A FEW years ago I visited a little museum tucked away at the back of The Ocean Terminal shopping centre in Leith. In among the record players, the dolls houses and the games from my grandparents’ childhood, I met some of the most amazing people with the best stories. 

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately because of being unable to go and visit anyone, never mind go along to a social event to drink coffee and share stories. I don’t have any grandparents left so I’m not feeling the frustration of being unable to visit my elderly relatives but I can’t stop thinking about the elderly who didn’t have relatives visiting before all of this and who relied on those social gatherings in the shopping centre for all of their company.

In Glasgow I get the sense that the majority of communities are looking out for each other; people are checking in on their neighbours, notes with offers of support and contact details are being put up in closes all across the city, and volunteer numbers for any organisation needing them have never been better. But I worry that this isn’t the same everywhere. And when the problem is isolation and needing company instead of something material, how do we do that during the current situation?

Glasgow Times: Selina Hayes Selina Hayes

I don’t have the answers and I’m ashamed to admit I am very much guilty of avoiding upsetting news during the current pandemic, it doesn’t help motivate me into action as it does some people – in fact it has the opposite effect and is more likely to stun me into inaction. But that self-care decision does not mean a complete denial of what is happening, it is simply a decision to find a way to engage with the issue that drives action and that is manageable.

And this week I found exactly that when I discovered that that wee museum in the shopping centre, called The Living Memory Association (THELMA), also has a podcast.

And I think it could be the key to making sure we don’t just remember the songs, or the lovely crackle of old records and the player, but that we also remember to spend time with the people who lived that history

Forgotten Songs From The Broom Cupboard isn’t just a trip down memory lane during these strange times, it’s a wander into the living rooms of those who we have been entirely cut off from. It’s both heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure.

As I listen to each song I think not only of my grandparents who I said goodbye to long ago, but of the people who I see every day in our shared spaces. Whether the old music is to your taste or not, the reminiscing is impossible to avoid. 

And whether your family history is one you choose to engage with or not, we cannot deny the elderly in our history, nor can we stop ourselves from becoming elderly ourselves.

When times are safer I plan on listening to some crackly records with some people who remember rushing out to buy them when they were first released. Until then I will continue to listen to the podcast because I appreciate the reminder it provides.

Sometimes when the world feels impossible to predict or plan in, the best thing we can do is look back.