Join the literary agents-turned-virtual-playgroup hosts for their weekly family sing-along, story time and a little shot of joy.

The Catchpoles – that’s Lucy, James and their small children Mainie and Viola – are literary agents in life beyond lockdown (technically only Lucy and James are, though we’re sure the smallest Catchpoles too are exacting slush pile readers). But the reason we’re garlanding them this week with our Insta hero award, for which we regret there is no actual medal (too much social contact/potential cross-contamination), is not, in fact, their considerable literary prowess. It is, instead, for their Thursday lockdown-tailored sing-alongs and virtual playgroup.

Join them live and expect all the classics but with a pandemic twist (The Sun has Got His Hat On, And We’re Staying In To Play anyone?) Also on the playgroup curriculum are some excellent ukulele playing; singing that features harmonies we’re a bit jealous of their ability to carry off; some merry chaos; and, of course, story time. (They’re pretty well-placed for that last.)

But we also want to shout out to The Catchpoles for keeping their feed real even as they cheer up our Thursdays. For, whilst they excel at heart-gladdening merriment, there is nothing of the gratingly chipper look-how-cheerfully-we’re-handling-isolation to see here. Yes, they help to entertain our increasingly feral children (and us – similarly feral in fairness), but they also speak frankly about their experience of lockdown, which they have been in longer and more strictly than most.

Their bio reads ‘Family life & literary agency. More children than working legs’, and they write candidly about their experiences of life with disability, as well as simply daily life as a family of four unable to go outside.

Highs, lows, humour and candour: this Instagram account is cheering, illuminating, and mostly just a very friendly place to be. If you have young kids and haven’t joined them for virtual playgroup yet, we recommend you do so without delay. Like the rest of the world, they’re ‘reluctantly home schooling’; they just sing about it better than most of us. Aye Aye Yippee.

By Nancy Alsop
April 2020


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Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.