Category Archives: health

Self Isolation Week Thirteen

Day Ninety: I came across this post late last night just as I was preparing for bed.

TinB 6Music

I met Rick Ingham, the man behind TinB, at the spoken word night The Confessional at Adelphi. Since lockdown I haven’t been keeping tabs on his work but it appears the influencers at BBC 6 Music have been, and are right behind Someone Just Pressed Pause by Hull musicians The Broken Orchestra featuring TinB. So I invite you to listen to the track now (with headphones or speakers if you have them) and enjoy the way the music builds throughout. Note the repeated phrases that get right to the heart of how we all felt, and how we feel now teetering on the edge of lockdown. Despite being recorded end of March, long before we knew the full scale and horror of what was to unfold, the words perfectly reflect the world so many of us haven’t seen for months.

Someone just pressed pause…

Day Eighty-nine: Okay so I’ve just finished watching Almost Famous, the movie about the young journalist on tour with a rock n roll band, crossing the states in ’73. Naturally that’s my cue to write about my love affair with Hull’s live music scene.

It was in 2004 I think that I first saw Blue Sand at the Adelphi. I’d been with ThisisUll for a few months, and they encouraged me to check out local music and write about it for the website.

I loved them the minute I heard them, a four piece outfit from With. (most bands are a four piece) playing guitar and bass driven indie tracks tinged with anthemic melancholia. I’ve still got the car window sticker their manager gave me, I never had the car to put it in. I have their first EP Changed Names and Slaves, and all the demos that followed, I’ve even got a recording on cassette of them debuting a new song during a local radio interview. They played The Cavern Club in Liverpool one Saturday night and I had a place on the bus from Hull with all the other Blue Sand fans: what a thrill that was.

There were lots of other bands too like the Dirty Dreamers with their own brand of sleazy rock n roll, I followed them to London and the Cavern. I had the picture I took of the guitarist below in 2005, printed onto a t-shirt that was the level of my fangirlness. (togs… would you describe that as an early version of a filter?)  There was the Johnsons (who I spectacularly failed to manage for six months – I knew nothing about managing bands) who opened the first UK Tsunami Benefit Gig just a few weeks after the Boxing Day disaster, and their mates Park n Ride who upset the local Lib Dems, with their oh so similar branding that kept appearing on lamp posts all over HU5. I famously got left behind at The Cavern Club once, when I got distracted at the end of the gig, trying to interview the owner and the two coaches left without me. Thankfully he saw I was in a bit of a state and very kindly put me up for the night.

The life of a would be music journo, exposed me to so many different types of music, indie, rock, punk, electronica, glitchtronica, shoegaze, techno, Emo, dream pop and every crossover genre you can think of. And also so many names and faces who at the time meant the world and more, but have slowly faded from memory. I used to joke it’s okay for you, you only have to remember my name, I’ve got the guitarist, the lead singer, the bassist, the drummer, the keyboard player, the song titles, the gig dates, maybe the manager’s name, the name of the artist who did the cover artwork… let alone all the fans.

I wasn’t a good critic, I was a fan. I loved the music. I believed in the dream, the bands were like one big musical family to me. You would find me in the venue down the front, dancing and singing their words back to them, at the top of my voice. Every week you could see someone play: every day if you had the will power. Monday night was Adelphi Musicians night, Tuesday was the Sesh, Wednesday maybe Ringside, Thursday Sweet n Sour @ Welly, Friday Music Man, Saturday yo-yo @ Welly, Sunday if you were still alive, Sunday Sesh on Bev Road. For a short while I had a Wednesday night at Silhouette called Indecent but it never took off, a few good gigs though Black Wire, Alpha Nine, Turismo I’m pretty sure Blue Sand played one night. And not forgetting ThisisUll Live year long gig series last friday of the month at Adelphi in 07/08 something like that.

I got lost in it all for a while, I failed not to take it too seriously, like Penny Lane guards against in the film. I lost sight of what it was I fell in love with right at the beginning of the rock n roll ride.

I had many favourites Kill Surf City changed my life – that’s how it felt at the time – but my absolute favourite was Ernest: and I’d have them on my Desert Island playlist for certain. They were a Hedon group with a flair for theatrics and damn fine funky sounds, as the buzz around them grew they developed both a smoke and bubble machine for their stage shows which, were getting more and more epic by the day. They were the criminally underrated stadium funk rock band, that never quite got their recognition and reward.

There were so many bands that I thought with a a bit of luck, the right bit of luck and a fair wind behind them perhaps could have contributed to creating a city sound to rival that of Manchester or Liverpool at the time. So many great bands, I just have to dip into the box of demos upstairs, to remind myself I was there. I guess with lockdown there’ll be lots of people doing the same thing, spending time with all those treasured mementos from years gone by. No gigs for the foreseeable, it’s a hard pill to swallow, for the bands, the fans and the venues.

It’s only rock n roll… and I Love it!      

Day Eighty-eight: A writer friend asked me, ‘How do you feel abut JK Rowling’s comments/essay Michelle?’  I responded that I liked her books, the ones about the Boy Wizard anyway. I’ve never felt inclined to read any of her others. I don’t think I would like her company. As someone with such a high media profile she shows a distinct lack of awareness… but perhaps she’s made her money and then some, for the rest of her life so she no longer lives in the real world. I find it all rather exhausting, the dog whistle comments and articles deliberately baiting diametrically opposed communities to drive online traffic. Focussing energy on one person’s vendetta, rather than addressing discrimination and prejudice, violence and misinformation seems pointless to me. It’s like worrying about statues or television shows, when people are dying every day. It is deliberately missing the point and allowing yourself to be led by the mob.

I also think she does this every so often, in order to appear current, no such thing as bad publicity. As a writer does she owe something to her readers? I don’t know, as an author you have the right to offend, to challenge readers… There are some who would challenge the state of womanhood for women who do not have children of their own. Without feeling I have to defend myself, and now defending myself, you know my story. I didn’t choose this, I don’t think anyone does. This is how I identify, it’s who I am… but I am fully aware that as a constructed female, my body doesn’t work in accordance to biological females… and here, as soon as you start using words like female and biological you run into trouble. Its exhausting isn’t it. My point is that there are far more important things to get worked up about, if one had to respond to every bilious comment, then life would be extremely tiresome don’t you think?

In other news I took a walk today, a circle or two around the park and an ice cream in the rain: we had to stand outside the shop because the little kiosk wasn’t open. I enjoyed crossing the new footbridge over the ponds, and I look forward to seeing the park in all its new splendour with the new conservatory and flower beds. That is of course, if the nitwits don’t spoil it before we’ve even had a chance to visit. To the people stealing the plants out the ground, you really need to have a long hard look at yourself. Every time you see that bloom in your own garden, I hope the guilt eats you up.

I was joined on my walk by this beautiful boy called Reggie… I have decided I will bubble up with him as I said to a friend the other day ‘Doggie hugs are best..’ I am moved to add the following to my list of lockdown lines. These are overheard comments or ones of my own seized upon and filed away. ‘..deceiving a collie cross bubbling up with a whippet for the weekend.’

Regular readers will have noted there was a post missing. Wednesday night I spent the evening until the wee small hours devising a new piece for performance… be patient, you will find out all about it by following the blog (stepping out of the airlock on this one that’s for sure)

Enter your bubble like you mean it this weekend

 

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Self Isolation Week Twelve

Day Eighty-five: It has happened, after many suns have risen and fallen into the sea (thats a visual gag thank you Monty Python) I am ready to share with you the news that… Today I am officially the favourite niece.

I just happened to ring my auntie up this afternoon on the actual day she celebrated her birthday. I would love to say I knew it was today all along, but that would be a lie. I was convinced it was in March for some reason, but no June eight same date every year for eighty years…

lallyOh yes I’m allowed to say that. She told me a story about Grandma Harding, who I never knew, but how she had gone with her into town on her birthday (which town, London I expect) and watched her exclaiming to everybody she met, ‘I’m eighty you know!’ So my auntie has been doing exactly the same today.

I was lucky because early on in the conversation she mentioned receiving lots of cards that morning, and me being quick as the brown fox said , That’s why I rang to wish you happy birthday.’ What is important is that I spoke to her and she felt special.

We then talked about lockdown how she finds the carrots going brown quickly these days. They’ve changed her medicine… actually they’ve given up on her eye medicine for the foreseeable (for see able) so she can see a bit better. It was the eye drops that were causing all the pain and the loss of sight, some kind of over reaction to them. As you know getting through to a hospital is very difficult right now so it took some time to get the change made. Anyway she was going to go and sit in a friends garden, and have a cuppa wrapped up in her coat and blanket. Certainly not the birthday she’d hoped for, but it’s something, better than sitting in her house with her eyes screwed tight, because she cannot bear the pain of opening them.

It was really good to talk to her, she told me how she had prodded our Lottie with a stick on friday – out of sight of the care staff mind – prodding people with sticks is largely frowned upon unless the prodded has been involved in some kind of electric shock. In the event of that happening you are compelled to pick up a stick or broom handle if you prefer and prod the living wotsits out of them. I’m pretty sure in Lottie’s case it was just a gentle tickle so contact was made, which is quite touching I think you’ll agree. Here’s your new normal. And to add just a bit more heartbreak mom and dad are faced with the awful dilemma of visiting and upsetting her – she had another mini-fit after they left last friday – or not visiting and all parties left feeling bereft. Just another awful but real scenario that carers and the cared for are facing during Covid season.

19942641_10154473469441213_468149146332646629_oI’m not sure whether I could make that decision. So we started on a cheery celebratory note, you might say ebullient, and then ended in total anguish. such is the ying and yang of Covid 19.  I’ll stick around for now. You might need me.

Love you all and Happy Birthday Lally.

Day Eighty-four: ‘I don’t want to go,’ the tenth Doctor said and in doing so, broke the hearts of millions of fans across the globe. I’ve not gone yet, and anyway I will still be writing. [Oh if you insist…]

I don't want to go

Swoon some… melt a bit… meltdown!

Trying to explain it today to Barbara, when she kindly brought round a slice of her homemade, most delicious, elderflower syrup sponge cake, with toasted almonds topping – as good as it sounds – I no longer, get the sense we are all in it together. I don’t mean the political classes, I’ve never felt any solidarity from them, I mean the rest of the country. More of this tomorrow. I’m still trying to formulate my ideas.

Today was the eleventh and final Bluebeany Art Club, fittingly the theme was Party.

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Discover more of Beany’s world here: BLUEBEANY.COM

Party. It was during self care Saturday, that I came across the egg box – for that is indeed what it is –  and as I opened and shut it I remembered a story I’d read about an artist, a sort of model-maker who housed their work in suitcases. The suitcases had figures in them and were ornately decorated inside with fabric scraps and mementos, creating portable 3D portraiture: I think they may have even played music. (Anyone recognise the story? I’m sure it was a novel)

So there I am stood in the kitchen holding the egg box and I think, okay what’s going to go inside? I found the picture of the dancer in an old magazine and immediately knew it would be a nightclub. From there it was just a case of finding interesting colours and patterns, and cutting them out to resemble fixtures and fittings.  The highland cow is the same one I rescued from the scrap tray, during Paper Cinema’s production of Macbeth last year, at Hull Minster for Heads Up: he is proudly standing on top of the speakers.  Naturally there is a flamingo and a swan serving behind the bar, and the two punters – it usually picks up around ten – are both wearing face coverings.

I will be keeping all of my pieces from Bluebeany Art Club. the models, the film, the drawings and designs… in the forlorn hope that we get to display them in the real world: I don’t believe photograph, quite convey their individual lockdown charm. Yes, I really like them,  and yes I’m praising my own work… in seventeen years I’ve never reviewed myself. I will do a separate post with a slideshow of all the pieces, to keep them in one place together, and maybe a group shot too.  But now it is time to party…. Cheers Anna!

Monday Night @ CooVid Club

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Day Eighty-three: I cheered up today, I cleared up and cleaned up and made a chilli, read my book, looked out the window, saw it was windy, made a nest indoors and it was good.

I had an idea while washing up and scribbled a few ideas down, I don’t know if its a good idea but I think I can get behind it for a while. You know when you ht upon something because you keep going back to it and adding shape and form, moving parts around until it fits neatly into the shape, you’ve made inside your head.

I avoided the news again today, apart from the News Quiz, which doesn’t really count. I feel this blog series is coming to a natural end… leave them wanting more hey. Don’t hold out for the ill-advised bargain bin posts, as we try to stretch this stuff out before your very eyes. It is probably best if you start looking away now, this ain’t gonna get any better… are you still there. Here’s some images from the cutting room floor.

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Day Eighty-two: Anyone else feel like we are in limbo now, not quite in lockdown not quite out?

The majority of people are going about their everyday with some level of normalcy, some seeing friends and family, others going to work or school or preparing for something. I’m looking back at the last twelve weeks wondering whether I could have done more, should have done more. What more could I have done?

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17th Century allegorical painting: artist unknown

Sure I’ve got a lovely gallery of artwork to show for my troubles and a few thousand words of this… and a few sidelines where I’m still waiting for inspiration to strike. I did a poetry podcast with Yada Yada, I’ve contributed to two WoW online events and also the Writing in Crisis podcast too. I may have even managed to switch one of my biologicals for a substitute drug in tablet form. I’ve felt tired this week.

My tinnitus came back like a roaring sea yesterday so I double dropped my sleepers to knock myself out. I suspect that’s why today I’ve felt groggy, noncommittal, uninterested. If I go on the new drug I still have to be careful about infections. I’ll still have to do regular blood tests and all that, but at least I won’t have to feel at a loss, when I have to ask someone stick me. It might not weird them out, but it does me, the mind is both friend and foe.

In other news I’m annoyed with myself, despite measuring at least three times, I’ve gotten my width and drop mixed up, on my new blinds order. I’ve sent a message but it might be too late I got an email saying they’d gone into production. I’m going to end up with blinds too short for a very wide window that doesn’t exist. I’m cross I couldn’t get that right, it’s simple stuff and somehow I’ve screwed it up. It’s not the be all and end all, but you’d think I could measure a window right?

I could probably do with tidying up tomorrow making the place feel more loved, its amazing how surfaces just get filled with stuff. Okay plan of action, clear the services hoover through – I don’t know why I’m telling you it’s not like you can come in and admire it – wash up yet again, maybe do a candlelit unicorn bubble bath tomorrow night, find some inner peace.

You have to make the effort, when people say ‘take care’ they mean you have to make the effort to take care of yourself, because nobody is going to do it for you. Being on your own, sans relationship, can be masked by filling your life with lots of exciting things, a charade of a busy fulfilled existence. Regular updates online so that everyone says, ‘I see you’ve been busy with lots of stuff.’ Without all that stuff of smoke and mirrors, the mask slips and you might believe you are barely living. I said it on the phone the other day, so much of who I am is bound up in what I do… when I stop doing I cease to exist. I suspect it’s the meds talking or the mind being foe rather than friend.

Nosce te ipsum   

Day Eighty-one: Chickpeas are not the headline act, they might be tolerated lurking inside a curry masquerading as mince, but they are not main cast material. 

I intensely disliked pork and apricot as a child, this was strange fodder indeed for a six year old just out of a kid’s home. Mealtimes were often where battle lines were drawn, I ‘d be tied to the dining chair and told I’d have to eat it or it would be served me again for breakfast, dinner and supper until I had eaten every bit of it. This wasn’t just an idle threat. They did this my parents. I remember clearly being faced with cold leftover lunch, when everyone else was enjoying supper.

Now of course pork and apricot is delicious, rich creamy sauce with mushrooms and succulent pieces of piggy meat… ‘Get in my face,’ as my mate Cherrelle would say. I did not like fish either and this was somehow accepted without challenge, not liking fish was a recognised thing: Mum wasn’t massively keen on fish and maybe she knew that she could hardly force me to eat it if she would avoid it herself.

It wasn’t until being in a place in Hull that served fish and only fish every friday, that I grew to like it. Now I’m very partial to a nice bit of crispy battered cod or haddock. I haven’t had chippy for tea for months, Cave Street was my go to, but I can’t get used to the whole fish and chips in a cardboard box thing; I think it dries out quicker. I long for Bob Carvers in town by the old post office, hot chips with onion vinegar and a can of dandelion and burdock or Dr. Pepper: so good. I remember when I used to review music I’d slip in a food analogy now and then when I was hungry, describing guitar licks as like the perfect dippy egg or some such thing.

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In Zim I had cause to try lots of strange things, impala consommé, very tasty and my first introduction to a clear broth. At camp at Pony Club there was someone who had lychees as pack up. I’d never seen them before but I remember being intrigued by the hard little cases and trying the eyeball-like white fruit inside. You used to be able to get lychee ice cream in Herons years ago, but I think they discontinued it.

Lots of interesting fruits in Zim, things like guava and grenadilla, paw paw, passion fruit and my favourite to this day mango. I got into real trouble for throwing a paw paw that was ripening on the table, at an annoying sibling in Sudan. They managed to dodge the oncoming missile and it split open exploding against the wall. I got chapter and verse, rightly so, on not wasting food for that. We had a paw paw tree by the gate in Zim and bananas in the back garden, we’d regularly have water melon for breakfast or packed in the cool box for a refreshment on the road.

You had to be careful near the bananas because of the spiders, at certain times of the year the garden and some of the paths at the back of the estate, would be off limits because of the sheer density of spider webs. Some species would sling giant webs six eight feet across, but the large ones with the big webs were usually harmless. The one you had to watch for was the brown button spider, that one would really spoil your breakfast, in a rush me to Parirenyatwa General now now, sort of way:  ‘parirenyatwa’ Shona word for with suffering.

The hospital is named after Dr Tichafa Samuel Parirenyatwa, the first black doctor in Rhodesia. He rose to Vice President in the opposition party ZAPU but in 1962 aged thirty-four he was assassinated, beaten to death by political rivals. I was rushed to Parirenyatwa General, in the back of a pick up, after I was thrown from a horse, when I was nine or ten. I remember being given a ginger sweet to suck on, it tasted horrible but I was too much in shock to say anything. I was fine no broken bones, but I was black and blue for a bit.

What I was going to mention was another sweet treat that might surprise you. For 50 cents you could buy a six foot sugar cane from a chap stood at the side of the road. You would eat it all day, biting the outer casing and stripping it with your teeth, to reveal the soft, pulpy slightly yellowish goodness inside.

The idea was to bite a chunk, chew it and suck it, till it was just woody strands in your mouth then spit it out on the ground: it wouldn’t be there long, it would be snapped up by a rodent or swooped upon by birds for nesting material. I

t was the kind of thing you’d share with friends, breaking uneven sized pieces of the cane, making sure you had a few feet left for yourself. It was frowned upon at home of course, buying food off strangers probably wasn’t safe. He was hardly a stranger I saw him every day in the same spot, as I walked to school.

School song: zuva ndenderedzwa guru, riri mudenga denga

(the sun is a large circle in the sky) 

 

 

Day Eighty: Like so much of this lockdown experience highs follow lows, follow highs, follow lows.

The morning began at half eight with a call from the surgery informing that they should not have done my injection yesterday, and that they will be cancelling the four appts booked for the next month. They gave me a number to ring, which turned about to be the wrong number, that number gave me a number to ring which was also the wrong number. They in turn gave me the number for an answering machine… who will get back to me by next monday: just one day before my next injection is due.

To compound the problem when I enquired about my next delivery of the injections, the delivery company said that I didn’t have a prescription with them anymore. Once again I am left chasing the same two depts over the same issue we had two months ago.

I managed to rise above it, push the panic feeling to the pit of my stomach and move on to whatever the rest of the day had in store. Women of Words did their second online event the theme was ‘Taking it personally’ and Cass, Lynda, Lou and I recorded four very different responses and shared them online with our audience, who we are missing very dearly. And from the comments and reactions we know they are all missing our monthly meet up at the library.

Click Link for more: https://www.facebook.com/pg/womenofwordshull/videos/

In a multimedia filled post, I can finally reveal the special something I worked on with Dr. Barbara Grabher and Dr. Janine Hatter from the University of Hull. Thanks to Critical Fish for hosting and featuring the podcast on their site.

‘Dr. Barbara Grabher engaged in conversation with Hull-based artist Michelle Dee and literature scholar Dr Janine Hatter to learn how the practice of writing links with the experience of crisis.’

Click Link: https://thecriticalfish.co.uk/writing-in-crisis/

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After all, tomorrow is another day

Day Seventy-nine: For the past few days I’ve been having a little panic about getting my weekly injection. It was due Saturday but because my designated carer fell ill, and it wasn’t fair to fall on my back up, I had to try and get it done at the surgery. Continue reading

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Self Isolation Week Eleven

Day Seventy-eight: Monday… Monday. In this the first day when I was told I could go out a policy that flies in the face of scientific evidence, I readily ignored the govt. If today’s daily press conference was anything to go by, then my line about ministers locking down the story while unlocking the country and evading the questions, was sadly spot on.

As I have done throughout the pandemic I turned to creativity to put the madness out of sight and out of mind: and now it really is madness, a dangerous madness, borne of political hubris. I wrote a new poem for WoW on Wednesday, it’s a bit of a one note misery memoir, but it’s not about what you create its about writing and moving on, to coin a phrase.

What seems like aeons ago I spent two or more weeks pulling together an application for a small art-based commission. You will know because you will have read about it on here, that I wasn’t successful, my idea was too open-ended, not visual enough, too cerebral, call it what you will. One of the successful applicants was my friend and collaborator Anna Bean.

Watch what happens when Covid-19 enters Bluebeany’s House of Fun.

The film borrows imagery from Lynch and Kubrick among other influences, with Beany’s own blend of magic realism and faerie tale using masks and iconic costumes and disco. Eagle-eyed viewers will recognise the birds flying across the screen, as the birds from The Giantess by Leonora Carrington, also the appearance of the skull from the Voodou Priest in Tainted Love: the last live Sideshow Wonderland extravaganza before lockdown. The inclusion of these elements from past works, adds a duality of pathos and  hope. Transformed into totems the bird and skull serve as a reminder that those days will return.

Anna Bean says: This project has been a true family collaboration. My son Louis Bean created original music for the discordant soundtrack and my partner features as the politician and the dancing Love Leopard. Read More

Inside the house we see a battle between creativity and Covid-19, the disparate characters infiltrate every space in the house, giving Covid-19 no chance to root itself. The film is a metaphor for the power of art to defeat all that seeks to destroy us, that reflects the way that we, and vast swathes of the world, have turned to creativity to respond to the pandemic.

The making of art, in all its forms, is a release, a temporary escape from the reality, it allows us to switch headspace, away from the barrage of headlines and death tolls, just have fun for a short while.  This idea is further underlined with the inclusion of various artworks, that have come as a direct result of Bluebeany’s Art Club, the weekly two hour art-fun happy pill that many of us have been taking every Sunday since lockdown began.

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Click Here for All Eight Absolutely Cultured Creative Micro Commissions

 

 

Day Seventy-seven: Sunday the day of rest, reflection and recuperation. Art club was on my mind the theme was Power. I immediately knew I wanted to do something that reflected the uprising spreading throughout the world. Surprisingly not against the mishandling of the pandemic as you might expect, but the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis.

You might say that this is this generation’s Rodney King. In truth it is barely this year’s or even this month’s… hardly a week goes by without some racially motivated police attack on unarmed citizens, not just in America but in this country too. Perhaps not as overtly in the land of Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, but it is there, underneath the surface. If those who hold power can mask the truth and lies, then they will do so whatever the cost, just to save face.

It is that which is the primary concern of our government right now. Bojo is far more concerned with saving his face, and his grip on power, than saving lives right now. Maybe it has been so throughout, we will never know. I can almost guarantee we will not have that second spike, never mind what the figures may say, or the cries of scientist’s falling on deaf ears, the story will be spun and spun again, shaped and misrepresented to support whatever measure the PM and his minions dream up.

Rest assured you will die safe in the knowledge that you adhered to govt. policy. From now on the ‘story’ will be embargoed and be locked down tighter than a nut, a ginger nut. In the coming weeks and months expect the govt. to be even more evasive about the truth: as cagey as a location manager on a Bond movie.

I enjoyed listening to Kate Fox on Pick of the Week and found it heartening, reassuring even, that we had, quite by chance, been tuning into the same programmes. I loved the vivid descriptions of flora and fauna, and joyous enthusiasm for the natural world, in the serialised Book of the Week, Diary of A Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty.

I smiled when Kate chose champion beat-boxer Schlomo ‘mouth beating’ on the Today programme, and then smiled for a different reason as Rory Kinnear, read the eulogy to his sister Karina, who passed away due to Covid-19 in May. Ever since the outbreak began I have felt very uncomfortable with the inclusion ‘dying with underlying medical conditions’. The more it became used, the more it felt like an abdication of responsibility, introducing a sort of hierarchy, with deaths from Covid-19 without those pesky ‘underlying health conditions’ being leant more weight.

There was more death and a dose of wit with Natalie Haynes standing up for the classics cleverly reshaping the story of Eurydice and Orpheus. There would be no room for Virginia Woolf and A Room of One’s Own in Kate’s selection, can’t imagine her being all that keen on the privileged intellectualism of the Bloomsbury set.

memorial plate

Peace and justice on a plate’

So we come to Bluebeany’s Art Club I decorated a paper plate, remembering the satirical ceramics of Lubaina Himid, Turner Prize Winner 2017. I included a fist that can either be a symbol of oppression or fighting for freedom. The two quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. concerning ‘peace and justice’ and the ‘language of the unheard’ and one more at the bottom from Florida State Police Chief Walter Headley in ’67, which was parroted by Trump last week.

Later that night I revelled in the sight of the Prince of Darkness learning how to love again as he becomes transfixed by Mina’s virtue in Dracula by Northern Ballet. There were moments where horror tropes, shrouded the gothic romance but I happen to be fond of some good cloak acting.

The bonds of lockdown loosen and fall,

and lie in ruins like the resolve

of a maiden made to be concubine.

All is right in the world as

patriarchy restored. 

Day Seventy-six: Can’t help thinking this unlocking of lockdown is no longer based on scientific evidence but the govt just responding to the increased levels of mistrust and anger post Cummings. 

With children going back to school, some sports reconvening albeit with certain restrictions, gatherings in gardens of six peoples… and the first sign of some movement for the shielded. From Monday I may leave the house and meet one person; one person a day, the same person each time or different people?

Only two weeks ago I was being told not to put my own rubbish out… this isn’t following the science, it might not even be following the money, just trying to change the downward trajectory of govt. popularity.

I can’t help but feel that the govt are unlocking as a distraction from the Cummings saga. I also think that a whole bunch of relaxation measures have come out in one go, and I’m suspicious about the speed in which the changes are being made. There’s little trust in the govt capability to manage the pandemic, and it feels like they are trying to sweeten the public up, by loosening lockdown in the hope we will like them again. That’s not how it works Bojo.

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I will wait until I hear something from my local GP practice before I think about shifting. We know there will be localised outbreaks, because people are not socially distancing, flocking to tourist hotspots in their thousands, as an act of defiance, but endangering their own health and everyone else’s health. There are still thousands catching the virus and hundreds dying every day.

Stay Safe!

Day Seventy-five: A birthday never to forget for so many reasons, not least of which is that I locked myself out (Again!!!) during the best doorstep song and dance intervention.

A Little Respect by Erasure has never looked that good as it did when Jo and Tamar turned up yesterday afternoon, in fabulous outfits with gifts and cards and a camera crew: thank you Carlos and Sarah.

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All the joy and excitement was momentarily tinged with trauma when behind me my door shut and for the second time in lockdown I was locked out. Thankfully I was able to enjoy the song, one of my favourites, such a good song, as you can see and then get the key from the property company with four minutes to spare, before they shut for the day!

I received some of the most fabulous gifts too, I am so very lucky so huge thank you and virtual hugs to all of you. Just look at that spread of cards and presents, such thoughtful gifts from people who really know me. From the booze to the Bowie earrings, the Joe Johnson shirt and Leon Welburn artwork, the gorgeous Lee Miller b&w postcard, the sweets and treats, I love them and you all.

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In the evening there was another surprise intervention which I nearly answered sans trouser. It was hot yesterday and just sitting on the doorstep for an hour or two was stifling. I went back indoors and reconnected with the joy of wandering around half naked doing jobs in the house… then a phone call and a, ‘Come to the door’. Outside as you can see were more friends playing and singing happy birthday self distance stylee. some people I’d not seen or spoken to for three months. That really was a special surprise.

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And then to top it all of the obligatory quiz which I won due to the presence of the How Much Do You Know About Michelle round, and some sympathetic point scoring in the poetry writing round.

zoom quizzy

Thank you all for giving me a super lockdown birthday, one I’ll never forget!

 

Day Seventy-three: Today (Thursday) was my friend Natalie’s birthday, I met her years ago when both our lives were in a state of flux. In fact it was an early Christmas pub lunch and an invite to a gig that night at the Polar Bear, that broke the ice. From that moment we were gig buddies and looked good on the dance floors in clubs across the city.

Then as I went to study journalism she chose to study animal behaviour and did her degree and eventually a Masters at Newcastle. I have to go and get my Masters at Hull, that was my plan before lockdown happened, I wonder though whether a years hiatus might be in order if tutor time and lectures will be affected by Covid regulations on campus. Something else I need to look into in June.

Today Nat is a keyworker contributing to vital infrastructure to keep the country switched on. We had a two hour zoom and caught up on life, homes, animals friends and parties. Our birthdays have always happened together and we’ve had a few attempts at joint birthday dos, including that epic one that began with good intentions and continued at great pace with wanton abandon. I woke up in a long black gown on my sofa with the boiler man clanking about two feet away. Tonight we had to settle for a shared drink on screen and a giggle around teatime. Proud of you Natalie: dirl gun dud!

She kindly took this picture of a walk she did the other weekend, it was a bit blowy that weekend, so thanks Nat. In the back ground you can see the iconic Tyne Bridge in Gateshead. We have allowed our contact to slip and I’m sorry about that, but life tends to get in the way. When there is so little of life happening there’s more time for reaching out, and saying, “Hey there how are you doing?”

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Happy Birthday Natalie XX

 

Day Seventy-two: As surely as night follows day we are reaching the end of another week. On friday it’s my birthday, I’ll be doing the lockdown birthday quiz with some friends, I’m looking forward to it, although it will be tinged with sadness. I’ve promised myself not to drink too much, I don’t want another weekend where I can’t get off the sofa.

Today was pretty busy, I woke early, the sun streams through the velux window in my attic room, I wasn’t cold as normal, in fact I’ve taken to just having the two thin duvets along with the line of pillows for extra support. It’s been a good day, it feels important to remind myself that it has been a good day. I finally finished off the PIP form, and mentally prepared myself for the subsequent refusal and appeal to follow. Incredible how so many have to go to appeal, like they have to have so many refusals to satisfy some callous desire.

Between twelve and two I did an online chat about lockdown for a radio show on WHCR being researched by my artist friend Alice Godber from Yada Yada Spoken Word. I debuted the free write that formed Day sixty-eight’s blog post. I’ll get back to you when I have a date for when it goes to air.

In the evening I had a doorstep chat from Barbara she told me how the Austrian leader had been caught breaking one of their Covid regulations, by staying in a bar after 11pm, instead of going home. He was ordered to pay a fine by authorities which he did immediately and then made a public apology on air. Would that someone would take a leaf out of Austria’s book.

Back in week something or other I mentioned Barbara and I were working on something special, well that something is completed thanks to Barbara’s incredible work ethic and talent for learning new skills. She gave me some very exciting news about how and where it will be presented to the world: very exciting… more news to follow.

I cooked up a bolognese took a phone call, and greeted a second doorstep visitor, who presented me with a little something for friday… and something for Saturday’s breakfast. She knows me too well.

In the evening I caught up with BBC4’s dance programming and watched some excellent dance films: Ballet boyz performing Deluxe; a doco looking at changing attitudes to men in ballet, called Men at the Barre, and a series of dance film shorts exploring the personal and the universal, introduced by Carlos Acosta. A rich blend of dance culture and exploring life in so many facets and styles,  and as I type this I wonder how it will feel going back into the first dance class after lockdown. How will socially distanced dance look? How much will my body have deteriorated during lockdown in terms of muscle strength, and muscle memory? I try not to think about it and religiously perform a pliè series, while the kettle boils.

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Cosmic Carol and I after seeing The Force Awakens Jan 1st 2016

At 9.20 tonight I flicked the channel to Colin Murray on Five Live, to hear from Cosmic Carol an astronomer from Hull, who was all ready to talk us through the SpaceX launch. Sadly for her and many people around the globe, the launch was scrubbed… at least until Saturday I think. I hope Cosmic Carol gets that second call, she deserves that much. Despite the lack of a launch she equipped herself admirably and did herself and Hull proud. Back in 2016 when this photo was taken Carol told me how she wanted to use her passion for astronomy and all things space and make it her career. In the intervening years she has covered rocket launch events, spoken at conferences, travelled to the Atacama Desert to some of the most important space observatories in the world, and now she’s the expert guest on Five Live. You did it Carol, you did it!

https://cosmiccarol76.wordpress.com/

Reach for the stars! 

 

Day Seventy-one: If we carry on like this we’ll hit a hundred in record time. Regular readers of the missives coming out of the house of isolation will have noticed a downturn, a flattening of the curve if you will, and a gradual decrease in energy and enthusiasm. Continue reading

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Self Isolation Week Ten

Day Seventy: I suppose I ought to address the big talking point of the day, before it passes by and gets replaced by the next pin for the media to try and knock down. Continue reading

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Self Isolation Week Nine

Day Sixty-three: One of the surprises in the tv schedule during lockdown has been Retreat: Meditations from a Monastery it makes for very tranquil viewing.

Set in three Benedictine Abbeys observing the monks conducting prayers and services has a calming effect, a bit like that feeling of reverence and history when you step inside a church or minster.  Even if you haven’t the slightest shred of religion in your body, there is still that sense of awe, a stillness, call it what you will, that comes over you.

I’m not saying I’d like it for myself but it is endlessly fascinating watching the monks carrying out their duties, taking their meals, in complete silence. It offers an insight into a different way to live, and being on my own at the moment and largely silent, and somewhat meditative, there are undeniable parallels that can be drawn.

At times it is as if someone just left a sound recorder running and you are listening to field recordings. There are birds trilling in the abbey grounds and bees in the apiary; the grinding of the hoe on dry earth, a brush being cleaned in a jar of water; the tolling of the bell, the call for compline for psalms and song.

I’ve always liked listening to plainsong ever since I was introduced to Taverner by my music teacher. There was that brief craving for monastery music in the nineties, with the unlikely new age/Gregorian chant smash hit Sadeness by German producers Enigma. Quite often Morse will feature church music, Libera Me for instance, then there was Cadfael, of course I watched that for the dashing Hugh Beringar, the Sean Pertwee incarnation. It’s very distracting and not all helpful, when the actors face, voice and hair colour changes repeatedly.

The most recent of the Retreat series featured Belmont Abbey in Herefordshire and another absorbing watch as Father Alex painted a religious icon of Archangel Michael, the patron saint of the abbey. It’s a Catholic Benedictine order and I don’t know whether they have unsavoury beliefs or doctrine, but from the outside it looked like a very peaceful existence. Of course I had a quasi-religious upbringing by the Christian Deaconesses from the Sisterhood of the National Children’s Home, until I was adopted. I have scant memory of that time but there are some moments which appear in writings and poems from time to time.

first home

revisiting the children’s home 2016

qua vos gaudium et pax

Day Sixty-two: I wrestled back power from the furry bunch but it came with a price, I can’t do so much screen time right now. I missed a friend’s party last night, it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind, I was just focussing on keeping this room in the house of isolation the right way up.

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Salvation comes as it does on Sundays, along side relief from dizziness and nausea, in the form of art and Bluebeany’s Art Club. I’ve got quite a collection of work now enough to have my own lockdown retrospective. Magical beings, Mythical beings… almost immediately I knew I was going to do something to do with the Kraken, that giant cephalopod, scourge of the deep, deep blue. There are pictures aplenty of tentacles rising from the water dwarfing the masts and rigging of tall ships floundering in the waves.

I flicked past all those classic images and came to this one and it made me smile and Christ could we do with some smiles right now.

kraken It could be an analogy for the virus or the initial perception of the virus, on the surface you see one thing but just behind, is a whole helluva a lot of something far bigger. I added the da-dum just to give him a voice. The important thing is that for two hours I lost myself trying to copy this drawing freehand. I like it.

I got a doctor’s appointment Monday afternoon, not a face to face but an over the phone. It’s pretty good timing seeing as I’ve been feeling poorly lately. By the way I think I know what it is, the reason I’ve been feeling dizzy, sick with chills, they are all side effects of one of my meds. I matched them up and if you add the occasional numbness and tingling in thumb and finger I got a full house.

Screw you lockdown!

Day Sixty-one: The bears have taken over the asylum. This one is in charge and he is Oswald and he has a disagreeable air. There’s something off about the way he looks straight through you.

Roden didn’t want the job, he’s taking lockdown very seriously, and remains in his room waiting for the sun to rise again. I haven’t the heart to tell him its just a stick on moon.  Ozzie not to be confused with Oswald, is only interested in his music, and the oldest bear Bert, has never gotten over getting his stomach ripped out by an over zealous Staffie.

The reason behind the bears take over? Well I’m still feeling fragile but I’m fine really. If you do feel the need to size me up for a wooden box, make sure you leave some foot room, don’t want to be spending all of eternity with cold ankles.

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L to R Roden, Ozzy and Bert, Oswald top row.

Roden as you know, was introduced to me in Leicester, Ozzie is from Saltburn, he was liberated from the amusement arcade on the pier. I cannot remember where Bert came from he may have been a raffle prize or perhaps a gift for finishing my A ‘levels’.

Oswald just appeared one day, moved in and carried on glaring for the next ten years. He’s like a little bear dictator, bossing everyone around. You all better pray for my speedy recovery otherwise you’ve got Oswald until June 30th. I think that was his plan all along, maybe it was he who poisoned me? I’ll have to interrogate him later…

Bears Rule in the house of isolation!

Day Sixty: Woke up late switched the radio off, went back to sleep for an hour woke up later. Had a yoghurt and a coffee. Looked at the pears suspiciously opted for honey on toast.

New jar opener arrived yesterday, most exciting, so I will be master of all the cooking sauces, bleach bottles and juice drinks from now until queendom come. I bathed to the sound of Pink Floyd’s Division Bell,  I’d hoped for the full album but halfway through it flipped to Echoes, so was immediately relived I’d not opted for mushrooms for breakfast. I considered washing my hair with the new Tea Tree conditioner, but decided to put that particular excitement on ice till Sunday. The washing was still wet in the drum from last night where I’d forgotten to take it out, so I put it on another cycle and checked the post.

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New movies from Shandie in Leeds for Cinema Paradiso include Muriel’s Wedding, I saw a doco on cult Aussie movies last week sometime, and that this little beauty was among them, so will be watching that as soon as I’ve finished talking to you nitwits.

Face on and hair done I sat down for a meeting with the Sisters of Ink and we made plans for some more live recording and ridiculed Bojo for shits and giggles. I’d had a Galaxy hot chocolate on the go when I suddenly felt crook. I looked at the floor as my ears popped a bit bringing on my Tinnitus like crazy. Reaching for the blanket I felt cold as ice and I dropped on to the sofa, the room was spinning my head was pounding and I felt sicker than a dingo with rabies. Can you tell I’m looking forward to watching the film? I didn’t move until gone seven, I must have slept and I woke with a sudden need to eat, without thinking I started peeling spuds, badly I might add, then similarly carrots in cavalier fashion. I made some tea and sat on the kitchen floor and drank it. Dug out some chicken bunged in the oven and sat on the kitchen floor a bit longer. Remembered I had to still put the washing on the dryer, cursed myself for not doing it earlier, had a sniff smelt conditioner put it out and stuck it next to a radiator. Wandered upstairs, wandered back down again, put the potatoes on, wandered back upstairs put fresh sheets on whilst imagining a world without poppers, buttons can do one, especially those that you have to button backwards so they sit inside the duvet. Put pyjamas on radiator, nothing better than toasty jamas: I’m so flaming cold these days, just cannot get flaming warm. Missed Channel 4 News twice, decided it was a good thing and ate my tea after rearranging my food cupboard on a whim. Chucked out some very old hot chocolate and sat down to write this rubbish.

Movie Time thanks Shandie! 

Day Fifty-nine: I could talk about the fact I lived on Zoom today, a Listening Party this morning with Drake Music where I was particularly interested in the partnership between two of my friends namely Sallie Currie and her band The Dyr Sister, and visual artist Bluebeany. You can see the kaleidoscopic results of their collaboration below on new track The Rainbow Song. 

 

 

Or maybe that I recorded yesterday’s poem on Place on Zoom earlier, flying solo on the video conferencing platform for the first time. Then I caught up with my good friend and colleague Jerome on Zoom. Around teatime I had a food delivery from food bank volunteers and not forgetting the fact I went out to have my blood test.

That little venture was tense, but having planned my route I made sure I had escape routes should the path have gotten crowded. A big day, much going on in the house of isolation but so much going on just outside the door now with the ludicrous decision to ignore the fifth test set out by the government and demanding people go back to work without test, track and trace in place. There is now a real risk in resurgence in the transmission of the virus now.

And yet without a recovery from this crisis the chaos of life post-covid, will be long-lasting and felt across the globe. Huge swathes of the country will be plunged into financial free fall, hitting the poorest in society the hardest. Poverty will lead to even more ill health, physical and mental, as we each grieve for our personal losses, some, more grave than others, but each as valid.

I can’t realistically imagine when we will be able to be close again. We may, and I stress may because who can trust any figures presented after the last few weeks, have been spared huge numbers of death in our region, but with warmer weather and freedom of travel, we will have an influx of people in weeks to come.

Then there are all those who have to be shielded, what about them? How long realistically can you stay without human contact, without going outdoors for any meaningful length of time?

It doesn’t look good.    

Day Fifty-eight: Spent some time with Vicky online, Vicky Foster the founder of WoW, she invited me in and I grafted the Sisterly of Hull on to my skin. Now Vicky is here in my room, on my screen inviting me to write during lockdown: write about Place.

 

 

 

Having spent the morning in a gown of the dressing variety, I made an effort to pull on old jeans and a comfy jumpey and then I was ready. That little bit of preparation is important to portion this time off from all the other portions of time: change seat, table direction, room if you can.

I can’t tell you how much fun it was seeing Vicky doing the tutorial, it came as a complete surprise, you could have knocked me down with a feather, when she said, “Hello and welcome, my name is Vicky Foster,” in that familiar Hull accent. I enjoyed the early exercises and the abstract questions to provoke more poetic imagery. I’d never thought about asking what the time tastes like…and using place in different timeframes worked well for me I think. But I mustn’t spoil it, if you choose to have a go yourself, which is the point and if you feel like sharing your writing to this prompt, you can do on Twitter just use #WriteFromHome and @FirstStory. And just so you know I had my hot chocolate while writing.

Here’s mine it recounts the last time I saw my sister.

Place - Write From Home

In other news, I had a phonecall from a friend, another from a colleague and a further one from my nurse checking on whether I’ve got a new cough, temperature -you know the drill- ahead of my blood test tomorrow. A blood test which means a walk to the surgery, out there.

Wish me luck! 

Day Fifty-seven: I want to talk about identities tonight, I touched upon the idea of identity linked to occupation in an earlier blog. Put simply in my case it works like this ‘I write therefore I am, I perform therefore I am.’

The second is symbiotic, it needs an audience to become all it can be. Writing is mostly a solitary occupation and the need for an audience is important but isn’t dependant on whether the writing is complete. In lockdown without the multi-stemmed stimuli of modern life, where so much time is spent with just your thoughts, and your thoughts appear to take on great depth.  I suppose this is about feeling vulnerable putting life on the page in this daily blog ritual.

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words in waiting

Identities, I rebuilt mine over a number of years. As I write I imagine that this process is not unique to me, but we all move through life trying the air breathing it in to see if it agrees with you. We pick up new aspects and discard others, make room for the new and abandon old behaviours and beliefs. Our identities are not fixed, they are amorphous and as plastic as the grey matter where perhaps identity lies. Identity lies.

A friend of mine suggested that maybe due to the constrained times now might be the time to put aside the creative career, being a professional artist, and get a real job to go legit we might joke.  The creative pursuit can still be there but perhaps can be more because it is not dependent on funding bids, and meeting funder’s criteria and goals and audience targets and all the things that get in the way of being an artist today.

Opportunities will be slim picking, thin on the ground, when we finally move out of lockdown and begin to open up the Arts sector. There will be huge pressures on organisations just to stay afloat, never mind deliver outreach programmes, commissions and all those things that keep freelancers biting and believing they can make it. Maybe now is not a good time to pursue a career in the creative arts, but it might be a good time to create. In whatever way that might be, however that looks to you. I’m aware this feels like me spouting my privilege all over the page when thousands are just trying to survive, but my world is much smaller now and I can only write for me.

 writing words every day does strange things to you

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Self Isolation Week Five

Day Thirty-five: After hearing about the selling off of Bob Dylan handwritten lyric sheet containing the songs ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’, ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ and ‘Lay Lady Lay’ going up for auction: starting price if you’ve got any spare cash a cool $2.2 million, I picked Jody McKenna as my morning music. Continue reading

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Self Isolation Week Four

Day Twenty-eight: For many artists their work forms an important part of their identity, and in these days of distancing it is not easy to find opportunity to get in touch with that creativity inside of us. This blog has been a conduit for my voice and a platform for the thoughts and ideas running through my head on a daily basis.  Continue reading

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Self Isolation Week Three

Day Twenty-One: It has all gone a bit Shakespearian, vaulting ambition springs to mind. The news is that Bojo our erstwhile leader has not just gone into hospital for tests, but has been transferred to an Intensive Care Unit at St Thomas’s Hospital. Continue reading

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Self Isolation Week Two

Day Fourteen: That is two weeks lockdown. Ten to go or if you take it from the date of the letter it’s eleven like all the other twelve weekers. I’ve not been outside, outside for ages it occurred to me that all this time I’m not wearing my trainers out which I almost certainly would have done in normal times.  Continue reading

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Self Isolation Week One

JOY DIVISION HAD A SONG CALLED ISOLATION

DAY SEVEN: We are effectively in lockdown. We knew it was coming I think, especially after the fools at the weekend ignored the warning and flocked to the seaside, like it was May Bank Holiday. People don’t believe it’s that serious, that it won’t affect them, maybe now they will stay at home and save lives instead of risking them.

 

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I remain with no symptoms thankfully and continue to self isolate. I took delivery of my medications today from Healthcare at Home. The driver left the package inside the door and I collected it with gloved hands and my mouth and nose covered. I thank them for continuing to get this vital treatment to people with underlying conditions during this crisis. I hope that continues.

I am scared for my friends and family if they should contract the disease just like everyone else will be. I hope people will act on the new advice and stay home, to support the NHS in their fight to bring Coronavirus under control if at all possible.

I have to say again thank you to everyone who has helped me and continues to help me dropping of essentials or ringing up and having a chat. And to all the people who are caring for others, dreaming up new ways to connect communities, entertain, stimulate and provide distraction to the isolation keep doing it, it may be the difference between getting through this relatively unscathed.

I’d cross my fingers but that ship sailed months ago.

Stay Safe Stay Home Save Lives!

Day Six:Despite promises to support workers of all types freelancers and self-employed at this moment are being thrown to the wall. The Universal Credit Application online will be a nightmare, the information online is standardised and fails to mention corona virus once.  I predict a rise in suicide from claimants unable to convince govt robots of their need. There are so many criteria points to hit about hours worked and previous earnings and a host of other qualifications. First thing my mum asked on the phone this morning was whether or not I’d applied yet, if not why not…?safe_image.jpg CLICK TO SIGN PETITION

I suppose I’m hoping for something a bit more direct and funnily enough universal. I know I’m lucky, I have food in I could survive my electric is topped up to twenty quid which equates to twenty days approx… I could survive? I will survive I’m talking like there is a choice there really isn’t. I’m sure lockdown real lockdown is on the way, after hundreds of covidiots fled to the coast for a last hurrah. You can bet your last quid that corona was getting busy among the crowds.

I did get to do something positive today by contributing to a podcast celebrating mums produced by Hull Is This called Reflections For Mother’s Day  LISTEN HERE . We also explored some ideas about putting the next Women of Words event online in some shape or form.I hope this week brings some clarity, can’t realistically hope for a breakthrough we are in this for the long haul, it may even be a global game changer. Maybe this is the start of a new era in human civilisation?  (I know that’s questionable looking at the scenes in the local supermarkets, civilised is hardly the word you would use to describe them)

Our Commander in Chief Bojo is scared for his political future, and doesn’t want to go down in history as the PM who shutdown the UK. He pussyfooted around at the beginning of the week, asking people to socially distance and self isolate, rather than ordering the lockdown and losing us a week in the fight.

The figures tell a stark story: since I started this blog the fatalities due to coronavirus have increased by 400%. The daily increase was in 30s now they have jumped up to increases in 60s, and there’s nothing to suggest the daily increase won’t be measured in 90’s at some point this week.

20,000 deaths is a good outcome, they said, and that’s with restrictive action, without the distancing and isolation measures, then that figure rises considerably. How do you know it’s not going to be your mum, dad, child, grandparent, friend, colleague, carer, lover…? You really don’t. Don’t risk all our lives.

Stay Safe Stay Home Hull! 

Day Five:90713122_192916708829716_8976780969205825536_n.jpgYesterday I thanked everybody who has helped me this week but I forgot to mention the person who put me in lock down as long ago as last Saturday. She saw the writing on the wall long before we did and stocked my freezer for me ( no more than one of things but enough to get me through 2/3 weeks) And she did that because I can only carry two half bags of shopping at a time due to my stupid hands, so to do the same I’d have had to go to the supermarket at least four times. So thank you Barbara for seeing what was coming and for being the first person to come to my aid. I know you’ve a tough week ahead and I am crossing everything for you.

Anyway I feel like I’m defending myself, and I’ve been in self isolation all week. I’ve not touched another human apart from elbows since last friday.  ‘Writing on the wall…’ I should have known its biblical in origin Book of Daniel if you want to follow it up.The financial uncertainty continues I need someone to tell me what I should do apply for Universal Credit now, or wait for some other measure that might be quicker and more direct.

Momentarily I forget that this is happening, then I remember and think it’s just so incredible, in the real sense of the word, how can this be our 2020? Two weeks ago I went to theatre, three workshops and had gigs booked in the Minster and in libraries Hull and Halifax and other work,  vital to my survival and sanity and identity, and now it’s gone. I’ll close because I can hear the chimes of doom…

Stay Safe Hull! 

Day Four: SELF-ISOLATION FOR THREE MONTHS, SIX MONTHS, TWELVE MONTHS… who knows? What I do know is that this week I have been helped to make this transition into lockdown far easier than it could have been.The death toll is rising the number of confirmed cases has doubled to near on 4,000 and we have as a country gone into lockdown now. Whatever the new normal is it begins in earnest now.self_isolate_2x.jpg Cartoon By Niall Murphy

It is strange watching weather reports, this weekend is forecast for blue skies across the country but this means very little to us now, since we can only go out for essentials, work and maybe that vital bit of social distanced exercise for an hour. What else is weird is my dad using text speak writing Luv u (he uses his phone to send a text message about four times a year, if that)

Also adverts are weird too, the people in adverts are living in a world before the virus, images of family dinners, urging us to go and buy a new sideboard during the SALE NOW ON. I imagine advertising will change to meet the needs of the new society… And I know if we don’t get this right there will be no society.

How do we finance this new normal? Dishy Rishi Sunak may well be PM in waiting he’s certainly endeared himself to the UK with his announcements of rescue packages for businesses and workers of all kinds. I’m not clear if the Universal Credit/ Statutory Sick Pay Rate plus £1000 is the whole thing. I worked it out as approximately 459.00 a month from which rent, utility bills and council tax has to come out which for me is around 430.00 a month leaving 29.00 a month for food. If I have got the initial figure wrong please do correct me… it’s rather difficult to focus on numbers right now.

For now the only number in my head is the number of people who have helped me this week and they deserve naming so thank you to Nick, Ruth, Cilla, Mo, Susan, Jo, Tamar and her mum, and George and Sadie.  Thanks to those ten people who have made massive gestures of generosity and time, I am eternally grateful, and I hope in time I can find a way to say thank you.

STAY SAFE HULL!

Day Three:It’s been a day of witnessing and experiencing kindnesses with the stories of people picking up prescriptions for strangers, gin distilleries making hand sanitiser (there’s a line I never thought I’d write) delivering food parcels, and my two friends making arrangements, so I can stay in touch with the online world a bit more.

The whole world is moving online faster than KC Lightstream. It’s not just distance learning, but distance yoga, distance theatre, virtual open mic, streaming festivals against the virus… not to mention all the updates from the govt. about new regulations and advice for the best ways to beat this thing.

After our walk we discussed how we might do an exercise class through the window, maybe even learn some new choreography for my solo celebratory dance when all this is over: 12 weeks should be just enough time.

I had my blood test today its a regular one that I have monthly, to check that the proteins on my joints aren’t going nuts. But it could be worse. I could have kids who I’m trying to keep entertained indoors while isolating, or a loved one who I can’t be with because of symptoms, or vulnerability status. So many variations on this isolation theme.ETddwGoWkAAnYcXMassive applause for my nurse and the rest of the nurses, and the entire NHS Team who are doing everything possible and more besides, to prepare and care for the patients who have or will get this virus. 

So what’s coming down the line? To coin a popular phrase with Bojo. Actually my mum said on the phone that everyone’s fate lies in the lap of Boris Johnson… which is not the most pleasant of pictures. It was good that she rang me, I was grateful for the call.

I was not grateful for the call from the woman asking me whether I wanted to switch my gas supply. Are they now targeting people because they know they are at home more? I wasn’t sure if it was a scam, she asked me for my postcode and I wished her a good day and hung up. You can’t be too careful these are strange days.

I slept well last night for the first time. I wasn’t alone I took an old teddy bear with me. Don’t know why I had this sudden impulse but it worked, and I’ll do the same tonight and hope I wake up still hugging him. Finally big shout to the SOTG crew… you know who you are.

Stay Safe Hull!

Day Two: 60690719_10161662492140307_586658452068106240_nThe big news is that schools across the UK are to be closed as of friday, in an interesting move and to perhaps pick up on all those unable to do distance learning through a lack of tech capacity, daytime tv is to be populated with educational programmes. I did wonder if schedules would change because let’s face it, daytime telly is not likely to aide your time in isolation. I remember Larry the Lion or was it Lenny helped us with our reading I think back in the late seventies.

Now also on tv a local news report of an South Asian medical doctor received racial abuse on her way to work to help combat the pandemic. What kind of small-minded idiot starts shouting and abusing someone and blaming them for the Coronavirus because of their race? Just utterly appalling and the fact it was here in Hull. Despicable!

There has been much to cheer about today, really heart-warming tales of people supporting others including yours truly. I had a visit from Dr Babs Danish with a bag of essentials which she left on the doorstep for me. So today’s entry is sponsored by Sainsbury’s own brand Cranberry Juice and cookies. Dr Babs also sent me a couple of songs from a singalong she did with her family last night: one that called for us all to open our minds… always a good idea and one a really beautiful duet of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams. I also got given some very welcome fruit from my designated carer – my mate Jo – who comes to do my meds each week now.

They’ve just upped the dosage to counteract the pain spasms from my arms and shoulders.There was a glorious half hour tonight, where as best I could, I joined in the online dance class. All day we’ve heard people finding innovative ways to connect with audiences, customers, clients, friends and strangers…

So it was with our dance class going live with Tamar and Jo sharing some adapted phrases for us all to try, live from the living room and having a lot of fun while dancing. It’s these things I think will in weeks to come become like touchstones for humanity… these moments where via screen you can be yourself, do what you love doing.

That’s all for today the numbers are rising I feel for all those who are struggling, a word to all those families who have loved ones in lockdown in residential care homes, who they can’t visit. How do you explain to a severely disabled person that there loved ones can’t visit, and you can’t say when that might change.

 Stay Safe Hull!

Day One: 

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Cartoon found on Twitter (artist unknown)

It’s getting serious out there, and those pictures of people lined up in intensive care units laid on their fronts, trying to fight off the virus, looks horrific. I have an auto-immune condition and take biologicals to treat it, so my immune system is continuously compromised. It makes sense to reduce contact, to do the Wuhan shuffle or the elbow thing… strange how these things have become so readily adopted.

I have no symptoms of Covid 19 – just realised the 19 is because it was first seen in 2019 – and apart from a heightened awareness of my own health I am fine as ever I have been. I jumped on a thread on social media asking for help with a stepladder to replace the bulb in my kitchen and Nick from the uber-talented Fonda 500 a muso’s band with a back catalogue as long as as your arm, rushed to my aid. I now have light in my kitchen so can cook safely after the sun goes down.

A good friend, a wise friend,to whom I am eternally grateful, foresaw this self-isolation scenario and did stock my freezer at the weekend, so I have food in. So today’s blog was brought to you by RITZ Crackers… the daddy of the cracker world. the only cracker you’ll ever wake up craving.

Isolating at this moment in time does not mean NEVER leaving the house, I took a walk for an hour to get some fresh air and exercise. And I am lucky i have a network of friends who I can call upon to help me with daily life as I need it. So many others will not have this cushion of support.

I am a freelance writer and have been documenting the art scene in the city of Hull for many years, I also co-produce Women of Words the spoken word event series which was about to celebrate its 4th Birthday. We are currently postponing April and May’s events after following the government’s reducing social contact guidelines.

I felt the howl of despair from the theatres bars and clubs, as people were advised to stay away from venues. And watched as one by one gigs, performances, workshops, seminars and more were pulled, and applauded the immediate action by particular arts organisations and groups in recognising the very real concern of people losing their livelihoods.

Lets hope policy makers do what Euro countries have done and protect all those freelancers, self- employed, on zero hour contracts, working in the gig economy by providing statutory sick pay and financial support.

There’s much more to say, but I’ve suddenly got some spare time on my hands, so I’ll catch you all tomorrow.

Stay Safe Hull!

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