Important news of Gill

Important news of Gill

Dear friends of Gill This may be a hard message to read. Please make sure you’re in a good place before reading further: at home, with friends around. Many of you will not know me. My name is Terry and I am Gill’s brother. As you’ll be aware from many of her posts, Gill was diagnosed with late stage bowel cancer in the summer of 2016. Initially, the chemotherapy she was...

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The New Normal

The New Normal

It takes a while to adjust to the fact that you’re a cancer patient. A scary while within which you can’t quite believe what is happening to you. But cancer is never a short-term thing like having a cold or a broken leg and I’ve found that you have to adjust, and all of a sudden being a cancer patient seems like the new normal. Today I have a meeting with my oncologist – but that...

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Chemo!

Chemo!

One thing a lot of people ask me at the moment is what it’s like to go through chemo. From what I’ve learned talking to other cancer patients it differs for everyone, but here’s a lowdown for those who are interested on my typical two-week cycle. Monday, Week 1 – It’s chemo day! I put on my dinosaur pants and monster socks and make my way to the Macmillan Centre for 11am, usually after...

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Learning to look after myself

Learning to look after myself

I’ve never really paid that much attention to the idea of looking after myself. I’ve long been a burning-the-candle-at-both-ends workaholic who viewed rest as something other people did and that I needed only rarely. I haven’t had a holiday in years, and when I have taken holidays I’ve usually been doing something high-stress concurrently, like skippering a yacht, or producing an...

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On Luck

On Luck

This is me just a month ago on my 32nd birthday, gazing out across the impressive Dzanga Bai at some 30 odd elephants splashing about contentedly in the mud. At the time I’d been waiting a week for my insurance company to arrange my repatriation home from the tiny town of Bayanga in the middle of the Central African rainforest, during which period I agonised constantly over whether the decision...

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Plot Twist

Plot Twist

I’m just going to cut to the chase – last week I was diagnosed with cancer. It started in my large bowel and has already managed to sneak its way into my liver. Bowel cancer is 1) very rare in people my age, and 2) notoriously silent until it spreads and starts causing problems, which is why it hasn’t been identified before now. In my case the key problem was the near total obstruction of...

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Moving Forward

Moving Forward

If there is one thing I really wish we’d had a class on when I was a fresh-faced, enthusiastic masters student three dim and distant years ago, it’s exactly how wrong fieldwork can go. They’ve introduced such a thing now in the anthropology department at UCL, giving post-field PhD students the opportunity to talk to those just beginning their MPhils about the moments they thought their...

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Making Mess

Making Mess

Success stories are a powerful trope of international development and conservation work. They structure the way NGOs, governments and companies engage with powerful donors and public opinion. They also smooth over complexities, efface failures, and ignore contradictions. They present ongoing situations as if they are done, dusted, and thus can legitimately stand as a lesson to others who seek to...

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Finding My Forest Feet

Finding My Forest Feet

The beautiful Lefini Reserve The first time I ever walked properly in the Congo Basin rainforest was two years ago. I felt like a huge, clumsy elephant – although that’s a terrible metaphor because elephants are actually pretty competent at walking through the forests here and just smash apart anything that gets in their path. But I got my head and my arms and my legs stuck on bushes and...

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Local Contexts – Licensing and Labelling Traditional Knowledge

Local Contexts – Licensing and Labelling Traditional Knowledge

  I went to a fascinating lunchtime talk last Thursday given by Dr Jane Anderson, a legal anthropologist at NYU who specialises in investigating the relationship between intellectual property law and indigenous knowledges. In her work with Aboriginal communities in Australia, in particular with Aborginal artists, one of the key problems she came across was that current international...

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