Sarah Moss – The Tidal Zone (2016)

The Tidal ZoneI would never have read this book had it not been recommended by a friend whose judgement I trust.  I certainly wouldn’t have taken it on holiday, without that recommendation.  This is a book about a Dad whose daughter inexplicably collapses and (momentarily) dies from an anaphylactic shock.  I am the mother of a child who had a serious reaction to a walnut (that I’d fed her) and had to watch as doctors stuck needles into my frightened, half-breathing girl to save her life.  Being on holiday with that child is a negotiation – health insurance, systems, languages, resources.  For example, earlier in the year we went to New York rather than Borneo, because I knew I could be understood if I needed to shout at doctors.  Continue reading

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So Much For That – Lionel Shriver (2010)

So much for thatSubtitle: In Praise of the NHS

If at any point anyone had ever asked for my opinions about the NHS I would have said it was the greatest achievement of UK democracy. However, in the last 12 months I have had more contact with it than I wanted and have had more personal reasons to be grateful for its formation.  The passion I have now for the NHS is tinged with the awareness that there are close members of my family who might not be here without it and that when an emergency occurred, without any thought or concerns on my part, a tender, caring and efficient service was immediately at hand.  There will be times when I am critical of the NHS, particularly when it strays into and then fails in the provision of social care, failing to see disability and old age as social problems rather than medical.  However, that criticism is to seek to improve the institution and should never be used to support its demise.  Continue reading

Hamlet – Royal Exchange (2014)

Maxine PeakeThe Royal Exchange theatre is one of the reasons why Manchester is a great place for a cultural life. It is everything that regional theatre should be: challenging, innovative, exciting and encased in original architecture. As soon as it was announced that Maxine Peake had been cast as Hamlet, I ordered my tickets. I am so glad I did: first because it sold out and second because she was superb. (You can find the range of reviews of her performance – here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-29235529) Continue reading