These strange days. That’s a phrase that is cropping up fairly regularly in conversation and correspondence with friends and colleagues. It’s a good, slightly ambiguous phrase for the last few months when normality was dramatically upended. Now I am keenly aware that my lockdown has been a relatively genteel one. I am fortunate not to have lost anyone to the virus, whilst friends of mine have. I’ve not had children to educate and entertain. My household has kept working in industries which could adapt better than some. Yet fear, depression and confusion have been a very much a part of all our lives of late, and that was in my mind when I was looking for a theme. There’s already been so many strong concepts used already in Worktown Words, so it was a challenge. Call it sentimental or corny, but it felt right to look for a bit of moral boosting right now – so celebration it was.

Not that Celebration is always a positive topic. You’ll find plenty of joy in these pieces, but quite a few spectres at the feast too. A festivity can ring very hollow if you can see the lie it is founded on.  There are the celebrations that signpost our lives, there are unsung heroes and ideas that deserve to be celebrated, and sometimes its surprising what ‘sparks joy’ in our writers.

It’s been a genuine pleasure to read all these submissions and it’s been a challenge to select just ten. So many fine voices out there. Definitely worth toasting.

Gareth Preston 31/7/20