Impact of the Coronavirus on UK Public

For the past few weeks, my days have consisted of art and writing projects, sleeping, and browsing on my phone. Between this and doing chores and cooking, I’d say my schedule is “fully booked”. This has become the new norm during the Coronavirus outbreak. If you would have told me in December that the world would be facing a pandemic a few months later, I would have been in disbelief. It seems like ages ago that I was attending lectures at uni, going to comedy club workshops, and going to the pub with my friends on the weekends. My life, like the lives of so many others, has changed drastically. While I miss my long walks around Glasgow and it can be a bit bothersome to stay in the house all day, that annoyance is nothing compared to what NHS and other essential workers have to go through, so I am grateful for that. However, in my few weeks of lockdown/self isolation, I have learned so many things about myself (and the projects I’ve neglected over the years), and my relationships with others and it has been great to see how people are coming together in this stressful time.

That’s not to say it’s been perfect though.

On Saturday, my boyfriend Cameron and I had just finished watching another episode of Doctor Who (we’re blowing our way through the series during lockdown) when I got a text from my friend Lily. She had texted me and my other friend Kiran on our group chat with a question I wasn’t quite sure how to answer.

She asked us what we would do if we encountered racism.

For some context, Lily is from Taiwan and Kiran is from Glasgow and is South Asian (these aren’t their real names). And yes, I’m white, so I haven’t ever experienced anything like what I am about to tell you. Some people might say I shouldn’t comment on this as a white person, but as a person, regardless of whether or not I’m white, I think I have a right to say what I think is wrong. And I think what I’m about to tell you is very wrong.

Lily was asking this question for her friend, a student studying in England who is from Malaysia. Lily explained that her friend had encountered racism three times:

  1. Someone shouting “corona” at her
  2. Coughing right at her face and walking away
  3. Taking a walk with her flatmate in a public park and being asked to leave while there were many other people jogging and playing

The first thing I thought of was an article I saw a month ago—a student from Singapore was attacked by a gang of people in London who said “I don’t want your coronavirus in my country”. I can think several things that are just factually wrong with that sentence (aside from the racism): 1. COVID-19 originated in China, not Singapore, and 2. if you were afraid of contracting the virus from the guy, why would you get closer to him to attack him? But anyway…

I replied to Lily saying that it was disappointing to see people acting that way and that it must be scary for her friend. Lily said she was stressed walking outside and that if she were in that situation, she would want to fight back and report it, but unsure if it would be better to just ignore the racist and accusatory comments about having coronavirus for safety’s sake. Kiran agreed said to tell the police. After some discussion, Lily resolved to only fight back physically if necessary and report to the police if it happened to her. We sent a few more texts and said goodnight, as it was 2 in the morning and I was exhausted, but it got me thinking.

I have already stated that I can’t speak from experience, but I feel so sorry for anyone who has to worry about this (regardless of the Coronavirus or not, this situation does happen to people and this situation in particular drew my attention to everyday racism). If I were in a situation like that I would want to fight back too, but I would hate to see my friend put herself in a dangerous situation. Lily also said her friend in was planning to fly home to Malaysia in a few weeks. At least her friend will be safe with her family, I thought. But, really, why should it come to that? It’s sad that someone should have to fear for their safety, change their travel plans, potentially putting themselves at risk, just because someone else thinks that their “race” is any indication that they are “infected”.

Speaking as an international student, it can be an overwhelming experience to begin with being so far from home in a different culture. Add a global pandemic, travel restrictions, and food shortages to being far from home and it’s not exactly an easy situation for anyone. And if you’re like Lily’s friend, racist threats and fearing for your general safety are just another thing to worry about on top of all the other things I just mentioned.

I know I’m just stating an obvious fact, that racism is bad. But in a time where everyone is stressed and possibly alone and vulnerable, the last thing anyone should have to worry about is being ridiculed and in dangerous situations because of your “race” or where you are from.

We’re already scared of this virus, don’t let it make us fear each other.

While texting Lily and Sophia, we also spoke about helplines and I found a link for one. I’ll include it here if anyone needs it:

I hope everyone is doing okay! FT

Working Up A Lather

Despite being a politics student, I haven’t been keeping up with the headlines as much as I would’ve liked. When I was scrolling, I came across an article about Trump and how he feels a certain clause in the constitution is “phony”. FT

The Giovanna Chronicles (The Case of the Missing Pie)

I am home for the summer and was rummaging through some old folders and found a short piece I wrote when I was 13. I wrote it for Giovanna when she was feeling under the weather. It’s terrible!!!! FT

Chapter 1: A New Case

Hello. I know we’ve met before, but I won’t mind introducing myself again. My name is Giovanna, amateur detective extraordinaire. I have an amazing tale to tell you. Early Monday morning while having a cup of extra whipped, chocolate mocha latte, I received word to fly to London to solve a case. It seems a prize winning pie had gone missing from the home of a millionaire couple, Mr. and Mrs. Cash (and, no Mr. Cash’s first name was not Johnny). Why they called for me, I don’t know, especially since I live halfway across the world. But, then again, I am a detective, so why not? A good detective I might add……

Chapter 2: Arrival

My plane ride was boring except for the turbulence, but I was excited when I got to the scene. Mr. Cash and his wife invited me to stay with them while I solved the mystery. They showed me to my bedroom. It was incredible. There were priceless works of art all over the walls. The famous bridge painting by Monet that I think is titled “That Famous Bridge Painting by Monet, many Van Goghs, and “The Great Masturbator” by Salvador Dali. It was like sleeping in an art museum. I know that from experience. The bed was twice the size of two king beds, and there was a bidet in the bathroom. I just love bidets.

Chapter 3: The Pie

Of course, being in a mansion, a couple is bound to have at least a few servants or maids, but this couple had plenty to spare. Fifteen maids, but only two butlers. The maids also did the cooking, and the butlers did the serving. I asked the maids which of them had baked the pie. It was a bit confusing to figure out which maid was which since they all looked similar; plump, red cheeked and cheery. The woman who baked the pie was the shortest of the maids, just under 5 feet tall. She said her name was Gertrude. She looked distraught knowing that her pie could be in the hands of a criminal.

“The last time I saw the pie was when it was cooling on the windowsill. I went to clean the toilets, and when I came back, the pie was gone.”
I nodded and scribbled some notes down. Now all I had to do was figure out which of the other maids or butlers may have stolen the pie….

Chapter 4: Interrogation

The next morning over a cup of coffee, I questioned every one of the Cash’s staff. The two butlers, Al and Lou, both had plausible alibis. They were at home with their families. I check with their families, and it seemed they were telling the truth. All the maids were at other locations in the house, far away from the windowsill where the pie had been placed to cool. That only left one suspect……Gertrude!

Chapter 5: The Pie Is Filled With Lies

It seems I had been so careless as to overlook a tiny detail that could potentially solve the case. Gertrude claimed she had been cleaning the toilets when the pie was stolen, but when I used the bathroom, I noticed there was still a ring around the toilet. She had lied, and I was determined to find more evidence to prove her guilt.

Chapter 6: The Photo

When I had first arrived at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Cash, they and their entire staff posed for a photo with me to commemorate my visit on the very night the pie had been stolen. After carefully studying the polaroid with a magnifying glass for what seemed like forever, I noticed some crumbs on Gertrude’s face. Gertrude had eaten the prize pie!

Chapter 7: Gertrude’s Arrest

I confronted Gertrude, and she confessed to the crime. Shortly thereafter, a patrolman took her to the local police station, where she was given a life sentence in jail. By using the clues, I solved the case of the missing pie, was rewarded with more sweets, while Gertrude got her just desserts.