Thursday, 25 June 2020

Leeds go mad in Dorset

This is the latest in a series of posts about my journey around England in a camper van in 1990. Read an introduction to this drawing journey around England here. 

[Bracketed sections like this have been added in 2020.]  

It's May Day Bank Holiday weekend in Bournemouth, 25C and queues of cars are edging open-windowed or roofless towards the seafront where the beach is already packed. It is the fulfilment of all those winter yearnings for a tan. The most unlikely looking windows are being used to sell refreshments from, but the busiest and loudest is a pub near the pier from which comes chanting and a sort of singing.

I had parked under the shade of trees at Branscombe further up the coast, once, and not so very long ago, a separate town but now congealing like the rest of the south coast into one long line of development. It is easy to see on a day like this how Bournemouth could have become so popular in the last 200 years: long sandy beaches, pine trees, and green, south-facing cliffs. The traditional and familiar attractions of days out at the seaside seem to be alive and well: there are the smells of fish and chips and sun lotion, a Punch and Judy tent, waterskiers, acres of pale bodies, family arguments and amusement arcades, all these, but with sun too.

But sun and alcohol are not mixing too well at the pub by the pier (top image). Today is the last day of the football season and the visitors, Leeds United, are expecting to get promotion into the first division [the Premier League was launched in the 1992-93 season] at the expense of Bournemouth Town, and to this end they have set about trashing the place. 

Apart from the drinkers, who are watched by groups of police, there is a larger and yet more ugly gathering further on by the beach. It could be 1,500, it could be 2,000, but they are a mass of young men that seem to have come from just a handful of moulds. Short haired, T-shirted, wearing shorts or jeans, holding cans of alcohol that are crushed and discarded on the pavement as quickly as they are emptied, they are seething, singing, chanting, kicking footballs high into the air so that three or four of them keep popping up as they gather for the march up to the ground for the game.

I cannot take my eyes off this sight. It is almost like an old circus sideshow where those with hideous deformities are paraded for the public. This crowd is ugliness itself, unlike anything I have seen before, a bundle of fascism and bigotry I gather from the songs they are singing. It is frighteningly magnetic to watch. As a group they are all of a single mind, and not a very broad one.

[This weekend of violence by Leeds fans in Bournemouth grabbed the headlines in a way I didn’t really recognise at the time. I didn't even draw the fans, for instance. There were more than 100 arrests and 12 police were seriously injured over the weekend I was in Bournemouth. There were even questions in Parliament about the violence that unfolded.] 

The Bournemouth Evening Echo has not missed out. “Thugs on Rampage” runs the headline above stories from the night before. Beach huts have been set alight. In the town centre windows are boarded up, some in anticipation, others evidently repairing what has gone before. Mounted police roam the pedestrianised centre while fans wearing “Bournemouth Invasion” shirts pose for souvenir photographs next to them.

Just to get into a supermarket is not easy, the way in barred by a policeman. I first have to convince him that it is food I want to buy rather than anything alcoholic. There are more police inside roaming around the aisles. They call everyone “lad”, trying to defuse the tension with a forced good humour.

For no apparent reason, the crowd by the beach takes it upon itself that it is time to leave for the walk to the ground, and, as one, it makes off leaving the debris that until then it has been impossible to see. The shouts and singing seem to hang in the air long after they have all leaked away up the road.

What surprises me is just how prepared people are to accept that this is the way things must be, to go on regardless as if this ugly violence is entirely normal. Half naked women push their way through the fringes of the fans to join the queue for ice creams, going barefoot through the empty beer cans littered around as if it was the most normal thing in the world. Police stand around to almost heighten the crowd's sense of importance, a sign of the fans’ power to disrupt, acting as escorts to a roving lawless zone. A camouflaged military vehicle I associate with the streets of Belfast looks on. I am amazed that a kick around between two teams of eleven can be worth all this.

James Hobbs, Bournemouth sea front, 1990

The more usual beach noises return as kick off approaches. Some of those without tickets turn on radios to listen to the commentary so that they overlap across the sands, never out of earshot. The air is freed from sirens for a while but it is replaced by racist chants from groups draped in Union Jacks who troop up and down the beach looking for topless sunbathers.

We hear the game won by the Leeds team down on the beach, looking out to the still sea that few people actually bring themselves to swim in. The sight of a large offshore structure for drilling oil must be as responsible for this as anything. I plan to get well out of town for the night before the ground empties and the Leeds celebrations begin. I am well up a very deserted country lane before the late kick-off results come over the radio.

Two days later and the wind and rain are back, the deserted beaches marked by tractor tyres where the sand has been raked and cleaned. The flashing orange lights of council cleaning lorries have taken over from the blue ones of Saturday’s police cars. A few people are about. There is a children’s roundabout in the shape of a teapot around which seated toddlers turn in teacups at the end of which they head with their carers, like me, to the domed cafe on the pier. 

James Hobbs, Happyland Amusements, Bournemouth, 1990

It is more likely to be like this when you visit Bournemouth, you and a few others wondering where everybody else is. An elderly lady strolls in the gardens to the relaxing cry of seagulls, leaning on her only slightly younger companion, enjoying the flowerbeds and pointing her walking stick at shrubs. I pass just in time to hear her lean towards her friend and say: “You know Mrs Thatcher looked a picture in the paper today...” Bournemouth is back to its old self. 

James Hobbs, 1990 

[Further posts about this journey will follow here soon. This is a link to details about my journey, which started 30 years ago.] 

Thursday, 18 June 2020

From Romsey Abbey to Southampton docks

This is the latest in a series of posts about my journey around England in a camper van in 1990. Read an introduction to this drawing journey around England here.

[Bracketed sections like this have been added in 2020.] 

Knocking at an old farmhouse near Romsey, I’m told by a correct, middle-aged woman that I can park overnight in the track to their house but that her husband will be back soon and will want to meet me. The temptation is to say that I only want to camp overnight rather than marry their daughter, but by the time I’ve put the roof up he has swung around the corner in his Range Rover and stopped by the back of the van.

Touring vans have not had the best of publicity around the south of England recently and, apart from the running battles with travellers around Stonehenge at summer solstice time, there are farmers who have resorted to court injunctions to move on unwelcome convoys, and outbursts to local papers on the subject of the damage they were left with. A solitary van is often seen as the thin end of the wedge by landowners – let one in and more will follow – which is probably why the husband is now bearing down on me as if I had pitched camp in the middle of his croquet lawn.

I get out to meet him halfway, surprise him by shaking his hand and try to persuade him I am not someone he ought to be moving on. I summon all my efforts into coming across as respectable as I can be, and he calms before too many blood vessels are burst. I know I have made a reasonable impression when he comes out to see me again later while I’m washing up to invite me in to the house for coffee and a glass of port. “We don’t like to think of you up here on your own,” he says.

Soon I am sitting in a huge wheel-backed chair with a cat on my lap, glass of port in hand, listening to their worries about their daughter’s boyfriend, who has just arrived to take her off to a party to the sounds of much wheel spinning in the drive.

This is still commuter heartland. He is a solicitor dividing his time between London, Bristol and New York. She fusses around him, a woman apparently given to Good Works. The kitchen’s working surfaces are as clean as an operating table. There are three cars lined up in the drive.

We chat about Romsey (top image) and Lord Mountbatten of Burma, who lived in Broadlands on the edge of the town until he was blown up by IRA terrorists on his yacht in 1979. You can’t be in Romsey for too long before his name crops up. He was obviously very popular here and could be found occasionally drinking in the town’s pubs and getting up to the sort of thing that goes down well with the locals.

“The whole town went into mourning when he died,” the husband said, leaning against the Aga, “and there were these great public shows of grief. So much so that the shopkeepers all had black window displays as a sign of respect.” They laugh at the thought of something that occurs to them both at the same time. “Even the lingerie shop got involved – they filled their windows with black underwear.”

Leaving early in the morning – the night only disturbed by the daughter arriving home in the early hours as I am unburdening myself of too many cups of filter coffee, momentarily flashing my shadow across the farmhouse wall – I head up into the town.

James Hobbs, Market Square, Palmerston statue, Romsey, 1990

In the market place it is a surprise to find that rather than Mountbatten it is a statue of Lord Palmerston, twice prime minister, whose family had previously owned Broadlands, that gazes out over the square. On the corner of one building hangs a bracket that was used to hang Cromwellians in 1642. The building now houses the local Conservative club, in which there is a lot of activity.

[The statue of Palmerston – who favoured the abolition of slavery – seems safe from toppling during this time of scrutiny of the UK's historic and current racism.]

Romsey Abbey is a thing of beauty and certainly a bargain at £100, the price paid by the town when it was sold at the Dissolution, even at index-linked prices. Inside there is time to see the Anglo-Saxon rood screen and the rather gruesome tress of hair found in a Saxon coffin, but, talking to a helper in the Abbey it isn’t long before she too gets around to Mountbatten. He is still a great unifying force in the town. There is a large stone to his memory inside.

James Hobbs, Romsey Abbey, 1990

She directs me down to a bridge on the way out of town where you can get a good view of Broadlands, the large porticoed house where he lived. It will be open to the public later in the day, but for now I have to make do with the view photographers with long lenses had when Charles and Diana spent their honeymoon here in 1981.

When I reached the bridge there was every reason to suppose she’d been pulling my leg, because no large mansion was visible. An elderly man walking his dog stopped to help me.

“Come down this way and you’ll see it – I’ve spent hours here myself painting it,” and he leads me further down. His surprise is apparent when he too can see nothing of it through the bluish morning haze into the sun. It is as if it has disappeared.

“You know,” he says, “it used to be there.”


James Hobbs, Southampton docks, 1990

Southampton is almost like Istanbul from the docks, if less busy. People are on their way down to the ferry to cross the water to Hythe from which chimneys puncture the sky like minarets. “Come Dancing” a battered sign announces from the next pier, a warm welcome from a tangled mess of girders and barbed wire. There is peeling paint and high fences, no unauthorised entry. It would be an eyesore in many places but here it can almost be overlooked. Cranes are everywhere and there is the great container port further up. There is little traffic today apart from a tug and a vast tanker.

The ferry is about to leave, and confusing its destination of Hythe with Ryde on the Isle of Wight, I quickly get a ticket and jump on board. Instead of the Isle of Wight I get a quick trip across Southampton Water and back. It is less momentous than other voyages that have started out from here. For 500 years it was one of the country’s leading ports, with massive city defences facing out to sea. Ships left from here for the Napoleonic wars, the Mayflower in 1620 before stopping off at Plymouth, and going into passenger transport in a yet bigger way at the beginning of this century, the White Star and Cunard Lines ran from here.

So a short trip on a ferry is a token gesture even if I did get back almost before I’d left. On board there are bicycles stacked, and work suits and ties have been discarded for shorts and trainers for the ride home to the far bank. Its passengers sit with the resignation that comes from commuting, but there is the sun, a cool breeze and even the occasional shower of spray, a class above your average ride home on the underground. Most sit inside to shelter from it, locked into books or personal stereos. I am reminded of a ferry ride up the Bosporus when shortly after leaving Istanbul a young man moved among the packed benches taking off his artificial limbs one by one waving them above his head in an attempt to collect money. I wonder here if they would even raise their eyes from their books. 

Everyone gets out at Hythe’s long pier except me, and nobody boards except the ticket collector’s granddaughter, who he chases around the deck. We, meanwhile, chase the real Isle of Wight ferry as it returns to Southampton. Ocean Village is a part of the waterfront with a typically 1980s look, a new development packaged as a place to be seen flaunting boom-time spoils. It’s like a scene from the Boat Show, except here it goes on all year. There are shops and bars to go along the jetties, a scene of conspicuous consumption that was built as a playground for those riding high on a succession of tax cuts.

But the tax cuts could never go on forever and it is as if the party is moving on to somewhere else now. Things are evidently not so easy. Among the trendy cocktail bars near Canute’s Pavilion are the empty shells of shops and ‘To Let’ notices that have been left by the receding economic tide.

James Hobbs, Southampton docks, 1990

Less conspicuous and more enduring is the sight of a couple come to sit in the sun by the old "Come Dancing" pier - eyes closed, faces looking up, ample white flesh on show where clothing has been peeled back to feel the warmth. Another tanker passes down Southampton Water. Children eat ice creams rocking forwards and back on their bicycles while a dog sniffs around them.

At the bank to get some money before I leave, the cash machine gobbles up my card and slides its cover abruptly over the keys. The bank is shut and I have this horrible feeling it could be weeks yet before a new bank card finally catches up with me.

James Hobbs, 1990

Read on: Football violence in Bournemouth

Monday, 1 June 2020

Covid-19 and me

[This post was written in June 2020, when Covid was in its first mad rush. Some of what it contains is outdated now as the medical response has caught up and systems have been put in place, although as I write this (January 2021) things are perhaps worse than ever here in London. Long Covid is now recognised, and I am now well recovered, in the main. I'm tempted to delete this post as being outdated, but it captures where I was when I put it together, and reflects the nasty nightmarish hell that will hopefully be put behind us before too long.]

I’m currently in the process of recovering from Covid-19, and beyond grateful to be able to write the first part of this sentence. I know others who have been through it too, and for each of us it seemed a bit different. While the grim coronavirus experience is still all-too-fresh in my mind, here are some of the things that helped me get through. If you’re unlucky enough to get Covid-19, you may find some parts of my experience useful, or you may not. I’m well aware that nothing is certain with Covid-19 and that what I write here will be contradicted by someone else’s experience. That is how this virus seems to work.

Firstly, I should say I’m a previously fit and healthy 60-year-old white man living in north London with his wife and two young-adult daughters. I cycle, I run, I’m a stranger to hospitals (apart from during my lightning appendix adventure in Switzerland a couple of years ago, but that’s another story). I work at a university in central London, and I draw and write.

None of this is advice. This is just what helped me. What worked for me may well not be right for you. And advice will, no doubt, develop as more is understood about Covid-19.

The view from my isolation bed, drawn on day 62

Day 1: I’m not even entirely sure when it started, although 26 March 2020 is marked in my diary. I was working from home from mid March and not long after I didn’t feel quite right. I was tired and achey, but it coincided with the inevitable stress of getting geared up for working from home, and the emotional element of the world changing before our eyes in the most unreal, dreamlike way. We are lucky to have a foldout bed in the workspace at the top of the house where I could isolate myself.

My symptoms at the start? Aches, tiredness, a tightness of the chest, an occasional fluttering (odd to call it that, but that’s how it felt) in the top of my chest, occasional sharp spasms of pain in my limbs and abdomen that disappeared as soon as they arrived, and occasional raised heart rate. I never had either the dry cough or the fever (I woke one night in a sweat, but I still think that was a different duvet issue rather than a fever). This confused us. Official UK information said at that time that without those two symptoms it was unlikely you had Covid-19. Later, the loss of smell and taste was added to the list: I never had that as a symptom either. Did I just have regular flu? At some point, by which point I had already isolated myself, it became obvious it was Covid-19 that I had. The increasing breathing difficulties and fatigue seemed the most obvious signs.

Days 2-8: In bed, keeping as still as possible, tackling increasing waves of breathlessness, sleeping, and keeping anxiety at bay. The breathlessness could come while I was sitting or lying quietly. The worst part was not knowing if this was part of process of deterioration. Anxiety and breathing difficulties is not an enjoyable combination. Distraction techniques – TV, radio, podcasts (see below) – helped me through. Trips down the stairs to the first-floor bathroom were very slow, and fraught with worries about contamination. Door handles, light switches, flush handles, towels, toothpaste: we cleaned and segregated as we could. The way in which I am most lucky in this whole story is with the people I share my life with, who brought love and attention, food and drink to me, daily, hourly, and who thought straight when I couldn’t.

Day 9: I thought I was improving a little. I got up on day 9, made porridge, put out the recycling, all very gently. Whether this resulted in or merely coincided with my first relapse I’m not sure, but I was soon back in bed and feeling worse than during the first eight days.

Days 10-67*: This was the start of my worst time, physically and mentally. Cases and deaths in the UK were rising exponentially at this point, and the prime minister was taken into intensive care. There were the sounds of sirens outside, and the girls were leaving food at my door. My symptoms were still spells of shortness of breath, tight chestedness, fatigue. We rang the NHS 111 line during this time, and also our GP, who rang me daily for a while during my worst spell. A process of improvement and relapse in a slowly improving way has continued since about day 22. Days pass without breathlessness, and then return. From time to time I have to think to breathe, by which I mean it needs to become a conscious act. The fatigue is a constant over this time. (* I'm on day 67 as I write.)

Here are some things that helped me through this time of Covid-19 and recovery.

Drinking water, lots: I heard people were recommended three litres a day, but I could only manage two litres. Sipping slowly eased, momentarily, the feeling of tightness in the throat. The mouth dries out quickly if you’re breathing through your mouth as you lie and rest.

Breathing exercises, clearing lungs, mental health: I found some information through links sent to me via different NHS sources. The Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have great info on dealing with Covid-19 recovery. And this one on breathing exercises from doctors at Queen's Hospital, London, was sent via a family member early on in lockdown.

Distractions: TV and radio of the most gentle and escapist kind helped from time to time. This meant TV series (The Detectorists, This Country, Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing), reruns of old cricket Tests on Radio 5 Live, football repeats of old international matches, and Mindful Mixes on BBC Sounds. For a while I escaped via the Antiques Road Show and the quiz show Pointless: this has now, mercifully, passed, but they helped me through. Nothing is off limits if it helps you get through.

Friends and relations: It was lonely being at the top of the house, even though I had my family at hand. Respect to those who are going through this alone! Honestly, nobody knows what they are going through. Strength to you if you are reading this now! I was messaging friends and family, replying to their requests for updates, and we had a London family WhatsApp group to share information about each other. I have a good friend going through a very similar experience to mine at exactly the same time, which is useful, if unfortunate. We share things as we come across them.

Support group: I came across the Body Politic Covid-19 support group on day 36 via a reference in a Guardian article. It is a Slack group - you request to join and are sent a link to access it, and to introduce yourself, using the relevant channels. It was a such relief to find this group of people having similar experiences to me. Through this you can find links to useful research, articles, surveys and current thinking. I mostly interacted in the UK channel, where I found people related to things in a way similar to mine. Many of the group’s members are in the US, particularly in New York, where the medical jargon and systems are different to those in the UK. There are elements of the group, of course, that you may want to avoid. It’s a great place to ask questions and get useful advice, but there’s also the danger of finding new things to worry about. There are channels for #victories and #positivity, which can lift the soul and offer optimism. This forum was the place that helped me not feel alone. Hail its founders.

There are Facebook groups too, such as this one, if Facebook is your thing. You can find support and links to further reading on the Long Covid website.

Diet: I skipped inflammatory foods. It’s easy to search for what this means.

Vitamin D and zinc: These may not help fight off Covid-19, but I took them most days anyway. A good balanced diet seems most effective in terms of boosting immunity.

Manuka honey: Does it do anything to help? Probably not, but a spoonful or two a day tasted great.

Inhalations: A bowl of boiling hot water, with a few drops of thyme essence, a towel over the head, and the Max Richter Mindful Mix on BBC Sounds. Deep breaths in the dark heat. This, more than anything, was my escape.

Sitting out: A chair in the sun on the doorstep on better days with the Guardian crossword. Friends and neighbours would stop to chat over the gate from a safe distance. This was great.

Articles: You’ll find links to up-to-date ones on the Body Politic support group’s #resources channel. The ones that were a particular support for me were:

We need to talk about what coronavirus recoveries look like, New York Times, 13 April 2020

Lingering and painful: the long and unclear recovery to coronavirus recovery, The Guardian, 1 May 2020

Paul Garner: for seven weeks I have been through a roller coaster of ill health…, BMJ blog, 5 May 2020

(Also see below for links to more articles.)

Hospitalisation: I never went to hospital, mainly because I wasn’t ill enough. We rang 111 on day 18 when things were bad, but by speaking to me they could tell my breathing difficulties weren’t enough to admit me. Perhaps this was good news, but I really wanted some medical expertise at this point. They took our details so a doctor could ring back to speak to me: the return call never came. My second 111 call on day 51 was similarly unhelpful (I’ll spare you the tale of the wasted hours on that call). My local GP was more accessible and supportive…

My local GP: Our local surgery in Stoke Newington was great, and they readily admitted they were still learning how to handle Covid-19 at this early stage. They rang me daily for a while during my worst spell. I think it’s good to be in contact with your GP, and see what they can do for you in your situation. On day 30 I was checked for oxygen levels and heart rate in the carpark behind the surgery (I shuffled slowly up the pavement with N for this rather bizarre but appreciated back-door appointment), and on day 54 I finally had a face-to-face meeting with my GP. They examined me thoroughly for secondary infections and sent links to two useful resources with details of recovery support from our local hospital and Covid 19-related research:

Post Covid-19 Patient Information Pack from Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust:

Oxford Covid -19 Evidence Service: regularly updated coronavirus evidence reviews, data analysis and writing:

This one I have already mentioned with practical Covid-19 recovery advice was very timely and welcome too, from the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, so I'll repeat it here:

Also, a late addition (August 2020), as the NHS catches up,  this is its post-Covid recovery website for those who have had the virus:

Medication: It was paracetamol primarily. I became aware, through the support group, of other users taking medication (omeprazole) for silent reflux, which has similar symptoms to some related to Covid-19. I discussed this with my GP and started a four-week course of them on day 39, which helped. (It also helped bring an end to my spell of entertaining and much-admired belching.) Compared to the cornucopia of medication some people obviously have taken, mine is small fry.

Crosswords, genealogy: sitting in the sun on a sofa turned to face out the front window, keeping still and calm, these two were a good balance of gentle and stimulating.

Things I didn’t do no.1: draw. I tried, but I just couldn’t do it. It was too much, and creativity dipped. I have a few bad unfinished drawings from this time. The first thing I was able to draw was my stubble.

Things I didn’t do no.2: read. I would fall asleep rather than read. American Marriage by Tayari Jones lay half read by my bed the whole time.

Things I didn’t do no.3: exercise. Over and over on the support group I would read about fit people recovering from the virus who resumed running 5km or even 10km at the first symptom-free day, and who then reported immediate relapses. I have taken short, gentle walks but no more.

News and media: I couldn’t bring myself to listen to news reports much - it fed anxiety, and I was aware that N and the girls would pick up on anything important and let me know. The UK government has handled this pandemic as dismally as could have been expected, and has eroded the public's confidence in their supposed abilities at every opportunity, but I didn't dwell long on this while I was most ill. As much as anything, I needed to keep positive, and updates on this and the exponential growth of Covid-19 deaths was not good for the mind.

Social media: I generally avoided it. I didn’t want to read about the wonderful creative opportunities that lockdown presented to us all, or badly researched medical stories too easily shared. I wanted useful practical information straight from the trusted expert source, although being so early on in the pandemic’s timeline even the most reliable sources were scrabbling around trying to get to grips with what we are dealing with. (That’s still true now, two months on as I write this.)

Reporting symptoms: Very early on I started reporting my symptoms on the world’s largest study of the virus, the Covid-19 Symptom Study app. Its website is good for essential Covid-19 reading and research.

Applauding the NHS and essential workers every Thursday at 8pm: I recorded the second of these when things felt at their darkest for me. It was great to hear people whoop and holler in the buildings and streets around. N and the girls were in the windows below and or on the doorstep joining in, not that I could see them. (My film just misses the fireworks that lit up the sky over the buildings to the left.) It was a great moment of connection early on, pre-Cummings, at a point when we really thought we were all in it together.

If you get Covid-19, it seems most likely you’ll get it mildly and recover quickly, or perhaps not even know you have had it. We all know that age, race, sex and other health issues play their parts in how seriously we get it. I expected, naively, that I would get through Covid-19 quite quickly. It didn’t turn out like that. I am lucky that I have my family to support me through it all in ways I’ll never forget, that my employers and work colleagues are so understanding and supportive, and that, although it has stayed with me a long time, my own Covid-19 wasn’t serious enough to deliver me to intensive care. But of course you don’t know where you are heading when you’re going through it in the darkness, just as we don't know where it will lead us from here.

Most of all, stay well.

Update on day 137 (9 August 2020): I'm better, much better. I'm not 100%, but the dark days of March and April are a long way away. I'm walking further (25,000 steps along the cliffs one easy-breathing day) and cycling. No running yet. The waves of breathlessness continue, but are less often, and I'm confident I can manage them. On day 132 I had an appointment at a Post Covid clinic in central London. This included an antibody test, which was positive. 

From my experience I would say three of the most important things in my recovery have been (1) taking things slowly, resisting all temptation to push myself even when I thought I could, (2) keeping a good relationship and maintaining contact with my GP – eventually, after what seemed an age, the face-to-face medical attention came – and (3) having understanding and supportive family, friends and employers. I've been so so lucky in this way. 

More resources (I am adding to this rather random list as I come across things):

Covid-19 can last for several months, by Ed Yong, The Atlantic, June 2020

I've been ill for months but I still don't know if it is Covid-19, by Simon Hattenstone, The Guardian, 6 June 2020

"It seems endless": four women struggling to recover from Covid-19, by Luke Harding, The Guardian, 7 June 2020

How long does Covid-19 last?, Covid Symptom Study, 6 June 2020

Post Covid hub, Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation, June 2020
They offer help for people with breathing difficulties after Covid-19, and their family members and carers. 

"Long Covid": the under-the-radar coronavirus cases exhausting thousands, by Natasha Hinde, Huffington Post, 2 July 2020
Patient safety concerns for Long Covid patients, Patient Safety Learning, 6 July 2020
This article includes a long list of useful references on long Covid. 

What happens if Covid-19 symptoms don't go away?, by Lois Parshley, Vox, 14 July 2020
An article focusing on accessing free care in the US that features Jake Suett, an intensive care unit doctor in the UK who has been dealing with long Covid. His name is worth searching.  

Brain fog, phantom smells and tinnitus: my experience as a Covid 'long-hauler', by Hannah Davis, The Guardian, 5 August 2020
The experience of a Brooklyn-based researcher and artist. This article has a US slant, but the symptoms and responses to them are common. 

This is the new (August 2020) NHS website for those recovering from Covid-19, covering its effects on the body and mind, eating, sleeping, grief and bereavement, and returning to work: