This morning housing minister Simon Clarke was the latest junior minister to be found wanting by interviewers, including Piers Morgan – ‘savaged’ in the words of one source. On the PPE saga and the latest news that the Turkish supply still had not been released, Clarke made on the Today Programme what must be the understatement of the week: ‘’This is not a situation where we’re beyond criticism’.
The emergence of another scientist giving advice contrary to that of SAGE will be cause for further disquiet about the basis on which the government is basing its policy. Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence-based Medicine at Oxford University, said that the impact of the lockdown was “going to outweigh the damaging effect of coronavirus”.
The crisis has sparked necessary focus on a still taboo topic in some quarters: death and dying and how we anticipate and plan for them. Many are not yet doing it. You may remember We Need to Talk about Death, an excellent Radio 4 series a while back presented by the inimitable Dame Joan Bakewell. But it’s not only death and dying we’re up against in this situation: it’s death taking place where (despite the change in government policy) it’s not easy to see the deceased at the end and there’s no public ritualistic recognition (eg funeral and wake) of the customary kind. This is going to lead to numerous experiences of complicated grief, adding to the general mental health burden.
Today’s BBC Woman’s Hour led on this issue, featuring the impressive a palliative care expert Dr Rachel Clarke, who smashed it on Question Time last week. This discussion is so worthwhile and overdue as it’s common to encounter people who refuse any consideration of death even when in the older age group. It can be mistakenly seen as anti-life when philosophers have said we can’t live fully without having first reflecting on own endings.
One of the side-effects of lockdown has been people being unable to get to hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons and the likely collapse of those businesses. Weekend Woman’s Hour got some flak for covering the challenge of how we manage without these services, featuring a beauty editor who spent some time telling listeners, for example, how to wax and how to remove their gel nail polish (apparently has to be acetone, not with regular remover). I wonder what people think about this. On the one hand it could feel like first world problems and some emailed in to say how trivial it was and how there would be many who’d never got nails or waxing done. On the other hand we know how important the state of our appearance can be to our sense of wellbeing, and while it can perhaps be taken too far, a kind of dependency and over-emphasis on appearance, the fact is that it does make a difference to our sense of wellbeing.
Just before today’s Downing Street briefing yet more sobering death statistics were announced: another 828 today, making a total of 17,300 COVID19 deaths.
On a lighter note, you might be interested to know that today is both World Curlew Day (shame no opportunities to get to nature reserves at the moment) and National Tea Day. So you can only see these beautiful birds online but you can make a cuppa!
Finally, you might enjoy this example of slow radio (examples of slow radio are regularly featured on Radio 4 Broadcasting House on Sunday mornings) was this piece last night at 11 pm on Radio 4 – an aid to mindfulness.