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12th May resources

On this page, you will find videos with extracts from Mass Observation's 12th May diaries collected in 2020; the year of the Covid-19 pandemic. The videos are on various themes such as happiness, loss, creativity and hope. 


In this video, you will see extracts from Mass Observation's 12th May diaries on the theme of hope.

Much like the spirit and ‘can-do’ attitude of the second world war, many of last year’s lockdown diary entries included mentions of hope, and perseverance. In May last year, we did not know how much longer lockdown would last, but summer was coming and the rules were starting to relax. Little did we know that within months we would be ‘locked-down’ again, but these entries show a glimmer of hope. 



In this video, you will see extracts from Mass Observation's 12th May diaries relating to loss.

Something that is often covered in entries is loss or grief, as one of the painful, yet inevitable parts of life. This, in some entries, is mentioned in passing, or in greater detail, through the cathartic action of spilling your heart onto paper (though in many cases, a keyboard). The COVID-19 pandemic only amplified the evidence of these thoughts and feelings in the 2020 May 12th entries.




In this video, you will see extracts from Mass Observation 12th May diaries on the theme of wellbeing. With the limits on social contact and gyms and organised groups like exercise classes being closed, people had to be more intentional when looking after their physical and mental wellbeing. These entries reference to how ‘well’ the diarist is feeling, or their efforts to keep themselves healthy.



The entries below show some of the wonderful, creative approaches that were received last year. Some people have illustrated moments of their day, others included references to what they are currently creating, like weaving, and one has a poem at the end. If you’re someone that doesn’t enjoy writing in great detail, let these encourage you to think outside the box to portray your 12th May.



The most entertaining diary entries are those from children; the rollercoaster ride of emotions they feel through the day reveals the active and developing way children approach the world. They write about the most important things; mainly food and Minecraft, but several of the examples below also share insight into a child’s perspective of the pandemic. The following entries are picked for including references to family, children and schools.



The entries below demonstrate evidence of kindness, something that blossomed through lockdown, on the last 12th May. These actions, big or small, made a keen difference, and let these encourage you to use your diary entry to write about something that has been done for you, or possibly even the opportunity to do something for someone else.

Cooking and baking

In this video, you will see extracts relating to cooking and baking from Mass Observation's 12th May collection.

A hobby many seemed to pick up in lockdown was baking, and entry 516 details the struggles of trying to buy flour! A crucial part of the day, many of the diaries cover meals made and eaten, as well as any baking escapades. Entries can include anything you want to include, and if that is banana bread, so be it!


Social Media and Technology

In this video, you will see extracts relating to social media from Mass Observation's 12th May collection

Social media and technology have been an extraordinary way to still ‘see’ people from the safety of our homes. Several entries reference playing computer games like Minecraft or Fortnite, but doing this with friends, meaning they were able to play and socialise at the same time. Zoom (which was practical unheard of two years ago), is shown to be used for yoga sessions, family or business meetings, and even online courses.



Not being able to meet in large groups meant that last year’s references to ‘community’ looked very different to any year beforehand. These examples highlight the uses of messaging apps and video calls, meaning things like book clubs, or an entire street being in contact, can take place. Also included are entries detailing those who had to shield, and subsequently rely on others to get food, prescriptions and more.


‘Man’s best friend’ became the only friend many of us could see during lockdown last year, and multiple entries include dog walks, or spending time with other animals.


One of the overarching comments that seemed to be repeated throughout lockdown was the way people were grateful for outdoor spaces and nature; be that in their own garden, or noticed out on daily walks. These entries reflect this increased appreciation of nature, gardening, and being outside.


Some of the diaries received last year included joyous moments, or moments of reflection and thankfulness. Many parents recorded enjoying the opportunity to see more of their children, and many others were grateful for their jobs, their gardens and their friends. Some of the children’s entries were happy in tone simply because they had their favourite food for tea!