In Sanatorium, Abi Palmer likens illness to a ‘lack of access’ to the world. But could we view this feeling of being ostensibly unmoored from reality as merely a different manifestation of it? Ableism is a prerequisite for the doctrine of optimum productivity and consumption endorsed by capitalist ethos, rendering healthcare essentially meritocratic. For women, BAME people, marginalised genders, queer people and anyone lacking cultural capital, who consequently struggle to be taken seriously by medical professionals (an experience that Palmer vividly evokes), performative illness becomes a grim necessity.
CW: mental health
Long predating the lockdown, members of the LGBTQIA+ community have reported feelings of isolation and loneliness at alarmingly high levels. This reached a point where ‘queer loneliness’ was dubbed an epidemic, and the mental health of the community overall was recognised as dire. With many now separated from their support networks during lockdown, queer people are experiencing new lows in their mental health. Additionally, much of the previously mentally healthy population is also struggling, and NHS services are suffocating from cuts, meaning that many queer people will miss out on vital mental health services as a complacent wider world focuses on going ‘back to normal’.
by Tesni Clare
It’s not an original idea: opportunistic, peripatetic capitalism works by capitalising on its own crises. The idea rings even truer for neoliberal capitalism.
It’s what Naomi Klein has dubbed ‘disaster capitalism’. Amidst public disorientation following a crisis, control is achieved by the imposition of economic shock therapy, or in other words, economic liberalisation – public spending is withdrawn, large scale privatisation occurs, and disaster is transformed into a shiny new investment. Private contractors move in, gobble up funding for their efforts to ‘clean up’, and billions get cut from government budgets.
At the moment, we are led to believe that Covid-19 is a marauder snatching away our media, our minds and our vulnerable population and that the only way to defeat such a pernicious beast is to sing hollow cries of “we are all in this together.” Yes, this should be a time for us to unify in communal admonishment of the situation; a time where we should realise our shared will to thrive alongside our neighbours; a time to join mutual aid groups to help those more vulnerable in a true display of fraternité; but, in doing this, we should not be blind to the fact that we do not share an equal burden.
A couple of weeks ago we were told of the extent of the Tory government’s negligence during a time of intense international crisis. They disregarded important information provided by advisory committees at critical moments as well as the crucial COBRA Meetings themselves, which are specifically held to ensure strong leadership at times of national emergency. According to the article in The Times, Boris’ earlier inaction has resulted in the number of deaths reaching six figures with the estimated mortality predicted to be 400,000. Of course, in addition to patently disregarding hundreds of thousands of lives, Johnson’s administration has also put the physical health of millions at risk with the virus running uncontrolled throughout the population for a whole month between 24th Feb when the recorded number of deaths skyrocketed, and the announcement of effective lockdown measures in mid-March.
As the UK’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak exposes capitalism for all its evils, now is the time to start laying the foundations for a better future.
We’ve been in the final throes of capitalism for some time now. Since the financial crash of 2008 long-term economic stagnation has persisted in the west, yet 1% of the world’s population have managed to hoard almost half of global wealth. As the world faces a global pandemic of the life-threatening novel coronavirus aka Covid-19, now more than ever the faults in our capitalist system are screaming out for scrutiny, and it is fast becoming obvious that inequality kills, and capitalism is to blame.
by Jonathan Lee
“New pension plans to work till you die are no cause for alarm” says arch-Tory overlord Ian Duncan Smith. A recent report from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), the Tory think-tank which brought us Universal Credit, has recommended the government raise the retirement age from 65 to 70 by 2028, and to 75 by 2035.
The Tories are not content to simply make workers’ lives as miserable as possible through underfunding schools, unaffordable housing, food poverty, and the greatest devaluation of wages in modern history. They now seek to steal the last golden years of life from the majority of working class people who cannot afford a private pension in order to retire early.
By Paul Lievens, Banana Link Communications Officer
Bananas have been part of our diet for thousands of years, and are the most popular fruit in the world, with over 100 billion bananas eaten around the world every year. In the UK, each of us eats on average around 10 kg, or 100 bananas, per year. Grown across the tropical regions of the world, banana export production provides an essential source of income for hundreds of thousands of rural households in developing countries. However, many of the plantation workers who produce our bananas fail to earn a living wage and do not have their labour rights respected, while the intensive use of agrochemicals harms the health of workers and the surrounding environment.
Being an ‘activist’ is a crucial part of my identity. It can be a difficult thing to be, in a society where ‘politics’ is a dirty word and its practice is often at best frowned upon, but I’m glad I’ve made it to this place. To be part of wider movements, making friends with incredibly talented, dedicated and inspiring people and, in my own flawed, stumbling way, trying to make the world a little bit better, is an enormous joy and privilege that not everyone gets to enjoy.
By Nicholl Hardwick, for The Grow Organisation
In contemporary Britain, our lives are pervaded with unique health and economic pressures. Capitalism, globalisation, Brexit and the internet have all contributed to a new era of loneliness, community isolation and disconnectedness. We may go days at a time without speaking or having sentimental engagement with another person. In particular, elderly members of the community frequently fall to the wayside as our distancing society ceases to encourage them to function as active participants.
Across the country during 11th-17th June, various individuals, charities and institutions will be celebrating Carers Week 2018 in recognition of unpaid carers and the work they do. That period will also mark just over two and a half months of my time working for a local carers charity. It’s opened my eyes to the issues that many carers face and what needs to change to improve their lives, but also to recognise the need to publicise Carers Week and recognise the contribution of carers to society as a whole.
by Jonathan Lee
If you get off the metro at Porte de Clignancourt in Paris, a little over a kilometre north of the Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre, and follow the line of the disused 19th century Petite Ceinture railway for a couple of minutes from the busy intersection, you will soon come across rows of makeshift shacks lining the railway.
Similar shanty towns can be found tucked away under bridges, behind fences, and on ex-industrial plots across the city and throughout France. Along with a scattering of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, these slums are inhabited almost entirely by Roma.
Ten years ago, I was in my first year of University at Aberdeen, studying to be a Primary school teacher. It was a daunting, but exciting time. I had plans for my future and much to look forward to. I decided I wanted to be a teacher to help learners, like myself, that struggle in the education system. After achieving my degree, I planned to establish myself as a teacher before going back to University to gain the qualifications I needed to become a Special Educational Needs teacher.
I had always wanted a family and so my plan was to enjoy my early 20s, find someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, get married and have two children. A teaching career seemed like a good match with the challenges of having a family. In my mind I had it all worked out. I’d decided that by around my 30th birthday I would probably have given birth to my last child. I’m going to have my 30th birthday this year, and my life didn’t go to plan.
by Stu Lucy
As I mill around town needlessly purchasing disposable junk to wrap in trees so I may conform to the widespread Western orgy of consumption that is Christmas (sorry), I can’t help but notice that they’re everywhere. Costa, Nero, Starbucks, Coffee #1, it seems you can’t walk more than 100 metres before passing one of the acceptable narcotic dispensaries so many of us rely on to get through the day. It’s time to close this short series of food, and now drink, related pieces with a quick overview of coffee and its long and eventful relationship with Africa.
by Stu Lucy
In the first article concerning the less palatable aspects of food within a global context, the paradox of abundance and dearth in both Ghana and the West were contextualised within an apparent food dystopia. On that journey, a foodstuff was briefly mentioned that has become almost omnipresent in weird people’s lives, and will be the focus of the next in this series of pieces illuminating the realities and practices relating to food and the international community. So without further ado, let us delve straight into the sickly-sweet world of sugar.
by Stu Lucy
What with the circulation of fake news becoming increasingly more prevalent, sometimes you read an article and feel the need to double check its authenticity. But this one came from the BBC, and The New York Post were running it too. The Independent. Newsweek. CNN. So it must be true. I am of course talking about the news that Robert Mugabe, the authoritarian nonagenarian head of state of Zimbabwe, had recently been appointed goodwill ambassador for the World Health Organisation (WHO). Mugabe, really?
by Bradley Allsop & Calum Watt
Rarely in our lifetimes has there been a more exciting time for young people to engage in politics. Change is in the air and nowhere else offers more opportunities to engage in this conversation, to learn valuable skills and to help shape society than university campuses. This series of articles seeks to offer some guidance for those aiming to ignite student activism at their institutions. Drawing on our experiences as campaigners we hope to highlight some common challenges and give you some advice on how to combat them.
by Laura Jamieson
Last Saturday, July 15th, saw the Eastern Mermaids travel to Upton-Upon-Severn to compete in the second southern fixture for the Quidditch Premiere League. Quidditch – a real, full contact, mixed gendered sport – has rapidly grown over the last ten years, with over 500 teams across 26 countries, competing in national and international tournaments. Played using ‘brooms’ made of PVC pipe, the players aim to score points by throwing the quaffle through three hoops on opposite ends of the pitch, all whilst avoiding beaters, players armed with dodgeballs aiming to briefly knock their opponents out of the game.
After 20 minutes, the seekers and snitch take the pitch, a player from each team aiming to ‘catch’ a tag rugby style ball in a sock attached to the back of a neutral player’s shorts. Quaffle goals are worth 10 points, with a snitch catch worth 30 points and ending the game. Full contact and competitive, the sport has seen many people otherwise disinterested or alienated from mainstream popular sports become engaged and active, some going from stationary nerds to cardio and protein enthusiasts, other players having previously played sport, joining due to the appeal of a unique, inclusive sport unlike any other.
by Lewis Martin
CW: death, disease, corpses.
Last week we heard that the number of people applying to become nursing students has fallen by 19% in the past year. As this is the first application cycle since government cuts to NHS bursaries, for many this will not be much of a shock. It’s clear that the government’s decision to take away this provision that allowed many students to attend their courses will have serious detrimental effects, not only for the institutions that train nurses but for the NHS as a whole.
By Zoe Harding
Content warning – STIs
A quick reminder/PSA to the sex-having and potential-future-sex-having community: use protection, folks. The World Health Organisation released a factsheet last week describing the rapid emergence of multi-drug resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae worldwide, with resistance to third-generation drugs reported in multiple countries including Japan and Norway.
by Hugh Lanham, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Norwich North
I would not have stood as a candidate in this election if I wasn’t angry.
I am angry about Brexit
I see real fear and uncertainty in people affected by Brexit. Those working in foreign countries, those selling their goods and services throughout the Union and those whose prospects are just ripped from them by an unknown future. I see real costs for all ordinary people from the devaluation of the pound, from inflation eroding people’s savings and spending power.
Most of all, I see few benefits from Brexit for anyone. There is, of course, no £350m for the NHS and, apart from ‘sovereignty’ which means we have all the same laws but with a picture of a crown on top, one of the most significant immediate changes is a bill of £100bn. But, I believe the Tories are going to blunder on regardless.
If we ever get the opportunity to reverse the decision to leave the European Union I would vote in support of that.
by Alex Valente
the women are laughing in the gym
on smooth backs words run to the music,
thoughts and dreams on sweaty mats.
solitary machines with white towels sing the intimate exhaustion of a quietness
by Olivia Hanks
Certain things are inescapable at this time of year. Overeating. Musical jumpers. Footage of the prime minister in wellies, assuring a street that’s under three feet of water that the government will do everything possible by way of assistance.
Have you ever been tired? Sure you have – but it’s no big deal. You might have a sit down, drink a coffee, maybe take a nap. Now – have you ever been fatigued? I’m not asking you the same question, much as it might seem like it. Fatigued isn’t the same as being tired. Although often considered to be similar, there’s actually a big difference between the two. The dictionary tells us that tired means we need more sleep or rest. Fatigue, on the other hand, is an extreme form of tiredness caused by physical or mental activity, or by illness. I don’t think this definition of fatigue quite does it justice so I’m going to put forth my own interpretation by discussing fatigue as caused by illnesses such as chronic disorders.
“But if you’re gonna dine with them cannibals, sooner or later, darling, you’re gonna get eaten….”
GMO agriculture regularly grab the headlines, whether it’s talk of ‘frankenfoods’ or the ability to generate larger crop yields. This has taken the focus away from an issue that is becoming increasingly detrimental to global health: the entry of industrial waste into the food cycle and human consumption.
GMOs, while unpopular, have been genetically altered so as to maximise the success rate of production of crops. This will save lives, enabling crops to grow in conditions that would normally tend to push harvests towards failure. The changing of weather patterns have created new wet and dry points, affecting crop cycles and affecting the amount of food available for communities already living close to the edge. But water is becoming an issue. Only about 3% of the world’s water is freshwater and with companies like Nestle being allowed to extract vast quantities from aquifiers for minimal cost, alternatives are being sought be provide enough water for crop irrigation.
by Daniel Delargy
Since graduating from UEA, things kind of went downhill for me. I graduated with the grade I wanted, but I was stuck as to what to do next. I had no job, no sense of personal accomplishment, deteriorating relationships, and to top it all off I moved back in with my parents and felt ashamed because as the eldest child, I had this expectation that I had to be this success story which my siblings could look up to.
My old habits started returning. I tried to get back into an old hobby of mine, running – but quickly dismissed it. I hid myself away.
by Alex Valente
Content Warning: body issues, body shaming
In recent weeks, people with access to the internet on a regular basis have probably not been able to avoid reading news about a new application for smart phones, featuring a trendy geek icon that never really went away: Pokémon GO. As revealed in a totally legit super serious study by artist Justin Hall on Dorkly, the Niantic game is, in fact, part of a ploy to create superstrong, superbuff supernerds. True story.
To actually stray on the side of serious, though, the application has indeed helped some players (we will be discussing this in terms of people with disabilities, looking at positives and negatives — such as the gaping flaws for physical disabilities, or Playing While Black — in an article soon) to engage with others, and spend time outdoors (plus, this). Both results, in the most generalised way possible, are healthy habits and attitudes, and being hailed as the best thing to happen to nerds since Dungeons & Dragons.
by Olivia Hanks
The news that Boris Johnson buried a report on air pollution around schools while mayor of London does not exactly come as a surprise. Johnson’s record on air quality was atrocious – despite widespread concern over the issue throughout his eight years as mayor, virtually nothing has been done to alleviate what the World Health Organisation has called a public health crisis. The Campaign for Clean Air in London and the Environmental Audit Committee have been highly critical of Johnson for his inaction. And although London is the worst offender, many UK cities are in breach of EU laws on pollution, with little sign that the problem is being taken sufficiently seriously. Castle Meadow in Norwich has recorded nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels above EU legal limits every year since 2007 – a situation which Bert Bremner, the Labour city councillor with responsibility for environmental issues, described in a BBC Look East interview (interview starts at 4:31) earlier this year as “not dangerous […] the reality is what you feel when you’re there”. This, replicated across the UK, is the attitude that has led to inertia on this issue for so long – the ‘my grandma smoked 80 a day and she lived to 102’ school of argument.
by Alex Valente
Italy. Land of saints, poets, and sailors, but also of pizza, mafia, and mandolins. Italy. One of the most beautifully perceived countries in the world, but also one of the most corrupt, even according to its own population. Italy. The country that somehow voted for Silvio Berlusconi more than once since 1992. The country that for some reason hosts the Vatican since 1929. My country of birth, and the country I have moved back to after eight years in the UK.
Italy still confuses the *insert passionate hand gesture here* out of me.
by Sam Naylor
Disclaimer: mentions body dysmorphia, body shaming
Type into Google images “attractive men” or “attractive male body” and see what pops up. I’ll just give you a moment to scan over some of those photos. Done? Good. In both searches a grossly disproportionate number of these men are celebrities but more importantly they’re white. Switch tabs to “attractive male body” and you are met with a sea of torsos and chests sculpted by the media gods. Chiselled jaw lines, blue or green eyes and ‘designer’ stubble appear to be just three of the ingredients to get you on your way to being an attractive male.
At first glance (and second and third) you might wonder why this representation of the male form is a problem for anyone. I’ve spoken to male friends before that don’t see anything wrong with wanting to keep their bodies healthy and in shape. I agree, I’m not saying that exercise and a good diet are things to be raged against, quite the opposite. It is an issue though when this idealised version of a muscular physique, which is predominately portrayed as white, is paraded as our default-sexy setting.
A 2014 article in the Wall Street Journal about human organs for sale showed a glimpse into yet another aspect of human nature, particularly of the wealthy and elite, that demonstrates our willingness to exploit just about anything possible. It talks about how in the West many people need, yet die, as a result of waiting for organ transplants, especially kidneys and livers. Somehow, this leads to the justifying of creating a global organ marketplace with imagined safeguards in place that would prevent exploitation. Never does it seem to occur to the authors that this entire suggestion is exploitative as they end the article with the belief that, despite initial horror at the idea, eventually ‘the sale of organs would grow to be accepted’.
by Jess Howard
The majority of us will have seen articles featuring ‘Disney princesses redesigned as’. They’ve been tattooed, hungover and turned into pin ups. This time, however, writer and illustrator combo Danielle Sepulveres and Maritza Lugo have teamed up to produce a cartoon featuring Disney princesses visiting the gynaecologist, to promote sexual health awareness and cervical cancer. I have previously discussed why I disagree with cartoons being used to highlight sensitive issues, and this example is no exception.
by Jess Howard
While some may see it as a separate entity altogether, fashion is unquestionably a form of art. From the creative process that designers progress through to create high fashion pieces, to the advertising campaigns used to sell them, fashion design influences the masses. But this is where the industry often encounters conflict: thousands of people are being diagnosed with eating disorders each year, and many are pointing their fingers at the fashion industry, for its insinuation that thinness represents the epitome of beauty.
In an attempt to combat this, France recently passed a bill stating that fashion models must prove they are healthy weight in order to appear on runways and in advertising campaigns. Failure to comply with this new ruling could lead to up to 6 months in prison and a £54,000 fine. Further more, magazines and advertising campaigns will now be required to make it clear to consumers that their images have been retouched. The purpose of this bill is to attempt to dramatically decrease the percentage of people in the country who develop anorexia, but is this going to work?
by Eve Lacroix
The meeting of the surgeon Dr. Bob S. and stockbroker Bill W., both hopeless alcoholics and members of the Episcopal Oxford Group, proved to be a turning point in the history addiction treatment. They built on the Oxford Group’s evangelistic Christian values with the added formulation that alcoholism was not simply a moral failing, as American society considered it, but a physical and spiritual malady. They broke away from the Oxford Group, creating the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1930s and starting up a regular meeting. Their vision differed from the Oxford Group in that it stressed that addiction is incurable.
Groups popped up all over the country, and today you can find AA meetings everyday in most cities in community centres and churches, in prisons. Specific groups are male or female-only meetings, homosexual-only meetings, and AlAnon meetings are open for friends and family members of alcoholics. Programmes following the same format also exist, such as Narcotics Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous… AA and NA are such an institution that Stateside, to reduce a DUI, many people who do not consider themselves alcoholics attend court-mandated meetings, receiving, in AA speak, “a nudge from the judge.”
Dear Tim Baker,
My name is Rowan Van Tromp, I am 22 years old and have spent the past academic year working as a teaching assistant at a secondary school in Norwich, following graduation from the University of East Anglia in June 2014.
After seeing Charlton Manor Primary School on the Channel 4 programme Jamie’s Sugar Rush, I was so inspired by the work you are doing, I have decided to write you a letter to share my own experiences with you and my strong advocacy of the model you are working to.
This is the message that Iain Duncan Smith and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) have been espousing over the last five years as benefits sanctions become ever more stringent. And now we are starting to get closer to understanding just how far they’re willing to go. After mounting public pressure and many Freedom of Information requests, the DWP have been forced to publish statistics showing that over 2,300 people have died after losing their benefits following fit for work assessments.
by Srishti Dutta Chowdhury
Disclaimer: Mentions female foeticide, abortion, and domestic abuse.
As part of the Vogue Empower project, that was initiated in October 2014, to commemorate the seventh year for Vogue in India, Homi Adajania’s video ‘My Choice’ features some prominent faces in the country of India. Besides Deepika Padukone, there’s Adjania’s wife, actress Nimrat Kaur, film critic Anupama Chopra, and Director Zoya Akhtar, among others.
The video went viral on social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, in a matter of days — which is great news except it garnered negative criticisms everywhere. The reservation against the video by feminists and gender activists is understandable. According to a large number, while the video seeks to raise questions such as ‘If men can do what they want, why should women be deprived of the same right?’, it falls short of effectively addressing the question of women empowerment.
by Chris Jarvis
We’re now set for five more years of Tory government. It will be vicious, it will be brutal, it will be hard. Cameron will govern without caution, without concern for electoral prospects and without hiding the ideological agenda which has driven the direction he has taken the country since 2010.
Since 2010 we have seen the decimation of the welfare state, creeping privatisation of the NHS and education, and the hollowing out of the public sector. From now on, this is only set to get worse. What has been touted by the Tories as economic prudence and getting the country in order will be accelerated. The shrinking of the state will begin in earnest.