The following is an excerpt from a feature I wrote for Pennyblackmusic about Covid’s devastating effect on the live music industry. You can read the full feature at

“When COVID-19 mushroomed into a global pandemic, production work disappeared almost overnight. It is impossible to predict when it might return, or grasp the full repercussions for crews, artists, venues or fans. This article attempts neither to summarise nor forecast, but to reflect on the early days of this crisis in the hope we can look back on it from a better place.” …

What’s left to say in our brave new world?

Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

There was a point, back in the distant mists of time (when we could walk barefaced in public, cluttering the air with our breath with the abandon of dinosaurs trampling twenty-foot ferns) when talking to other people made up a reasonable portion of my day. Between household conversation, routine bus/grocery/bar/restaurant interactions and several hours of classroom teaching my voice would come home ragged.

When the slow tsunami of Covid-19 manifested the talking shape-shifted. Suddenly, with everyone perhaps about to die there was a flurry of out-of-character video calls and a spate…


Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

The late literary genius and humanist nonpareil James Baldwin spoke for Black Lives Matter decades before the movement gained a name. And as a gay black man, born poor, he understood intersectionality in a profound sense.

Baldwin’s gifts included the ability to study himself and report, however painful or unflattering the truths that emerged. This spawned an empathy as rare as wise. He didn’t excuse cruelty but he acknowledged and, as a writer, rendered in meticulous detail the pain that (often) underlies it.

The following quotes, from interviews and from his fiction, articulate truths that are as urgent and relevant…


Even before a ton of ordure hit the propeller-style cooling device I’d only read three books this year.


Since the age of six or seven I’ve been capable of reading three average-length books a day. Once, when I was 9, I read 1,000 pages in a day, to see if could.

On another occasion (again, pre-teen) I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy in three days.

The point I’m sidling towards is that it is a sign of spiritual/ emotional/ logistical malaise when my word-consumption dips to such low levels.

(The other obvious conclusion is I was backward…

Why courtesy counts for more than romance

Yesterday, after spending the preceding waking hours running in furious circles and generally comporting myself like a week’s worth of bad news, my friend called.

We’d scheduled a video chat (the vomitous de rigueur of current social interaction) and, armed with a glass of cava, I sat down, propped my feet on an adjacent chair and tried to think happy thoughts.

Within a minute or two of saying hello we were cackling about something.

That’s the first time I laughed today.

A guilt-breaker washed over me. Somehow, I’d found something to share a genuine laugh about with a friend while…

Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

Sometime ago, in the hazy days when freedom still seemed like a possibility, however faint, I wrote a pile of rubbish.

Writing rubbish isn’t an occupational hazard, it’s inevitable. Most writing is crap in the aesthetic/artistic sense: unrefined, hasty, careless, lacking finesse. Ninety-five to ninety-nine percent of anything I write falls in that category and, for the sake of sanity, has to be accepted as ‘good enough’ otherwise I would never make a deadline.

The article for which I need to apologize isn’t that kind of rubbish. It is pure, unmitigated cringe. My strong inclination is to wipe the pile…

Not allowed out of the house? Here’s 10 things you can do to make days better

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

A week ago, life was normal — commuting, work, shopping, travel. My husband and I were planning a move and had a weekend trip booked for his upcoming birthday. I was looking forward an Easter break trip to visit friends. Coronavirus was just a word my ESL students used to tease each other every time someone coughed or sneezed (March in Galicia is freezing and wet = lots of coughing and sneezing). Then, overnight, the world began a slow-motion twirl of its axis. …

A brief account of adventures in language learning.

As a teacher, I constantly try to improve — to communicate more effectively and inform more thoroughly. There are two ways to approach this: perfect my existing knowledge or plunge into something unfamiliar.

My druthers are always to do more of what I know — read more, write more, learn more words, delve into grammar and follow phrases along winding trails to their roots. This is easy for me, effortless, fun.

In short, exactly how my ESL students don’t experience learning English.

In contrast, confronting the unfamiliar is frustrating, boring, tiring, dispiriting…

Cila Warncke

Writer. Teacher. #writer #teacher #feminist #immigrant

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