We met at the Community Library where we both volunteer as best as we can. He, Ben Aitken, is holding a book In the Blink of an Eye and I am weeding the roses. “Is this your husband?” he asks. “Yes.” I reply. And then he says something else and we chat. It is great to have young people volunteering at the community library. A few days later there is a joint book reading at the library and I go along. Ben discusses and reads from The Marmalade Diaries and Freya Sampson does the same with her book The Last Library. Both authors are well-spoken and while their books touch on many themes, community – in one form or another – is a constant. Later in the summer, the community (there is that word again) library hosts a barbeque party for the volunteers. A little wine is drunk, some sausage rolls and sweets are eaten and I ask Ben if he would talk to me about his book, The Marmalade Diaries for KWMR.org our community radio station in Point Reyes California, and he agreed.
After her husband of 60 years had died, 85-year-old Winnie Carter needed a lodger to live with her at home. Ben became that lodger. And then came Covid and the lockdown. The conversation explores how those Covid Lockdown months impacted all of us, especially the old, those alone, and families. And what Ben learned along the way. How did Covid change us and how did our lives change doing those long months?