Saturday, 25 January 2020

The Medical Gaze...


A Culture of Care: Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance national conference

The 2020 Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance (CHWA) conference will be held on Thursday 19 and Friday 20 March 2020 at Derby Museum. Our theme will be Care: care for one another (participants, practitioners, commissioners); care for the environment; and caring economies. Click HERE for details or on the lovely image of the Crummock Valley by Peter Brook (above).

This year the alliance are also hosting its first CHWA awards.
The awards will focus on Climate, Collective Power and Practising Well. Working with our award partners, we aim to showcase good practice and people who are leading the way in creating a culture of care for each other, their communities and the world. Winners will be announced at an evening event on day one of the conference (Thursday 19 March) and further promoted on the CHWA websites and networks. To find out more about the CHWA 2020 Awards and apply, please click HERE.  Conference early-bird tickets end on 31 January! I'm honoured to be asked to provide a provocation around inequalities on Friday 20 - and fragile health aside - will be there in person!

On to the wider theme of inequalities, some very interesting research for the Arts and Humanities Research Council is underway and it is very well worth completing this short survey.

Inequalities in the UK: Future Research Priorities
We are conducting research on behalf of the Arts and Humanities Research Council regarding future research priorities about inequalities across the UK to understand more about regional disparities*. We would like to collect your views by inviting you to take part in a short survey which should take no longer than c.15 minutes to complete. If at any point you would like to modify your responses, then you can scroll up or down. For further information please contact: Click HERE for the survey.
[*to include: Arts, culture, health, outdoors and other community-based research, Social Prescribing and other areas of public health research]

The Medical Gaze or (footnote #4)
Dear old Dennis Potter - god I admired him. I know he wasn't everyone's cup of tea, politically or in his sexual imagery. But what the hell - he had superb social comment to make and was one of the last great political playwrights of a certain generation. Alas, licensing doesn't allow me to embed the scene from the Singing Detective on the blog, but by clicking on the image above, you should be able to view it in its wonderful glory. SUPERB 

Potter featured prominently in an essay I wrote for the exhibition, Mortality: Death & the Imagination back in 2013, curated by Dr Steven Gartside. For the publication of the same name, I wrote Present Tense, which if you're interested in, you can find in the full publication HERE. In it I describe the prescience and bewitching presence of Potter when close to the end of his life and fuelled by morphine, he undertook the most extraordinary interview with Melvyn Bragg. It was and still is the most profound interview, which you can see in full HERE. I can't recommend it enough. 

It was in activities surrounding the exhibition, that Mike White very kindly came and gave one his two very powerful presentations at my university - a power house and visionary even while confronting his own cancer diagnosis. I've written about this briefly on this blog and you can find it HERE. While a completely different character to Potter, Mike nevertheless did something quite profound and not dissimilar - he shared his personal experiences without being cloying and I'd argue, was propelled by his condition- to shoot from the hip. You can still read his extensive 'Chalkie's Demon Diary' which he kept up online till shortly before his death in 2015. This rare old magnum opus is available HERE. 

A real sublime dignity was something I experienced in the presence of Elisha Carter and her mum Emma, who featured in my extended essay Critical Care in 2017 following an arts-led exploration with Vic McEwan at Alder Hey Hospital. Elisha pursued her artistic endeavours regardless of her cancer diagnosis, and alongside Vic has contributed to my deeper understanding of what we sometimes glibly refer to as 'lived experience.' 

I have to admit that I am rather apprehensive in discussing my own health online. On one hand I feel an urgency and compulsion to do so, but at the same time, the last thing I want to do is bang out another cancer diary, with one inevitable outcome. But that's the thing - life is finite for us all and the likelihood of cancer, coronary heart disease, dementia and stroke are (amongst others) unwelcome, but nevertheless our partners through this giddying transience.

Without the dignity of White or the poetic power of Potter, I am simply one of the infinite numbers who have navigated and will navigate, this strange but very normal terrain - with anxiety and natural fear - but also with something akin to curiosity and perhaps a naive optimism. So that's that. I have a cancer called myeloma and I'm having 'treatment' for it - and we'll see where we go from there. Always a starling thing for the individual in question, I'm sure - but in the context of our unfolding climate catastrophe - it's an anxiety that needs weighing against forces bigger than the individual. So I'll try not to drone on about it too much, but just so you know, my blog postings may have a different edge or flavour to them - albeit obliquely so. 

While taking time out of the day-to-day work and soaking up chemicals of monumental proportions, I'll take on the role of impatient and not patient, person and not victim and accept that I have to live with an uninvited guest*. I'm not interested in battles and winning wars - but rather understanding and making the most of the situation (but maybe there's that naivety again). So - occasional footnotes that will inevitably peter out at some point. But that's the nature of living.

*In future postings there is a high likelihood that I will refer to this uninvited guest as variously - the hitcher or sitting tenant. Bear with me.

1 comment:

  1. Clive, sorry to hear you've been under the weather. Hope the 'treatment' is not too gruesome. I am sure curiosity is a much better approach than the battling we hear so much about. Keep curious and hope to see you in Derby.