Novel meeting venue for Walmer book club

The Walmer Bowling Club Bookworms did not let Covid-19 stop their monthly meetings, gathering in the club’s parking area to swap books from the boots of their cars
READING MATTER: The Walmer Bowling Club Bookworms did not let Covid-19 stop their monthly meetings, gathering in the club’s parking area to swap books from the boots of their cars
Image: EUGENE COETZEE

A group of Port Elizabeth women found a novel way to keep their book club going during the Covid-19 lockdown — they hosted it monthly from the boots of their cars.

Before the pandemic, the Walmer Bowling Club Bookworms, which was established in 1996 by 12 founding members who were bowlers at the club, met once a month at the club.

Now the book lovers meet in the club’s car park, where they exchange books, taking every precaution to follow socially distancing and to sanitise.

Founding member Dee Coetzee said: “When Covid hit us, like most people we were scared and wary to go out, so we decided through our WhatsApp group to miss April and wait and see how the pandemic played out in the country.

“Then the idea was sown to meet at the club in the car park, adhering to all the lockdown rules — use of sanitisers, wearing of masks and, of course, social distancing.

“Whoever’s turn it is to host the meeting has the books in the boot of their car and we have a quick swap of books that we are returning, give it a rating from one to five and then get on with choosing our next book,” she said.

“So May was the first time we had new books when the book stores were allowed to operate. Of course, we were wary as we are the over-60 age-group but the love of reading won the day.”

One of the members, Joan Saunders, recalled when she first joined the club.

“I was a member of the bowling club and was interested in joining the Bookworms. But it was full and I was on the waiting list. You had to wait for someone to leave or die,” she said.

“It has been wonderful to meet in the car park. It brought a bit of normality to our lives. And we had books to keep us busy during lockdown.”

The book club is down to eight members, with the youngest being 67 and the oldest over 80.

Coetzee said: “Originally none of us wanted to have fancy tea afternoons or dinner evenings so we opted for the Walmer Bowling Club, where we could socialise over drinks and change our books.

“That trend has stayed like that to this day, except when someone’s birthday falls in the month we find a plate of eats waiting for us.”

 Coetzee said the “whodunits” were popular, along with authors Danielle Steel and Lynda la Plante.

Saunders said: “Hopefully we will be back in the bowling club next time we meet, but this has been quite a fun experience for us, especially when the weather has been good.” 

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