Observatory

The Lockdown Diaries 11: Chemo-Lad VS Fear

As the ultimate nerdy child who could end up in A&E after tripping off a kerb with a book in one hand, I sensed I would enjoy a lifetime peppered with doctors’ visits. The annual vaccines were a staple, of course; polio, dypyheria and others that left giant permanent scorch patterns on the upper arm. […]

The Lockdown Diaries 10: The Most Intriguing Paradoxes

The UK government’s hilarious mail-out warning the nation’s at-risk population to shield – ie. lock themselves in an oubliette and throw away the key, is doubtless falling on deaf ears. It’s the latest ‘most intriguing paradox’ worthy of WS Gilbert; you’re at risk if you have an underlying condition. If the condition requires you to […]

The Lockdown Diaries 9: Chemo Lad VS The World

See Someone FFS! The purpose of coming out about cancer was to dispel some of the fears people might have about getting a diagnosis at this time. Everyone’s experience is different just as symptoms and treatments are different, but the crucial thing is to stop worrying about a nebulous ‘thing’ and get diagnosed as fast as […]

The Lockdown Diaries 7: Unwell? This Is Why You Must Come Forward

People with suspected conditions are not coming forward for treatment because they are now frightened of hospitals, despite doctors urging them to seek attention. This post is for them. In March I found myself propelled into a situation more serious than facing a virus – overnight I managed to hit the ‘Extreme Risk’ register on four separate […]

The Lockdown Diaries 5: Alphabetical Order

Our post-hospital pastry run has now taken on epic proportions. We have to pass through the scruffy North London neighbourhood of Tufnell Park, which has a run-down little high street inexplicably filled with good independent shops. We return loaded with fresh cinnamon buns, lemon ‘volcanos’ and buttery mini bread puddings, the kind of cakes Alma […]

The Lockdown Diaries 4: Breathe In, Breathe Out

1. The Joy Of Illness I’m wary about the oversharing. To my mind Vivienne Haig-Wood could have just listened to her husband’s poems and gone to bed with a hot water bottle. To lower the paywall of the conscious mind and admit something serious to a fellow being is to impose upon them, however slightly. […]

The Lockdown Diaries 3: Double Or Nothing

I’m sitting in my dressing gown overlooking London, thinking about where the city goes from here. In his memoir of growing up in middle-class Viennese society, Stefan Zweig writes that Jewish families such as his were misunderstood. The desire for financial security lasted just two of three generations, and once it was achieved a new […]

The Lockdown Diaries 1: An Adventure I Hadn’t Planned For

On Christmas Eve I came down with a severe flu-like cold that kept boomeranging back. On March 24th, the day the UK coronavirus lockdown began, I was finally diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. It was spectacularly bad timing. Getting into the system for treatment proved impossible for a month, because our hospitals were daily rethinking […]

What Did You Do In The Great Lockdown?

  To the outside eye, America is a country now at war with itself. The trouble with the Lockdown is that unlike war it’s a passive experience. The writers who made capital of their wartime experiences are stumped this time. They’re already complaining that it will be impossible to write about because it’s fundamentally boring. […]

America & The Buccaneer Spirit

Can you have a water cooler moment without a water cooler? Why do we even have water coolers in Britain? ‘Tiger King’ was a water cooler moment if ever there was one – each new character as deranged as the one before, although for me the sanctimonious husband of Carole Baskin was the creepiest of […]