*UPDATED FROM PRINT VERSION - 80's vs 90s event has now been postponed !
Firstly, this column is only my personal opinion. You are free to disagree ! It's been a hell of a week. We've been absorbing alot of information from a huge number of sources, some more reliable than others. I'm a former Media Lecturer, and have spent many years studying mass communication. "Hyperbole" is "is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It emphasizes, evokes strong feelings, and creates strong impressions. As a figure of speech, it is usually not meant to be taken literally." It's used in the media to create impact, and in this case it's irresponsible use has created panic and hysteria.
When people read "Deadly" ,"Out of Control", and "Panic Buying" we jump to worst case scenarios and our brains jump into flight or flight response. The same as when we experience stress and anxiety. The reporting, and surge of social media fake news posts have also triggered people with low mood and depression, to become even more pessimistic.
This worries me more than however many peope, with underlying health condititons, who sadly may or may not die prematurely because of Covid19. In the UK we lose16 people every single day to suicide. Young people and old. Otherwise fit and healthy.
Improving mental health is complex, but this situation and the ramifications of the government's recommendations, will not help.
I'm not saying to ignore government advice- ofcourse we should wash our hands, and stay home if we are ill. Haven't we always done that!?
But we need to be very carefull about the impact of 'not socializing' . Thinking long term, or people or families trapped at home and isolated. There is surely a massively increased risk of addictions like drug abuse and alcoholism, even home-brewing unsafe alchohol or buying cheap unregulated drugs, a 'black market' already forming for blooming hand sanitiser! This doesnt bring out the best in everyone sadly. Online gaming, porn, binge watching TV and box sets, eating unhealthy processed food. Those living with domestic violence or emotional abuse, unable to get out. Child abuse and child poverty going un -noticed and social services unable to intervene or check safe living conditions. At schools many children get free school meals, care, support and safeguarding- wheh at home they are living in poverty or have a lack of care. We must not ignore the bigger picture. Looking after our community, and the vulnerable people in our community does NOT just mean- protect old people from getting a virus. It means real genuine care and systems of care, must continue. Mental, Physical, Emotional and spiritual health on all levels for all people. Otherwise we really are all doomed.
**Sadly the 80s and 90s themed fancy dress disco, with DJ Keaty, Riky Grover and myself- at The Club, Shepton Mallet on Sat 4th April, has now been postponed.
You can get your money back from where you bought the ticket or it will remain valid for the event at a later date
LATEST UPDATE - Re. SCHOOLS CLOSURE
As of today all schools and colleges in the UK are closed to most pupils.
Apart from all the crazy stuff - my day job, has for years been tutoring and lecturing- in Secondary & FE settings. I'm a qualified and passionate teacher of many subjects including Media Studies, Marketing, Film & Radio, English, English Lit & Poetry, Communications, Sociology, Psychology, General Studies, History , Politics, Swedish Language , English as a foreign language and Functional Skills.
Most recently in 2016 I worked as a Functional Skills tutor at Bridgwater College, Somerset. Before that, as a Learning Mentor and Attendance Support Co-Ordinator in Strode College, Street (where I also set up the colllege radio station) and between 2010 - 2014 I was Head of English ( GCSE Level ) at Renforskollan, Vindeln, North Sweden.
While the schools and colleges are shut, there is no need to stop learning and enjoying the subjects you love. I can offer Skype sessions of 30 - 45 minutes , at a rate you can afford ( depending on your circumstances) email me email@example.com
I can also help with college and university applications and personal statements.
The mum stuff ...
During half term the kids enjoyed our time indoors, sheltering from the various storms- but doing fun activities and making youtube videos. My boys aren’t allowed their own youtube accounts or any social media, until they are at least 13. However, I have an account , so I agreed to post some of the boys ‘child friendly’ videos on there. Firstly, they made their own ‘merch’ ( running before they could walk!) by drawing with glitter pens all over their only plain white T-shirts ( which I later realised were their PE kits..ooops!), next they made and decorated cupcakes, and finally they ’made over mum and dad’. This involved them raiding my make-up kit and painting us both with lipstick and bronzer. It stained our clothes, made the kitchen into a complete mess and gave Harry an allergic skin reaction, but at least they had fun. We also had a delicious family meal night at Rosemary Greek Restaurant, on Shepton Mallet High Street. We love it because we feel equally welcome bringing children along, as we do on a rare date night. They do children’s portions of most meals, and our boys love the pizza. They have an updated menu, with new additions like ‘Spetsofai’ which is a yummy combo of tomato, sausage, pepper and onion. I opted for Beef Stifado, a traditional Greek stew with shallots. Go along and try it for yourself!
XANDER & THE PEACE PIRATES
On Saturday, I had the best night ever. Reuniting with an amazingly talented and beloved school friend of mine, who I hadn't seen for over 22 years! Keith Xander, lead singer and guitarist from the band Xander & The Peace Pirates - was born with half a right arm. Aged 12, he showed an interest in playing guitar, and was met with a lot of negativity. Later, aged 15, he almost died- when he suffered a ruptured spleen, collapsed lung, and spent weeks in hospital contemplating his fate. He had an epiphany, luckily, for all of us..he survived- and a school teacher suggested he use his prosthetic hook as a plectrum. The rest is history, and he’s now a world class musician, and a true inspiration. Featuring on BBC 3 - ‘Amazing Humans’ and supporting Bon Jovi, and Manfred Mann on tour. The band entered The Pilton Stage auditions 2020 , and made it into Heat 6 last weekend. I was so excited for Keith, his big brother Stuart, and the band to show what they could do- in front of Michael Eavis and competition founder Neil Templar. Other brilliant bands played including ‘Young Astronaut’ and ‘LeSpectre’ played, but ultimately Xander & The Peace Pirates won the heat, and stole the hearts of an elated audience. I almost cried with joy to watch them, and to hug my wonderful friend after so many years. Now I get to see them play the final on March 28th at Pilton Working Men’s Club, you can too ! Buy tickets at facebook.com/thepiltonstage. You can follow the band at facebook.com/xanderandthepeacepirates and on spotify !
Sadly - now that both Pilton Stage and Glasto 2020 have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, Keith and his band will never know if they'd have won. Theyve also, like all bands and musicians, had to cancel all of their gigs for the foreseeable future. You CAN support them , however, buy buying a copy of their AMAZING CD, or ordering merch from the website. https://www.xanderandthepeacepirates.com/
There may be opportunities soon to watch pay what you want- live streams etc. Keep an eye on , and subscribe to their youtube -
If you're in isolation- I cannot think of anything better to do than listen to the positive uplifting music of this band- and also listen to their regular messages of hope and peace.
Peace & Love...xxx
I'm a 43 year old, mum of two little boys- currently living in Shepton Mallet in Somerset. I'm the Founder and Creative Director of Radio Shepton, a Stand up and comedian and spoken word performer, and write a regular column for The Wells and Shepton Mallet Journal. Which is the basis for my blog usually. I lived in Swedish Lapland for 7 years until 2014 where my boys were born. My partner and I ran a husky dog sledding business. Before that I was a poet, radio presenter, media lecturer, writer, TV producer, actress and burlesque performer ! I never want my life to be boring :)