Anne Hailes: Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer is a 'voice to be reckoned with'
KATIE Bramall-Stainer is an NHS GP who is credited with a blistering take on the government's handling of the coronavirus epidemic.
Amongst other failures, she points out the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): when they got a supply, its expiry date was July 2016.
As Katie represents the medical profession across the east of England and last year was rated the UK's ninth most influential GP in Pulse magazine, hers is a voice to be reckoned with.
In a lengthy piece on Facebook she is critical of the way the pandemic has been handled. This is part of her posting:
"But it was OK because Boris Johnson clapped for us every Thursday. He doesn't take the knee because he 'doesn't believe in gestures', but he would happily clap for carers in front of cameras whilst scrapping those nurse bursaries which later had to be embarrassingly reinstated.
"And the public have generously donated over £130 million to a charity that will only give your little area of the NHS money if you pay their £1,000 a year membership fee. Which might be OK for those big hospitals and trusts, but no use to your local surgery, GP or independent community pharmacy. Anyway, at least we are led by a government following its own orders.
"The Cummings affair made a mockery of the public health messages and was a grave misjudgement by a man who allegedly prides himself on being able to take the temperature of the nation. I hope the nation returns the sleight at the ballot box.
"But we get what we vote for and Britain voted in December for a craven cabinet of sycophants who were prized only for their ability to nod their heads in unison to the leader's latest 'oven ready' glib strapline.
In identifying where the government have gone wrong, it's a struggle to understand where they have gone right?"
:: PROMISES PROMISES
DESPITE the pledge of £33 million for the arts in Northern Ireland there's speculation about how much will filter through to smaller arts companies, theatres and actors, musicians and writers, back stage and front of house. It will be interesting to see how the Executive apportions amounts and it's important the arts world keep the pressure up.
During the awful time of lockdown, thousands have been furloughed, thousands more have lost their jobs and for one sector of society they have lost their stages and their audiences and so their livelihood. The acting fraternity have suffered and are going to suffer into the future with theatres having to close their doors. Musicians too will find it difficult to find venues. But such is their determination to bring entertainment to the public that all those involved are using their ingenuity and their imagination and have succeeded in making short films, performing and singing online or making past productions available to watch on iPads and laptops.
:: CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY
One particular group of actors are sorting out their next offering and it's going to be a show-stopper in your own front room. Here comes Jack and The Beanstalk as you've never experienced it before. Gather the family together and enjoy.
Cre:8 Theatre is one of Northern Ireland's young fresh exciting companies; they are known for pushing the envelope, so it's no surprise that they are going to present this live Zoom family pantomime this Saturday with a show at 10am and another at 3pm.
I talked to Princess Jill, known in every day life as Belfast actor Holly Greig. She explained that the show would boast full costume, make-up and props, including a virtual beanstalk.
"We'll be performing in our living rooms, some of us in Belfast, others in England and Scotland, all on our laptops – mine on the ironing board in my living room. With five in the cast and a running time of 55 minutes the technicalities are delicate to say the least."
Jack and The Beanstalk was the company's Christmas pantomime in Ballymena last December. It was a hit and it will be again, with a potential audience of millions as it's available around the world. No matter how many crowd into the room, the ticket price is £15 plus £1.26 booking fee. I imagine the scene: chairs in a row, a bag of sweets, sparkly shoes – and that's just the audience.
We're more used to pantomimes at Christmas but this year they are in doubt, so Holly and her colleagues are trend-setting with their exciting online production where the evil giant has gone power crazy. He wants to take over the entire universe and he's starting by controlling every Zoom box.
Beautiful blogger Jill is kidnapped, but Jack is on the case with Dazey Cow and Dame Ms Pinch. It's a modern tale of scam emails, video messages and computer viruses. However, the giant forgets the power of the magic beans.
:: HOW IT WORKS
"Families are invited to join our live show via email once they purchase a ticket," explains Sarah Lyle, Cre:8 Theatre's artistic manager.
"You can book by turning on your laptop and pasting the link below, which will take you straight through to our partners Buglight Theatre and the ticket link.
"At the start of the performance, Dazey Cow will give the audience simple instructions on how to set up their Zoom screen to allow for the best possible experience. Once they've done this, our Zoom Wizard will guide them through the play with ease.
"When prompted by the characters, audiences can interact with the live action. As they join in with magic and dancing, our Zoom Wizard can chose certain audience members to appear on everyone's screens."
This is the magical part – 'spotlighting' individual boys and girls throughout the show makes them one of the cast; becoming part of the pantomime, a child's excited face on screen brings everyone into the delight of live theatre.