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Michael Rosen leaves intensive care after coronavirus bout




Holocaust Memorial Day event at Cambridge Corn Exchange in January with theme ‘We Are Better When We Stand Together’, where Eva Clarke was joined by Michael Rosen. Picture: Sir Cam
Holocaust Memorial Day event at Cambridge Corn Exchange in January with theme ‘We Are Better When We Stand Together’, where Eva Clarke was joined by Michael Rosen. Picture: Sir Cam

Author Michael Rosen, the prodigious writer, entertainer and former children’s laureate, has been moved out of intensive care at an undisclosed hospital after making a modest recovery from coronavirus.

A message from his family online said: “Michael is very poorly at the moment. Having spent a night in ICU, he is now doing ‘ok, stable, alert’ and was able to go to a ward yesterday. Thank you very much for all your kind concern.”

The tweet received more than 45k likes. His status on the platform, written on March 22, reads: “Can’t stop my thermostat from crashing: icy hands, hot head. Freezing cold sweats. Under the covers for bed-breaking shakes. Image of war hero biting on a hankie, while best mate plunges live charcoal into the wound to cauterise it. Emerge as dawn breaks over grape stalks.”

Mr Rosen is a popular figure in Cambridge, having made many contributions to Historyworks, a Cambridge-based public art project, most recently for the Chisholm Trail artwork outside the Leper Chapel. The project’s creative director, Helen Weinstein, says Mr Rosen is the organisation’s “star performer”, with contributions, workshops and performances in local schools, churches and theatres.

“Michael has been a regular visitor to Cambridge for our writing and performing sessions funded by Historyworks for Cambridge primary schools and secondary schools,” Helen explains. “The reason Michael has been in Cambridge so much in the past five years is to work with me and my team at Historyworks because I have funding from an arts charity, and public grants I’ve won, in order that Michael and myself can share our enthusiasm for poetry and creativity with as wide a public as possible. He believes that we need to democratise cultural enrichment, and make all our activities free for all. We work with in Cambridge schools and do as much as we can to promote and celebrate story telling, which is the core mission of activities and events put on by Historyworks, with Michael as our star performer.

“Over the past six months Michael and myself have worked with more than 5,000 school children in Cambridge for the project organised on behalf of Cambridge City Council for the theme of ‘Stand Together’ to mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2020. The civic ceremony at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on January 26 was attended by over one thousand members of the public.”
A new song was composed by Mr Rosen for the Corn Exchange event, titled ‘We are better when we stand together’ [lyrics below].

“It’s very moving to hear it now,” says Helen. “It’s very pertinent top what I think this nation needs to hear from him now - we have to stand together.

“Lots of teachers and headteachers are writing to me today. Lots of children are very upset too, they see him as a grandfather who’s using poetry and song to connect to where they live. I’m very scared for him.”

Mr Rosen, 73, was displaying symptoms of infection, says Helen, but they seemed to be lessening.

“I was in touch with Michael until quite late last week,” she remarks. “It’s hard to know whether you have it or not because there is no testing - that’s the problem. He didn’t have a dry cough. On Twitter he said he had a high temperature and the shivers. He seemed okay but there’s been lots of conferences and workshops this year and he liked to use public transport. In London it’s in the ether - it’s hard to avoid.

“By last Friday (March 27) it was day 12, so I was optimistic he wasn’t going to be getting full-blown respiratory problems, and now he’s in hospital in London. The NHS staff love him - he wrote ‘These Are The Hands’ for the NHS’ 60th birthday. They love him.”

Helen is asking for children to put bears in the windows of their homes as a way of supporting the stricken troubadour.

“All the children of Cambridge and adults too can show their appreciation for Michael by putting a bear in their front windows to represent his most beloved story-book ‘We’re Going On a Bear Hunt’. At Historyworks we are inundated with hundreds of emails and tweets from appreciative teachers and colleagues and children with their parents about how much they adore Michael’s collaboration with Cambridge and how much they want to be in solidarity with him by putting the bears in their windows in order to show their love for him for a speedy recovery, and to give families with little ones something to look out for on their daily walks for fresh air to keep them playing with language, adventurous, and enjoying story-telling is what will cheer up Michael as he recovers,” concludes Helen.

The “bear hunt” theme has taken off around the world as schoolchildren register their concern and mobilise to continue Michael’s work in their own way.

WE ARE BETTER WHEN WE STAND TOGETHER by Michael Rosen

A child wanders through the ruins

A family fears a knock at the door

A grandma looks for her old home

They know they didn’t start this war

We are better

When we stand together

When we stand together

We are better

A child wanders through the ruins

A family fears a knock at the door

A grandma looks for her old home

They know they didn’t start this war

We are better

When we stand together

When we stand together

We are better

The child is ours, we must make it safe

The family’s ours, we must hear their call

The grandma’s ours, we must find a home

We know we have to stand with all

We are better

When we stand together

When we stand together

We are better

We are better

When we stand together

When we stand together

We are better

We are better

We are better



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