August 2020 – December 2020

Portraits : 6 August 2020 – December 2020

“V.B.” 28 December 2020. Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that some people are dealing with things other than pandemics. V.B. lives in Belarus, and she talks candidly and with gentle humour about the challenges of normal life under a leader who won’t accept the will of the people in a democratic election. Peaceful protests are met with arrests, beatings, and far worse. A humbling conversation.

V.B.“V.B.” 28/12/20

30/12/20  New Year’s Eve. Oxford/Astra Zeneka vaccine approved.  Government has bought doses for 50m people.  Huge further tracts of UK moving into tier 4.  Secondary school term start to be delayed – 18th Jan.
House of Commons votes to accept Brexit EU Free Trade Deal.
28/12/20 Highest daily record of Covid cases – 41,385.  
24/12/20  Christmas Eve, and a Brexit deal is struck.  What does it mean?
Over 6,000 trucks stuck in Kent!
22/12/20  900 lorries stuck on M20.  France demanding all drivers to be tested.  Supermarkets stockpiling.
21/12/20″Operation Stack” implemented on M20.  Manston airfield on standby. 
20/12/20  France closes its borders with the UK.  Channel ports, Eurostar.
19/12/20  Matt Hancock – the new virus variant is “out of control”.
18/12/20. New ‘tier4’ announced for London & SE. No household mixing, non-essential shops shut.  No Christmas
Michel Barnier “This is the moment of truth – just a few hours left.”
15/12/20 New variant of coronavirus found in Kent.  Much more infectious. London & Essex join Kent in tier 3.

8/12/20 “V-day” – vaccinations start.

4/12/20 Brexit negotiations floundering. Fishing rights and ‘level playing field’.
2/12/20 NHRA has approved use of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
26/11/20 Announcement of 3 tier system of restriction across England.
25/11/20 Economy has shrunk by 11% – deepest recession for 300 years!
24/11/20 Bris J. announces Christmas rules – up to 3 households for up to 5 days.
23/11/20 Oxford/Astra Zeneka vaccine announced as being 70% effective.
22/11/20 US Judge calls Trump’s attempts to overturn election result “a Frankenstein’s monster of a case, haphazardly stitched together”.
17/11/20 Boris J. says that “devolution was a disaster”
15/11/20 Pressure to stop social media platforms allowing anti-vax posts.

“D.S.” 13 November 2020. A young man living in London, & feeling the loss of the urban buzz. No eating out, no meeting up with mates. He shares his own philosophical take on our current situation, which has fascinating resonances.

D.S.“D.S.” 13/11/20

9/11/20 Pfizer & BioNtech vaccine found to be 90% effective. “Great day for science and humanity”
8/11/20 Joe Biden wins the US election.

“B.S.” 7 November 2020. Working around the world with an independent humanitarian organisation, she reflects on a more global view of the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic. Fascinating.

B.S.“B.S.” 7/11/20

6/11/20 Manchester Uni erects a 2m high fence around the halls of residence. Students pull it down.
3/11/20 US Presidential Election day!
             Trump declares he has won, and calls Joe Biden “an embarrassment to to the American people”.

“A.K.” 2 November 2020. Head Teacher of a busy junior school. She talks about managing the school community through the various phases of the Coronavirus restrictions with enormous generosity and enthusiasm. The wellbeing of the children and their teachers are her main priority throughout. Very inspiring.

A.K.“A.K.” 2/11/20

30/10/20 BJ announces new national lockdown ’til 2 December.
28/10/20 2 adults and 3 children drown near Dunkirk, trying to cross the Channel.
22/10/20 Marcus Rashford, footballer, plea to provide free meals for school children during the holidays.
16/10/20 Andy Burnham, mayor of Manchester, refusing to be placed in tier3 without much bigger promise of financial support.
             Boris Johnson says that EU talks are “over”, and there’s “no point” in Michel Barnier coming over next week.
             Samuel Paty, a french teacher, beheaded in the street because he had shown students copies of Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
13/10/20 England divided into 3 tiers of restrictions, determined by infection rate. Liverpool placed in tier 3, very high risk.

“M.F.” 19 October 2020. An American living and working in London, having previously studied in Paris. She offers a fascinating perspective on the different cultures and their politics, and the contrasting attitudes to health care.

M.F.“M.F.” 19/10/20

18/10/20 Boris Johnson announces that EU talks are “over”.
16/10/20 French teacher, Samuel Paty, beheaded for showing his class some of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
13/10/20 Boris Johnson divides England into 3 tiers to determine degrees of restriction. Large swathes of the country (esp. in the North) placed in tier 2. Liverpool in tier 1 (most serious) Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, fighting for extra support if put into tier 1.
12/10/20 Over 13,000 arts organisations to receive life-saving grants today.

“S.G.” 11 October 2020. A resident of Florida, USA. President Trump was visiting the day after she sat for me – his first rally since his recovery from Covid-19. “S.G.” shares her views in a wide-ranging and unapologetic conversation!

S.G.“S.G.” 11/10/20

6/10/20 D.T. back in White House. He says “Don’t be afraid of Covid” after 210,000 US citizens have died from it.
3-5/10/20 Donald Trump given an experimental cocktail of drugs and antibody treatment. He set up a ‘drive-by’ outside the hospital to wave to his supporters.
2/10/20 Donald and Melania Trump both test positive for Coronavirus.
27/09/20 Donald Trump nominates Amy Coney Barrett as his choice for Supreme Court.

“T.D.” 23 September 2020. She spent her summer helping out in the Calais refugee camps.  She offers a fascinating insight into the politics of it all, and the feeling of impotence as a small cog in a large and rather wobbly machine. She’s now back at university in Manchester, dealing with lockdown and a rather surreal learning experience.

T.D.“T.D.” 23/09/20

21/9/20 Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whittey, says Britain is at a “critical point”.
19/9/20 Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies. Huge implications for the makeup of the US Supreme Court.

“M.D.” 19 September 2020. On the front line, managing the logistics of Covid-19 Convalescent Antibody Serum collection and processing. What an undertaking!

M.D.“M.D.” 12/9/20

14/9/20 Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Teresa May, John Major, Michael Howard and David Cameron all speak out about the Internal Market Bill, giving BJ power to alter the Brexit Withdrawal bill.
11/9/20 Devastating fire in Moria refugee camp on Lesbos. 13,000 people homeless.

“F.L.” 10/9/20. To fully comprehend the devastation inflicted by the 2020 A-level results fiasco, this will be the conversation to be listened to. “F.L.” is an engaging and intelligent young lady with a great future ahead of her, despite everything.

F.L.“F.L.” 10/09/20

10/9/20 Operation Moonshot announced – aiming to test 3million daily by December.  Currently 175,000!
              WWF reports that 68% fall in wildlife of all kinds since 1970s.
9/9/20 Overnight ruling – “RULE OF SIX” no social gatherings of 6+ people, indoors or outdoors, becomes law.

“E.W.” 11 September 2020. If anyone thinks that the young are not committed to changing the world, they need to listen to this conversation! A passionate young activist, talking as she steps away from home and off to Uni.

E.W.“E.W.” 11/9/20

25/8/20 Rioting is US after Jacob Blake shooting. Joe Biden “This election is a battle for the soul of America”.
19/8/20 A 16 year old Eritrean boy drowns, trying to cross the Channel.
1/9/20 Schools back. Students returning to university.

“A.N.” 25 August 2020. Kent is the landing place for desperate people crossing the Channel. “A.N.” talks about refugees experiences across three generations of her family in such a profound and human way, and shares her views on how society treats these people.

A.N.“A.N.” 25/08/20

25/8/20 Republican and Democrat conventions in USA. Very dark language being used on both sides.
19/8/20 Brexit negotiations start up again in Brussels.
11/8/20 – 18/8/20 A-level results, first in Scotland and then in England. A complete shambles, causing no end of distress to thousands of young people, and chaos for university admissions teams.

“B.G.” 6 August 2020. A very personal story of family, young and old. What do you do when you have a premonition that your home and your livelihood are about to be ripped away from you? You find that what remains is so special, and needs to be treasured. Such a life-affirming story.

B.G.“B.G.” 6/8/20

4/8 Devastating blast in Beirut port. 2.700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate.
2/8 Wildfires in Brazil up 25% on last year. First environmental news for months!
24/7 Wearing face masks becomes mandatory in shops and enclosed spaces.
23/7 Massive unrest in US cities protesting about police brutality and BLM issues.
15/7 Huawei now excluded from Britain’s 5G network.
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