Opinion with Christine Tongue: Staying alive and wearing co-ordinated face masks

Carrot, sweet potato or swan?

How are you staying alive through this pandemic?

Being young helps.

When the pandemic started we were told we might die if we were in the vulnerable categories. And we were! Me and my partner both had a variety of “underlying conditions” and were OLD!!

We got back to Thanet from holiday on March 12, had time to see a few friends for coffee and then we were locked down and not able to do anything.

Fear kept us obedient to government guidelines but from the beginning these have been hard to interpret. “Stay in” was clear but how were we going to get supplies – especially more toilet paper as the supermarkets had been stripped before we got home.

We’re lucky in Thanet: the local community rallied round, support groups were quickly formed to do shopping, collect prescriptions and provide a ready ear for people in despair. My helper, Aram Rawf, has been a lifeline for many of us in Broadstairs.

But as lockdown eased and helpers went back to work there were still people scared to leave their homes and confused about how safe they actually were. Many disabled people are still not clear about what will keep them alive and are increasingly suspicious that if you’re unproductive, the government has stopped caring about what happens to you!

My friend with Parkinson’s is definitely not venturing out. She’s been enjoying lockdown – everyone in the same boat and no obligations to go out to anything. But her dad was a hermit for a while so isolation is sort of in her blood.

My friend with MS who uses a wheelchair and has asthma is still not allowing anyone in her house – so take round some Prosecco and your own glass to drink in the garden, but go home before you need the bathroom!

We’re all learning how to buy food online. I made some terrible blunders at first. Anyone want one of the five jars of mayonnaise I’ve somehow ordered?

I also ordered high factor kids sun cream thinking it was good for old skin as well as young, but it’s blue and turns your face blue. Lovely!

And don’t mistake a single item for a kilo. The packer for my Sainsbury’s order had a sense of humour, finding the tiniest most miserable looking single carrot in the shop (I wanted a kilo) but compensating with a sweet potato shaped like a swan.

So we can feed ourselves, see people at a distance outside, get a takeaway delivered and consult our doctor on the phone. But don’t touch the children you haven’t seen for four months – heartbreaking to see the baby tottering towards you with their first steps and you can’t give them a hug because mum works in a hospital with covid patients and still thinks it’s not safe.

What is safe? My guru is Dr Coral Jones of Save Our NHS in Kent (SONIK).

Coral is pretty scathing about the government’s approach to covid because it’s disastrously confused, relies too much on employers who want to make money and not enough on GPs who want to save lives.

She’s given me a simple guide to staying alive – the Three Cs. This is what you avoid:


Closed-in spaces

Close Contact

Coral wears a cloth mask if she’s out of her house and recommends we all wear them when we’re out and about. I’ve made several – anyone else got a mask that matches their shorts? Tasteful!

We’ve still got the virus in Thanet. If you want to stay alive, or keep your granny alive a bit longer, keep to the C rules and wear a mask.

And if a prime minister and a doctor give you conflicting advice, you know who to believe.

Dr Coral is speaking at a SONIK online event on August 4. For details check the facebook page of Save Our NHS in Kent


  1. If it’s too risky now to go in shops without a face covering, then I’ll be doing even less shopping than I did during lockdown.

  2. Has Sonik appealed against the JR decision as Marion Keppel has?
    Has Sonik published comprehensive accounts yet?
    Is it true that Christine Tongue (former South Thanet Labour Party Press Officer, Disabilities officer and allegedly CLP Secretary) and Carly Jeffrey (former secretary of South Thanet Labour Party and Director of the Sonik Campaign) have been suspended from the Labour Party?
    Clarification on these issues and rumours would be appreciated.

  3. Suspensions are apparently happening. Naturally,as ordinary members, we never know, nor expect to know officially. But I absolutely agree Clare, these individuals never answer questions. Their pseudo socialism does not brook challenge nor interrogation. Oddly, since they are so happy to point out others’ failings they lack the honesty to answer simple questions regarding their main interest, Sonik. How much money has Sonik had in and how much has it spent? These are simple matters. Worse still is the fact that South Thanet CLP became the Sonik party under its current management.Political education has ceased altogether. Hardly any Labour policies have been promoted or discussed because, in effect, the CLP has simply been about sonik, sonik, sonik. Carly Jeffrey promised accounts 18 months ago. Obviously, should the suspensions go ahead, it will be a grievous blow to STCLP ordinary members.

  4. Interesting that though Comrade Tongue occupies related South Thanet Labour Party roles, she religiously only ever mentions Sonik. Does she actually care about promoting her areas of responsibility in the Labour Party or is it merely a platform to promote her apparent main interest: Sonik?

  5. Apparently Christine Tongue posted on Facebook that she had been suspended from Labour.
    Don’t know about Carly Jeffrey.

  6. For goodness sake! these comments smack of underhand co-ordinated misinformation. Christine has worked tirelessly for the Labour Party, and has been honest about her suspension, which the Labour Party has informed her she can’t discuss. Another red herring attacking SONIK. Despicable

  7. Have you got a detailed copy of the Sonik accounts to share with the public? No, I thought not Rita. Do you know why Sonik has chosen not to appeal the JR decision? As for hard work there are plenty of Labour members in recent years who have worked tirelessly to make the STCLP work for this community and without a song and dance. Indeed many members and activists have been working hard for the Labour Party for decades. This is a very public request for information – there is nothing underhand about asking the questions that I have set out at all.

  8. Let’s not promote fear and try and normalise masks every where. They are not needed out and about in the open air and can limit oxygen supply. Fear suppresses the immune system – but it tries to control the more susceptible masses. Cliftonville Farmer’s Market yesterday had many confident, happy people of all ages, maskless and supporting local businesses. Good for them. Many I know will no longer go to places where masks are mandatory, and this will further harm businesses. Masks are not the new norm. They are abnormal.

    • Perhaps I should have added that in the open air there is much less risk of transmission – according to all the medics I’ve consulted. But if people are very vulnerable they may choose to take as many precautions as possible. I know people with very serious conditions who wear a mask everywhere if they have to go out. There are members of Access Thanet who have not gone out at all yet because they think the risk is still too high.

  9. Masks certainly are abnormal. Usually, in Britain, they are associated with criminals or misogynistic religious sects. And as Dumpton says, they are not needed by most people in the open air and/or in uncrowded situations.

  10. The value of masks is that an infected person (who may not know they are carrying the virus) wearing one,is far less likely to spread the virus if they cough or sneeze when outdoors – REGARDLESS of how “open air” or “”uncrowded” the environment the person is in may be at the time.Yes,wearing masks outside all the time is abnormal – but,then so is a worldwide pandemic of a killer virus…

  11. On 23.3.18 Carly Jeffrey sent a letter to stroke unit consultation 3 days after the consultation closed.

    “We are advised that the procedural flaws which have been identified mean that a decision
    on the proposal would not be lawful, and if so advised, we shall challenge by way of
    judicial review any such decision.”

    Was this the advice of HG LAW Kate Harrison? Who on 23.3.18 was provided a copy of a letter calling on Thanet CCG to question member Clive Hart, former TDC Labour leader, about concealments, contrary to law, of Thanet toxic environmental hazards to health. The letter mentions Manston and the National Planning Process.

    When Ramsgate Town Council bunged five grand of public money to Kate Harrison solicitor, instructed by Jenny Dawes, to judicial review Manston decision, were members told about Kate Harrison former involvement and prior knowledge she would be required by law to disclose to High Court ?

    This is shaping up to be the FIFTH court process from which Thanet toxic hazards to health and TDC breaches of statutory duty are concealed contrary to law

    Rose v Thanet CCG
    Stroke Unit judicial review
    Two maternity tragedy inquests

    And now in prospect a Manston judicial review.

    Christine I called in DWI last year to secure a ban on Manston aquifer as drinking water source. I have caused expert inquiry maternity tragedies to schedule research into PFOA the “Forever chemical” of firefighting foam residue accessible to Manston aquifer.

    PFOA carries foetal morbidity and pre eclampsia risks among a large number of risks.

    As for COVID PFOA carries two risks … lowered immunity and reduced vaccine response.

    When Christine and Carly were children they spoke as a child. But they have never put aside childish things. They still leave difficult truths to the grown ups.

Comments are closed.