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MIRROR MIRROR ON THE WALL, WHEN IS PPE GOING TO FALL?

This is NOT a new blog post. This is a script for my latest VLOG which is live now on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Thank you & enjoy... 

The typical Friday routine includes trying to squeeze into a pair of Topman jeans I bought two Easter’s ago and sneaking a squirt of my Dad’s Issey Miyake, but today, today is very different. Now, my voice is usually taunted as being eerily similar to Paul O’Grady or a seal in the throes of passion (as some kind person said on Twitter) … but today it is full on Ray Winstone.

My faux fur slippers are firmly planted and I stare at my Mum in her eyes, rooted in my conviction and say, “Mum, Mum it’s going to be alright”. Now, my Mum is a woman who has moved continents, thrived after multiple cesarians and would definitely pick the higher offer in The Chase. She’s the type of woman to speak even when her voice shakes, and it is shaking, so are her hands, and so is our future, as our nation’s Health Minster makes pantomime wishes for a magic wand to make PPE fall from the sky. We suddenly forget that we’ve had three chances to join the EU scheme to bulk-buy PPE, or galvanise our own textile industry… instead we rely on goggles from school chemistry labs and teenagers running 5k around densely populated parks so that their heroes don’t wear a dinner ladies uniform on an intensive care unit. And I wonder, how have we got to this place? 

I’ve cried twice this week. The first time with laughter as my Nan sports a new fringe that she’s cut with a butter knife in her kitchen making her look like Joe Exotic. Second, later on in that FaceTime, when she sings a refrain from Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll meet again’ and I realise all I want to do is squeeze her and listen to her moan about CSI Miami. But today, I am crying again, and this time it is with rage. The rage that Boris Johnson skipped five COBRA meetings about Coronavirus. The rage that there are unknown thousands of mothers, fathers, aunties and grandparents dying in care homes looked after by staff with nothing but a badge and the tenacity of warriors to see them through. The rage I feel when Priti Patel says “I am sorry if people feel there have been failings” after 19 NHS staff died from Coronavirus.

I look around my community and I see that this mountainish inhumanity isn’t new. Think of the families of Sean Doherty, Philip Herron, Brian Sycamore, Chris Gold, Robert Fowler or Christian Wilcox who know the darkest deepest weight of this government’s failure to protect.

I think of Laura, skipping to her car, hoping the only collapse she will see tonight is that of The S*n newspaper. She was born 15 years after Hillsborough but cites women like Anne Williams and Margaret Aspinall as the inspirations for her bravery to wear her mask and blue overalls. Her son, Noah, is beautiful. You can hear his laugh four doors down when she squirts water-guns at him in the summer. He is far from the “illraised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate” child that Boris claims are the product of single mothers. Noah has only made Laura upset once and that is when she caught him eating wallpaper because she couldn’t make it to the food-bank that day. Noah doesn’t understand why sometimes he has to go to bed with a grumbling tummy or why Mummy is begging to wear protective clothes that make her look like she is about to kidnap ET. I, for one, will never understand why our heroes cannot afford to raise heroes of their own.

I fiercely admire Laura with my whole soul: a woman who will still fight a pandemic under the leadership of a man who has attacked her parenting skills in a £275,000-ayear column and not let it get her down. Coronavirus has shown that magic isn’t at Disney anymore, it’s in the spirit and tenacity of nurses like Laura who refuse to let shit pay, exhaustive hours and poor protection stop her from paying the NHS car parking fees to save the lives of strangers. Every time Laura is on shift she plays every key worker role from cleaner to counsellor, from makeshift bed electrician to Google translator as she sits in front of the tears of a first generation immigrant promising it will be OK.

And today I sit in front of the teary eyes of my Mother promising her too that “it will be OK”. Wishing for exactly the same thing as Laura or Matt Hancock, but knowing that only one of us has the power to make these wishes come through.

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