Judith Harvey

A lockdown diary – a journal of our times

Judith, along with billions of others, is spending her time in social isolation. Here's her diary, along with illustrations. 1st April 2020 Wild goats wandering in the streets of Llandudno this morning. An April Fool? No, it isn’t. In 2020 April Fools would be tasteless, when something we can’t see has made an April Fool…
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Antimicrobial resistance: can we outrun evolution?

In his Nobel prize acceptance speech Alexander Fleming sounded a note of warning. He had seen microbes acquiring resistance to penicillin and foresaw that misuse of the drug could undermine its effectiveness. Recently, at the Frontline Club across the road from Fleming’s old lab, five people whose work as journalists and doctors has helped to…
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Doctors under siege

In 2011, Hamza was a young Syrian doctor learning German in the hope of going abroad for specialist training. Then the civil war broke out and he opted to stay in Aleppo, operating in makeshift hospitals on the people wounded by collapsing buildings, by barrel bombs, by snipers. Five years later government forces, backed up…
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Podcast | Quiet please

The Royal Opera House orchestra was rehearsing Die Walküre. For more than three hours violist Chris Goldscheider sat in front of twenty brass players belting out Wagner at 90dB. His hearing was permanently damaged. The Opera House argued that artistic standards took precedence over the risk of acoustic shock, but the courts thought otherwise and…
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Podcast | Now wash your hands

In post-war Italy TB was still rife and notices in buses commanded “No Spitting”. In Britain in 1946 the message “Coughs and sneezes spread diseases” promoted the use of handkerchiefs to catch the germ-laden droplets. Presumably a reasonably successful public health campaign, although if you are trapped like a sardine in a rush-hour tube train,…
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Podcast | Singing in the brain; music for dementia

London’s Wigmore Hall is a temple of high culture. The audience is packed with musicians. Sometimes I feel I’m the only person who couldn’t be up there performing the work. But recently I joined forty people, some able, some less able, in mind and body, for a ‘Big Sing’. Everyone seemed to feel at home.…
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Fringe medicine

Medics have a long-standing relationship with the annual August circus that is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Medical students reprise their pantomimes as reviews. Specialty registrars mine their store of horror stories to test whether a career in theatrical stand-up would be more rewarding than a career standing up in an operating theatre – former obstetrician…
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