OK, am being fairly facetious there in my title (and sub-title) but Making The Most Of How Things Turn Out is the Number 1 attribute humans have. As my caption above should read, [and as my older brother reminded me recently] you’ve just got to play the cards you’re dealt – even if they’re the duff cards from the latest Monopoly set (which is a still great way to while away the hours in a quasi-festive atmosphere, thank goodness).

Otherwise, surely the human race should have given up the ghost at the end of the Second World War, if not by the fall of the Roman Empire.

Most of my knowledge of the Romans (and some might say my sense of humour) comes from the much-loved Asterix series, fans of which will be well-versed in indomitabality – their fighting spirit sees them triumph over Caesar time and time again despite being cut off from the ‘civilized’ world. We all need to be a bit more indomitable this summer, and if we can’t manage to put on a brave face for the kids, then at least get them the Asterix books – if you’re still allowed out of the house.

By the way, it’s thanks to The Romans and their language Latin that we still use the abbreviation No. for number – from the Latin numero. I learned this this week as my 8 year old son asked me the question, to which I didn’t know the answer so I thought I’d distract the twitterati from their navels and their politics for a few moments to get an answer, which thankfully I got.

In Welsh Wales mindfulness and mental health experts at meddwl.org are promoting a #PethauPositif hashtag which has some wonderful stress-relievers, replete with Welsh toddler in our national costume flying the flag…literally! Children will continue to need hugs and kisses and love and affection whatever the weather and whatever the world’s current affliction is, so keep that in mind Mums and Dads…or should I say Sir and Miss?* As long as you don’t have the dreaded lurgy obviously. Ring a Ring o’ Roses might be a thematic activity…In all seriousness though, our language – including nursery rhymes – has already adapted in order to accommodate pandemics and Wouldn’t It Be Good if the media started referring to Covid 19 (or worse, Trump’s “Chinese flu” scaremongering) as The Lurgy?

For those of you who don’t live in the UK,

Ring a Ring o’ Roses

A pocket full of posies

Atishoo, atishoo,

We all fall down.

…refers to the people who didn’t have bouncebackability when the Great Plague swept the nation. Granted, it’s a bit grim – but it does show much-needed resilience, fortitude and a touch of gallows humour that I’m beginning to hear at the school gate, see in our WhatsApp conversations and occasionally on social media. And we will need plenty of resilience and humour as we strive to ‘home school’ the children this Spring!

What to do

Like I read recently here on Thrive Global, there is an 80:20 ratio in work which means that a fifth of what you’ll be doing at work is faffing around with admin or other such pesky nonsense that your mind will not enjoy. So what do we do? Try to concentrate on the other 80% of course, we’re only human…

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhxjNYvJbgM&w=560&h=315]

As I was probably told as a teenager (and as I’ll probably tell the new teenager in the family soon – new as in about-to-turn 13, not that we’ve adopted anyone recently!) you can only actually forget about your troubles when you’re not thinking about them, so here are some tried-and-tested methods to Keep The Family’s Chins Up:

Play your favourite music (currently listening to Dan Reed Network’s The Heat LP on vinyl, very pleased to see that made no.1 – OK no.91 – in Classic Rock‘s Best Rock Albums of the Nineties recently!). There are always delightful little nuggets in rock and pop music, that’s what makes them popular; e.g. just heard “Hold on to love / it’s much stronger than hate” from DRN’s Lonely Sun song.

Do your own assembly. OK, I’ve just finished translating Neil Tumber’s Moments of Insight so I’ve actually got a pocket book to follow for this; and my next Whole Family Group Assembly will therefore follow the theme of Putting The Team First, but as we’re all home-schooling for the foreseeable future, how about trying to keep a note (or a scrapbook even) of useful quotes etc to tell them about at the start of the week. Having one of your children read my blogs aloud will of course be allowed (am kidding, I think!)

The Welsh-language version of Neil Tumber’s ‘Moments of Insight’.

“Keep it Real” as my younger brother memorably told me when I felt like I was burning out. No matter what’s going on in the world outside your door, have the courage of your convictions and keep doing the right things at the right time and everything else will simply have to look after itself.

Keep learning . Or if you don’t want to learn any more now that it’s all gone a bit Covid on our national media, then at least impart your existing knowledge to the kids.

There are bound to be some advantages to home schooling – and if you ask them to write about their heroes who faced adversity bravely (Achilles, anyone?) then don’t change their minds if they give you unexpected answers. I vividly remember looking forward to writing about my childhood hero Mark Hughes in English in secondary school, only to be told to write about someone who was truly heroic. Now, I stand by my second choice of Nelson Mandela (no biog link needed) and indeed I felt totally vindicated having read his staggering book Long Walk to Freedom (ibid. – read it now if you haven’t done so already) later in my life. Here was a man who knew how to take some serious self-isolation, so let’s put it all in perspective shall we?

That being said, it turned out that Mark ‘Sparky’ Hughes ( so-named by ‘Big’ Ron Atkinson as he was anything but sparky by nature) suffered from isolation and loneliness when his dream move to Barcelona turned sour. He returned heroically, via a more successful loan spell at Bayern M√ľnchen, to Manchester United where his winning goal won them the European Cup Winners’ Cup in the days when that really mattered. To me, anyhow.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daJ5oI48otY&w=560&h=315]

So, make like Mark Hughes and be an everyday hero every day.

I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.

Helen Keller (1880-1968)

* (my son’s already refused to call me Mr. Williams from here on in)