rant

I am stunned by the utter chaos and shambles of the current Tory government in the UK.  It goes beyond partisan politics, beyond incompetence, beyond corruption.

Elected to “get Brexit done”, this Tory government passed a Withdrawal Bill in January bypassing Parliamentary scrutiny and now say this is not the Brexit they intended, but it’s become an international treaty which is law so they announce in Parliament that they will knowingly break the law to rewrite it unilaterally, so the most senior lawyers in the civil service have resigned as they are duty-bound to do, meanwhile this Tory government champions Britannia ruling the waves by threatening small inflatables carrying handfuls of frightened asylum-seekers with the might of the Royal Navy, meanwhile this Tory government voted overwhelmingly against putting into law measures to prevent another horrific Grenfell Tower fire, meanwhile this Tory government plans to criminalise peaceful activists trying to place climate change central to public policy, meanwhile this Tory government, building on ten years of deliberate unpreparedness for a predictable pandemic thus killing more than forty thousand people, now, after six months and in the face of an obvious and predictable rise in SARS-CoV-2 infections as we enter autumn, this Tory government still cannot offer a effective Track and Trace system despite spending billions, cannot source protective gear in the UK and have made no preparations for schools to reopen other than mantras and wishful thinking so in a few weeks and with more deaths those same schools will shut with no plans for how to educate children except spitting out recriminations and instead this Tory government shouts at young people, whom they had previously hectored that it was their patriotic duty to go out to eat and drink and go to work in offices not work at home and buy sandwiches and repopulate trains, now they tell those young people, “don’t kill yer gran”…

 

 

I could go on.

The advisors have not been free to speak

A couple of weeks ago I joined a zoom meeting of Scientists for Labour a group affiliated to the Labour Party.  The speaker was physicist and veteran science policy adviser Sir David King.  He served Labour and Conservative governments.  Under the Blair government he ran a large foresight programme for major events such as a pandemic.  He now chairs the Independent SAGE, which appears to comprise the experts one might have expected a government to have consulted in managing a pandemic.  The meeting is publicly available.  While he talked I tried to sketch (not very well) and made a few notes.

Here he talks about the fact that the UK had been a world leader in preparedness for such a pandemic, setting out how to manage such an event in 2006.

“the biggest foresight program I ran  was on the infectious diseases … our report … said that it was highly likely that a pandemic of the kind that has just occurred would occur … it might emerge from a wild animal … it would spread around the world very rapidly … within 3 months … it would have a genetic make up that we would have no defences against … we set out what should be done, the WHO was represented on the group … and it is kind of surprising and amazingly annoying that the country that produced this report … and the WHO responded very well … that we are the country that sits behind every country in terms of our operation.  Sixty five thousand excess deaths to date …”

 “it is difficult to believe a word of what the government is saying”.

“complete mishandling of this pandemic of appalling proportions”.

“… this looks like criminal behaviour …”

“A vast number of people have died unnecessarily …”

 

Pilgrimage through the detritus of growth

 

This piece arose from a reference photograph selected by Outside Authority.  Their interpretation of the same elements (with reference to both Henry Moore and Matisse I think) is here and here.

I flooded my original doodle with water, ink, white acrylic paint and ground chalk pastel, heated it dry and then worked back into it with knife, ink and watercolour.

 

Biomech

No prizes for guessing the source of the idea behind this doodle.  This was overlaid onto the background shown below used in a previous post.

I have been listening to Alien: Out of the Shadows, an audio adaptation of a novel, itself written from a script of a film sequel never made.  We start 40 years from the destruction of the Nostromo with Ripley teamed with the surviving crew of a mining vessel, again facing the devastating egg-laying hive monsters.  The on-board computers, and those on the planet-side mining station, are corrupted by the single minded purpose of Ash, the synth humanoid she thought beaten to destruction on discovering its over-riding programming to bring back a viable xenomorph specimen, “all crew expendable”.

Fighting a plague when the governing minds have other purposes: a story for our time perhaps.

guest art 2

Its Mothers; Day.  Here are the drawings from my son (the hound) and daughter (herself as a toddler with her mum).

The kids are home now for months.  We have been able to set aside part of a room as a classroom for them.  They like that.  But we both must go into work daily.  They resist the school places put aside for them.  Will they work?  Will they eat proper lunch?  There is discussion about eating up meals rather than raiding the fridge and cupboards.  Although we know there is genuinely no shortage of food, actually obtaining it may become less sure on a day to day basis.  Nationally, uncertainty itself creates the circumstance.

I have memories of my childhood in London without a fridge, or actually cupboards I think, when we shopped daily for what we could afford.  Later, in Swansea, the teachers went on strike for months and we stayed and learned at home.  In Poland, where my father worked for a time, power was so scarce that I saw the Milky Way for the first time and watched the perseid meteorite shower in awe.  A year or so later, back in London, the lights would flicker to warn us to get out the candles before electricity failed.  Life is always uncertain: perhaps, though, that is the true definition of being middle class, that sometimes we go for a long while with the illusion otherwise.

Stay safe everyone.  If you can stay at home, please do so.  All our lives now depend on our maintaining distance between us and washing our hands.

There is hope amidst all this.

guest art

These drawings appeared taped to my computer screen at the start of my working day, starting from 3 weeks ago.  They are done by Kathy and Karen, who take blood from my patients.

We are now gearing up, ringing all our patients to keep on with their treatments if possible, and preparing ourselves and our families for personal redeployment.

blinded

I have done my consultations this week by phone.  But you learn so much from seeing someone’s demeanour, how they rise from a chair and walk across the waiting room.  I have become blind, and must rely on listening more to detect those subtle clues.

The main benefit is people not travelling long distances by public transport or sitting waiting in a crowded room.  Still, someone has to get close to take the blood sample and to give the treatment.

My greatest social distancing pleasure comes from walking the dog across fields, through woods, and along the stream.  He imagines himself the lead explorer, running back now and again to check on me.

He has taught himself that when I stop to draw, he will sit and wait by me.