Bristol on Trans Health

A group of trans folks from Bristol have painted the above mural on a billboard in the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft. (If you don’t know where that is, you should go and read Tim Maughan’s Infinite Detail.) The basic message is that if you live in the South West and ask to be refered to an NHS gender clinic you will have to wait for five years before your first appointment. This has a drastic effect on trans people’s lives, and on their mental health.

If you’d like to read the whole thing, there is a high res image available here.

I put it on my Twitter feed this morning, and as of the time of writing this it is closing in on 1000 likes. I think the young trans folks of Bristol have done a splendid thing here.

Coronavirus – Day #121

Masks. Some have them, some don’t. They have been mandatory in shops in Scotland for some time. Over the weekend Michael ‘Wormtongue’ Gove said on TV that he didn’t think that masks were necessary. So obviously yesterday the government he is one of the leaders of decided to make them mandatory. That’s how government works here.

Oh, and it won’t be mandatory until the 24th, so there is plenty of time for a u-turn yet.

The assembled snowflakes of the right wing media are all having fits of the vapours and whining about how they won’t be able to breathe and will look ugly and their right to bodily autonomy has been compromised. This is, of course, nonsense. What they mean by this is that fewer poor, non-white, disabled, aged and queer people will die if we wear masks, and what point is a pandemic if it doesn’t kill off undesirables?

I made my weekly trip to Tesco today. There was a slight uptick in the number of mask wearers, but we were still a tiny minority. Also they have stopped queuing for entry and the one-way system. They had yeast, for the first time since the pandemic started.

According to the informed leaks from Westminister, today was to be the day that Liz Truss announced her rollback of trans rights. It had been planned for International Non-Binary People’s Day for maximum trolling effect. It did not happen. The announcement is now scheduled for probably next week and no later than the morning of the 22nd. Someone, it seems, got cold feet.

So what has been happening. I mean, apart from a supermajority of the GRA consultantion respondents supporting reform, and an opinion poll last week confirming this, and the Welsh and Scottish governments backing reform, and the massive letter-writing campaign that crashed the Downing Street servers, and LGBT+ MPs from all parties getting together the complain to Bozo. Maybe it was because the LibDems introduced two bills addressing non-binary rights issues today (one on passports, the other on school uniforms). And maybe it was because Bozo got a letter from a group of media companies, including Disney, the Financial Times, Warner Media, Discovery and, of course, Diva Media Group (who publish the UK’s leading lesbian magazine) urging him to support trans rights.

You are all doing incredibly well. Thank you! Please keep up the pressure.

Today On Ujima – The Last Show

Today was my last show on Ujima. I have really enjoyed doing it, but right now my life has other priorities. I need to devote as much of my time as possible to fighting the government’s plans to strip civil rights away from trans people. And of course to being ready to leave the country should it become impossible to live here any more. The radio show is great fun, but takes up a huge amount of time.

On the other hand, I think I had a decent last show. I had one interview, with Rebecca Manson Jones of the Women’s Equality Party. She’s their spokesperson on health issues, and we talked mainly about the care industry, which has become vital in this time of a global pandemic, but which is still grossly undervalued.

Something went a bit weird with the scheduling today. The first segment of my show cut out after around 7 minutes. The rest of the first hour was then off schedule. The scheduling system stuck in some music on automatic at the end of the hour, and from then on we ran as normal. I have no idea what happened. But at least we didn’t lose any of the interview.

Anyway, you can listen to the show here.

And if you’d like to join the Women’s Equality Party you can do so here. I note that WE are the only political party in the UK to have a Black person as party leader.

The full playlist for today, including a couple of songs that got lost, was:

  • Trombone Shorty – Dirty Water
  • ChiLites – Power to the People
  • Chic – Rebels We Are
  • Alicia Keys – Superwoman
  • Earth, Wind & Fire – Side by Side
  • Aretha Franklin – Respect
  • Sade – Please Send Me Someone to Love
  • Fontella Bass – Rescue Me
  • Dreadzone – Earth Angel
  • Amanda Lear – I Am What I Am
  • Saara Aalto – Dance Like Nobody’s Watching
  • Shawnee – Warrior Heart
  • Tegan & Sara – Faint of Heart
  • Jackie Shane – Any Other Way
  • Janelle Monae – What an Experience
  • Tracy Chapman – Across the Lines
  • Prince – Purple Rain

This Week on Ujima – C-19, Genetics and #BLM

As I mentioned yesterday, my Ujima show for this week got postponed until yesterday morning thanks to technical issues. It is now available on the Listen Again service, and you can find it here. That page might not say it is Women’s Outlook, but that’s because it is an automated system.

I only had one interview this week. It is with Professor Julian Gough who used to be at Bristol University and is at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge (MRC). He’s involved in a project to look at possible genetic links to COVID-19 susceptibility. This is obviously of interest at Ujima because of the much higher death rates in people from non-white ethnic backgrounds.

There’s a potentially contentious issue here because of the focus of people like Cummings on eugenics, but that’s medical nonsense. All human DNA is very similar. The difference between individual humans is around 0.1%, and we are only 1.2% different from chimps. So the racist nonsense that somehow white people are completely different and massively superior to all other humans is just that, nonsense. However, as Professor Gough explains, some genes are linked to specific diseases (breast cancer, for example), and sometimes those genes are more prevalent in some ethnic groups than others. Furthermore, if there is a C-19 gene, it might not be ethnically linked, but instead be widespread throughout the population, because we already know that systemic racism is a major cause of health inequalities.

A key part of Professor Gough’s work is that he needs data, and you can help. Or at least you can if you have had your DNA sequenced. It doesn’t matter whether you know whether you have had C-19 or not, or even if you’ve had no symptoms. And it doesn’t matter where in the world you live, because the pandemic is global. So if you have DNA data, Professor Gough would love to hear from you. You can join the project here.

By the way, I did ask about data security. UK universities are very strict about such things. Your data is far more at risk from the private companies that do the seqencing than from the MRC.

The rest of the show was taken up with me pontificating about statues taking dip in Bristol harbour, and playing lots of civil rights songs by Black artists. Here’s the playlist:

  • Tracy Chapman – Taking about a Revolution
  • Tom Robinson Band – Long Hot Summer
  • David Byrne – Hell You Talmbout
  • Bob Marley – Slave Driver
  • Black Roots – Bristol Rock
  • Amaal Nuux – Last Ones Down
  • The Specials – Racist Friend
  • Eddy Grant – Boys in the Street
  • Beyoncé – Freedom
  • Jimmy Cliff – Peace Officer
  • Prince – Baltimore
  • Alicia Keys – We Gotta Pray
  • Stevie Wonder – Living for the City
  • James Brown – Black and I’m Proud
  • Otis Redding – Change is Gonna Come
  • Janelle Monáe – Hell You Talmbout

Silence is the Enemy, and Sound is the Weapon.

Coronavirus – Day #83

I’m sure I accomplished some things today, but almost none of them were things I had planned to do. There was unexpected Diversity Trust email, unexpected death of a friend, and two good TV documentaries that I had expected to be an hour long and were both two hours. Oh well, I have at least finished the Wizard’s Tower accounts for the month. Now I need to get to bed so that I’m awake to record an interview and to do the thing with Dan tomorrow.

The biggest news in the outside world is that the NHS has updated its guidelines on the provision of cross-sex hormones to trans adolescents. Current regulations say that these can be prescribed at age sixteen, generally after a long period of assessment by the youth gender clinic. The new guidelines are almost laughably unscientific.

They talk about how this treatment might have irreversible effects such as breast growth (in trans girls) or the voice breaking (in trans boys). You don’t say? That’s kind of like saying that cataract surgery can have the irreversible effect of better eyesight.

They note that such treatment might lead to infertility but should not be used as a form of contraception. Really? Who on earth would use it for that? I know that oestrogen is an active ingredient in the birth control pill, but would anyone seriously think of using testosterone?

And finally they talk darkly about the lack of knowledge of the long term effects of such treatment. Well hello! 26 years and counting. And I’m not the only one. There are plenty of us about, many of whom have been on hormones for far longer. But of course no amount of actual evidence will stop these people from scaremongering.

There are two things that we can take from this. The first is that the outcome of the the judicial review into the operation of youth gender clinic has already be decided at a political level. The clinic will be found to be operating unsafely, and it will be shut down, regardless of how much evidence to the contrary is presented, and how many young lives it has improved.

The second is that it won’t stop with kids. The idea that giving trans people hormones is “unsafe” clearly doesn’t only apply to teenagers. GPs now have a carte blanche to refuse to supply them to adults as well. It won’t be long before the adult gender clinics are threatened with closure as well.

Coronavirus – Day #70

Hmm, yes, I was going to write about stuff. But I got distracted by an online convention. Which I think is a good thing. I love how people are suddenly willing to try all sorts of solutions to not being able to meet in person.

My main news from today is that I have noticed that after 10 weeks in Lockdown I am starting to get distinctly larger. As I don’t want to have to buy a new wardrobe, I have decided that I ought to start taking my government-mandated daily exercise. Besides, tomorrow the Women’s Equality Party is staging a socially-distanced protest march in support of carers and care workers. I need to go out and walk for that, so I got some practice in today. Somewhat to my suprise, my legs remembered how to walk.

I think that’s enough excitement for one day without looking at the news.

Coronavirus – Day #62

Today started well. The weather was fine, the pollen count was low, and there were no urgent emails from clients. So I decided to go in search of hormones.

The car was a bit reluctant to start today, so I took a very circuitous route into town to get some charge into the battery. That’s probably contrary to one of the ever-changing Lockdown regulations, so if any of the “Gender Critical” mob are reading this, there’s your smoking gun. You can report me to the Authorities and have me taken away for re-education.

Boots was very quiet and the staff were very helpful. However, as all I had was an email copy of the prescription, they couldn’t fulfill it immediately. They need to phone my doctor and confirm that they are the only people I have approached. When they get that confirmation, they can order the hormones. But in order to find out if they have had confirmation I need to be able to get through to them on the phone, which is easier said than done. If I can’t get through after a few days I will have to go back and see them.

For some unexplained reason there was a massive queue at Tesco when I got there. It took forever to get in. They still didn’t have any flour, but I got a few things I needed for the Canada and France food list. There were a few more people wearing masks this time, including me, but we were still very much in the minority.

When I got back home there was a cement mixer blocking the road. I now have one neighbour and two people immediately across the road all having building work done. Being a builder is clearly a key occupation.

Today on Ujima – One25, Greek Robots & Mental Health

My first guests on today’s show were Amy & Lu from One25. Amy explained why the women that One25 helps cannot simply stop doing sex work during the pandemic. Most of them don’t even have homes, let alone any other source of income. Lu then chimined in with details of this year’s fundraiser. I’m delighted to see that I’m now up to 78% of my initial target. What I’d love to see is us hitting 100% by launch time on Friday, and then I can set a new target for the 6 days of the campaign.

Next up was my new academic pal, Maria Gerolemou from the University of Exeter. Like me, Maria as a passion for ancient automata. Those of you who have heard my “Prehistory of Robotics” talk will have a good idea of what to expect. The rest of you, prepare to be astonished.

Finally I welcomed back Subitha from CASS to talk about two new mental health campaigns. You can find out more about the #SleepSoundBristol and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek projects at the CASS website. And do please write in to tell them about someone who has been kind to you.

This week’s show also includes tributes to two tiny giants of the music business who sadly left us in the past week. They were Millie Small, who hit #2 on both sides of the Atlantic in 1964 with “My Boy Lollipop”, and Little Richard without whom the likes of Prince and Elton John would have been very different musicians.

The playlist for the show is as follows:

  • My Boy Lollipop – Millie Small
  • Street Life – Roxy Music
  • Money Don’t Matter – Prince
  • Sun Goddess – Ramsey Lewis & Earth, Wind & Fire
  • Chrome Shoppe – Janelle Monáe
  • Dance Apocalyptic – Janelle Monáe
  • Dream within a Dream – Dreadzone
  • Everyone’s a VIP to Someone – The Go! Team
  • Long Tall Sally – Little Richard
  • Good Golly Miss Molly – Little Richard
  • Keep a Knockin’ – Little Richard
  • Lucille – Little Richard
  • Tutti Frutti – Little Richard
  • The Girl Can’t Help It – Little Richard
  • By the Light of the Silvery Moon – Little Richard
  • House of the Ancestors – Afro Celt Sound System

You can hear the entire show via the Ujima Listen Again service. It will be up there for a few weeks.

Coronavirus – Day #59

Another radio show has gone off to Ujima and should be with you at Noon on Wednesday. Enjoy!

I’ve also done some hours on the day job and more work on the One25 fundraiser, which I am pleased to see is now at 34% so we are one third of the way to the target. Keep it going, folks!

I got a paper acceptance for an online academic conference on queer history, which is also good.

And finally I have done an important piece of self-care. I have got a new prescription for hormones. I have a little while before I run out, but given the difficulty I had getting hold of them last time I’m taking no chances. Of course this means that I have to go to a pharmacy. Tesco do have one, but unless the woman pharmacist is on duty (and she seems to only do Mondays) I’ll probably get told that there’s nothing available. That means that I have to go to town tomorrow, for the first time in 60 days. I wonder if it will still be there?

I also wonder what the rules are. As someone sagely noted on Twitter this afternoon, the UK has gone from “masks are a waste of time” to “masks are compulsory” without the intervening step of “here are some masks you can buy”. I have scarves. It will be interesting to see what people’s attitudes are out there. Or, for that matter, whether any pharmacies are open.

Today on Ujima – Contraception and Books

Today’s show began with an hour-long chat with Dr. Donna Drucker who has recently written a great little book on the history of contraception. Our conversation goes all the way from herbal rememdies to cybersex.

The other half of the show was devoted to books. First up we had Stark Holborn with Triggernometry. And then part of my Lyda Morehouse interview from Salon Futura, which is mainly about Unjust Cause.

The playlist for this week’s show was:

  • Salt ‘n’ Pepa – Let’s Talk About Sex
  • Ike & Tina Turner – Sexy Ida
  • Parliament – I’ve Been Watching You
  • James Brown – Sex Machine
  • Janelle Monae – March of the Wolfmasters
  • Janelle Monae – Violet Stars Happy Hunting!!!
  • Janelle Monae – Let’s Get Screwed
  • Big Audio Dynamite – Medicine Show
  • Amazing Rhythm Aces – King of the Cowboys
  • Santana – Full Moon
  • Prince – Little Red Corvette

For the next few weeks you can catch the whole show via the Ujima Listen Again service.

Coronavirus – Day #53

Another productive day! One radio interview recorded (for next week) and a few hours of Day Job done.

Also the fundraiser is now past 20% of my goal, which is very pleasing. I’m starting to think of all sorts of things I could be doing. Several of them involve food prep of various sorts. It is very annoying not being able to buy flour, and having other things on a long lead time. However, I did order a few products today, including some very famous Australian food. I suspect that some of you can guess what that is.

Our government proudly announced today that the death toll from C-19 is now over 30,000, and we have the highest number of deaths of any country in Europe. Winning! Friday is VE Day, which the Daily Malice has re-named Victory Over Europe Day, presumably in honour of this momentous achievement. The Financial Times, which continues to be the only useful opposition newspaper in the country, puts the death toll at well over 50,000.

I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about too many Zoom meetings, and this morning a friend posted a link to this National Geographic article on “Zoom Fatigue”. Although the headline gives the impression that’s all it talks about, the article goes on to note that Zoom is much less tiring than face-to-face meetings for people on the autism spectrum. I certainly wouldn’t class myself as autistic, but equally I don’t recognise any of the causes or symptoms of fatigue that the article describes. I guess I must be a lucky, in-the-middle sort of person.

Coronavirus – Day #45

I forgot to do a post yesterday, didn’t I. Not that I had a huge amount to report. I was busy.

Today has been much of the same. I have recorded an interview, made a Museum From Home video, and done some Day Job work.

Video editing is hell. So is being in a video. I am so not television material.

Today’s big news, other than Bozo claiming that over 40,000 people dead was a great success on his part, is that doctors in the US have had an idea as to how to help male patients survive the virus. They are going to try dosing them with oestrogen.

This isn’t quite as mad as it sounds. We’ve known for some time that mortality is higher among men than women. This has led to the anti-trans brigade on social media crowing that C-19 is a Y Chromosome Plague that will somehow wipe out all trans women because we are “really men”.

Now there are reasons why having XX chromosomes is good for your health. Having two Xs is a backup strategy. If a gene on one chromosome has an unhelpful mutation, the chances are that you’ve got a correct version on the other. This makes XX people somewhat more disease resistant than XY people. But equally oestrogen is good at helping your immune system and doctors in China have speculated that it might help protect against C-19. It is also possible that it is testosterone weaking the immune system that is the issue. This paper suggests that might be the case (thanks to Julia Serano for the link).

So there’s a whole bunch of different biological reasons why XY people might be more susceptible to C-19 than XX people, and that’s without starting on gender-based issues such as men being more likely to be heavy smokers, work in high-stress occupations, spend more time on crowded communter trains, and so on. But this is a crisis, and we should try everything. Maybe the estrogen trials will work.

Some people on social media have been worrying that if the trials do work then there will be an even worse shortage of estrogen than there is now. That’s certainly likely, though it is easy to make and the recent shortage in the UK was caused mainly by government stupidity rather than a real shortage.

Of course if oestrogen does turn out to be an effective treatment then the anti-trans brigade will start yelling for all trans women to be arrested because we are using valuable medicine that is needed by their menfolk. And despite having spent years complaining that hormone treatment for trans women is untested and dangerous, they will want immediate deployment of it to save people from C-19. Consistency has never been their strongpoint.

In better news the UK has now had a whole week of the number of deaths being lower than they were on the same day in the previous week. That’s a good measure of progress because it eliminates daily patterns in the data. It isn’t over yet by any means, but it looks like we are getting there. Now we have to resist the temptation to all rush back to “normal” before it is safe to do so.

Today on Ujima – Dealing with the Virus

A day late, but this week’s show finally got on the air. This is one of the problems with not being able to go into the studios: tech-fail happens. Huge thanks to Miranda, our station manager, for sorting it all out.

I spent the first hour of today’s show talking to my good friend Paulette North. Paulette was the person who recuited me to Ujima, and Women’s Outlook was her show before it was mine. We talked about a whole range of subjects, including how she is coping with Lockdown, how Gloucester Road in Bristol is a great little community, and how the government is coping with the crisis. Paulette has never been one to hide her political opinions, so this one is well worth a listen.

Next up I spoke to Daryn Carter of Bristol Pride. He’s had a fairly nasty case of C-19 and is now in recovery. He talked to me about what it was like to go through the illness, and how recovery is a very lengthy process.

Finally I spoke to Aled Osborne from Brigstowe about how people who are living with HIV face additional problems in these unprecedented times, and how you can help Bristowe to help them. As I’ve said before, I think that the lessons learned by the queer community in surviving the AIDS epidemic will be of great value to the world as we begin to recover from C-19.

Because the show was broadcast on the wrong day, it won’t appear in the usual category on the Listen Again service, but you can find it under today’s 12:00-14:00 slot, which is here.

The playlist for today’s show was as follows:

  • Eddy Grant – Baby Come Back
  • Dina Carroll – Don’t be a stranger
  • Gladys Knight & the Pips – Help Me Make it Through the Night
  • Aretha Franklin – Chain of Fools
  • Sade – Hang on to your love
  • Gloria Gaynor – I will survive
  • Whitney Houston – My Love is Your Love
  • Dreadzone – Life, Love & Unity

Coronavirus – Day #39

Probably the most annoying thing about Lockdown is that, while I am coping well with the psychological side of things, every so often I have a day when my body says “enough”. Today was another one of those days. I woke up with a low-grade headache that has never quite gone away. So although I did get some work done, I didn’t do nearly as much as I’d hoped.

Oh well, thankfully there’s little screamingly urgent left needing doing.

I have a radio show tomorrow. One of the interviews is with my friend Daryn Carter who has had a pretty nasty case of C-19. It it he talks a bit about the rollercoaster recovery process. Relapses are common. I certainly feel a bit like that today.

But relapses affect countries too. The news media were apparently crowing this morning that the UK had turned a corner and beaten the virus, because we’d had two consecutive days when the death toll fell. It doesn’t work like that. Today we are back over 800 again. I was speaking yesterday with a friend who works at a hospital, and they were looking at May for peak load.

Meanwhile people are getting exciting over the Office of National Statistics data on deaths. The ONS has information on the total number of people who die each day, which they can compare with averages going back many years. We are significantly above average. The actual numbers of people dying are much higher than annual average plus offical government virus death toll. This has led to people claiming that the C-19 death toll is 41% higher than the government says, and to government supporters yelling “fake news”.

The first thing to note is that the numbers are not fake. All of those people have died. The official government death toll, currently at 17,337, refers only to people who died in hospital and who tested positive for C-19. That means that thousands more unexpected deaths have occured that cannot be directly linked to the virus.

Those people will have died for a variety of reasons. They may have had C-19 but were not tested. They may have died of other things because they had been weakened by a case of C-19. They may have died from something entirely different that might not have been fatal if the heath service hadn’t been massively overloaded at the time. 16 women apparently died in domestic violence incidents, which is more than twice as many as would be expected in that time period.

So you don’t have to have had a case of C-19 for your death to be linked to it in some way.

Coronavirus – Day #35

I might have overdone things a bit yesterday as I woke up feeling sore and stiff, as if I’d spent yesterday in the gym. My philisophy these days is that if my body says “no” then I listen to it, so today has been fairly lightweight.

I did record a couple of great interviews for next week’s radio show. One is with my friend Daryn Carter from Bristol Pride who has had a pretty nasty case of C-19 and is now starting on the long road to recovery.

The other is with Aled from Brigstowe, a charity that provides support for people who are living with HIV. While we were talking it occured to me that there are a lot of similarities between these two virus-borne illnesses. They are not identical, obviously. They attack different parts of the body, and HIV needs to be communicated through bodily fluids while C-19 is ferociously infectious. But with both there will be questions as to when people are phsyically and medically safe to return to work. Post-viral fatigue is likely to be an issue in recovery in both cases. People are already starting to talk about possible new laws that would require us to be able to prove that we were C-19 free before being let back into ordinary society. And inevitably there will be a social stigma against those who have had the disease, because those who haven’t will be afraid (however irrationally) of getting infected.

The upshot of this is that the lessons that the Queer community has learned over the years in supporting people who are living with HIV to integrate back into society may prove to be invaluable in helping rebuild after the pandemic has been contained.

I’m not the first person to think of his. I understand (thanks Roz) that Dr. Fauci, the US virologist, gained his reputation through working on the HIV epidemic. Also my friend Jonathan Cooper has written this article talking about how the victims of the C-19 pandemic will need to band together and speak out against a government that appears to assume that only people who deserved to die will have suffered.

Quite how one holds a government to account when it has an 80 seat majority and has most of the national news media in its pocket is another matter. But hold it to account we must, because if we don’t they will continue their project of selling off the NHS and dismantling all of our social safety nets.

Today on Ujima – Small Businesses in Lockdown, the Hugos

Today’s show mainly features small businesses talking about how they are coping with Lockdown.

I started with Tara from Talk to the Rainbow, a new psychotherapy service catering to members of marginalised communities. Understandably, they are in a lot of demand right now, but are having to learn to do therapy remotely.

Next up were Graham and Esmerelda from My Burrito, who seem to be doing OK on remote ordering, but are having a lot of trouble with Deliveroo. If you can order your food via a different delivery service then they, and many other restaurants, will be very grateful.

Finally I talked to Dan from Storysmith Books, who are finding that people’s interest in reading has not waned, and may even be increasing.

For the final segment of the show I had a chat with Kevin about this year’s Hugo finalists. We didn’t manage to cover all of the categories, but hopefully we will have generated some interest in the Awards. Plus it was a chance for me to point out how female-dominated they Hugos are these days.

You can find the show on the Ujima Listen Again service.

The playlist for today’s show was:

  • Andy Allo – Superconductor
  • Chaka Khan – Ain’t Nobody
  • Liane La Havas – Unstoppable
  • Janelle Monáe – Tightrope (Mouche & Big Remix)
  • Chic – Good Times
  • Prince – Alphabet Street
  • Jackie Shane – Money
  • Parliament – Mothership Connection

Coronavirus – Day #28

The one thing that you should never do with this virus is tell people that you are feeling better. It knows. This morning I woke up around 7:00am, listened to podcasts for a while until the loaf of bread I had in the bread machine was ready, and ate breakfast. By the end of that I was really tired and went back to bed. I woke up three hours later.

The rest of the day has been pretty much of a write-off. I did manage to record one interview for next week’s radio show, and cook some haggis & tatties. Other than that I have read, and attended an online party in Finland. I haven’t had the energy for anything much else.

And still I am doing much better than many people I know.

Here’s hoping that tomorrow is better.

Coronavirus – Day #27

Today marked a major health milestone in that it was the first morning in 27 days that I have woken up normally without having been woken in the middle of the night with a coughing fit. Slowly but surely my respiratory system is getting back to normal. I don’t feel 100% yet, but I’m getting there.

Of course I also feel quite guilty about having such mild symptoms. I have friends online who are having things much worse. This really is a nasty bug, folks. Try to avoid getting it if you can.

As you’ll see from other posts, I have had another busy day. With any luck things will calm down a bit over the long weekend.

Talking of which, Easter normally has awful weather in the UK. This year it is beautiful. I have been able to switch the central heating off. I suspect that this isn’t doing the country’s self-isolation policy any good. I’m happily staying inside, because the pollen count will be through the roof out there and that’s the last thing my sinuses need.

Today on Ujima – Coping with Lockdown

Given the extraordinary circumstances through which we are living, I decided to devote the first half of today’s radio show to talking to some experts about mental health. First up was Subitha from CASS Bristol who are your one-stop shop for mental health support if you live in the Bristol area. She’s followed by Dr. Dominique Thompson who is a former GP and has written a number of books on mental health, specifically for students.

In the second half of the show I was delighted to welcome back Tamsin from the Popelei Theatre Company. She and her colleagues have launched a Women in Lockdown project, calling for 4-minute monologues featuring women who, for various reasons, are restricted in their movements.

I only had three interviews this week. I was keeping the fourth slot free for some boat-dwelling pals who were being treated very shabbily by Bristol Harbour. Thankfully we made enough noise on social media for them to get picked up by the BBC so they didn’t need me. I got to play some fun music instead.

You can listen to the show via this link.

The playlist for today’s show was:

  • Jama – Free Your Mind
  • Richie Havens & Preservation Hall Jazz Band – Trouble in Mind
  • Bat for Lashes – Peace of Mind
  • Bob Marley – No woman, no cry
  • Patti Labelle – Messing with my mind
  • Jamiroquai – Music of the mind
  • Dreadzone – Heat the Pot (especially for Aliette & Tasha)
  • Afro-Celt Sound System – Whirl-y-Reel 2
  • Donna Summer – The MacArthur Park Suite

Coronavirus – Day #23

Today was a little bit of Wizard’s Tower work then finishing off the editing for my next radio show. This one will have a big feature on taking care of your mental health during lockdown, plus my fabulous Venezuelan friend, Tamsin Clarke. Regular followers will be pleased to hear that, despite doing an interview over Zoom, Tamsin and I kept our clothes on for the whole thing.

Social media in the UK today has been mainly about the government’s threat to ban outdoor exercise if people don’t stop flocking to parks. Reaction seemed to be split between those people stressed out by having to stay indoors, and those stressed out by fear of catching the virus. Me, I’m happy to stay at home as much as possible. I note that Pilates was developed as a means of keeping fit while a prisoner of war. Most people should be able to do some exercise. As far as I’m concerned the big issue is not space, but shortness of breath.

I’ve just seen a report that Boris Johnson has been admitted to hospital for tests. There’s no means of knowing how serious this is.

Elsewhere there are reports that the US Federal Government has seized a shipment of vital medical supplies bound for Barbados. There have been earlier reports that Trump has also intercepted shipments paid for by individual state governments within the USA. The word for this is piracy. Meanwhile the British newspapers are apparently demanding that we sue the Chinese for reparations over the virus. I’m assuming that they will agree provided that they can sue us over the opium wars. Goodness only knows where it is going to end.