Something Like Breathing

You're looking at the blog page for markgamon.com. I've dropped in and out of blogging for fifteen-odd years. Just lately I've found it more attractive than Facebook's closed loop or Twitter's transmit-only. Here, there's more room to breathe…

I came here to write about songwriting, but lately events have overtaken me. I fervently hope to get back to the songs at some point. Meanwhile, stay safe.

  • Mark Gamon

I have some smart friends. Lori Stahl is one. This is her suggestion for controlling supermarket supply so we don't have to see any more obscene panic buying. Please share this if you think it makes sense. And send it to your MP.


1. No in-store shopping. 2. Online and phone orders only. 3. In-store staff get tested for the virus, and once shown as healthy, they can work together without fear/risk. 4. Staff still wear gloves/masks, and get tested repeatedly. 5. Customers place orders (limited quantities per order) and staff collect/package orders. 6. Customers are allocated spaced out pick-up times. (via car, walk-up, etc - all done outside of the stores).

7. Deliveries also extended to 24 hours with more staff . . . will need more vehicles. 8. Run this 24 hours a day and have staff on rolling shifts. 9. Call-in and online payments only. 10. For elderly or any others without online access or credit cards, etc . . . set-up a specific office to handle their needs via phone AND communicate with them through trusted sources so they know it’s NOT a scam.

  • Mark Gamon

I imagine the Secret Annexe in the Anne Frank House, over there in Amsterdam, is uncharacteristically empty this morning. This is probably the first time since the house opened in 1960 that it’s been silent for so long.

The Frank family, the Van Pels family, and the dentist Fritz Pfeffer voluntarily isolated themselves in the annexe in July 1942. They stayed hidden there till they were discovered by the Nazis in August 1944.

Two years, give or take. Two years of absolute silence by day. Two years of not being able to see the sky, except by peering through at attic window at the spire of the Westerkirk. Two years of keeping their emotions and feelings towards each other under control.

And all for nothing, in the end, apart from a heap of papers collected from the floor by friends after the Franks were dragged away for interrogation. Her diary.

We are currently being asked to self-isolate, for the benefit of the entire human race, for three months. It may be longer, depending on events we cannot control. At the absolute worst, it might drag on for a year or so, until treatments and vaccines are developed and we have the peak of infection back under control.

It’s not a lot to ask. But over this last weekend we’ve seen footage of crowded beaches, cars queuing to get up Mount Snowden, pubs refusing to close, people milling around in the nation’s parks. It’s as if half the nation took Rishi Sunak’s promise of 80% wage security as an excuse to take a jolly holiday in the Spring sunshine.

And in so doing, they will already have accelerated the infection curve, and placed regional hospitals under greater pressure than they already faced, and undoubtedly helped sign the death warrant of hundreds.

Don’t do it. Isolate yourselves. Practice scrupulous hygiene. When you have to meet, meet two metres apart. And stop whining about how staying indoors is going to drive you mad. It won’t.

Remember Annaliese Marie Frank, who showed us the way.

‘It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.’

(Anne Frank)

  • Mark Gamon

In the night, it’s always the apocalypse. The imagination runs riot at 3.30am.


I got back to sleep, in the end. Here’s how.


Ever since this thing started, I’ve been waiting for some advice on what we’re supposed to do if we’re at home but the virus somehow manages to wheedle its way through the cat flap.


There’s been a lot of modelling and number crunching. There are horrific descriptions of patients in emergency cot beds in ITUs. The internet is crammed to the rafters with news about stockpiling and people running off on extended holidays or carousing in bars like it’s the end of days. Stupid is as stupid does.


But no advice on getting through the virus on your own. As many of us, old and young, are surely destined to do.


Then I found this (my thanks to Paul Booth for sharing it):


‘What I have seen a lot of are recommendations for how to try to avoid getting coronavirus in the first place -- good hand washing, personal hygiene and social distancing -- but what I have NOT seen a lot of is advice for what happens if you actually get it, which many of us will. So as your friendly neighbourhood Nurse let me make some suggestions:


You basically just want to prepare as though you know you’re going to get a nasty respiratory bug, like bronchitis or pneumonia. You just have the foresight to know it might come your way!


Things you should actually buy ahead of time (not sure what the obsession with toilet paper is?):


  • Kleenex

  • Paracetamol

  • Whatever your generic, mucus thinning cough medicine of choice is (check the label and make sure you're not doubling up on Paracetamol). Honey and lemon can work just as well

  • Vicks Vaporub for your chest

  • If you don’t have a humidifier, that would be a good thing to buy and use in your room overnight. (You can also just turn the shower on hot and sit in the bathroom breathing in the steam)

  • If you have a history of asthma and you have a prescription inhaler, make sure the one you have isn’t expired and refill it/get a new one if necessary


This is also a good time to meal prep: make a big batch of your favorite soup to freeze and have on hand.


Stock up on whatever your favorite clear fluids are to drink - though tap water is fine you may appreciate some variety.


For symptom management and a fever over 38°c, take Paracetamol rather than Ibuprofen.


Hydrate (drink!) hydrate, hydrate!


Rest lots. You should not be leaving your house. Even if you are feeling better you may will still be infectious for fourteen days and older people and those with existing health conditions should be avoided.


Ask friends and family to leave supplies outside to avoid contact.


You DO NOT NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL unless you are having trouble breathing or your fever is very high (over 39°C) and unmanaged with meds. 90% of healthy adult cases thus far have been managed at home with basic rest/hydration/over-the-counter meds.


If you are worried or in distress or feel your symptoms are getting worse, ring 111 and they will advise if you need to go to hospital. The hospital beds will be used for people who actively need oxygen/breathing treatments/IV fluids.


If you have a pre-existing lung condition (COPD, emphysema, lung cancer) or are on immunosuppressants, now is a great time to talk to your Doctor or specialist about what they would like you to do if you get sick.


One major relief to you parents is that kids do VERY well with coronavirus— they usually bounce back in a few days (but they will still be infectious), Just use pediatric dosing.


Be calm and prepare rationally and everything will be fine.’


I hope you all sleep a little better after that. It’s common sense, but it’s good to see it so clearly expressed. Share this.