In Lockdown, an 86-Year-Old Blogger Finds an Audience and a New Purpose

Writing every day for weeks on end, she appealed to readers across the world. ‘That’ll be my role,’ she said. ‘To cheer people up.’

By Corinne Purtill

“I’m used to supporting others. So I thought, that’ll be my role, to cheer people up.”

— Hazell Jacobs, 86, blogger

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One morning in March, not long after the coronavirus sent her country into lockdown and brought an abrupt end to life as she’d known it, Hazell Jacobs, 86, awoke in her south London home ready to start something new.

For weeks, Ms. Jacobs, a widow living alone, had ventured no farther than her garden. Benevolent neighbors brought her groceries and she had regular phone check-ins from her daughters and grandchildren, but a minor stroke weeks earlier had sent her into quarantine before most and a chronic eye condition was eroding her sight.

No matter. She opened a closet and began pulling out a collection of scarves — hundreds of them, gathered over decades of travels around the world. There were countless memories stitched into their hems, each silky expanse a story waiting to be told.

Ms. Jacobs sat down, and began to write what soon became Scarf Aid, a blog Ms. Jacobs has faithfully maintained since March 26.

From the starting point of a charity shop shawl or vintage Hermès wrapper, each entry weaves memoir, essay, history and travelogue in the unselfconscious style of early internet writing, while radiating the “Keep Calm and Carry On” energy of a decidedly British pep talk.

The posts dance across nearly 90 years of memories: her childhood in Brechin, Scotland; stints living in Hong Kong and California during her husband’s career as a land surveyor; her travels around the world; and outings closer to home.

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