Who Won The Week (8 March 2020)

I have Fandango to thank for this title – he has been posting regularly on this subject from his west-coast-USA vantage point. I am interested in current affairs too, and normally have some nonsense or other to spout about one of the UK’s topical news stories. So, I like to join in. Maybe there’s something in your world that you’d like to post about?

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In my earlier life I was fortunate not really to have any health issues. That changed, four years ago, when I had the stroke. In the immediate aftermath, I thought I would have another stroke anyday soon, and that would be it. After all, I was every bit as likely to have a second stroke as I was to have had the first.

As time went by, I started thinking that maybe I wouldn’t have another stroke, leastways not right then. That maybe I did have a future ahead of me. I determined that if ever I got well enough, I would try and help people in the same situation. That was why I volunteered.

As a volunteer, I have seen lots of stroke survivors. Some people go on to recover well, with full use of their limbs and the same brain-power, that they had before their stroke. But alongside the success stories I saw the worst cases – people who had their full brain power, were absolutely aware of their predicament, but were left unable even to get up from their bed. Their partner has become their carer in the blink of an eye.

I have talked to these people. Some of them have said that they just want to hurry up and die. Seriously. And I can understand why – medicine has the power to keep them alive, but not the power to grant them any kind of quality to their life. They remember who they were, they see what they have become, and they want out.

Bottom line, I have seen how we can keep people alive, artificially almost, and certainly despite their wishes. I’ve been blessed to see this first hand, at a relatively young age, when my thought process is still good, and I know it is not for me. I guess we would all say the same. I’m also blessed that my medication can be fatal, at the right (i.e. wrong!) dose. So I know I have a get-out, if needs be.

I dodged one bullet with the stroke – it left me damaged but I’m still productive. If I suddenly became unproductive, I know what I need to do. When my time is up, my time is up. So, if I have a choice – quickly over a few hours, days or weeks or slowly, degeneratively, maybe over decades, then it is a no-brainer.


I pulled my original post today, on International Women’s Day, because I thought this topic was more important. It went along the lines of actions, not gestures, that by all means pat ourselves on the back for the progress which we have made, but let’s not forget that there is work still to do. And you can guess the rest … But this whole week, our national news feeds have been dominated by one thing. So are my favourite Irish feeds- even my local news feeds! COVID-19, AKA CoronaVirus. So, in terms of dominating the news coverage, there is actually a clear winner. Not a who, but a what – the COVID-19 virus.

So far, I have been very unimpressed with the level of public information in the UK. The key questions I had were:

  • what signs do I look for?
  • what should I do when I see those signs?
  • how can I expect to be treated?

Instead, we had the chief of Public Health England (you can guess…), who came on our most serious news programme and said that the NHS had a thorough strategy for dealing with COVID-19, but when pressed, would not elaborate on exactly what their strategy was. So I’m sure that many viewers, myself included, decided that the chap was a shill, a puppet, put onto TV to further the propaganda – we don’t have a clue of how to deal with this, but let’s think about nice things instead, and hopefully the worst won’t happen! So, this guy instantly loses any credibility he might otherwise have had.

However, regardless of the obstacles, the questions are clear enough, and with the global news network on our computers, we can piece together the answers, if we’re prepared to look for them. Some outlets have covered the story better than others.

My current take on the virus is that:

  • The virus is recognised by flu-like symptoms, in particular shortness of breath.
  • The advice in the UK, if you see the symptoms, is to stay at home. If you’re in the UK specifically, the advice is to call the non-emergency health number, 111, although I am also hearing from other sources that the number is inundated with other calls, so they don’t pick up.
  • In most cases, so far as I can make out, the treatment is just to stay home and weather the storm. No specific treatment/hospital required. This self-isolation is not the precursor to treatment, but the actual treatment itself! Usually.
  • But this scenario can change if people have other aggravating conditions, for example, respiratory issues. It that respect, people are dying from this virus so it can have serious consequences. I read an article from Spain which said that anti-AIDS drugs (which I am guessing are strong antivirals) have been used with some success.
  • Lastly, my wife is a nurse who works for the NHS. Her employers have expressed a degree of concern if my wife goes to her usual social gatherings (her choir, etc.). But soncern is as far as it has gone. They recognise that she is taking a risk. And, these concerns have been raised by admin staff, not by clinical staff.
  • They have also asked her what duties she can offload onto other people. Things she does not have to do herself, just so she has contact with as few people as possible. Unfortunately, most of her job is contact with people. But the obvious thing is blood tests, which are ultimately shipped to the local hospital anyway for analysis. So far, nobody booked in for a blood test has been diverted – this is a plan rather than an action. If you know the Salisbury area, then the virus has been detected in Amesbury so far (maybe 15 miles away). It is a little too close for comfort, but I don’t think I’ll be able to outrun this beastie. it’ll reach me eventually. Amesbury gets all the glamour – it was one of the epicentres of our Novichok nonsense a couple of years ago, too. As of Friday, my wife’s surgery still had a consultant visit them, to talk about something totally unrelated to this virus, so they still appear to be working normally, even if they are planning for the abnormal.

I have no idea how I will be affected personally. I am a diabetic who has already had one stroke, the NHS will tell me that I am “high risk”, although that has never made a difference in practise. My health these days is very good, however. I have no idea how I would be treated – or even whether I would be treated. At this stage, it doesn’t much matter to me. I guess if I felt bad, my first decision would be to decide whether I actually wanted to be treated.

I must admit, in this respect, I can see a clear difference between news broadcasting, which we have a lot of, and public service broadcasting, of which we have none. One is talking about the sensational – in the UK’s case, the two deaths so far, while the other should be concentrating on informing the public (i.e. the other sixty million of us) so that it understands the risks and the actions. Even the BBC, here, is just another news agency in that respect. I think that’s quite poor, but the truth is out there …

Lastly… remember that I’m not an expert. If in doubt, try and find one and ask them. And hope you get a straight answer. And, if you know better than me, please share.

Song Lyric Sunday (8 March 2020) – Primary Directions

Last week, Jim (NewEpicAuthor, A Unique Title For Me) set a theme of noise (my choice). This week, theme of primary directions.

I’m taking a bit of a chance this week. When I thought about Jim’s prompt, a song came to me which stems from my mid-teens (1985, to be exact). I loved this song at the time, and have enjoyed it ever since. I hope you will, too.

Now, it is not a blockbuster song. It’s not even my normal type of music. I first heard it when it hit the regular charts, so it was getting airplay on the popular stations, and it is a tune which just stuck with me. The band who performed it, Dream Academy, were not particularly well known – we’d all (myself included!) struggle to name any of their other songs. It only reached #15 in the UK, although it was better-received in the USA, where it reached #7 on Billboard (so maybe there’s a small chance you remember it?) I’ve also heard samples of the tune on more recent music. Regardless, I loved it.

The song was written by band members Nick Laird-Clowes and Gilbert Gabriel as an elegy to a UK folk musician called Nick Drake, who influenced the band but who died in 1974. The sleeve of the single also contained a commemoration to Drake. It fits with Jim’s prompt so I will present it today. My choice is Life In A Northern Town by Dream Academy. Tell me what you think.

Incidentally I am not absolutely sure, but I believe that the video location was Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.

The Salvation Army band played
And the children drunk lemonade
And the morning lasted all day, all day
And through an open window came
Like Sinatra in a younger day
Pushing the town away, oh

Ah hey ma ma mommy doo-din-nie-ya
Ah hey ma ma ma hey-y-yah
Life in a northern town
Ah hey ma ma ma ma

They sat on the stoney ground
And he took a cigarette out
And everyone else came down to listen
He said in winter 1963
It felt like the world would freeze
With John F. Kennedy
And The Beatles

Yeah, yeah
Ah hey ma ma mommy doo-din-nie-ya
Ah hey ma ma ma hey-y-yah
Life in a northern town
Hey ma ma ma ma
Ah hey ma ma ma
Ah hey ma ma ma hey-y-yah
All the work shut down

The evening turned to rain
Watched the water roll down the drain
As we followed him down to the station
And though he never would wave goodbye
You could see it written in his eyes
As the train rolled out of sight…bye-bye

Ah hey ma ma mommy doo-din-nie-ya
Ah hey ma ma ma hey-y-yah
Life in a northern town
Ah hey ma ma ma ma
Ah hey ma ma mommy doo-din-nie-ya
Ah hey ma ma ma hey-y-yah
Life in a northern town

Ah hey ma ma ma ma
Ah hey ma ma mommy doo-din-nie-ya
Ah hey ma ma ma hey-y-yah
Ah hey ma ma ma ma
Take it easy on yourself
Ah hey ma ma mommy doo-din-nie-ya
Ah hey ma ma ma hey-y-yah

Nick Laird-Clowes and Gilbert Gabriel