This week was the anniversary of Howard Florey‘s birth, and close to two years since I was ill and in need of antibiotics. It’s a bit weird to think I might have died, since I didn’t, but very easy to feel lucky lucky lucky in having a good gp and access to antibiotics and hospital care and friends and to have got through it all. Pam, my doctor, gave me a silver coin after the event, created in 1998 by the Australian Mint on the centenary of Florey’s birth and it sits on my mantlepiece as a kind of guardian of the house.
I wanted to mark Florey’s birthday, and Pam’s great attention and care again this year, so I made a ‘zine’ for them both, with my pal Deirdre. It was great fun, and appropriate as Deirdre is pals with Pam too – they have done arty things together. Pam put me onto zines as well, sort of, through telling me about Austin Kleon whose zine making technique was crucial to the whole thing. Its theme was poems written by doctors or poems about doctors, and artwork (done almost entirely by Deirdre) that was impressions of penicillin (thanks to the internet for showing us what it looks like sort of). It was fantastic fun to do and I feature it here as another part of my own ‘antibiotics awareness week’, in honour of being alive, alive-o (I still haven’t got quite to grips with the new editing features of wordpress and can’t turn the pics around so you can read them more easily, but hopefully you’ll get the drift).
There is something very satisfying about making things – perhaps it’s partly the idea that making something that wasn’t there before is a ‘fragment of world alteration’, using creativity and imagination. It’s also really fab to be able to link things that were never linked before – I don’t imagine Lord Florey could ever have anticipated a little book made for him and a general practitioner in the city of his birth 122 years after that event. Or that Gerald Murnane would imagine that part of his poem about William Carlos Williams would have been in said little book. I never imagined it myself before I did it.
So, moral of the story is, use antibiotics wisely, stay well (especially in these viral times), and indulge wherever you can and in whatever ways take your fancy, with fragments of world alteration, big and small…
(And as a final addition to this motley collection of inspirations and creative endeavour – a fabulous video of Patti Smith’s song ‘People have the Power’ released this week to encourage voting in the US election.)