Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Round robin

Dear friends and relatives

First of all apologies to all of you who hate round robins. I’m afraid that we are just too busy to reward our loving, caring, generous and well-deserving friends and relatives with a detailed calligraphic & handwritten note of everything that’s happened in our lives over the past couple of years or so. Secondly, apologies for not even sending a round robin note to anyone last Christmas. We were even busier – moving house amongst other things!

Anyway the past couple of years have been pretty excellent and eventful for us. Phil managed to get a training post in A&E which he is really loving – based in Yorkshire. We bought a house here in Leeds – right at the height of house prices to the very day. Chapel Allerton is a villagey suburb on the Harrogate Road about 2 miles from Leeds City Centre. It’s not quite as diverse as Stoke Newington, but Chapeltown is getting there and that’s a 2 minute walk from where we are now.

For the past year I have been commuting weekly to London to carry on my role as Partnership Support Officer at a ‘highly commended’ NHS organisation very close to where I’ve been living in London. Apart from the financial aspect to this arrangement, I have thoroughly enjoyed this – 18 hours a week is perfect working time. I’ve absolutely loved studying for my MA in Contemporary British History at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, which I’ve done alongside the NHS work. And today is the start of a one year career break from that to concentrate on finishing the MA in Leeds! Brilliant. I’m a very lucky woman. The NHS is great for career breaks.

I certainly wouldn’t be able to pursue my ambitions without the support of the wonderful Phil – we are very much still newly weds and hoping the honeymoon period will last a good 15 years at least! I hope I’m not putting words in Phil’s mouth when I say that our wedding day was the happiest day of our lives – thanks to all of you who shared it with us. And for those of you that couldn’t– we hope to see you in 2009!

The past couple of years in time has inevitably brought ups and downs. A few people have died, and there have been some new arrivals. We hope we have helped support those friends and relatives who have been bereaved. And we hope we haven’t hogged the bundles of joy that have arrived!

I was elected a public Governor of Homerton Hospital in September 07. Unfortunately I can’t think of anything non-controversial to say about that. My advice to anyone thinking of standing for Governor is, perhaps not to take on ten other things at the same time as moving out of the area.

Phil has created a geek’s paradise in our living room. We remortgaged with Northern Rock to fund the remote control alone. Phil got advice from a nice American chap called Madoff and capitalised on our lack of capital investing our debt in computer equipment. We now have four different methods of playing computer games. The Wii, Sony Playstation, the Xbox and the PC. I cashed in my Lehman Brothers shares at a convenient moment to fund the garden landscaping. [Joke].

In fact I wish I had/have more time for gardening. I seem to be spending inordinate amounts of time writing essays. The difference between now and 1995 when I was last doing this is that now I enjoy it. Or think I do.

The most recent exciting event was Pete and Candy’s September wedding in Bali and Hong Kong. What a brilliant time we had! The wedding in Bali in the ‘chapel in the clouds’ overlooking the sea was breathtaking. Pete and Candy looked stunning and we had a great little party in the villa by (and in) the pool afterwards when we all let our hair down. A week later was the Hong Kong banquet where we got thoroughly and pleasingly immersed in Hong Kong culture, with various tea exchanges for little red envelopes of cash. Phil gave a great best man’s speech. Pete and Candy are such generous, patient and caring hosts and made us feel totally at home – spoiling me in particular taking me to all the museums. We can’t wait to go back!

My brother may as well live in Hong Kong – he has probably been in this country as long as Pete last year. But I think this indicates his career is on the up which can’t be bad. Joe has worked with his partner Aoife in a new band called Rodina. They have an amazing brand new album - out now!

Apart from our big holiday to Hong Kong and Bali, we’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of little minibreaks. We went to Burgh Island, just off the Torquay coast to celebrate our first wedding anniversary in the spring. In November we had a marvellous time narrowboating from Leighton Buzzard to Milton Keynes, a birthday present for me.

Hopefully see you soon, keep in touch

Lots of love

Anna and Phil xxx

Monday, December 08, 2008

19th May 1971

This was a very special day for one of my closest friends - she was giving birth on it. It also turns out to be the day I got married 36 years later. And, it turns out to be the date that my Granny was looking at her wedding veils, writing a note of what she remembered about them, after she got married in July 1927. I don't know what the odds are of all this happening on the same date, but it's not odds on. Whatever it is, it was a very nice coincidence to think that precisely 36 years beforehand, before she died, before she lost her memory, before even I was born that my own grandmother was thinking of weddings, including her own on what later turned out to be my own wedding date. I discovered this at the weekend along with other family history - including my grampa's war medals, which husband was of course more interested in. It is of course slightly regrettable that we didn't discover the afore-mentioned veils and their little note PRIOR to the wedding so that I could wear one of them. Such is life.

Other things are pootling along. The cats have been fighting. We think because of the cold. They don't like going outside when it's so cold and so start picking on each other. I have about three deadlines all at the same time. PhD funding, essay deadline and work.
I have managed to include manuika money in my new bread machine recipe (you only put half a teaspoon in). I have done 80% of Christmas shopping online. Went to the gym on Saturday, and according to the heart rate monitor I am even fitter than I was. It doesn't make sense though - I don't feel it, I haven't been doing any cycling (bike is in Leeds), I am fatter and weigh more, plus I only ran once this week and last. I think it needs new batteries. We went to the very nice Watts Russell pub for lunch on Saturday with Mum. And Alan Bennett is on the train. Reading the Guardian. In fact he's asleep.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Defining success for yourself I think is one of the key facets to being content and then happy. Being rich doesn't come into much, for me anyway. I am getting very excited indeed about the impending career break. Probably over excited. Not unusual for me. There's nothing like trawling through the history of death though as an antidote to that. Anyway have also prepared a one page PhD proposal for funding, which I'm not that ashamed of. Other news - the cats seem much happier since I gave them frontline for their fleas.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Going back to my old tory ways (tory with a small 't')

I'm going to shamelessly plagiarise blaglady's ideas at least - summarising my latest day's experiences in a word beginning with t. It's more interesting if you can think of some multiple sylabul words but I'll leave that to the tattonified who can also comment on this blog if they have a spare few seconds in their ultra full lives. Anyway the point is, I've gone back to my usual slightly depressed self (after the euphoria of the Obama effect). The Whig historians are incorrect. Again. Progress - my**** [word beginning with a, four letters which rhymes with pass if you've got a posh accent].
Proving this are John Humphries and Cathy Newman. To cut a long story short both these so-called journalists have been on radio and TV respectively recently to denounce public sector pensions. Anyway THIS battle has just started. If they think they will take my pension off me they have got another thing coming. I'm trying to think of the best strategy. And herein lies the problem. How, in God's name (or Dawkins if you're that way inclined) do you decide what to moan about and who to moan to when there is so much moaning, complaining, lobbying and writing to be done? I disagree with 99.9% of what the government or anyone else with any power does every second of my waking life. As far as I am concerned I am right and always have been. But just how does one prioritise? Anyway I looked up Cathy Newman on the web (frankly I've given up on Humphries). As her top 'scoop' at ITN it was uncovering illegal immigrants somewhere. I'm more proud of the literal excrement scooping I've been doing in the real world. So I wrote a complaining email to ITN calling her a neo-fascist. That'll teach the twit.

However I end up arguing with myself because I can't help thinking if the state pension was a decent amount - that people could realistically live on, then I wouldn't really give a flower what rubbish Newman or Humphries spouted. There are further anachronisms and idocyncrasies evident everywhere which cheer me up. The Head of Tobacco Control sparking up a cigarette on the street outside work. 25% of kids obese in Hackney. People working in Child Death being so happy.

When the Whigs opposed the Tories they were the progressive ones - they wanted change. But (as I understand it) the changes they promoted were so backward that it is just about the biggest insult you can say to any historian these days. To be honest I don't really understand why it is such a massive insult. If you're a Whig you believe in progress. The problem for us people in the real world is that sometimes progress doesn't happen - and it only happens because people argue for it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Sage conjures up many images and definitions for me at the moment. Old Sage - I feel like one. Clary Sage - my favourite aromatherapy oil, great for meditating and also for pain relief. And Lorna Sage whose great memoir I read on our brilliant minibreak. Narrowboating really is a perfect way to spend a long weekend - especially if you've just taken up running. You have to get up at the crack of dawn anyway - well by the latest 6.30 so you can set off by daybreak. And fantastic running as the sun rises with the beautiful colours reflecting in the canal. Last week still felt autumnal - the light refractions: yellows, golds, reds and leaf shapes incredible. By the third day we'd mastered the running/lock/boating combination with me running ahead and sorting out the lock and Phil skippering the boat. Ideally not really a winter minibreak choice, because of the hours of daylight, but hey ho we just about managed to get to Stoke Bruene from Leighton Buzzard (actually not far at all) and back. It was a bit of a rush though. I'm afraid I wouldn't recommend racing to get to Stoke Bruene canal museum in November sleet on a Sunday morning by narrowboat. My high expectations after all the brilliant museums in Hong Kong were dashed by this amateur effort.
What I wanted - a history of canals in the Industrial Revolution context, together with detailed histories of local locks, locks are such impressive pieces of early technology. Yet most of the dates on the ones we went past were 1860s onwards - after the railways! I want histories of canalside buildings not to mention how Britain's canal history sits in the world history of canals. What we got - a few 'models' of what a couple of tunnels look like. As with all my beefs - it needed more investment; a professional canal historian to revamp it. We loved
some of the food we tried - the Plough at Simpson definitely needs a mention. Wonderful fish, salads and desserts. That was the good thing about this sort of a holiday - combining peace and tranquility, with history, good food, bit of exercise, reading biography. Perhaps it's the wonder of history that I find the most powerful motivator- even more so I think after Obama's victory.
I did the run today - Leeds Abbey Dash 10k. Extremely slowly (1 hour 30mins), but for a first effort I'm pleased. Definitely progress. Perhaps all my professors are right after all.

Friday, November 07, 2008


Yes, having taken up running over the last few weeks I've been having more of the above. However, of course the world can't get enough of Barack Obama at the moment. It's mixed emotions though. Utter joy tempered with the death and suffering of millions we've had to sacrifice to get here. We still feel cheated over the past eight years of utter incompetence, and previous ten years or so of unbridled, uncriticised, unregulated capitalist supremacy. Not to mention the past three hundred years of slavery, destruction and war. We realise he won't technically make that much difference. He can't. He's not God. But, yet, this is incredible. The most powerful job in the world - an elected job at that - filled by a talented black man. I know there are so many people like me who feel like we know Barack, even though we've never met him and are never likely to. He did a similar job - 'Community Organiser' in Chicago to my 'Development Worker' in Hackney. Similar places. At similar ages. So I feel proud. Proud to be human again. Proud to be liberal, left wing, to have done similar work as Barack Obama in a similar place. I will never be rich. But his journey has made me feel that the power of the people is strong and has risen. Hope's audacity has been proven.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Connie's historic parsnip soup

While I've been working in London for the past year while hubby has been in Yorkshire I've been staying with the wonderful Connie. I have learnt a lot from her, not least the talents of Barack Obama and the addictive American presidential race. I dipped into her copy of 'Dreams from my father' - instantly hooked and devoured whilst I was in Indonesia. It felt great to be reading about one of Indonesia's greatest exports whilst there myself. Anyway, Connie is very nervous. I'm pretty excited. I think it's a landslide for our man. Connie won't believe it until tomorrow morning.

Connie's parsnip soup will be one of things I miss whilst on my career break in Yorkshire. And one of the things I will hopefully associate with the Obama victory. So I can make it up there:

Take one onion, three cloves of garlic, 2 bay leaves, 500g of parsnip, half a sweet potato and some vegetable Oxo - in a saucepan covered with water. Boil and simmer for 35 minutes. Put in a blender with more water until smooth. Heat and eat.

Perfect for a change in November.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Five Star Review of 'Black Ice' by AC/DC - the 13.99 version

Last night I had a well deserved break from spreading the socialist revolution and my scholarly investigations into age discrminiation in the Edwardian era. Husband and I drove over to Leek to attend my ex-boyfriend's granny's 90th birthday. Quite by coincidence AC/DC released what is quite possibly their best album since 'Back in Black' - which was released a whopping 28 years ago. 'Black Ice' is the ideal antidote to almost anything, apart from a good night's sleep. Great for recessions, long-ish car journeys into sunsets, uniting young and old alike and musical riffs, lead guitar solos and simplistic sing-along lyrics. I've already listened to it five times and I only bought it at 2pm yesterday. I love 'Skies on Fire' the second track. 'I know you. And you know me. Tell me what is you want it to be. What you want to be. What you need in me'. The band are getting so old now that I'm constantly wondering if these songs are now written about conversations they've been having with their kids. Gone are the crude and to be honest over the top potentially -illegal lyrics about underage sex. (Squealer and 'Can I sit next to you Girl? spring to mind from the 70s). It's all rock and roll, war, the weather and gigs. I don't think they're getting it as much as they did 30 years ago. 'War Machine' spells it out nicely. For true AC/DC fans it's a total plagiarisation of one of their 1980 tracks 'Giving the Dog a Bone'. But if you are such a dedicated fan, you don't mind of course them replicating their masterpieces with a militarisatic rather than sexual overtone. The booklet which comes with the 13.99 version is even more intriguing. For an extra four pounds you get all the lyrics, AC/DC in grey rather than red on the front, and some glossy colour photos. Worth every penny. Although not sure Americans agree. Their tour sold out in ten seconds over here. You can still get tickets over there.

Angus is still in his obligatory school uniform and pulling faces like the naughty school boy nicking from the tuck shop he isn't. But the rest of the band - who must now be approaching their 60s - have been working out (possibly in my dreams, a 'rock and roll dream') but anyway, they're all smiling. Probably smiling because of all the money they've made out of us suckers. Even more of a giveaway to this fact is the title of one of the songs 'Money Made', 'You keep it up, you get it made'. On this ocassion, they have kept it up. I have to disagree with my ex on the issue of 'Fly on the Wall' being up to this standard - it ain't.
But I think we wouldn't be 'Spoilin for a Fight' on why this is probably their best album for nearly thirty years. It's possibly because it's the original line-up since the 1980 'Let There be Rock' tour - apart from Bon Scott who died from a drinking overdose then. Angus Young on lead guitar, Malcolm Young (whose name I had emblazoned in Celtic script on my cut-off denim jacket, ahem some time ago) on rythym guitair, Phil Rudd on drums and Cliff Williams on bass. Brian Johnson 'vocals'. His voice has actually improved. But it's amazing the difference the steady drums and dominant bass make. Phil Rudd only came back in 1994 after scrapping with Malcolm.

And 'Decibel' - track 9. A track presumably written by Angus about playing in open air stadiums. 'Love in the rain, they're in there rocking standing proud, Decibel. That's the history of rock and roll'.

And the birthday party? 'She likes Rock N Roll'

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Is this the end of capitalism?

I hope tomorrow they finally tell us what percentage of the banks we now own for the £500 bn we've put in. I'm definitely writing to Diane Abbott and the Today Programme (again) if they don't. Basically if it's what Paul Mason on Newsnight said on Thursday - approximately 1% then we're doomed as that's definitely not enough to restore stability. My vote is of course for 100%, with us being able to vote at AGMs, politicians in charge, after all they are elected. But what I REALLY want is for us to own: 1) The National Health Service. Privatisation MUST stop. 2) Care. This needs to be part of the NHS anyway - free to anyone who needs it. Automatically for over 70s, automatic for those with disabilities. 3) Education. Free. NO PFI.

And true Democracy must occur. Money cannot be the incentive - instead we need accountability, public service, giving to others, sharing, cooperation, international flows of labour. When people realise how rewarding it is to give to others rather than consume for themselves, they won't turn back to the past twenty years of gluttonous market madness.

Yes, this is a sea change. Finally I am agreeing with all my friends. Or more to the point they are agreeing with me - I haven't changed. Even in the past month the shift to the left has been palpaple. I'm no longer arguing about economics. The mixed economy is back. Thank God. OK there might not be a revolution. But people will realise the nonsensical persistant reliance on greed - especially over the past twenty years or so - to save humanity and the earth. A more socialist, caring society is the future.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

How to not get stressed in a global crisis: Managing depression in a Depression

1) Talk to kindred spirits. The people who you always agree with politically. You know who they are.
2) Talk to Dad
3) Get on with work
3.5) define work for yourself
4) keep yourself fit
5) Meditate
6) Complain to BBC/Diane Abbott etc
7) Articulate concerns and record them.
8) Think about the sun rising tomorrow
9) Redefine capitalism

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Depressed in a depression

Just finished another care work shift. It's like doing a care marathon: 'Nearly there, nearly there. Just another five clients to go. First client only made me 2 hours late, and that time is reducing. Oh she hasn't got any fresh milk. Never mind. I'll open the UHT. Damn, there's shit everywhere. Well clearing all that up will only take ten minutes.' We don't get paid travel time, plus the time that people are on our rotas - normally for me anyway you can double that. Easily. Any extra time I work I don't get paid for. The way I see it is that the sort of people we care for should be getting the best treatment, the best homes and the best lifestyles. They are severely disabled so this care and treatment that they should get should compensate them for the bum hand lady luck dealt them. Of course the opposite is true most of the time. The homes are dirty. The care is insufficient: utterly underresourced, poor training and poor supervision. And we don't get enough time with them. They don't get any advice or advocacy. The first lady I saw - with complex needs had crap stains all over her bed. The house was much dirtier than when I last saw her. She said her main carers were on holiday. Well the company know that so why can't they spend an extra whatever it is making sure she gets good care? For complex cases we need two carers if the regular carer is away. Because I actually do care I cleaned all this up, put fresh sheets on the bed and made it what I considered habitable. I was then half an hour late - of course not including travel time.
I actually quite enjoy the work. The system on the other hand is another kettle of fish.
Because they don't pay you adequately, and you're not given a break, you inevitably rush. I started work at 7.30, finished at 3pm. It's actually a full day's work - no break. I ate half a marmite sandwich for 'lunch' in a car park. I got hiccups because I was eating it so fast. 15 minute appointments need to be outlawed. What can you do in 15 minutes? Rushing is not good. This is supposed to be 'care'. I end up prioritising - they must eat, they must fill in my timesheet, I must fill in their care plan. Emptying commode and washing up get forgotten.

Anyway progress since the 1930s is at least antibiotics. One of my old ladies showed me her wedding photo. She couldn't remember when it was, but it looked like about 1936 to me. Her husband died a few years later from pneumonia.,

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

How to prepare for the future: A brief guide to global strategies

1) The American Dream. This involves trying to earn as much money as possible. Failing to see the value of democracy or education. Also known as capitalism. Money is King. Recommended by almost everyone most of the time - failing at the moment. About 150 years old.
2) Marxism. Or Communism. Basically private property is illegal - to a certain extent. Tends to be the opposite of 1). Was popular in the early twentieth century and in places like Cuba. Gone slightly out of fashion, likely to have a resurgence due to 1) going down the pan faster than you can say Frederich Engels. Trade unions are king. About 148 years old.
3) God. Vicars are apparently the happiest people job wise. God supposedly gives you faith and hope. About 3000 years old. God is King - and His prophets of course - Abraham, Moses, Christ and Mohammad. Tends to go in and out of fashion. Some people who use 1 & 2 also use 3. But not all three at the same time. One of the problems is people seem to disagree about the prophets and kill each other about it.
4) Tea leaves. Basically the tea leaves are King. They form different shapes in the cup. Try not to use a tea bag. Popular late nineteenth century.
5) The Monarchy and aristocracy. Easy - the King is King. Or queen. It's the opposite of inheritance tax. Basically if you're born a monarch, unless 2) happens then your kids will also be King. Popular in Britain, Spain and Saudi Arabia. Been going about as long as 3). The less you know anyone who's aristocracy the less likely you are to have money or a job.
Quite a good indicator of what your future will be like. Unless you happen to be somewhere where 2) is going on. In that case emigrate (if you're royalty).
6) Astrology. Published each day in tabloid newspapers. Currently more reliable than 1,2 and 5. The argument is people are influenced by the stars in the sky. Because we can predict where they're going we can predict what we're all going to do.
7) Luck. Arguably the most scientific of all the ways we can prepare for the future. There is a probability of anything happening. The more remote it is the less likely it is to happen.
Gambling is King. Popular in China. We were pretty lucky the Big Bang started in the first place - about 3bn years old. The problem is bad luck.
8) Fascism. Linked to nihilism. If you don't want a future a good choice. Popular in 1930s Europe and having a resurgence now. Dictator is King.
9) Palm reading. You have four main lines. Life line circles your thumb. Should be a nice long circle. Head line crosses the palm from the start of the life line. And your heart line goes across from your little finger ending just before the head. Career is up the middle of your palm. Not the best way to prepare as you can't do anything about it. Bad luck if your life line is cut. Palm is King.
10) Anarchism. Freedom is king. Anyone can do whatever they want. Nothing/Everything is in charge. The phrase in 1960s France was 'Demand the Impossible.'
11) not walking under ladders. Likely to have short term impact in terms of buckets of water not falling on your head. Ladder is king.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dear Jane, Jacqui and Nancy

The world's capitalist system is on its knees. We believe that now is the time for you to denounce privatisation of our care and health services and stop this from happening. Privatisation of the health and care industries has had cross party political support over the past twenty years or so. We have seen privatisation of home care work, 'consultancy', training programmes, capital projects, GP services and the Expert Patient Programme to name a few. Wherever large companies think they can make a fast buck they swoop like vultures.

This privatisation has had a disastrous impact on the NHS. Services like privatised home care and the Expert Patient Programme are fragmented and not as effectively regulated. We argue that people have prematurely died and suffered as a result of this. And this is likely to get much worse, as money is cut from privatised budgets following the sweeping cuts to borrowing banks are making and will continue to make for the foreseeable future.

The drive to divide the NHS - which you have led - must stop. Even calling the different parts of the organisation 'divisions' is divisive. That's what the word means. You have ground down the 'provider' side so that 'commissioners' feel superior to 'providers'. 'Providers' is a very degrading term for people working so hard for the health and wellbeing of the nation. You have made these people (the nurses, doctors, hospital workers) feel inferior. The free markets don't work. They are failing. This approach works even less in health and social care - these are peoples lives we are talking about - not just a fast buck. Please stop the current push to privatise the NHS. Stop the 'Alternative Provider Organisation'. You are wrong - this will not be an improvement. Takeover the running of all your privatised elements - like consultants and cleaning. This is more democratic - as publicly elected Governors like myself and experienced managers, not to mention the local authority, like yourselves are better managers and motivators than the profit crazed capitalists.

The history of 'Keep Hackney NHS Public' is one we are proud of, although unfortunately its establishment, like many organisations and events was a reaction to political events. You probably remember a letter from the then, Sir Nigel Crisp (now Lord Crisp of course - sworn to secrecy on what happened then) to yourselves in July 2005 telling you to make cuts of 15%, in support of 'commissioning a patient led NHS'. We vigorously opposed this and immediately formed a political organisation which united trade unions, patients and the local community, linked to the national 'Keep our NHS Public'. In due course, Tony Blair and Patricia Hewitt who were the probable architects of the debacle were deposed, after I might say substantial lobbying from ourselves. The cuts as you know, were returned on the NHS balance sheets as a surplus. So just over two years ago, before Alan Johnson became Health Secretary, the NHS was facing a £2bn deficit. Now it is £2bn surplus. The local NHS has an extra £23m to spend. As a result of all this success I was elected public Governor of the Homerton in September 2007, Gill George was elected national executive member of UNITE last year.

We stand united, proud of our short past and we implore upon you to stop privatisation, bring back in-house outsourced services - such as cleaning at the Homerton and privatised home care services, stop your misguided 'APO' plans, and give your staff the appropriate pay rise - in line with inflation so that staff are not effectively getting a pay cut.

Keep Hackney NHS Public

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bankrupting the banks

Looking at our bank accounts it would be absolutely great - as they make red marker pen seem rather pink - if the banks went bust. Of course they wouldn't get their money that we owe them. The problem is is that the NHS - automatically unprofitable de facto - employs the most caring and transparent people - people who want it to continue and provide a better life not for themselves but for others. The banks on the other hand employ greedy manipulative philistines, who endevour to pull fast ones on their own children and grandchildren whenever they can. Consequently the world governments couldn't give a flying hoot if myself, my friends and family go bankrupt. But if I were a billionaire selfish prat they would.

Anyway I'm taking up running - not only running up large debts in running gear (amazing how much you can spend on clothing technology) to help the banks go bankrupt, but running to keep myself in tip top shape ready for armaggedon.

I told husband we couldn't afford to join the gym at the moment. Anyway he ignored me. I'm trying to see this as a personal mission to bring down Natwest. The problem is our joint account is with the Co-op, of course deliberately joined because they're supposed to be nice. This is part of the problem with a marxist revolution, even the nice people you have to stick up against the wall. Or alternatively take them to your gym with your guest pass.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Marxism Today

I've just been doing what is normally my least favourite activity, listening to 'The Today Programme' on Radio Four. They just said 'They say a week's a long time in politics. but a few hours are a long time in the global financial markets'. True, and true to their right wing form even Jonathan Sachs, chief rabbi was defending capitalism on Thought for the day, claiming that some school scheme he'd inspired had implemented morality in the stock markets. But it hasn't has it Jonny boy?

Revolutionary socialists, like myself (I wasn't particularly yesterday but people can change) start acting frenetically and happily when global economic apocalyspse comes home to roost. I almost bought the Daily Mail yesterday - a front page headline of a photo with beardie Richard Branson 'IN DEFENCE OF CAPITALISM'. When even the Daily Mail is having headlines like that you it's enough to make you skip along Fleet Street. Capitalism needs defending.

The political system has done nothing but anger me. It's a political system based on a corrupt economic system. Especially now, today. The whole of my adult life I have done virtually nothing else but try to tell people about the perils of privatisation - particularly of social services and health care. When a 'Labour' social services committee implemented cuts to social services, implemented charges for older and disabled people's care - I led a rally of older people to that committee. When a local authority privatised housing benefit services, I led a deputation of people who explained how the most needy were being made homeless. And when the 'Labour' government (ok, Tony Blair and Patricia Hewitt) cut the NHS budget by 15% and tried to privatise it, I led the work and was a founder member of 'Keep Our NHS Public'. I lobbied my MP with another individual - not for my own job but for the thousands of patients and staff members who would lose their services and jobs.

Today I am an employee of a privatised care company - listed on the stock market I believe. I work in Leeds, the company's HQ is in Birmingham. We get paid about £6 per hour. But not paid any travel time. My average monthly salary for a day's work a week is £32. It works out at about £4 an hour - and is actually life saving work. When the markets dictate - as they have done - people are sacrificed for money. Every minute when I care for these people I can see that. My labour is not valued appropriately - as keeping quite old and disabled people alive is not profitable. And when profits go down, companies do not give themselves up for nationalisation because they think they're unethical. No, they make cuts. That means job losses.

This is much, much more major than the Iraq War. This is because already a billion people are starving -the food crisis caused by the bio-fuels nightmare and climate change has overturned 10 years of economic growth. The decrease in demand in the economy from the corrupt, unregulated gambling of billionaires will cause a global economic meltdown. This will affect more people than the Iraq War as it is truly international - more so because of globalisation than the Great depression. What we need is grassroots action. Trade Unions acting with pressure groups and the community. Jobs must be saved. Care and health companies need urgent nationalisation. International Socialism needs to lift its head again and rise to the challenge of uniting green and red all over the world. The Labour Party needs to reinstate Clause 4. Attacks on immigrants must stop. Xenophobia needs to be illegal. Borders need to be brought down so people can move to where the work is. Local government needs to be given proper power and not be allowed to privatise services.

It is not ethical to make profit out of misery, disease and destitution.

Trotsky rocks

Friday, September 12, 2008

Paradise on Earth

We are now in Bali. It is AMAZING. Plenty of emphasis on the Zing there. To be honest haven't yet ventured out of the Villa which makes Buckingham Palace look like a substandard nineteenth century squat. Every detail you could possibly think of has been thought of, and more. The 'day bed' on which I am now typing is about ten foot by ten foot with its own electricity supply, fan and cushions. Overlooking the pool which is currently glowing from the clever blue lighting. And to my left is our room, or suite of rooms. Bedroom two foot from the pool, with its own dressing room and outside double showers and bathroom. A garbath.

There are a few firsts which summarise this well:
1) The closest I have ever stayed to a pool
2) The best reflexology and foot massage ever had - and cheapest
3) The most cleverly designed holiday accommodation I've ever stayed in - open plan dining and living room overlooking the pool - no walls. Upstairs air conditioned media room and gym and upstairs living room. Rooms with their own dressing rooms and outside bathrooms
4) The best landscaping at any place I've ever stayed - tropical garden planting that puts Diermid Gavin to shame
5) showing off a brilliant sparkly manicure - and pedicure
6) The most brilliantly named villa Windu Sari - translated as 'Paradise in a Point in Time'. Couldn't be more apt.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Grooming in Hong Kong

Yes, we are here in Hong Kong, for the second wedding of the century - brother in law to his fiancee. It's on Saturday in Bali. We're flying there tomorrow for five days. So far we've eaten out in most countries of the southern hemisphere (or restaurants selling their food anyway). My geography is not up to scratch but: That's Taiwan, Australia, Japan, Argentina, Korea, china - tea only, and Chinese buffet.

Yesterday was Hub Hub's birthday. He got a programmable universal remote control. It's what he wanted. He had a gorgeous cake at dinner - the best Tiramisu I've ever tasted and at lunchtime they took us up to the revolving restaurant - that was incredible. 62nd floor. Highest I've ever been. Double Decker buses like ants. And you don't want to miss a second.

It's amazing - a shopper's paradise. There is no VAT. There is barely any tax apparently. High rise flats don't seem to have had the negative press that they've had in the UK - every building is a skyscraper. Essentially it's unbridled capitalism - and it seems to work, for us and the eight million others or so. Except there is limited democracy, but as long as there's food on the table then people don't (allegedly) mind. One picture which sticks in my mind is the 'Legislative Council' building - our Houses of Parliament. It is smaller than Hackney Town Hall. It is the only 1910 building still standing in Hong Kong - we know because we bought a panoramic photo from 1910. What is astounding is that this tiny two storey colonial style outpost building is there, overlooking the harbour, and then right next to it is the 'Bank of China' or equivalent - all 82 floors of it - and the same on each side. It is like a pin head in a load of pens. Even more incredible is that in about two months time, this 'Legco' building will no longer overlook the harbour. Because they are filling in that bit of the harbour and building more bank offices. I was laughing about this, imagining if someone wanted to fill in the Thames in front of the House of Commons and build an office block. It does sum it up though - minimal governance and regulation, with money (investment) everywhere you look.

The most striking cultural experience has been seeing the thousands of Filipino maids celebrating their Sundays in 'Central'. They have little picnics in groups - on the balustrades, sitting on the tiles at the bus station. In fact sitting anywhere and everywhere they can. We were walking through on our way to somewhere else. Not a single male face as far as you could see. In one way it is quite unsettling. These people working thousands of miles from home - every one separated from their husband or boyfriend, just to earn a bit of money to send back. Not able to afford a meal out, not even 'congi' the local porridge. Just there, sitting on sheets on the concrete, playing with beads, with other women they know. On the other hand though, it is quite uplifting. They aren't crack addicts or doped up to their eyeballs,getting drunk. All you can hear is quiet chatter as they enjoy their only day off with all their friends, playing parlour games and taking advantage of the spotless infrastructure. Even in the most challenging circumstances, the human spirit can get us through.

The best scene though was when we met the bride to be - she was finishing work early on Monday at lunchtime. We all went to meet her to go for lunch. The look of joy on her face as she met the man, and they embraced. I felt very privileged indeed just to be here and see that.

Monday, August 25, 2008

'Being a step grandfather is a cinch'

This is one of my Dad's comments in the car on the way to Auntie E's.

'Oral History' is part of my MA - it's my option course. Part of the MA dissertation will be based on evidence gleaned from interviews with key movers and shakers in the history of dementia. That's the plan at least. Anyway one of my friends on my course for her option essay did a piece on her interviewing her granny. I thought this would be easier and so used Auntie E as a guinea pig in this regard today - husband has finally shown me how to use voice recorder properly.

Auntie E is normally a bundle of laughs but this interview, which was highly structured by me, actually got quite harrowing at times. There were of course many comic stories, but the ones which hit home were the more sad tales. Great great granny died of Typhoid at 32 - as did two of her children, leaving my great granny , the eldest, (born 1882) to bring up a family of ten. A little later a younger sister died in a fire on her street - a man was burning advertising hoardings and her Victoriana outfit just caught fire. Great granny later of course met my great grandfather who died at 29 of Type 1 diabetes - no insulin of course in those days. Fortunately she met my great-step grandfather and they later had two girls in Shropshire - one of which is Auntie E born 1921.

Anyway, the point is it wasn't as fun as I was expecting. Precisely because Auntie E wanted to present a more true picture for my sake than the normal glossy, idyllic representations we normally receive of our family's past, there were unexpected times when I felt Auntie E was being quite reticent. None of us knew that at the age of ten following rheumatic fever, Auntie E was taught at home by an 'irritable' woman for four years - effectively leaving school at ten. That her father was unemployed at the time of the depression. She doesn't particularly remember this time. That the war was the worst part of her life. And we didn't even get past 1948. Must write up the methodology.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Getting excited about Ewbank

Not Chris, but my rechargeable motorised sweeper - the perfect thing for the stairs. Why hardly anyone else has cottoned on to this machine is beyond me. For those of us with weak arms - _ have now resigned myself to this - they are brilliant. You can still hoover - but not as much!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Why the Thatcherite monetarist experiment must end

Despite the fantastic efforts of the Glasgow Media Group and nice people like Paul Foot - who gave me my only ever paid piece of journalistic work - the way the world is portrayed is still as an unkind, inflexible, harsh, capitalist greedy way. And most importantly of all - the world is presented inaccurately and in a totally misleading fashion. Gordon Brown's constant harping on about how he made the Bank of England independent now seems very much like urinating in strong central bank air vents. This was a policy he nicked from the Liberal Democrats anyway - I remember I voted for them in 1992 because my Economics A Level teacher was a fan. The point is the Bank of England is strictly required to keep inflation down. In fact, it's the only thing it has to do. But how stupid is that? Even if the Bank of England was in a vacuum with some Sterling and a vault there is no way that this one method would stop prices going up. Anyone with the slightest appreciation of science will know that the most infinitesimally small factors can influence the smallest of other, totally unrelated things. Yes, a huge high interest rate will undoubtedly stop people with large mortgages from dining out every second day, but the multiplier - the price elasticity of interest rates is not linear. Furthermore there are inflationary pressures which are absolutely nothing to do with wages or interest rates. Like the price of food for example. Apparently nobody could have predicted that having bizarre 'bio-fuel' targets would have increased the price of food across the world - making it a scarce commodity. Inflation occurs where there is a scarce resource - when productivity cannot be matched by demand. It is the greatest resource of all - human resource - that will bring new resources available to stop this human suffering. I have faith.

Anyway I have to stop writing now and go and fill in my timesheet.
If anything is deflationary it's filling in time sheets. Perhaps if Mervyn King was monitored to the same extent I am we wouldn't be in this situation.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Inspiration from above

Not God in this particular example, but my new boss. I have been truly throroughly unlucky with bosses in the past. Bullies from actual Hell, the devil incarnate, nightmare freaks, power crazed maniacs, sexual harrassers extraordinaire, sack-happy capitalist gimps. The whole caboodle. So I was expecting the same again. A sort of dickhead, poorly educated, thinks they know best when they don't and talk to you like you're a crack-whore to their white rock pimp. I've always hated 'The Office' as I felt it was too realistic. That's what I was expecting. Couldn't be farther from the truth. My new boss is funny, openly gay which is very refreshing, VERY well educated and inspirational in his approach. For example, the place where I work (in my job which is the longer of the two I hold) has the highest childhood obesity rates in Europe. And some government big wigs critcised us a few months ago for not doing enough about it. Anyway, we are holding this event, and just about inviting anyone to it. There is a tendency in my line of work to just think about 'us'. And invite 'us' to something we need to work on. That's out of the window. We're inviting definite thems. We're inviting the police, architects and hippies. And getting them in a big circle. Police because of course if people are scared of playing in the park then they're going to get fat. Architects - because if you haven't incorporated bike sheds into a new build noone's going to cycle. And hippies - because a lot of them are thin. We need them to spread the thin vibe man. It might sound tame, but all this palaver is backed up by my new boss's academic credentials. Even the consultants he knows are impressive.

Anyway the problem is thus: Now I have finally, after approximately ten years, found a job I enjoy with people I like etc ad infinitum. But I live 250 miles away from it. Where I actually live, your luck's in if you've got a job that pays the minimum wage. To cut a long story short I have a job interview on Friday for a job that is HALF my current salary - for full time hours. And with worse terms and conditions - ie no sick pay, rubbish pension. Is the grass always that delicate shade of sage when you're so far away from it? And when you finally move to that lovely bit of chamomile grass you grew from seed, and you sit on it do you start to sink into the mud?

Friday, August 08, 2008

A complicated life

C, who I live with in Stoke Newington you would think would have a more simple life than me. (Me - who commutes weekly to Leeds, just about managing to hold down two jobs, not particularly making a good hash of governor role, landladying and trying to do an MA. ) When in London I live with C, a brilliant vegetarian cook who quite frankly pampers me. Anyway the latest news from C is more interesting than anything I can offer. We live on a low rise Council Estate in Stoke Newington, built in the eighties I would guess. C's lived there for at least twenty years and knows even more people than I do in Stoke Newington. The latest scandal is that one of the women next door accused Dylan (C's cat) of poohing on her patio. Of course anyone who knows cats would know they would never pooh on a hard surface. And the woman on the other side saw squirrels in the patio, which confirmed C's suspicions as the pooh was also very small. But C dutifully cleaned it all up. The reason we are being very generous with this particular woman is that her partner of 18 years has just deserted her - for a Chinese woman he goes ballroom dancing with. The poor woman has been hounding other neighbours 'downstairs' where this guy used to hang out and chat about his car. The other lady on the other side is apparently seeing someone who is emotionally abusive towards her. C tackled her about this and said 'Don't you love yourself?' and the woman burst into tears. 'He's ugly' said C, telling it as it is. The woman agreed and said that that's what everyone else says. I asked C if she offers advice to her neighbours like she talks to me - recommending strap on accessories from Ann Summers - apparently men are not required. No, she says after about ten minutes when we have stopped laughing.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

THIS is the age of the train

Jimmy Saville was wrong about the 70s. Here I am watching the sunset, instantly publishing my own inspired record of the noughties, keeping in touch with all my friends and family at the click of a switch - and in silence - just about. (Some people abuse the 'quiet coach' system.)

Anyway so far tonight glided past the golden corn fields, watching a young boy cycle between the grooves, then past a park with a happy gang camping with a little camp fire. And the ubiquitous TOXIC then TOX graffitti tags as you come out of London. The clouds are their usual magnificent selves. Castles in the sky. The Gods shimmering and swimming away from the sapphire sun. Now it's a huge ball. Almost before my eyes it is sinking into the smoky turqouise clouds. And then the greens of the fields and trees start to merge as the darkness seeps in. And she's gone. The sun has set. Wherever we are at 9.04pm. Somewhere on the same lattitude as Birmingham but on the Norfolk side.

Anyway there we go. Another day lost. Personally I prefer sunrises.

Other more interesting news - I have managed to make 'Joint Strategic Needs Assessment' sound interesting enough to persuade people to come to a three hour meeting on it.

The trolley is not coming round due to 'staff shortages'. I bet in the 70s they didn't even have a trolley. I bet you couldn't get a chardonnay anywhere on a 1970s train. So we should be grateful that at least we can go to the bar.

London is like a ghost town. And this normally empty train is practically full. Everyone going on their 'eco-friendly' holidays to Doncaster. Obviously I'm devastated about having to go to Hong Kong and Bali for my summer holiday. I wonder how long a train trip would take to get there?

A few friends and rellys of ours have had the right idea. Escape the Western recession and emigrate to Asia - jobs, great standard of living, optimism. Qatar has the highest gDP in the world. India has the second fastest growing economy. Location Location Location. Job Job Job.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Husband has a well deserved week off work. So we celebrated by holding a three day Bergerac Ironing Marathon. It was most enjoyable, I found myself one step ahead of Jim. The Green Goddess hiding diamonds in the sea - I cracked that before him. And the paedophile stalking young girls, cracked that a whole 47 minutes before Jim started asking to look at the photos. The second series is more dark, yet Jersey is still irrestible.

We saw Mamma Mia on Saturday and it was excellent. Silly but a definite feel good film.

Still can't read more than 2 pages at a time of Nelson Mandela's autobiography. I just find it so harrowing, disturbing and appalling. I'm reading the bit about prison food at the moment.

I'm also trying to get a 'well paid' job as we call it. It's not that I don't enjoy care work, it's very rewarding in fact. But, it's too physical. Unless I start putting two hours in at the gym a day to build up my muscle strength, I just can't do it longer than one morning a week. I think if it was men's work in the eyes of society it would be £45 an hour. You hear horror stories about people doing their back in. And already someone has fallen on me. It took two of us to get her back up again. Then there's the outrageous bean counting. We don't get paid travel time for example. And we're supposed to get people ready in the morning in less time than I allow myself. I give myself an hour and a half to get up, get washed, get dressed have a nice breakfast. People with multiple disabilities, can't walk unaided and long term health conditions, not to mention full commodes - they get 20 minutes.
And every one of them wants their care at 8am. But we have six people to get up. Someone will have to get up at 6.30 and someone at 10.30 - in fact it's on our rotas. But in the care plan it says 8am for everyone.
There isn't really a mystery to crack on this one. The culprit is the capitalist system.

But the rewards for the subliminal criminal are that you're really helping people, directly. Without the carers - paid and unpaid - of the world, humanity would collapse. It's just tough luck it's not financially rewarding too. As soon as men start to do the work, we'll see carers getting their just dessert.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My connection to Dizzee Rascal

is that I believe I shared a bus with his girlfriend last night - the 73 to Islington from King's Cross. Anyway, I don't know why, but I suspect it's something to do with being ill so TV and music is about the only thing I've felt like doing, but I watched music TV channels for about 8 hours non stop yesterday. By the end of it I had about seven songs which I'd decided I liked - which I'd downloaded and was listening to on my IPOD. Very boring you might think. And yes, this story is pretty dull, but this is probably the closest I'll ever get to stardom, and it gets worse. Anyway I had learned that this nice young chap from London 1) was number 1 with his song Dance wiv me 2) liked girls - this was a highlight of his fame according to him at the O2 festival 3) also liked rock music which was another plus in his direction from yours truly. And basically I overheard this attractive young woman on the bus talk to a friend of hers on her mobile phone and the it went something like this:
"Well he said he was going to Kent, and then I found out he wasn't he was a party with some girls. And you know that dress I wore to Dizzee's party. The sort of slinky one? Well she had cut it all up? Yeah, you know what I mean? And then I said No way. Yeah I told him. And he was like begging me. He even bought me some jewellery you know. And I chucked it at him. Yeah. And I was like No. No, I haven't been in touch with him. I just sent him a text saying congratulations for staying at number one. Yeah Dizzee will probably be having another party. Yeah I'll talk to you soon." And she got off the bus, after I'd bamboozled my way next to her to sit down and eavesdrop more effectively.

I'm more effective as a restaurant spy.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Enjoying the beauty of nothing.

One of the joys of meditation is that you actually start to enjoy nothing. It must be the ideal recreational activity for prisoners. Apart from that, also enjoying the nasturtiums which are about to come out, picking songs from the TV that I am going to listen to on my IPOD. Deciding that 'Hulk Knows Best' is the best programme on TV. Massage and aromatherapy.Cleaning the house. Not much of a blog entry, but I was fed up with talking myself into a recession. But the other things keeping me happy - so excited about a lovely present I have bought for a very special young S. And a real life prospective Dr Blag has achieved just that - and I know who she is! And she's not Blaglady - who has started her blog again. Phil thought Margaret Thatcher had died. Anyway the point is, it's not all bad news. You've just got to Blagg out the goods on this blogging lark.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

How do you stop a recession?

The recession is imminent. One of our best friends is a corporate property lawyer. She bought a house a couple of months ago - and right at the last minute the mortgage company were trying to pull the plug on the deal. Can you imagine if that is happening to someone earning whatever corporate property lawyers earn, and someone doing corporate property law for a living - what the hell is it like out there for any old person trying to buy a house with a mortgage? Husband keeps on saying to me, 'I don't know why you give two hoots about the FTSE'. The point is it's the best indicator to the economy we've got. And if it falls by 20% then we're in a bear market that nearly always will lead to recession. If you think about being Chief Executive of say, Marks and Spencer, and suddenly your value and your company's value is reduced by 20% - what do you do? Well there's a few options. The first one though is retract - consolidate, reduce your expansion plans - and a few seconds after that you think about cost savings you're going to make. Labour is the biggest cost. So you start laying people off. It's already happening in housing, finances. Not long before everything else follows. And perhaps even worse than recession is what we thought had vanished from the 70s - stagflation. Massive inflation - this time caused by rising oil and food prices - and rising unemployment.

Anyway the good news is I now have more ideas for an MA dissertation, that could actually be less depressing than the history of dementia. The history of stagflation - what caused it in the 1970s? What caused the UK 'credit crunch'? Will the 'credit crunch' see a resurgence for economic history?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Inventions by Tattontastic

I have several ideas for inventions
1) Having specifically chosen interval music on Sky plus - something other than the 3 tracks you're forced to listen to.
2) An ironing machine. I personally wouldn't mind paying at least a thousand pounds for this machine. Like a washing machine, but it irons. You shove all the clothes in and then in 3 hours it's all ironed.
3) Grand Theft Auto - the movie. Perhaps not with a bloke as the main character, but an Eastern European woman, who is one of the trafficked prostitutes he kills.
4) Recycling rubbish boxes made out of recycled rubbish - we currently have six bins for recycling and rubbish, none of which have been recycled out of anything.
5) - the website. Not only for looking up decent places to eat in this beautiful, yet foodie-virginal county, but decent shops, delis, off licences, farmers markets revewed. Strictly no advertising or sponsorship. Perhaps there could be a bit on the website devoted to combining nice food with other activities - eg cycling, climbing, camping, music and running. One has to get rid of all this flab one is building up when food is the main hobby. Perhaps if I get some web training I could do this last one myself. But can you be a carless yorkshire foodie?
6) The human dynamo - a machine which is powered by the human body which then powers and charges other batteries - the AA type or perhaps even larger ones. So you exercise and charge your stuff at the same time. There could be a human bike dynamo, an arms and legs one, and perhaps one that you attach to your bike when you're out and about, perhaps one that works when you jog or walk.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Striving for consensus

I'm feeling quite a lot better now, although pneumonia takes it out of you more than you think. I've been ill for nearly three weeks and haven't had much energy to do anything. But the good news is I'm currently cancer free. Had a CT scan yesterday. The doctors want to make sure in someone like me that pneumonia isn't hiding cancer. Knowing that you have at least a few weeks to play with in life expectancy terms gives one a sudden zest. And how will I change my path in life? Not much is the answer to that. Of course if anyone dies at 35 it's basically too early. But why? Well, I haven't had children yet, haven't contributed that much to academic thought, haven't contributed that much to politics or seen my creative ideas published. Children is probably the easiest one there. Academic thought I'm working on. But politics is the tricky one. I have so many unachievable aims and priorities. Free education for all. Free social care for all. And I could go on. Even those two are incompatible. How do you prioritise? Free social care is probably cheaper than free education. Then there's the ongoing privatisation of the NHS. My great friend Gill George is working on that. But it's her versus the great armies of the state. People think that it doesn't matter who provides care. Codswallop. When a care worker, working for a private care company, is told 'It doesn't matter what you say, you're employed by the private company. We don't have any control over you'. And then how do you defend one's views? Through violent means? Hopefully not. But definitely not? Nelson Mandela used violent means when push came to shove.
Anyway, I don't think politics is the way forward for me. It's too frustrating, about money and I don't see eye to eye with anyone on anything. The reason I picked dementia as a topic to study was because I saw it as a topic on which there could be political consensus. We don't want to see people with dementia suffer unnecessarily. We don't want to see their carers suffer. And this is ironic, because my favourite tutor at college, Michael Kandiah who is a Tory historian argues that the 1950s age of consensus didn't exist. Perhaps what Michael doesn't realise is how depressed you can get if you're always arguing with everyone, on the margins, when the general public are deluded buffoons. So consensus and progress seem attractive. It's nice to be nice to the nice.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Poetry Muse Detective

Randall and Hopkirk- Deceased
Agatha Christie - dominates
Bergerac - non drinker
Dempsey - Makes peace
Poirot - pontificates
Quincey - moralises
Murders - dialled, diagnosed in midsummer

Friday, June 27, 2008

Why hasn't Anthonys in Leeds got a Michelin Star?

The other night we celebrated me not being that ill from pneumonia by going out for dinner at Anthony's in Leeds. We've been meaning to go for quite a while, since trying other restaurants which had been recommended by word of mouth to us which were frigging awful. This place, our 'social network' had told us, was not worth going to. So I enthusiastically booked it. We're also enthusiastic converts to 'molecular gastronomy', aka foam. El Bulli allegedly started this off - the World's number one restaurant. And as I learned from the web, chefs at Anthony's were trained at El Bulli.
Aesthetically, I have to say it is stuck somewhere in the early nineties. Those, what have to be considered now revolting brown leather high backed chairs, with matching brown oil paintings, which looked like they were picked up on Ebay. Husband quite liked the velvet underskirt of the tablecloth, I felt a bit like a footballer's wife. The restaurant is in the basement which is a questionable marketing technique. There was no natural light to appreciate the colour of one's plate. Our first encounter with the wine list was not as good as such an experience should be. As we both wanted the taster menu (which can't be that unusual) I was expecting, like at other expensive establishments, that we would have a recommended glass of whatever for each - or every other- course. This was one of the most blinding experiences on honeymoon in the Loire- the Vouvray perfectly matched the Foie gras for example. But nothing was specifically recommended. So we settled for a Sancerre and Fleurie for simplicity's sake.
We weren't given a menu of what we had chosen, until the end.
But the food was impressive. We had eight courses. I love small, numerous courses. The first course, pig cheek - nice but should it have been the first course? For the first course you want something refreshing which cleans the palate, not the heaviest, richest dish on the menu. That was a mistake. The second course was marvellous - risotto in expresso foam. You wouldn't think this would go, but it was delectable, the cheesey parmesan contrasting with the foamy and bitter coffee and succulent grains of rice. Too much of it if anything though - but this is Yorkshire. Then a wonderfully diverse course. And I could hear Gordon Ramsey shouting down my ear as I devoured it - How many flavours on one plate? I disagree with his bulliness on this. He says one can only take about four flavours at once. Anyway this course was duck (such dainty slices, microscopic) tobacco rhubarb, avocado. And there were grapefruit flecks. It looked a picture. The tastes were divine, there were more than four. And refreshing. It's a dream come true when one looks at a plate and thinks ' should I eat that?'. I didn't want to disturb a work of art. Then there were two fish courses, better if anything or at least on a par. Again the slitherist of slices of ox tongue with tuna and horseradish. Gorgeous. Followed by Red Mullet, filo crab sandwich and passion fruit foam. Divine. The Lamb dish which followed was perhaps again too quantative but delicious. Then two desserts - cucumber and cheese cannelloni. Nice. And apple pork and sage (parfait, filo and icecream) respectively. Lovely. But the cheeseboard was perhaps the highlight of the evening. There were about 30 cheeses to choose from - they had their own menu. We picked seven. You could pick eleven or thirteen. Then they went off and printed our own little cheese menu. So I've got a little list here if ever I want to get our favourites - bit of a problem as they all were. They were served on a thin long platter with plenty of accompaniments, nice breads, pickle and grapes. It was a perfect finish.

I think if they improved the wine selection, training for the sommelier, order of the taster menu and ambience of the place then it wouldn't be just deserving of one Michelin star but two. And at two hundred pounds for what was a great example of Northern creative genius - worth every penny.

Why hasn't a feature film been made about cats?

Quite often, especially when watching films with Russell Crowe in them, I think that I would rather watch a film with my cats as the leading roles. They are highly amusing and one wonders how much one influences one's pets, in much the same way as one wonders how much one's parents has influenced one. Today we had a bit of a drama. Marmite had brought in a blackbird chick which Trotsky then pounced on and Phil eventually saved in a tupperware sandwich box, releasing it to the relative freedom of next door's sycamore, which it apparently flew into with ease, so another happy ending. The yanks would love it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

There's nothing that could happen that hasn't happened

Perhaps when I've done my MA I will write stories of the lives of people who I have been in dreams:
1) A happy North African boy aged 11 in the sixteenth century close to his smiling father
2) An unhappy young Caribbean woman trapped by her aunt looking after chickens at the turn of the century
3) A Nazi soldier running down a sunsoaked avenue shot dead, after hunting for someone, in a canal overlooked by warehouses
4) An old Greek intellectual who loves talking in the shade of the pillars overlooking a grass running track
5) A ginger haired German student studying philosophy at the Sorbonne in the 1820s
6) A crazy and depressed unhappily married French rich woman who doesn't like leaving her bedroom, with lots of jewelry
7) A Russian tenement child from a violent relationship

Friday, June 13, 2008

Practicing what you preach

For almost two years now I've been 'meditating', or what I think is meditating on a daily basis. And I've been teaching people how to do it everywhere I go. Basically you breathe in through your nose on a count of one to ten, breathing out through your mouth saying calm.

To cut a long story short, it works. I was going to precede that with a long moan about all the things that went wrong today, but because I feel calm-ish after meditating for hours, I won't bother and I'll go and make myself a cup of decaff tea.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Anti-capitalist rant

No, not from me believe it or not, but from the Bishop of St Albans. We visited our lovely friends who are on the verge of becoming parents any second, and I did the honourable thing and attended Church with them on Sunday. Watching Bewitched. Had forgotten how good it is. Note to self. Get it on DVD.

Friday, June 06, 2008

There's no such thing as coincidence

Was about to prove everyone right and resign from my new role this morning. One particular client and her carer urgently needed reassessing in my opinion. Anyway I reported this to the Physiotherapist, the Community Matron and to the private company I now work for. By lunchtime they had a new house. Champagne cocktails all round.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Picking your battles

It was the first day of my new job as a Domiciliary Care Worker yesterday and so far, so good. I was the delighted recipient of so many horror stories prior to the start so the fact that I didn't come across one morsel of excrement was a matter of great elation on my part. I had forgotten how well I get on with older people, and they appreciate the attention, generally have very good humour and one is generally contributing to the overall improvement of humanity which can't be sniffed at. The other thing which I hadn't truly appreciated is that you are more or less your own boss. There isn't some ogre of a manager inspecting your every move, which is a great pleasure, something I am shocked to say I haven't ever experienced before. The person I was shadowing though, told me that I really needed to shadow her this evening at 7, as there is a particular client who, apparently once you can look after her, you can do anything. So this is the real test.

Other news, I am supposed to be completing another application as we speak. My excuse this time is that I'm too depressed. Heroin is still a problem in my home town, as it probably is everywhere, however, my coping mechanism to pretend it isn't didn't work at the weekend as we had a little visit there. And then they had some numbchuck from 'Migration Watch' on the Today Programme which was preceeded by a debate on commodity prices which didn't mention the levels of speculation, followed by a debate about Care for the Elderly which is not examining how to pay for it. That's the problem. The thing that upsets me about politics isn't so much what happens, it's the feeling of absolute powerlessness. And the today programme exemplifies this. People get misleading, uninformed claptrap and then they're expected to make the right decisions. If you start off with some good information, then we might not get Boris as Mayor, or an increase in BNP seats. And that's another thing making me depressed. The BNP has infiltrated one of my favourite websites -'Daily Mail Watch'. What can you do? Actually nothing. If you're a left leaning liberal pacifist champagne anarcho feminist socialist like myself, then you can either 1) have an argument with them 2) Tell them to shut up. I prefer option 2, but then everyone bleats off about free speech. And then I start thinking well actually it is better when they shut up. Perhaps I'm not in favour of free speech. So after all that I'm thinking I'm a communist and I'm going to move to Venezuela. I mentioned it to my life coach - how do you pick your battles? She said pick ones you can win. Application form vs Heroin Addiction vs Fascism vs moving to Venezuela . Application every time.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mistress of Reinvention

No, not Madonna. Moi. Yes I am now officially a 'Care Worker'. My friends are laying bets on how long I will manage to stay in employment in this capacity. Odds on for 5 seconds. You can get quite good odds apparently for me going back in time and retracting my application, so I will actually be employed for a time period in negative terms. I'm exaggerating slightly. Everyone's almost as thrilled for me as when I got engaged (not). Seriously, I'm looking forward to it slightly, in the same way one has a sort of nervous expectation when going to collect the newspaper in the rain. To be honest, they've already singled me out for a sacking probably - I was the only person who read our job contracts, they were actually trying to employ us as office workers. I have another new boss who I get on with very well, that's in my other job that I'm more keen on keeping. Astute readers will notice that this blog has tried to clean up its act recently. Patricia Hewitt in particular has had an easy time lately (or perhaps that's because she's retired, or should I say gone into consultancy with BT on £60k per annum for 1 day a week). Anyway, the new boss who I get on very well with has a lot of journalistic experience, so I'm hoping to nick some of his creative asperge. (A French word which probably doesn't exist but not knowing any French couldn't think of a good one to put in there). Apparently he takes four weeks to think of an idea and then takes 2 hours to write it into a six hundred word article. I'm the other way round. I get two million ideas per minute, then have to try and make it at least palletable over weeks. I'm my own worst editor and consequently delete a lot of rubbish. Even my new boss doesn't earn any money from it.

Other news, we had a marvellous meal at the Boxtree on Tuesday for our anniversary meal. It was bargain basement prices (compared to London anyway) superb, great service. It has made me want to try 'Anthony's' in Leeds. Our word of mouth reviews (who quite frankly are useless) said it was rubbish and overpriced. But the Good Food Guide put it in the top twenty in the Uk, so we'll have to go there soon. (They said the Boxtree was good). Our 'word of mouth' reviews recommended this 'all meals under the sun on one plate and as much as you can eat' place in Leeds, which Phil took me to. I lasted two nano seconds. I preferred the taste of my own vomit. And, as all my friends have been informing me, that, as well as the smell -and feel, if not taste - of excrement is something I will be having to get used to over the coming weeks. And these people get the minimum wage. It's an Outrage. If only Tony Harrison was a trade union rep. [Mum: You probably haven't seen it, but he's the pink octopus Shaman on the BAFTA awardwinning comedy The Mighty Boosh written by Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt]

Monday, May 19, 2008

One year ago!

It is of course our wedding anniversary - first year today and what a beautiful day. Just like last year and a gorgeous sunny day, to match the husband. The horsechestnut is out with the laburnum and some cowparsley (in Leeds it's much greener). Even the Tories and Labour are agreeing on the embryology bill, with both Dave and Gordy recommending to their MPs to support it, so things couldn't be better.
People keep on saying 'Hasn't it gone quick?'. Well, when a lot of things happen at once somehow Time slows down a bit. One day someone will prove that. In the meantime I'm enjoying the slow/fast pace of change after a generally brilliant year. Husband is sleeping at the moment (night shift) and I'm cooking later - he has a stressful appraisal tomorrow and we're going for our celebratory meal after that. Just can't wait to properly move to Leeds. Fingers crossed I enjoy/can afford the job I've got! We've made friends with our neighbours and I might pop round in a minute to show them the wedding album.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Things which cheer me up when writing an essay

1) Tidy up papers
2) Read through what you've written
3) Look at Bibliography
4) Constantly update wordcount
5) Have a cup of tea
6) Know that you totally disagree with 90% of everything you've written but you are just trying to pass
7) Delete a lot, especially 6)
8) Write a lot of lists
9) Remember an essay is just a long list
10) Remember life is a very long list
11) Break a list down into doable chunks
12) Read through stuff you wrote that got high marks. If you can't do that meditate for 5 minutes.
13) Remember that a good essay is an indulgent bit of praise for whoever's marking it. If you don't agree with a word they say, then politely don't mention that.
14) Remember the purpose of an essay is to pass whatever it is you are doing. You can change the world later.
15) Compare yourself with Che Guevara rather than Tony Blair on these sorts of occasions - Che passed his exams and changed the world later. Tony did worse than his wife and later messed up things a lot. In other words, just pass. You can realign with your principles at a later date.
16) You are a trainee. Failing won't get you anywhere.

17) Stop procrastinating.

Monday, May 05, 2008


One of my best friends described herself as a procrastinator at a large event a couple of months ago. I put it down to depression on her part. Then I thought about this and thought to myself that I am a lot worse. To cut a long story short, which is my favourite phrase apart from anyway, I have to write an essay by Friday. And to be honest 1) I am not enjoying it 2) it's not very good 3) I can't do it. So I thought I would write my blog. When did I stop being able to write good essays? How come I don't own any books about how to do it? Why have all the people who helped me died? What's the point of pointless thoughts like that last one? It wasn't true anyway. Only one of them has, well, two.
Anyway, the point is, the key to a good essay is a good essay plan. But if you have a poor essay plan - what then? I seem to have decreased in the rate of words I write. At christmas time I was writing about 1000 words a day. Now it's 500 and they're all rubbish.
I don't know the cure for procrastination. Probably medical training. Except even my husband is apparently renowned for being a faffer. So there we have it. Faff. It's a word, I just need more of them that make sense, in the right place. At the right time. Writ for Porpoise.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bring down the borders

Politics (and birdwatching) would be so dull if you took the people out of it. I felt cheered by an informal political chat I then had at lunch with some colleagues. One rookie new guy was saying he shared George W Bush's view that capitalism would solve the climate change problems. After that he said that he thought Overpopulation was the problem. C and I are always having this debate. There's too many people in the world (they say). The population is too large. The world can't support it. We must stop the Indians/Chinese/Blacks/hispanic/other discriminated group from reproducing. But we need to encourage the 'indigenous' white population to reproduce.

Going back to my lunch yesterday, for almost the first time in my life I found myself winning the argument against this Malthusian, racist claptrap. A world population could fit into a country the size of Switzerland (7bn) and this would have the same density as Manhattan. Even better we could squeeze into Texas and have four times as much space per person. This would allow all the other space in the world - South America, Europe, most of North America, Africa and Australia to be dedicated to agricultural land or whatever we wanted, thus no food shortages.

I kicked off the debate because the price of rice doubled overnight on Wednesday. They can't even get it in Ghana. The biofuel targets must stop and we need to bring down the borders and allow people to escape starvation. I wrote to Diane Abbott.

Perhaps I was in a good mood, the sort of mood that is ok about starting political arguments, as prior to this debate I had found myself cornered yesterday by one of my favourite colleagues as this person confided in me, swearing me to absolute secrecy, that they were going to leave the union we are both in. The person then launched into a minute by minute account of some union event with other union members they had attended. I found myself giggling and then laughing at loud, at the unconfidential nature of this top-secret news I was getting. The person then said to me 'You're not taking me seriously are you?'. At which point, I said 'It's your wit, you say funny things. ' The person carried on.

We were walking along in much the same vein and then suddenly the person said 'Oh Look at that blackbird'. And there before our eyes was this huge black bird with large white flecks on its head. The person peered over and moved closer, in much the same way I would expect Bill Oddie to. I was thinking to myself - Wow, an ornithological genius in our midsts, this rare species is going to be identified. After some inspection she came back to me, saying 'Yes it's a very old blackbird' ...(I was already laughing) 'Or a big blackbird with paint splattered on its head.'

Saturday, April 19, 2008


We had an absolutely amazing holiday just recently - a series of mini-breaks including a stay in Birmingham, culminating in two nights at 'Burgh Island' - the only hotel with its own island. It is where Agatha Christie found inspiration for a couple of her books - 'Evil Under the Sun', which I managed to get a 'facsimile' copy of on our way there and 'Ten little Niggers' - a facsimile copy of that was not available. Funnily enough. I did find out that the title of that book was only changed to 'And then there were none' in 1980! And reading Agatha'a autobiography I found that one of her early collections of short stories was called 'Anna the Adventuress'. It is quite striking reading this account from the First Lady of Crime Writing how little has changed . Anyway I put any decent views I had to one-side for the weekend and soaked up the opulence, sun, sea and sand. Although it was freezing as husband will testify - he actually swam in the sea and I've got digital photographic evidence.

Now I've actually decided to go part-time almost enjoying writing a history of geriatrics at the moment. All the time I'm thinking 'Why didn't this happen earlier?'. It's just not the done thought or thing for historians. They all seem to think and write 'Oh brilliant at least it happened then'. I am trying to turn more Whiggish. Reading Agatha Christie helps. There's a famous Randy Newman song about it.

Anyway, more positive news.
The garden is coming on, S's father is helping us navigate freecycle to get rid of the washing machine. Have a brilliant life coach (another thing apart from getting rid of cancer for me that the NHS has given me). Am on my way out of London. The spare room is lovely with a beautiful room length library spanning a whole wall. Another dinner party tonight - my favourite dish, Lamb Rosemary and Orange.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Family things every so often

One of the reasons we picked Leeds as a place to live is because my brother lives here. I was thinking it was a pretty rubbish reason to move somewhere, but lately I've decided it's an ok reason. We had an in-laws party yesterday and it worked surprisingly well. We cooked of course, the computer entertained and the other humans drank a bit. All of the brothers, mine included were making each other, myself included, laugh. The cat locator was got out, after we got bored (or should I say they?) of the Nintendo Wii ( I do recommend Golf) and the Playstation 3 (I don't recommend Call of Duty 4). My brother gave me a number of a gardener who can do hard landscaping and husband's brother gave his verdict on Trotsky's missing leg fur. We had the obligatory arguments of course - is Mark Ronson a rubbish guitarist for example. Overall though everyone was on good behaviour. Husband has got man flu which may account for this civilised account. I was discussing as well the benefits of a brother as opposed to sister - of course it means he can do all the mail bonding palavar and I don't have to worry as much about the female bonding, especially these days when being camp is so much in fashion with every man and his dog, literally, being able to cook Toad in the Hole up to professional standards.
It's surprising how we managed to do all this and the shopping and go on a narrowboat in Skipton. Particularly entertaining, apart from brothers and us women was the story of 'Often Eddie' from Skipton. He used to get paid sixpence each way apparently to tow a barge down a particularly dangerous bit of canal, where they didn't want to waste a horse as they were more precious than humans. People used to ask him how often he towed the barge each day and he just used to say 'Often' so they couldn't calculate how much he was earning.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Breast cancer survivors against page three

There was an excellent article in the Guardian on Thursday - 'Why we love to hate Heather Mills'. And it got me thinking why in the twenty-first century we still have porn on the shelves that children can access. So I'm going to set up a new campaign group and target Rebekka Wade.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

At least five amazing things

I suspect my tactics have been realised on this blog. Write a short list of Five Amazing Things when struggling. When feeling better can write more. One has to keep one's blog as positive as possible for about three reasons: 1) so one doesn't get sacked 2) so one's parents, friends and relatives do not get offended 3) so not to sound depressed, bitter, jealous or other negative state and thus getting everyone worried.
Feeling much more upbeat recently. Not feeling nauseous for about the first time in a month. Working the day before a long bank holiday weekend is actually quite fun. Arrived at work early on Thursday and even the commissioners were in a good mood. They smiled. The bike shed was empty. I still love cycling of course. And as it was empty I managed to fit the padlock which I've been meaning to do for months.
Anyway I'm turning into a Whig historian. It's a bit like admitting you're posh. True, inevitable and you might get bullied by people like you for saying it. The fact is pessimists (non Whigs) are more depressed. The real reason I'm emerging into my new Whiggish self (apart from the fact it chimes with my hairstyle) is that I failed one of my assignments. I need to resubmit a more upbeat and well written version.

On Wednesday had a brilliant careers day at the Institute of Historical Research where I'm doing my MA. I was pretty much dreading it, thinking it would make me think how rubbish my career is. The opposite occurred. I was in the upper age bands so somewhat on a par with those on the podium. One of the last things said by one of the speakers was that we could do a post graduate diploma in journalism.
I have one of these things. Ha ha I thought.

Mum held her Equinox celebrations yesterday. Poetry and music and thoroughly enjoyable. It's the hippy equivalent of a Christmas party. It seems to be everyone's birthday around now too and went hunting for birthday books yesterday. Found some and also bought two Lennon biographies as treat for self. Have dipped into them both and just made me regret his death.

Had another letter through from the hospital confirming the embryos are still there. Husband and I are already discussing whether to send them to private school or not. Then I said, I can't believe we're having this discussion before they're conceived. He said they are conceived. So we carried on. He's Yah, I'm nay. My argument is that the money is better spent on their university and postgraduate education, not to mention deposit for house. His argument is a private education is better.

Pleased with Barack Obama's race speech. But less pleased there isn't much news about it. V excited that a certain person has got on the shortlist for Dragons Den. Trying to remain calm and hard nosed about that. And there's at least one place in heaven for another associate of mine. Talking of heaven, I often think of light as the equivalent, and was told a lovely story of a certain little girl who's been told that someone close to her is now a star.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Five Amazing things

1) Loving husband
2) Pregnant friends
3) Happy mothers
4) playful cats
5) blonde hair

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Five Amazing Things

1) Parents.
2) Surrogate Parents
3) Pets
4) Dishwasher
5) Other people and also friends. Living a simple life (which includes 4)

Monday, February 18, 2008

The key way to look at disappointment - as an opportunity

My Dad gave a lecture a few years ago when he said that the Chinese word for crisis is the same as opportunity.

Things happen in life. You can have an interpretation of the past, an occurrence or experience that may be negative. It may have a poor outcome, you may see it as a mistake. You might regret it. Perhaps it was a bad experience. You may have disagreed. It could be an unresolved issue. Something you didn't want and it scuppered your high expectations.

So why not have a revised view of the present and future? You've an opportunity to blossom. You can be very specific about what you want. Be realistic, do something you can achieve. You can change the situation, alter your expectations maybe. You can change direction and have new experiences. Above all , ENJOY.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Contemporary History

Been reading about 'Star Wars' recently. No, not George Lucas but Ronald Reagan. What becomes obvious is that Thatcher was more right wing than Reagan. She was worried that it might mean that we would all have to get rid of nuclear weapons. Of course that would have been awful so she had to persuade Reagan (who was anti-nuclear from an early age apparently) that Star Wars meant Star Wars with nukes.

Unlike Thatcher, Connie's been making me laugh as usual. I was recommending that she sell this to the Dragons. She told me about telling Dylan to bring his girlfriends home - he keeps on staying out late. Then he did as she had asked and they were rubbing noses outside the front door. Dylan is of course a cat.

Then Connie did an impression of her walking past her Jehovahs Witness neighbour's door. Someone trying to look like they're walking normally, but actually skipping along on tiptoes with their head bent. Still chuckling from the thought. This was inspired by 'Baby Bible Bashers' a Channel 4 documentary that Connie's set to watch tomorrow.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

A woman called Darwin

You may have noticed Mum that I deleted some posts from the blog. It was because they were too depressing. A close friend of mine died on Boxing Day. She was like a second mother to me. I was also doing essays on death and felt close to it.

Anyway I had a lucid dream last night and thought it was worth documenting. I have thought twice about this. I've dipped into Alan Clarke's diaries for example (Yes, the Thatcher loving far-right vegetarian character) and always found it irritating when he puts his dreams on paper. Anyway.

J (the deceased) rang me on my mobile whilst I was shopping. 'Can you marry M (deceased's husband) Anna tomorrow afternoon?' 'Yes' I said 'whatever you like. Take care.'
I went to their house (it wasn't actually their house but one they were living in about ten years ago) with A (deceased's daughter) and A said 'Yes, it's her voice when she speaks to you isn't it?'.

We started the ceremony, with me, M and A. A was trying to summon the ghost of a woman called Darwin. Darwin wouldn't appear. M didn't want to proceed. He said it was stupid. The wedding fell through.

Then I saw Uncle C (deceased's brother-in-law - also deceased). And M was talking to him. I approached and asked M how come he was dealing with the death of J so well. M said he was going to Brazil next week.

I think the dream is trying to tell me that I need to speak to M and A to offer support. But what about the ghost of a woman called Darwin who can't be summoned? I think Genetics, Evolution and Science have even less comfort in times of loss than telephone calls from loved ones. Even if the latter is fiction.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Five Amazing Things

What I love about the new house is the south facing aspects. Hopefully from now on I will always live in such a house. It means that you know what the weather is. If you have a north facing window then you sometimes don't know if the sun's shining.

The history of dementia is progressing well. I'm trying to narrow down my question/s to something like 'How has the definition of dementia changed?' so I've been to Leeds University Library which was great. Nobody really says 'Senile dementia' any more so I'm trying to find out when that happened, if anyone prefers using 'Alzheimers' as it can only be diagnosed at postmortem, when 'senility' went out, if it has. So far I've found one book referring to Aging and Senile Dementia from 1977. Apparently Churchill had it.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Five Amazing Things

1) I'm still enthusiastic about the social history of dementia
2) Still enjoying the MA in Contemporary British History
3) Sitting in south facing rooms full of sunshine
4) Sunshine glinting off a clean dishwasher
5) Telling your husband to turn down the sound on 'Call of Duty'

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Did death become taboo in British discourse as a result of the Great War?

Is writing this essay a fate worse than death? How many questions can a seemingly inncocent question about death generate? Is it helpful to get obsessed about death especially ones 90 years ago? Were there a load of other reasons that in fact made British society obsessed with death? Was the Great War instrumental in causing my own death (hopefully) at least 90 years after it? What isn't taboo? Is eating horrible sandwiches on National Express trains causing them to die a death of taboo? Is it helpful for something to be taboo? Why aren't more things taboo? What is the point of investigating taboo things and what happens when you discover they aren't? Were beastiality, incest and sex more of a taboo than death yesterday? How do you measure changes in attitudes and is there any point to it?