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Post-Lockdown 2.0

England emerged from Lockdown 2.0 into a world plagued with uncertainties, epitomised by debates over seemingly daft things like:

What exactly constitutes a “substantial meal”?

Under the latest rules, something like a Scotch egg would qualify as a “substantial meal” (according to a cabinet minister) but a Cornish pasty would not.

For my Malaysian readers, that’s a bit like saying a ‘karipap’ is a “subtantial meal”, but an ‘apam balik’ is not.

Confusing? You betcha!

I honestly have a lot of sympathy for the people in charge of writing these rules. Communicating something precisely to the general population is never easy at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic.

Risky Talk

While we’re on the topic of communication, I’d like to share with you a really interesting podcast I came across recently. It’s called ‘Risky Talk’ and it’s hosted by Professor Sir (or is it Sir Professor?) David Spiegelhalter, the Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge.

The latest episode, unsurprisingly, deals with communicating about vaccines.

I have a lot to say about vaccines and the vaccine refusal movement in Malaysia, but this is not the blog post for it. Some other time maybe. Anyway, have a listen to Risky Talk and let me know what you think.

Lab meeting

On top of listening to other people talk, I also delivered a brief presentation during my group’s lab meeting on Monday this week. I had hoped to present my data on visual working memory deficits in cerebral small vessel disease (SVD), but sadly, didn’t manage to finish the analysis in time for the presentation.

Instead, I talked about a recent paper in Neurology about the use of multi-shell diffusion MRI models for white matter characterization in SVD. This is an area of research I’m very keen to explore as part of my DPhil. Hopefully something good comes out of this inshaAllah.

Hello Cutteslowe

In other news, I also moved houses during the lockdown. When I first arrived in Oxford, my college (St. Catherine’s College) kindly gave me a room in their graduate accommodation building, known as St Catherine’s House, or Catz House, for short. It’s located in the south-eastern part of the city, in a district known as St Clement’s. After 6 months, I moved into a room off Botley Road in the western part of the city. This time around, I wanted to live in a different area so I chose a place in Cutteslowe, a suburb of north Oxford.

I’m lucky that I don’t have that many things with me, that is, unless you’re counting the pile of books I seem to have accumulated since coming here. But everyone knows books don’t count anyway; you can (and should) buy as many of them as you want!

Anyway, about the move…it all went well alhamdulillah, except for the fact that I have to wait for my broadband account to be activated. I know, I know, first world problem and all that. But damn, having to rely on mobile hotspot is frankly awful. I mean, take a look at this:

Which is painful when you’ve gotten used to this:

Of course, this is a trivial problem to have compared to everything else that is happening around us. I’m just being silly. I keep having to remind myself to be thankful for all the blessings and opportunities that have come my way. Alhamdulillah, always…

That’s probably enough for now. I hope all of you are staying safe, and managing to find some peace and happiness despite the circumstances. Take care.

By Imran Idris

I am a husband, father, son, neurologist, neuroscientist-in-training, Tolkien-fan, and owner of two toy wombats named Mulder and Scully.