George Martini and his Zumba Instructor friends kindly laid on a Zumba session for us from 11am until 12:30 – a morning of high energy activity which sped by. Phab members, friends and supporters paid £10, came and danced and had a great time and raised over £300.
Afterwards we were able to restore the burnt-off calories with home made coffee cake, courgette and poppy seed buns and tea or coffee.
We were also delighted to be joined by one of our original members, and had an opportunity to chat and reminisce.
One of the highlights of our online sessions, when we could not get together in person during the Covid pandemic were our Zumba sessions with George Martini.
These allowed people to participate who would not have been able to get to an in-person Zumba session. Also, as one member observed ‘You can turn your camera off and really go wild !’. On the other hand being together and being able to see how others are doing can be inspiring as well as inhibiting.
George is always very positive and encouraging with us, and makes sure the sessions match our abilities. We are already looking forward to having another Zumba session in our next programme.
Unfortunately the worsening Covid-19 situation meant that we were unable to meet in person at Wesley Memorial, but several of us, including some who could not have come in person anyway, were able to get together on-line and chat.
We rounded off the evening with some Christmas themed Zumba, run by George Martini.
In the nature of Phab, Oxford Phab members are a diverse bunch, and lockdown has affected us in different ways, but at the same time there are things which are the same for all of us.
Before lockdown a keystone of Oxford Phab was our normal club meetings at Wesley Memorial Church on a Friday night. Whenever possible we ran a minibus to bring members who could not otherwise get there, and did art and craft activities, played games, cooked and/or ate meals together. All the activities could be enjoyed by all our members, and also – something we appreciate more now that this is harder to do, we could just rage against the injustice of the world, chat, smile or laugh.
We do our best to replace this by getting together over the Internet for a chat on a Friday night, and also another chat session on a Monday night.
Meeting like this is a valuable social contact, but we are very aware that not all of our members can meet this way. Not everyone has access to the Internet and it does not provide the chance for smaller chats about subjects which might be deeply interesting to a small subset of our members, and deeply boring to the rest. I do still have occasional Jitsi chats with Phab friends to ensure the world continues to be set to rights.
The wider Phab
Another thing we did under the ‘old normal’ was to get together with members of other Phab clubs. While getting together in person is not possible at the moment the National Phab are organising quiz sessions through Facebook, which we then link to from our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/oxfordphab/ and some of our members join in those sessions.
Loss and remembering
Lives cut untimely short are not a completely new experience for us. Roy Lewis, who was chairman of Oxford Phab several years ago, was someone who everyone who was fortunate enough to know him will always remember. His wisdom, kindness, intellect and optimism certainly inspired me. He was also a ruthless draughts player, and could knock back Brandy and Babycham when we were out and about with an impressive lack of impact on his ability to hold an intelligent conversation on a wide range of subjects. He was not the first member we have lost, and there have been several others since, but I, and as many members as could, made a special effort to join the diverse group of mourners at his funeral.
It is particularly hard to lose Kelly at a time when we can not gather to mourn and remember. Although in many ways a completely different person to Roy, she too had an astonishing range of friends, inside and outside Phab who will miss her very much. One of the things which makes Phab special is that we find common ground within our diversity.
One of the things Kelly enjoyed at Phab was Zumba, and we are very fortunate that George Martini is able to do online Zumba sessions with us on Friday Nights, which we follow with a chat (as we did when we all met up at Wesley Memorial).
This can be just as energetic as face-to-face Zumba – and we are sometimes joined by people who have supported Phab through running garden parties, helping out selling refreshments and so on, who would not normally be able to join in, as well as particularly close members of other Phab clubs.
We were really excited about our planned holiday to Avon Tyrrell in August, but have had to cancel that due to the virus. We have to make do, for now, with remembering the fun we had last year, and in 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 and all the other jolly holidays we have had.
Nobody can be sure what the future will hold, but we hope we can learn from these difficult times, continue to support each other in new ways, as well as old and that the strengths which have brought us through previous crises will bring us though this too. We appreciate the support we have had from Wesley Memorial Church, friends and families of members, carers and NHS staff.
As we did last year, we joined in the Zumbathon at the Christian Life Centre on Cowley Road for an evening of enthusiastic Zumba dance, where we joined the participants making donations to Children in Need
It was quite chilly before everybody started, but everybody soon warmed up once the Zumba got going. We had a slot, doing a routine we had practiced with George Martini. Our energy levels may not have been the same as some of the Zumba instructors, but we enjoyed it, and it was great to participate.
The fun continued as we joined in other dances – great fun, and raising money for a good cause.
It was quite a warm night, even before we started doing Zumba. Some members chose to stay in the John Wesley room, but those who took part had a very enjoyable session. Thanks to George for the session !