I’m sat within a nest of my unmade bed, scruffy sheets, bumpy pillows and the washing machine vibrating half the flat – must be a Sunday evening. Once again the weekend’s flown by at supersonic speed and I’m getting ready for work in the morning, but it’s been one full of amazing experiences so I’m doing my best to get the memory of it written down before my brain turns to mush.
Friday morning as I hurtled down to London on the train with my boyfriend I received a text to say my ‘Living our purpose’ story was headlining work’s intranet. I’ve been featured as part of a series of articles about colleagues doing great things in their communities. I’m made up that it’s getting attention and the blog has been read by lots more people, hopefully encouraging some of them to get tested, or to reassess their original ideas and opinions about the virus and what life with HIV is like for someone living in the UK in 2014.
We were visiting the big smoke for something rather exciting and very much a once in a lifetime opportunity; along with my dad and his partner we were meeting the Lord Mayor of London, Fiona Woolf. It was a privilege to be in her company and great to hear many anecdotes and tales of her year in the position, my dad was able to talk to her about his company which is dedicated to improving cognitive health and I was able to tell her about some of the things I do to raise awareness about HIV. She noted how you don’t hear anything about HIV or AIDS anymore, but how she had witnessed its impact when travelling to countries like South Africa. Hopefully speaking with her about it has given her some food for thought.
The rest of the weekend was a less grand affair, but no less exciting. Visiting the Wellcome Collection I stumbled upon a fellow HIV advocate, well a wax cast of her. Not only made up of the usual ingredients the figure of her naked body contained her HIV medication as well, it’s one of many great pieces featuring in the current “An Idiosyncratic A to Z of the Human Condition” exhibition which is running until October 12th. After confirming with her on Twitter I’d found the cast in a museum and not on the roadside we made our way across town for a soaking wet stroll around Covent Garden and a bite to eat.
After stuffing ourselves with pizza I frogmarched my boyfriend back to Euston to visit the Crypt Gallery at St. Pancras Church. I’d heard about an exhibition entitled “Great Expectations of an Incurable Optimist” by HIV positive artist Mandy Webb and wanted to take a look whilst we were in the city. I was really moved by many of the pieces, laughed at others but could connect with them all. If you’re in London the exhibition is on until next Saturday.
Saturday was about enjoying a day out in London, HIV was a focus, partly intentional, visiting the gallery for example, but at the Wellcome Trust I was caught by surprise. It makes you realise that raising awareness doesn’t have to be pervasive, intruding or shocking. A figure in a museum, an exhibition in a gallery or an article on a newsfeed can do the trick. And sometimes it’s just about starting a good old fashioned conversation.