Ashley Franics making memories during lockdown

The initial threat of Covid-19 and Alert Level 5 lockdown left people isolated in their homes, unable to see their family and friends. However, this didn't stop former UCT executive director of finance Ashley Francis from finding new ways to make memories.

With Covid-19’s hard lockdown in March restricting people from visiting friends and family, people came up with new ideas to stay in touch with their families, friends and even their colleagues during this isolating time. 

Black-tie dinner

Former UCT executive director of finance Ashley Francis and his wife were unable to entertain guests like they had before. “Generally, my wife and I would do the occasional dinner and we haven’t done so in a long time,” Ashley says. 

He spent the hard lockdown with his wife, daughter of 25 and son of 20. His daughter’s boyfriend is in Paris and while his son’s girlfriend only lives five minutes away from their house, she was not allowed to visit. 

But they didn’t let lockdown limit their love for entertaining. “We planned a formal, black tie dinner with all the families – one in Paris, one in Constantia, and one in Tokai – online,” Ashley says. 

Everyone dressed up in their best evening wear and gathered around their own dining table, with a laptop filling the empty space at the table. “Even our dog, Patches, had a bowtie and special meal.” 

They started dinner together with a toast and a few words of hope during these difficult times. As if it was a dinner party, each family had their dinners while conversing online. 

At the end of the dinner, they played a game called Ooblie Dooblie. Everyone “sits in a circle” and passes a cork from a wine bottle burnt on one end to another using an orchestrated phrase which changes as the game progresses. “If you make a mistake, you have to make a black dot from the burnt end of the cork on your face. Depending on how good you are, or otherwise, you may end up with a face full of black dots from the burnt cork.” 

The game carried on until well after 12pm as the families drank and laughed the evening away like they would have in person. “It was a real fun night and it was very memorable,” Ashley says.
 
Lockdown has been extremely challenging for families, but for those blessed with internet access and the right attitude, the obstacles presented by social distancing can be overcome.