What else

1 December 2021Comment

A letter to Fibromyalgia

Dear Fibromyalgia,

You woke me up three times last night. When sleep finally came, my careful, conscious positioning of my body went out the window. And so, you woke me with pain. When I finally woke at an appropriate hour, you greeted me instantly; my constant, demanding companion. Over the night, carefully-maintained joints and muscles have stiffened, the previous day’s physiotherapy undone.

I feel like I haven’t slept – non-restorative sleep is typical with fibromyalgia.…

1 October 2021Comment

A call for solidarity with ordinary Afghans

I don’t think I am in alone in watching in absolute horror as the rest of the world has abandoned Afghanistan to the Taliban. Our government, with many others, has betrayed their democracy, and abandoned them to a theocratic regime with a reputation for brutality, especially towards women and girls.

For the past 20 years our Afghan sisters have made great strides towards equality. They formed a national cricket team, competed in the Olympics and won awards for their scientific work.…

1 August 2021Comment

Our children can't continue to pay the price for Tory austerity, argues Rebecca Elson-Watkins

As I write this, BBC News is reporting the fatal stabbings of a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old in different parts of South London, within hours of each other. Another 15-year-old child has been arrested for one of the murders.

So far, 21 teenagers have been murdered in London in 2021.

As we ease out of lockdown, our old social problems are resurfacing with a vengeance.

Personally, I think the blame falls…

20 July 2021Comment

We need to talk more about death, argues Rebecca Elson-Watkins

We need to talk about death. Even as I write this sentence, I can almost hear PN readers groan ‘what, more?! Haven’t we talked about death enough in the past year?!’ But, yes, we must talk about death. We must talk about death on both micro and macro scales.

On the micro scale, the past year has painfully reminded many people, including myself, that the only two things we are assured of in life are death and taxes. I have come to the conclusion that we have absolutely nothing…

6 July 2021Comment

Rebecca Elson-Watkins celebrates Russell T Davies' new TV series It's a Sin

It’s not often a work of televised fiction comes along that I would call important.

Watching Russell T Davis’ new five-part miniseries, It’s A Sin, for me, ‘important’ was the only word to describe it. 

The series focuses on the lives of a group of young, gay men and their friends, in London during the height of the AIDS crisis in Britain. It’s A Sin is, unsurprisingly given the topic, tough viewing; I am not ashamed to admit I wept.

I was born in…

4 July 2021Comment

Trump's trial should be used to put the truth about Trumpism before the US people

On 6 January, something happened in Washington DC that has not happened since the US-UK War of 1812. The Capitol building, that instantly-recognisable symbol of US democracy, was stormed by Donald Trump supporters. 

I watched, agog, as many of the same people who called peaceful BLM protesters ‘thugs’ donned assault rifles, gas masks and body armour, and attempted to reverse the results of a legitimate federal election. 

Rhetoric has consequences. 

Just like the ‘Stab in…

11 December 2020Comment

We must take COVID-19 just as seriously as our grandparents took polio

I’m going to say it – I love vaccinations. I was among the first generation of my maternal bloodline that did not have someone contract tuberculosis. The addition of the BCG vaccination to the British vaccination schedule in 1950, and the herd immunity it resulted in, is most likely the reason my peers and I were spared.

My grandmother, ‘Mam’ to me, suffered polio as a child. I grew up hearing stories of how her childhood was spent in calliper-style leg braces, her life a whirlwind of…

11 December 2020Comment

Birth partners aren't mere 'visitors' argues Rebecca Elson-Watkins

I was in the room when, at 12.33am on 7 September, my godson Nathaniel Thomas Riches was born.

It was one of the handful of moments in my life that I will never forget. Due to COVID-related restrictions on ‘visitors’, I wasn’t able to be there as his mother, my best friend of 25 years, Ellie’s labour was being induced.

It had felt entirely alien to leave her after I visited her in the hospital grounds when she was having relatively mild contractions four hours earlier.

I…

9 December 2020Comment

We need a National Care Service argues Rebecca Elson-Watkins

The UK is facing a health and social care emergency, and COVID-19 has made it painfully obvious that this government couldn’t care less for those who require full-time residential care.

It is estimated that, despite care home residents being only one percent of Britons, they account for approximately 40 percent of UK COVID-19 deaths.

Researchers at the LSE calculated at the end of June that you are 13 times more likely to die of COVID-19 in a care home here than in Germany.…

8 December 2020Comment

Where were the 'adults in the room' on 3 January?

There is one thing to be said for Donald Trump: he keeps international relations ‘interesting’.

That is not a compliment — I use the word ‘interesting’ in the supposed curse sense of the phrase ‘may you live in interesting times’.

We are living the chapter of the history books that the school children of 2100 will find both interesting and baffling.

For anyone who avoids traditional media, early January involved a drone strike, threats of war crimes against cultural…