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Blogpost: Whether at work or play, why chat is so important for the community of Harlow

Communities / Sun 11th Apr 2021 at 04:15pm

By Michael Casey

YOU may not have been aware but I ran the St Clare Hospice 10K race today. To be honest, there were 399 fine runners and one 59-year-old who if he is going to impersonate the horse he backed in The Grand National, should have really pulled up at the 8k mark and gone off for a bowl of oats….

But it was good to be out running again after eight long months. But as importantly it was good to reacquaint with people you have got to know over the years.

These people aren’t bosom buddies but just folk you swap a few words with. That is so important in day to day life and that is at the heart of this piece.

It was good to see Rob again. In fact, I saw Rob several times. When he does park run, he has a habit of running hard and then having a wee walk (and then repeat). It seems to work as he is always in front of me. Before and after parkruns, we have sometimes had a chat.

Back in June 2018, I found out my brother was dying of bowel cancer. At the next parkrun, Rob also looked bit glum. He explained his mother was fighting bowel cancer. I didn’t say anything as it would have seemed a bit self-referential. Since then I have often asked after Rob’s mum.

I hadn’t seen Rob since March 2020. But on Sunday morning he passed me at the 2k point.

Rob said: “Mum’s still having chemo and still fighting”

He then disappeared into the distance. It was good news.

It is those little interactions that I have missed. And it is similar interactions that other people have been having as sports teams re-assemble.

We are sure there have been footballers enjoying the banter of Sunday morning football up at Barn Mead.. We suspect the early loosener by bowlers down at Marigolds have been met by good natured sledging.

It has also been very reassuring to see the growth of the litter-picking groups, the Harlow Wombles

And off the pitch, there will be little chats about family, friends, furlough and the future.

Perhaps this chimes with the philosophy of the Head of Ongar Academy, the charismatic Allan Osborne. He I snot backward at coming forward on Twitter He recently reacted to concerns about students catching up with their studies, extra lessons, cramming etc, by saying: “I want my students to catch with chatting to each other, to catch up with playing, to catch up with laughing and loving life. When that’s been done, we can discuss catching up with their studies.”

Wise words which apply to adults as well as students. It is really important that the inane, profane and profound day to day chats we have, the nodding acquaintances and the long missed relative all return.

In other ways, with more shops opening on Monday, “talking shop” is also really important. From “they promoted him? to shift changes and company policy on shoes. It’s quite important in the context of this article.

We hope all sports clubs, all leisure activities and societies are able to return over the next few months and then flourish.

Thank you to St Clare Hospice for organising the 10K race. Please keep supporting them. They are so important to the town and to all our lives.

As for my run? The course passed three pubs. Might go into a beer garden tomorrow. For the bantz!

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