Day 10 of 100 Days

Sarah Swaysland

Sunday, 10th January, 2021

This is it, I'm 10% into the challenge and it feels like I've hit my first milestone. Therefore, I thought it would be fitting to step-in and do a Shout shift. It was a busy shift, with lots of people needing someone to talk to.

They say that misery loves company, and it seems to me that as the Covid pandemic continues, the coronavirus has been breeding loneliness as a side-project. Both are enemies you don't see coming, and the irony of the pandemic is that it’s a disease that is spread from being together, so we need to isolate from one another which makes us want to feel connected more than ever.

I’m hugely committed to my volunteering role on Shout and it’s a really special place to spend time online because the crew of volunteers is amazingly supportive. I find this especially if you're having a tough conversation and need support so you can then help the person you're texting get through whatever it is they're finding difficult. I know that volunteering is quite therapeutic for me and wonder what I would do without it. Especially since I've started my 100 Days of Volunteering, it's crossed my mind that it's not unlikely that I’d be texting in to an organisation like Shout, because I think I’d be feeling incredibly lonely right now without some kind of focus. It might be different if I had a full-time job, but even my friends who have been working remotely have anecdotally told me that it’s boredom and loneliness that are the real mental health enemies at the moment.

I stayed on-shift for three hours, and it was busy, with lots of people needing to talk. I sometimes find it difficult to drag myself away when I can see the queue getting bigger with people texting in, as you just want to be able to help everyone. I'm not alone in that, as the dedication you feel from the other volunteers is almost contagious and there's a sense of community spirit that I've just never felt before - especially online.

Musically, I had great company for my shift. I started off with Beautiful Noise by Neil Diamond, moving on to Love & Hate by Michael Kiwanuka, Graceland by Paul Simon and ending on True Blue by Madonna. I’ve never understood why the song True Blue never made it onto The Immaculate Collection, because I personally think it's really good – it’s great pop. I generally enjoy listening to True Blue every once in a while. There is a bit of filler on the album (White Heat, Where’s the Party?), but there are also some proper belters on there (Papa Don’t Preach, Live to Tell, Express Yourself). What I'm about to write might be controversial, but I feel like the problem with Madonna, is that there is no one classic album where every song is a hit and there is no filler. Without a doubt, every one of her albums has stonking hits on it, but there is also a bit of padding. None of her albums has the consistent quality of something like Tapestry, which is a shame because Madonna has definitely got it in her.

I'm going to leave by saying that all musical opinions are completely my own and I’m not really bothered if you disagree - everyone is entitled to an opinion. My opinion also runs to my thinking that Ed Sheeran’s music is extraordinarily inane, and all sounds the same. He might well be the nicest guy in pop, and that’s just lovely. I just find his music dull.