Whose truth?

During the week, I popped in to an eerily quiet St Vincent’s Private Hospital to see the bloke who fixed my hernia. He was in sparkling form and treated me to a 20 minute lecture on the virus, mortality rates, the effect of the current restrictions on the health service and on the health of the nation. He then had a rummage around my gentleman’s area and pronounced me good to go. Nice.

To distil his 20 minutes, his views were as follows: the mortality figures announced daily are deaths related to, but not necessarily caused by, Covid-19. So the publicly announced death rate is actually not that much higher than the normally expected death rate. The effect of the virus is disproportionately severe for older people and the immuno-compromised and so they are the people dying. But many of them are dying with Covid-19 but not from it. Many infected people show no symptoms or else mild ones. Taking over the private hospitals made very little difference to the number of ICU beds available because they didn’t have many anyway. The additional non-ICU bed capacity of the private hospitals hasn’t been needed and is unlikely to be needed in the future. The big health issue in the future will arise from a combination of the cancellation of elective procedures and the current reluctance of people who are ill to seek medical attention. This will lead to a burgeoning waiting list and to many people dying from illnesses that, had they been diagnosed earlier, could have been addressed effectively. Interesting.


Last week was busy work-wise. The video exams bring a different type of busy. It’s a lot less stressful and a lot more collaborative. And it’s all new. There’s a sense of working it out as we go along, solving problems on the hoof and reassuring people that it’ll all be fine. Which it will. And that’s all good.

Creatively, the week was a bit of a mixed bag. I used the last of my pre-treated cyanotype sheets to print a bundle of twigs. I tried first to use an actual bundle of twigs …

… but I either underexposed them or they weren’t close enough to the paper to create enough of a shadow. So, I ended up having to photograph a bunch of twigs, process the photo through Photoshop and print from an acetate. That worked.

The bunch of twigs idea came from my early morning walks. I could point out the actual bunch of twigs on the pavement that put it in mind.

Those early morning walks continue to be important. The space, both physical and mental, and the surroundings, allow me to think, to process things, to plan, to generate ideas and to simply enjoy being. The weather has been so glorious too, and has helped nature to be displayed in eye-catching ways. I’m not a photographer but I have attempted to capture some of what has caused me to stop in my tracks …

I see the heron most mornings …

… and a variety of robins …

I kind of got stuck in cyanotypes this week. As I said, I used the last of my pre-treated sheets on the bunch of twigs but I had bought some of the chemicals so that I could make my own solution.

Thinking that this would be devastatingly simple, I rushed headlong into the mixing and application process. The results were underwhelming. Out of about seven attempts, this is the only one that really worked, and even then, it’s not great …

I tried teabags with limited success …

I tried a pebble …

Then I tried the inside of an egg shell.

Hmmm. Not great. The next attempts were even less successful. The shells turned a lovely blue colour but no image appeared. Not wanting to waste the blue, however, I decorated them, and kind of salvaged something from the process. Here’s the best of them.

Finally, today, I admitted defeat and downloaded a cyanotype guide book.

A few weeks ago, on one of my walks, I spotted some substantial branches lying on the ground in Dodder Park, near Dartry, the result, I assumed, of previous tree surgery. One morning, I brought a small saw, trimmed one of the branches and brought it home. I have no idea what wood it is, but it’s quite hard. At home, I sawed off a bit, stripped off the bark and carved some Celtic knotwork in to it …

OK. Nice. But what next. Well, I thought. How about a napkin ring? So, I set about cutting out the middle using, first, a drill and then a series of chisels. All of this I did in too much of a hurry, of course, as usual and again, as usual, with no real planning, . Unsurprisingly, disaster struck and the ring split …

Glue, however, came to the rescue and, hey …

Phew!

There were several ‘phews’ during the week to be honest. And some highlights. And some lowlights and uncertainties and insecurities. But, sure, isn’t that the way it always is?

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