killer virus. We are so desperate for this ‘thing’ to end that we are tending to pre-empt it in places our muscle-memory insists are our own domain and not, therefore, virus-friendly.

Portobello is on the ‘up’ again. In the past dozen years it has become ‘upwardly mobile’ again to use that ancient phrase from the end of the last century. Better than any sociology thesis this is expressed by the changing products on offer in the local Scotmid’s. When I moved here in the later noughties this was a place for a plain loaf and a bottle of limeade with maybe a sugary cake for a treat. Since then, it has become a veritable delicatessen, a craft bakery and purveyor of charcuterie and fine wines. Even the limeade, I believe, is somehow of the vegan variety.

Portobello, my community
Situations like this pandemic bring the best out of most and maybe the worst out of some. There will still be those in any town that will bump up prices on required items like hand-sanitiser and face-masks but in the main a community pulls together and mine is no different. Portobello Time Bank, Next Door Portobello and others are offering help and support to those left vulnerable and perhaps isolated.

Through Volunteer Edinburgh, I have been offering a phone befriending service to many of our elderly clients which, apart from keeping me enjoyably busy, offers the chance for those that are virtually or actually housebound to have contact with the outside world, even if only for a blether or to arrange for food and medication deliveries.

“I have had the honour and pleasure to talk to many people from the generation before my own and I have learned a great deal. Rather than being afraid and needy as might be expected they are generally stoic and philosophical in the face of this pest called Covid-19. Many of them have lived as children through a world war and all the other travails that life has thrown at them. Rather than me comforting them, it is often their admirable attitudes that teach me a lesson.”

Thank you David, for sharing your story of lockdown and your experiences of much needed volunteering within the community.

At Corra, we believe every voice matters.  When people are heard, power shifts towards them and they can help create the change that matters to them.  If you want to join in on the conversation and you feel your voice is not being heard, please contact shasta@corra.scot and we can have a chat.

Share this...