DAY 46: Workers’ Memorial Day

That back room really must be finished today

For some reason, best known to whomever, my brain has told me today is Saturday. My waking, walking self knows it is not, but it is a deeply ingrained perception that is clouding every acton and expectation of the day, including was should be on radio and TV. This must be a known phenomenon; I wonder what it’s called.

I suspect it may have something to do with the fact that I am (self-)obliged to continue with housework today. I am not sure if the rain helps or not.

Blessed relief comes from a series of phone calls, mainly about accommodation problems in the city for homeless people including destitute asylum seekers… Many are categorised as not having access to public funds (NAPF). But they need to be accommodated, and been self-isolated, at this time. The City Council has put many homeless and destitute people up in hotels for 28 days But the government will not cover the costs of NAPF people. And if they discover that NAPF people ARE being accommodated they cease to be eligible for National Asylum Support Service (NASS) housing. Yet another conundrum in the stressful life of the asylum seeker. Small wonder so many have a very jaundiced view if Britain, the country they originally believed was a civilised, safe haven,

Today is Workers Memorial Day. In Bristol every year we hold a short march and some speeches around memorial plaque in Catle Park to remember that e who have died itch workplace – too often form a lack of proper health and safety provisions. Today has a special poignancy – not only are we old trades unionists confined to our homes, but our thoughts are with the health workers and care staff who have lost her lives to this dreadful pandemic, here and around the world.

For once there are public demonstrations of solidarity in silence at 11am (even in the Cabinet Room). But I note that colleague in the mainstream media operate as if this is a one off specially for the NHS, rather than a sad annual international reminder that people lose their lives at work all the time, including journalists in what has become an increasingly dangerous trade. Our NUJ branch placard for the day points out that ‘Journalists around the world are dying to bring your the news.

Then I got a chatty call from a friend in Ireland who is working from home and taking daily advantage of the right to perambulate within 2 km of her front door. She us looking forward to next week where rumour has it the limit will be extended to 5km. How our horizons have shrunk.

From her I learn that employment lawyers are being kept busy as some employers struggle with the complexities of the government payout schemes, while others want advice about putting people on ‘furlough’ or even about making staff redundant.

As in the UK there has been controversy about the numbers of COVID19 dead, and dismay that so little attentions was paid early on into the plight of those living and working in care homes. Now the daily Irish government announcement includes ALL deaths at home, in care homes and hospitals instead of the sanitised (if you’ll pardon the expression) figures used by the British government which only records those deaths registered in hospitals. The Republic adds a pointed reminder about the low number of deaths recorded under the UK system in Northern Ireland. This is particularly significant since the highest incidence of the coronavirus in the Republic is to be found in the border counties of Cavan and Monaghan where communities mix on a daily basis across the artificial border that divides the island. 

I am wryly amused to note that as from today the British government is to compile and announce a more comprehensive daily death toll, mirroring Ireland’s approach.

A slow afternoon gradually clearing and tidying the side-room, which included sorting a tool box, more window cleaning, and giving the house spiders a run for their money.  

Late lunch/early tea of tahini and quince on toast followed by the strawberries and cream delivered yesterday!

Having just recovered at home from a nasty dose of the coronavirus, old friends circulate a video of their COVID Calypso. Nice to see them smiling, singing, and playing trombone and sax.

After reading to the grandsons, who were pretty hyper having had to spend the entire day inside, I felt kind of woozy. The old blood pressure I assume. I imagine it may caused by just having heard the results from the latest of my sisters coping with breast cancer. She is up for chemotherapy in the coming weeks. Such news doesn’t help to keep you calm. The machine confirms that my pressures a bit high.

I heat up a pie, make a salad and pour a fruit smoothie, then collapse in front of Alex Garland’s Annihilation. Havigwatch his Ex Machina last night I am obviously building up to binge-watching his DEVS.

I would not normally consider myself a sci-fi fan, but it’s a good form of escapism and, like they say, it makes you think (even if it’s just “How did they do that?” – about the sfx.

And so to bed, my mind trying to work out if Annihilation was some sort of prescient analogy for our present predicament. 

Mike J

Journalist, trainer, editor; storyteller; amateur historian.

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