In yesterday’s blog, I mentioned the NHS wasting time and money sending out three letters when only one was required. That referred to a local hospital appointment I am (still) having on 11th May with the Respiratory Department.
Today I received a text on my mobile from the same hospital about a telephone appointment I have with their Physiotherapy Department on 4th March. The text tells me that my telephone appointment has been changed to a telephone appointment.
Apart from the surrealism of my telephone appointment being changed to a telephone appointment, there is the quirkiness of the fact that they could have saved money yesterday by sending me one text rather than three physical letters. The technology seems to be not unknown to them.
The NHS is an organisation that just keeps on giving. After reading yesterday’s blog, a care worker I know sent me a message she received from the NHS’s ‘Health Education England’ – presumably sent to all NHS workers in England who interact with members of the public – advising her what to do if she should “misgender someone by accidentally using the wrong pronoun”.
Her reaction to me was: “FFS, I think I’ll stay in lockdown”.
In other gender-bending news, Hasbro’s Twitter account announced that, from Autumn this year, its iconic Mr & Mrs Potato Head toys will be getting “a 21st-century rebrand” as ‘Potato Head’ so that the toy could “break away from traditional gender norms” and, when the new brand is unveiled, “kids will have a blank slate to create same-sex families or single-parent families”.
This would mean the toys would not “impose a fixed notion of gender identity or expression”, freeing kids to do whatever feels most natural to them. A girl potato might wear trousers and a boy potato might wear earrings. Hasbro would also sell “boxed sets that don’t present a normative family structure”. This approach would allow kids to project their own ideas about gender, sexuality and family onto their Potato Head toys, without necessarily offending parents who might have more conservative notions about family.
After some surprised reaction on social media, Hasbro then re-Tweeted yesterday that, although the toys would indeed be re-branded as Potato Heads, they would also still be identified as ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’ on the packaging.
So Mr Potato Head will now be called Potato Head to avoid gendering the toy, but the toys will be identified on the packaging as Mr Potato Head or Mrs Potato Head.
I am undecided whether this is good publicity – lots of coverage of the brand – or bad publicity – too much ducking, dodging, diving and weaving in the PR.
Collins Dictionary currently defines ‘Potato-head’ as “[slang] a dumb or stupid person”.
Meanwhile, on Facebook, Man-of-All-Arts Peter Stanford has spotted a piece in a 1884 edition of Tit-Bits magazine.
Peter’s reaction was: “I so want some reputable magazine to offer this service. I would write my own, and send it off with my subscription, just in case.”
All publications are desperate for readers and ever have been.
In yesterday’s Daily Record (basically Scotland’s national equivalent to England’s Daily Mirror), there was a prominent article on comedian and author Janey Godley ‘dividing the internet’ by posting a picture of her dinner: a plate of toast, mince, peas and onions.
According to the Daily Record, “many were outraged by her choice of dish”.
You know you have really succeeded in the fame game when a national paper starts reporting your dinner (with pictures) for the sole reason that, if they publish your name, people will want to read the article. All the more jaw-dropping because this week Janey started writing a weekly column for the Daily Record‘s competitor, The Herald.
Yesterday, my Yorkshire-born friend Lynn stumbled on this story in The Week from last month, which both of us had missed. She says: “I had to read it three times and I’m still not sure I get it. Whoever the morons are, they surely can’t be Yorkshire folk.
To be clear, the concept of the three wise monkeys became popular in 17th century Japan, before spreading to the West. It is associated with the Tendai school of Buddhism where monkeys are considered sacred and perceived as helpers for divine figures. They are “vehicles of delight”.
I always think people who censor monkeys for being racist should look at themselves in the mirror. Far be it from me to say “political correctness gone mad”… but I will.
That was yesterday.
Today, Lynn spotted this piece in Computer Active magazine about Facebook’s algorithm getting similarly censorious.
I told her: “Eat your heart out for any publican trying to make a living by running the Cock Inn, Scunthorpe.”
Afterwards, I Googled to see if there actually IS a Cock Inn, Scunthorpe.
Sadly there is not, but Google told me there is a Blythe Black Cock Inn. Arguably worse in Facebook terms, but un-censored by them.
I feel the good people of Plymouth Hoe have cause to be aggrieved about being picked-on by a US algorithm.
It covers the period from 1890 when Ike Rose “started living the legendary life of a top vaudeville & burlesque producer” to 1957, when Billy Barty founded his “advocacy group” the Little People of America.
Ike Rose, apparently, was “one of show biz history’s great impresarios, now forgotten but once in a league with names like Barnum and Ziegfeld as men who delivered full value for the price of a ticket.”
He seems to have rivalled Barnum is hype.
The book admits: “each component of the troupe’s name crumbles into dust by light of day.
“‘Rose’ was a pseudonym; the company held no Royal seal of approval; and the word ‘midget’ has passed out of use in polite society.”
The selling line for the book claims: ”Without pandering nor passing judgment, this book documents in detail the performers, producers, the stage routines themselves and the various venues from those straight up and upscale to others shameful and shady. This book probes both the Dark and the Dazzling sides of the American Imagination. Only rare books like this seriously confront our more bizarre past and allow the new generations of show folk to revise, to re-invent, to reform American Theater.”
Rare indeed – apparently only 50 copies of the book are being published.
Tomorrow – well, tonight at 8.00pm in New York; tomorrow 1.00am in London – there is a free online Zoom conversation between author Trav S.D. (Donald Travis Stewart) and Vaudevisuals’ own Jim R.Moore.
As I haven’t had a full night’s sleep since May last year (medical conditions) and am currently sleeping on the floor at night because my back is buggered, the possibility of my listening in on this Zoom call is iffy. But it sounds interesting.
I have also, this morning, just received a letter from the NHS saying that I should ignore the other letter they enclose in the same envelope cancelling my appointment with the Respiratory Team on 11th May.
Obviously, in this main letter, they don’t mention when or with whom the appointment is because that is mentioned in the letter which they are telling me to ignore.
They say, in the first letter telling me to ignore the second letter, that they will send me a third letter rescheduling the appointment.
The third letter, dated the same day as the other two letters, will inevitably say they are rescheduling my appointment which was at 1345 on Tuesday 11th May and, instead, I will have a telephone appointment at 1345 on Tuesday 11th May.
Life is but a surreal dream, a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing….
Yesterday’s blog was me bitching about the inefficient, mindless bureaucracy of the NHS. In particular, about how they sent me three self-contradictory letters about changing my meeting with a Consultant in June (in four months’ time) from an in-the-flesh meeting to a telephone call (because of the infection risk during the current COVID outbreak).
Inevitably, about ten minutes after posting that blog, I got a phone call from the NHS about changing from flesh-to-telephone a different appointment I have tomorrow with a different Consultant at the same hospital.
Something of a pity that I am not seeing him in the flesh because last week I had a recurrance of the vertigo I suddenly had without warning three weeks ago… and the neck/shoulder/arm pain which has recently got worse since it started back in November… and, of course, the fact I have not had a proper night’s sleep since I was in hospital in May last year – I wake up at least once every hour during the night, dehydrated, with my throat and mouth parched and having to drink water.
This means – because of the water – having to go to the toilet a lot during the night, which is not helped by falling-over vertigo or a painful and restrictive neck/shoulder/arm problem which is easier to describe visually rather than over the phone.
It also means I will not be given a blood test to see how my calcium level/kidney function is progressing or not. Those were involved in my problem last May, the cause of which is still a “mystery” (technical term).
Anyway, I got a fair number of comments about yesterday’s blog. These are a few…
Andy’s response was:
You should raise this with The Minister at The Department of Administrative Affairs. The response will be that to change a standard NHS letter issued by a single key stroke that generates three different but essential standard letters to the same person whilst informing several departments of the change is essential in effective running of the appointments system.
Whilst admitting that this does appear to be wasteful and confusing, particularly if the three letters received by the patient are opened in the wrong order, to alter the system requires the employment of a number of consultants and support staff over a period. It’s estimated, that may extend over several years because there is no central office for administration within the NHS.
You’ll recall the failure of the government proposed computer system to link all the the NHS computer systems into one seamless system. It’s considered that to fix this issue, which is considered mostly harmless, would take in the area of £736,000,000 and is therefore not worth doing.
In addition, all of the Ministers’ friends are all currently overstretched in other government projects they’ve been awarded so won’t be able to start work in this until at least 2037.
Yes it is the efficient work of computerised automation. Once there would have been a thinking clerical worker managing your appointments. But computers are cheap to employ even if they produce three contradictory letters where one would suffice.
This is the same bureaucracy that, when medics were crying out for Personal Protective Equipment, refused to deal with many suppliers who had stockpiles of exactly the right equipment, in date, authorised for medical use… They refused to purchase it because that particular supplier couldn’t be added to the procurement system due to a lack of past dealings.
Every once in a while there’s a cry-out for everyone in the NHS to receive a pay rise or bonus due to the hard work they’ve done in fighting the pandemic.
While I wholeheartedly agree that every single person in the NHS who has been right there in the hospital, facing danger, risking their own health as well as that of their families should get something, I’m still very reticent to make it a blanket award as I don’t want to reward those who made it more difficult or who simply did their job from home at no additional risk to themselves or others.
…and Sandra said:
The NHS? I have been lucky in my treatment from them in the main.
Apart from the time when I was sent for physio, when in fact my hip was on the point of fracturing.
Plus one other doctor whom everyone avoided.
As it turned out, he mis-diagnosed my condition, complained about the price of the meds he was about to prescribe, then ran after me begging forgiveness because he had given me the wrong prescription. Bastard.
And I told him so, leaving out the word bastard…
Obviously, I realise my alleged problems are only relatively minor inconveniences, but – hey! – look – it’s my blog. It needs writing and where else can I selfishly whinge up my own arse if not in my blog?
This week, on one single morning, I got three NHS letters in two envelopes from the same London hospital, all posted from Bristol and all written on the same day, five days earlier.
The first told me (in paragraph 2) that my appointment to see a doctor at 10.30am on Friday 18th June had been cancelled “as part of our response to the COVID-19 outbreak”.
In paragraph 3, the letter explained that, although the second paragraph “states your appointment has been ‘cancelled’, this is not the case. You have been placed on a waiting list.”
Attached to this letter was a second letter saying: “We’re sorry but we have had to cancel your appointment” at 10.30am on Friday 18th June.
Both these letters were in the same envelope.
In a second envelope which arrived at the same time on the same day was a third letter dated on exactly the same day as the first two letters.
It said: “This letter is to confirm that a telephone appointment has been made for you at 10.30am on Friday 18th June. When you have a telephone appointment you are not required to attend the hospital.”
So basically, entirely reasonably, to avoid people attending the hospital in person during the COVID-19 outbreak, my in-the-flesh appointment at 1030 on Friday 18th June (over four months away) had been changed to a telephone appointment at exactly the same time.
To do this, I was sent a letter saying my appointment was cancelled but not cancelled… an attached letter saying my appointment was cancelled… and a third, separate letter saying my appointment had been changed from physical to telephone.
All that I needed to receive was one letter saying my appointment had been changed from physical to telephone, not three letters, all sent from the source on the same day.
Have I mentioned before how much I hate mindless bureaucracy in general and what an administrative mess the NHS is?
Bad: cut head. Good: if you have freckles, no need for hair…
I got my Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID vaccination yesterday. Apparently over 12 million people have now been given the jab.
No side effects so far except that, about half an hour after getting the jab, I fell over backwards in my back garden.
I was unable to control the fall, landed flat on my back on the concrete path and hit the back right side of my skull against the sharp edge of my back doorstep.
Now I have a very sensitive-to-the-touch large domed bump on my head and a V or Y-shaped cut. Surprisingly no blood.
Nothing to do with the vaccine, of course – I just accidentally clicked my heel against the slightly raised concrete path by the grass and fell backwards. But it’s a kinda clickbait way to start a blog.
The execution of the vaccination itself was stunningly efficient. A steady flow of people entering the venue, being rapidly processed and exiting. I can only assume the organisation of it was set up by the Army not the NHS and not politicians.
I think anyone who has ever worked with me knows that I do not get on well with mindless bureaucracy.
All large bureaucracies are inherently mindless, inefficient and incompetent, no matter how well-meaning the staff may be.
Aye and there’s the rub.
Settle back with a nice cup of something hot. This is a lengthy, self-indulgent blog.
Early last week, I contacted my local doctor because I have a persistent pain at the right side of my neck, across my shoulder and in a straight line down the outside of my right upper arm. The pain has been there since late November. It is now early February and has been a bit worse the last month or so.
I think it is a muscular pain and the problem is really in my neck. I could be wrong.
My shoulder was broken in 1991 – pulverised in two places
In 1991, while standing on a pavement, I was hit by a large truck. It pulverised (technical talk for “powdered”) my collar bone in two places. The back left side of my head was cut open when it hit the edge of a low brick wall as I fell.
It also turned out later that my spine had been damaged at the bottom. The same effect as a slipped disc, though I don’t think it’s medically called that. And it hasn’t mended.
After the knock-down, I was in my local hospital for a week.
I was in the bone section ward of the hospital because of the shoulder injury; but I was bureaucratically under the care of the brain section people because of my head wound. These were/are two different departments/wards on two different floors of the hospital.
It meant that, in the hospital, although the nursing staff in the bone ward cared for me and looked out for any after effects on my shoulder and brain, the consultant supervising the bone ward ignored me.
“He is not our responsibility,” said the doctor, passing by.
One day, I heard him say, as he approached my bed with a bevy of (I presume) eager and attentive trainee doctors: “This is Mr Fleming. He is one of Mr XXXX’s patients, so he is not our responsibility.” And, as normal, he passed by my bed without stopping or talking to me.
Mr XXXX, who was on a different floor of the hospital, never visited me.
Eventually, late one Friday afternoon, an exhausted and I presume very over-worked junior doctor who worked for Mr XXXX came down, had a brief chat with me and told the nurses in the bone ward I could be sent home. Presumably they had advised Mr XXXX that I had no long-term head problems. (Which was not the case, as it turned out.)
After I was sent home, there was no physiotherapy, no after care of any kind. Much later I discovered there should have been but – hey! – it’s a big organisation. Shit happens. Some things don’t.
For about the next nine months I had waves of inability to think properly, I presume caused by concussion. I am still unable to read books because of concentration problems. Oddly, I can write books on a computer but I cannot read printed books.
I also buggered my shoulder. Mea culpa.
Because of the fractured bone(s) in my shoulder, I could only walk very carefully and slowly. I discovered walking is quite a violent shock to the torso. Who knew? Every step was a jolt and a knife stab into flesh because my bone had broken diagonally, creating two very sharp pointed ends. And I had to sleep on my back at night. Throughout my life I had previously slept on my side.
To avoid turning over, I slept with my left arm stretched out at right angles to my torso. This meant I mostly did not turn over but also had the side-effect (not realised at the time) that my shoulder bone, fractured in two places, mended with the bits of bone overlapping rather than re-attaching as before.
Not me (Photograph by Dylan Sauerwein via Unsplash)
This, in turn, I think, had the result that my left shoulder is slightly shorter horizontally than it should be and muscles around the back of my neck are a bit bunched-up.
So, occasionally, the back of my neck gets very tense and bunched.
In November last year, this was happening again and the right side of my neck started having an occasional vertical pain. As this developed, it also went along the top of my right shoulder and, for some reason, in a straight line down the outside of the upper half of my right arm.
Currently I get a pain on the right side of my neck and in that line down the outside of my right arm. I can’t really lift my arm more than halfway up my torso without a shooting pain.
All this, I think, is muscular and related to my buggered back-of-the-neck – not anything to do with bones or trapped nerves.
So I phoned my local doctor earlier this week. We are, of course, still in mid-COVID pandemic, so seeing anyone is pretty much of a no-no. The first person I talked to put me through to a second person. She told me: “There are no appointments left today. You have to phone back at 8 in the morning to book an appointment.” I was not asked why I wanted to talk to a doctor.
The next morning, I set my alarm for 0756 and phoned back at 0800.
This was the same number I had successfully phoned the previous day.
The answerphone said: “Thankyou for calling. This number is no longer in operation. Should you require urgent medical advice, please hang up and dial 111.”
111 is a general NHS advice number.
As an aside… In May, I was advised after a negative COVID test to contact my doctor because I had odd non-COVID symptoms.
When I phoned the GP surgery and told them my symptoms, their initial reaction was: “It is not our responsibility. Phone 111.”
When I phoned 111, they told me to phone back the local GP surgery and tell them that 111 said I HAD to talk to my doctor and he had to talk to me within three hours. I did. He phoned back just over three hours later and got an ambulance to take me to A&E because he believed I had had a stroke (although I had no symptoms of having had one).
When A&E tested me, they took me into hospital immediately. I had dangerous kidney function/calcium levels. Someone later told me I was probably within spitting distance of being on kidney dialysis machine.
Anyway, back to this week…
I phoned back the surgery’s number again after a few minutes gap. Same message. “Thankyou for calling. This number is no longer in operation. Should you require urgent medical advice, please hang up and dial 111.”
I went online and checked the surgery’s number. It was the correct number. I phoned back again.
“This line is no longer in use,” a different message said.
I phoned back again. The answerphone again said: “Thankyou for calling. This number is no longer in operation. Should you require urgent medical advice, please hang up and dial 111.”
I phoned back again. Same number. This time, I got a receptionist who put me through to another receptionist who asked what, in general, was wrong with me and said a doctor would phone me back “sometime today”.
Later that morning, the doctor phoned me from a very echoey room. He was either in his kitchen or a very small room with hard walls. It sounded like a toilet but I felt that was unlikely.
He listened to the symptoms I had had since November. I told him I had tried rubbing on Deep Heat, Tiger Balm (suggested by Boots chemist) and Chinese Wan Hua Oil, all to no effect.
He suggested I take paracetamol or some other simple over-the-counter pain killer.
This is why I largely distrust Western Medicine. The object is to relieve the pain and hide the symptoms… not to cure the cause which will continue, masked by the drugs.
“Pain is a sign that something is wrong, Rosemary…”
I have, perhaps, been unduly influenced in my thinking by a line in Rosemary’s Baby… “Pain is a sign that something is wrong, Rosemary.”
I somehow, perhaps foolishly, doubt that I am pregnant with the Devil’s baby, but pain is my body telling my brain that there is a problem in some part of my body, its seriousness reflected in the level of pain transmitted.
I would rather know there is a problem and try to solve it rather than not know and let it develop unknown by me.
I have a feeling that a good neck massage might help me, but – hey! – we are in a COVID pandemic where no-one wants to get to close to anyone else.
The doctor did say he would text me two NHS online exercises for neck pain and shoulder pain. And get a physiotherapist to contact me.
Whether this physiotherapist actually will contact me or not is in the lap of the Gods, but I had a look at the two pages of NHS advice as sent by the doctor.
The one for Neck Pain says: “See a GP if pain or stiffness does not go away after a few weeks”.
The advice for Shoulder Pain says: “See a GP if the pain is getting worse or does not improve after 2 weeks”.
As I mentioned to my GP, I have had pain since November.
I can’t imagine this NHS treatment happening in a pandemic…
Ah well, I should look on the bright side. I am seeing my Chinese doctor in two weeks.
The good thing about Chinese medical philosophy is that they try to cure the problem not mask the symptoms.
Western Medicine and the NHS is a pain in the neck.
Another weekly diary blog that’s maybe more than a bit self-absorbed. Apologies.
(Photo by 21 swan via Unsplash)
SUNDAY 30th AUGUST
For the last 3 or 4 weeks, my legs have ached when climbing long flights of stairs eg at stations. Really tiring and aching.
I had a lot of trouble getting out of the bath this morning.
But things could be worse.
My eternally un-named friend commented: “It’s a good day when you don’t have a hand grenade thrown through your window.” Something with which I cannot disagree. We think it’s a reference to the 1942 movie Went The Day Well?
As if to prove the point, both in general and a propos hand grenades, later in the day, my friend Lynn told me that (alleged) Angry Brigade anarchist Stuart Christie,whom I blogged about in October last year, died, aged 74, on 15th August. I had not noticed any obituaries at the time.
MONDAY 31st AUGUST
A couple of weeks ago, at Euston station, I heard an announcement for Inspector Sands (a coded message which means that there is a major emergency in the building).
I arrived at St Pancras station tonight and there was another Inspector Sands announcement – this time in English AND in French.
Everyone ignored it. I am still alive to tell the tale. If this happens a third time, I will be forced to conclude that the railway companies have actually been foolhardy enough to employ someone genuinely called Inspector Sands.
My yellow chum bobs in turbulent waters…
TUESDAY 1st SEPTEMBER
I had a bath this morning.
Despite my age, I try to keep mostly clean.
Also, I enjoy farting in the bath and watching my yellow plastic duck bob around in the turbulent waters.
Anyway, I had trouble getting out of the bath again, but it was not as bad as on Sunday.
I slept just over 10 hours last night and woke up 12 times needing to drink water.
Today is my mother’s 100th birthday. She is dead, of course.
Ariane Sherine’s 9 yo wished my dead mother a happy 100th
Ariane Sherine’s daughter sent me well-wishes and a design she had created to celebrate my mother’s birthday.
For some reason, she had my mother’s maiden name down as McHamilton instead of McLellan, but my mother is dead, so no harm there.
Not that there would have been any problem; she would have been very happy. Very honoured.
Perhaps Ariane’s daughter is writing a musical. I would not put it beyond her.
THURSDAY 3rd SEPTEMBER
I slept from 2200 last night to 2000 tonight with a couple of short periods awake to eat and a very large number of wakings-up to drink water.
When I woke up, l had a bath and still had some trouble getting out of it. The muscles in my legs or somesuch.
“It seems to have been a Thursday for at least eight days now.”
It seems to have been a Thursday for at least eight days now.
A friend commented on my ongoing sleeping problems: “It seems quite uncope-able with, no? Not much of a life? You seem to just have an existence of being asleep, merely waking to eat or gasping for a drink.”
But maybe that description covers a very large percentage of people’s lives.
FRIDAY 4th SEPTEMBER
July… August… September… It all merges into one…
Ah! The (in)efficiency of the NHS bureaucracy!
This morning (September 4th) I received a letter from the Kidney Man posted yesterday and written on July 29th about a July 6th chat referring to a future early August appointment. It was sent to my GP with a CC to me so I presume he also received it this morning.
In the afternoon, I had a shingles vaccination at my GP’s. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, none of the GPs are there any more. They all work from home.
The nurse giving the injection CLAIMED it was OK for me to have, despite my recent problems – cause still unknown.
Apparently, the Shingles vaccination is not annual – it’s one in a lifetime. Of course, if it kills me next week, that would still be true.
Inevitably, of course, as soon as I posted that, she wrote another song for her upcoming album, released on the (if you are British not American) palindromic 12.02.2021.
This is part of it:
When you’ve no money left No love or hope or friends And your heart it is closed And you think that it’s the end And you’re praying to God Yeah to come and save your soul Well I’ll save you instead Bring you in out of the cold
Also last time, I mentioned Charles Aznavour’s observation that, when people are happy, they are all happy in much the same but, when people are sad, there are varied, specific reasons why, so ‘sad’ is more inspiring and more interesting.
Erudite performer and man about town Peter Stanford pointed out that Aznavour had perhaps read the first sentence of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenin (or, on my Russian college course, Karenina):
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”
All I really remember about Anna Karenina is some bloke tapping the wheels of a train and maybe that was only in the movie.
MONDAY 3rd AUGUST
NHS confusion continues.
Last week, my face-to-face appointment with the Kidney Man was changed to a telephone consultation but, having experienced this twice before, I disbelieved it.
On Friday, I checked with the Kidney Man’s secretary and it was indeed a face-to-face appointment.
When I arrived at the hospital at lunchtime today, the two security men checking arrivals (no visitors are allowed because of the COVID-19 restrictions) directed me to Reception just inside the door.
It was the same man on Reception as before – last time he said the entire Nephrology department had moved to another hospital – so I ignored him and went straight to Outpatients reception.
They directed me to the appropriate Consultation section’s Reception. The nurse on that Reception tried to find my details but couldn’t. Then the actual Receptionist arrived.
She told me all the face-to-face appointments had finished; there were only phone ones now. The nurse told the receptionist: “There’s no John Fleming on the list. In fact, there is no list. It may have been thrown away by accident.”
The receptionist said: “I will ask the doctor if he will see you.”
He said Yes.
The Kidney Man knew he was supposed to be seeing me masked-face-to-masked-face.
Apparently this is a micrograph showing a renal core biopsy (Photograph by Nephron via Wikipedia)
He told me I’m still “a mystery”. Nothing showed up on the last blood test. He may send me to see an Ear Nose & Throat man in case that throws up any irregularities. He also has a colleague who is “interested in calcium” so he might want to see me. And they might try a kidney biopsy, though that is unlikely.
“What is a biopsy?” I asked. Does it involve cutting me open?”
“We just stick a needle in your back, under local anaesthetic,” he replied, “and take a little bit of kidney out.”
My next face-to-face appointment with the Kidney Man is in two months, unless something bad were to show up on the blood test.
He sent me down one floor for a blood test. “They may be closed,” he told me. “If they are, just phone the number on the sheet and make an appointment.”
The Phlebotomy (Blood Test to you and me) Department was open.
I left the hospital and went to the National Express office at Golders Green to see how much a two-day coach trip to Edinburgh on 15th/16th August would cost. I want to see what the Edinburgh Fringe is like without the Edinburgh Fringe… and to see comedian Arthur Smith do his annual midnight tour of Edinburgh.
It was £76 return by coach. Much, much cheaper than a railfare.
Nobel Prizewinning Irish politician John Hume
TUESDAY 4th AUGUST
Irish politician John Hume died yesterday. He won the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize for his work trying to bring peace in Northern Ireland.
A BBC commentator said that, the first time Hulme met the IRA leadership face-to-face, he (Hume) said it was like meeting a cult. They were genuinely shocked to find out people genuinely had different views to them. Before then, they had only talked to themselves and their supporters. Anyone outside that circle who disagreed were not seen as people with genuinely different opinions – they were seen as evil.
I immediately thought: Corbynistas… Brexit… almost anyone on Twitter… To hold any opinion different to what you and ALL your friends have is not valid because it is not possible. If you disagree, you must be total evil, must be silenced.
Just me on that one, then?
There was an explosion in Beirut today – around 150 dead and over 4,000 injured. It turned out to be not a bomb but fertiliser. Of the kind used in bombs. Shit happened.
I was going to book an airfare to Edinburgh, after searching cheap price comparison websites. The cheapest return was £65 via Easyjet – cheaper than a coach and a journey time of only 90 minutes as opposed to 10 or 11 hours in a face mask.
My eternally un-named friend suggested looking on the actual EasyJet website. She was right.
It was £65 on the cheap price comparison websites and £55.98p on the EasyJet site itself. (Same flights.)
Arthur Smith was scuppered and scunnered by coronavirus
WEDNESDAY 5th AUGUST
Arthur Smith cancelled his tour of Edinburgh because of the Scottish government’s COVID restrictions on outdoor events. Shit happens.
THURSDAY 6th AUGUST
I got a letter saying my next face-to-face hospital appointment with the Kidney Man is on 19th Ocober. Inevitably, a few days before this, I will get an erroneous text saying it has been changed to a telephone appointment.
Talk of dabbicals, gangbangs, carjacks, bums and fags… (Photograph by Dmitry Ratushny via UnSplash)
FRIDAY 7th AUGUST
I spent the afternoon with my eternally un-named friend.
At one point, an arrangement went wrong. She said: “It’s a dabbical.”
We both looked at each other. Neither of us knew what the word should have been. I suggested it was a reasonable-sounding word so should be in common use.
Later, I was in conversation with someone totally different and it came up in conversation that, in the US, she had been told the British word ‘gangbang’ means ‘carjack’ over there.
Later still, I looked it up online and, as far as I could find, on both sides of the Atlantic, gangbang = gangbang and carjack = carjack. A very odd misunderstanding.
I do always wonder, though, what would happen if an Eastender from London said to someone in Kansas: “I want to bum a fag”.
Late night: my eternally un-named friend phoned to say: “Debacle…”
The offensiveness of phral and bhrātṛ
SATURDAY 8th AUGUST
Continuing with linguistic problems, in the new ultra-PC, non-binary world, a performer posted the following on Facebook:
QUESTION: I’ve been working very hard on replacing gendered collective terms like “dudes”& “guys” with “folks” whenever I address groups. I occasionally slip up. But I’m trying.
I was convinced that “pal” was non-gendered but I’ve just looked it up and it isn’t.
Its etymology is: First recorded in 1675–85; from English Romani: “brother, mate,” variant of continental Romani phral, ultimately from Sanskrit bhrātṛ “brother”.
Does anyone know a non-gendered equivalent, please?
I’ve just found out that by using “pal” with a trans friend (who calls me “pal”), I’ve been unintentionally mis-gendering her and I don’t want to.
“Alright, friend?” feels odd.
There must be a non-gendered equivalent? Surely?
That said I’m struggling to think of a feminine version and the lack of that might be the reason I assumed it was non-gendered.
It’s two things:
a) Does this have the capacity to hurt someone?
b) Is it easily within my gift to avoid even the potential of causing that hurt and it cost me nothing more than the tiniest bit of thought?
If the answers to both of those questions are “Yes” then I’d feel like an utter arsehole if I didn’t at least try.
It’s my job as a decent human being to try to make extremely minor and trivial accommodations to avoid the possibility of hurting someone.
I may be revealing myself as an utter arsehole here but – admirably caring and commendably sensitive though his aim is – I think if someone is linguistically sophisticated enough to be offended by the 17th century Romani or ancient Sanskrit roots of perfectly commonplace 21st century English words, then they are probably intellectually resilient enough to cope with being called “pal”… although, frankly, I would be wary of using the word without care in Glasgow (where “cunt” is a genuinely commonly-used conversational term of affection).
This particular blog is admittedly self-indulgent.
Do I care?
But you have been warned.
SUNDAY 28th JUNE
In my previous Diary blog Andy Dunlop, esteemed President of the World Egg-Throwing Federation, suggested, rather persuasively, that my ongoing problem with raised calcium levels in my body was paralleled by the troubles of a dog called Rigby and that the cause might be my parathyroid glands.
Today, American comedian and occasional burlesque performer Lynn Ruth Miller contacted me:
“That is a very delicate difficult surgery and…”
So you think it is your parathyroid gland?
That is a very delicate difficult surgery and can leave you with injured vocal cords.
Be very wary of parathyroid surgery John,. They were going to take mine out years ago and then decided it was too risky.
Here are the advantages: improved bone health, reduced risk of kidney stones and improved quality of life.
You also have better memory and no aches and pains.
However the surgery is very dangerous because you run the risk of injuring your thyroid gland and your vocal cords. Those little glands are very hard to find.
I have really terrible osteoporosis and I was all excited to have this done but the guy who everyone thought was the only one I dare trust to do this thing simply didn’t think I was a good enough candidate for the surgery.
I assumed he either hated women or Jews or the elderly. Possibly all three. So here I am sagging, shrinking and unable to touch my toes; not to mention my lousy tummy and disgusting personality.
My left shoulder as was in 1991 – pulverised in two places
MONDAY 29th JUNE
I wonder if maybe my parathyroid glands were affected by my occasional ongoing shoulder problem.
In 1991, when I was standing on a pavement, I was hit by an articulated lorry. My shoulder bone was pulverised (medical talk for ‘powdered’) in two places. I also had a skull injury – as I fell, I hit the back of my head on the sharp edge of a low brick wall – and, it later turned out, the bottom of my spine was also damaged by the jerk as my head stopped when it hit the wall and the rest of my body continued downwards.
In 1991, I was taken to the same local hospital I was taken to for my calcium/kidney function problem a few weeks ago.
Because I had broken bones, I was looked after in a Bone ward but, because they were worried there might be brain damage (from the skull injury – my brain would have hit the inside of the skull) I was bureaucratically under the care of the Brain people, who had their own ward(s).
The nurses in the Bone ward were very attentive but, when the Bone consultant did his rounds, he always ignored my bed because I was not his patient. Once, I heard him explain this to the student doctors who followed him round absorbing all he said: “We don’t deal with Mr Fleming. because he’s not our patient.”
The Brain consultant never visited me, I guess because I was not in his ward.
But, after about a week of observation, I was released. Late one afternoon, a very tired and clearly very overworked junior doctor from the Brain lot came down to my ward and told me I could go home.
A map of the Rhineland in 1905 looks a lot like the inside of the human brain but is not
I was released but, really, for about nine months after, my mind would occasionally sort-of de-focus and I would be unable to string thoughts together – I presume from some form of concussion. And I could not read for a while.
If I tried to read a newspaper, it was as if my brain would lose focus halfway through the first or second paragraph. I still cannot read printed books, though I can write them on a computer screen.
After about a year, my shoulder still tended to feel like it was having a sharp knife stuck in it for maybe 90% of my waking hours. To protect my shoulder at night, I had to learn to sleep on my back with my left arm stretched out at right angles to my torso. This stopped me turning over.
But it also eventually meant that, instead of my shoulder bone mending back to its original state, the two broken, sharply-pointed ends overlapped each other. So my left shoulder is a tiny bit shorter and weaker than my right shoulder.
The pain in my left shoulder was eventually sorted by a Chinese doctor (ie Chinese medicine) and only gives me problems now if I lean too heavily for too long on the not-healed-correctly left side.
Occasionally, still, I also get some muscle pain in my right shoulder and at the back of my neck because (I presume) the muscles are not quite right. Maybe these muscle problems affected the parathyroid glands in my neck? Maybe not.
Anyway, apparently I should have had physiotherapy and outpatient care when I left the hospital in 1991, but this never happened, presumably because of the bureaucratic complication that no hospital department was 100% in charge of me. My brain was too much like confused wobbly jelly to really think straight until much later.
This might also partly explain why, though I admire nurses and other frontline NHS staff, I have a high disregard for NHS bureaucracy… Did I mention I have a high disregard of all large, faceless bureaucracies?
My missing tooth cap
TUESDAY 30th JUNE
Today I went to my heavily-masked and plastic-visored dentist to get one of my capped teeth, which had fallen out, re-inserted. It was not simple and may not be long-lasting as the (dead) root into which the cap is inserted via a spike, is apparently fractured or fracturing.
It never rains but it pours.
WEDNESDAY 1st JULY
Social distancing is still in place because of the coronavirus pandemic. This has some bizarre effects as in the Ladies toilet at an IKEA store in London.
I did not, for obvious reasons, see the Ladies toilet first-hand myself, but a friend took a photo.
It is reasonable to tape off alternate sinks to maintain social distancing. But this does not explain why IKEA has closed alternate (and entirely separated) cubicles, as can be seen in the mirror at the top of this photo.
The Nokia 3210 (1999)
Today, still on the subject of human bottoms, someone else told me that there is a good second-hand trade in old 1999 Nokia 3210 mobile telephones.
In the early days of mobile phones, this particular phone was very popular with the inmates of UK prisons.
Mobile phones, of course, were not allowed in UK prisons, so they had to be smuggled in.
I am reliably informed that the Nokia was popular in prisons because it was small (certainly compared to modern phones) and had rounded edges. This meant it could be shoved up inside the body where the sun don’t shine by a prison visitor and then removed, given to and used by the lucky prisoner who had ‘ordered’ it.
The Nokia 3310, released in 2000. A snug fit in an XL condom.
To preserve cleanliness, the Nokia was usually put inside a condom (XL size) before insertion.
After it was removed, I remain uncertain whether the XL condom was thrown away or used.
But the Nokia 3210s were much used and – even though drones are now often the preferred method of getting things into prisons – the popularity of the Nokia 3210 and its 2000 successor the Nokia 3310 remain (I am told) very high.
This may or may not partly explain why, in 2017, a new version of the Nokia 3310 was released to an appreciative world.
Plus ça change, the more SNAFU…
THURSDAY 2nd JULY
I have a telephone consultation with the NHS Kidney Man (or Woman) on Monday. The fact that it is a telephone appointment – not a face-to-face one – was confirmed in a letter and by phone last week.
This morning, I received a text message telling me that my face-to-face consultation next Monday has been changed to a telephone consultation.
No, you did not mis-read that. Did I mention I have a high disregard of all large, faceless bureaucracies?
A glass of water by my bedside for when I wake up parched…
FRIDAY 3rd JULY
I continue to wake up at least once an hour throughout the night every night with my mouth bone dry, almost as if bits of my mouth want to stick to other bits they are so parched dry. I need to drink water – I have a bottle and a glass by my bedside.
I think it has to do with my kidney function being abnormally low or my calcium level being too high or both – but what do I know?
I counted the number of times I woke up during the night last night – ten times.
So par for the course.
SATURDAY 4th JULY
Today I asked Andy Dunlop, esteemed President of the World Egg-Throwing Federation, if there was any further news of Rigby the Dog and his parathyroid glands.
Andy’s reply was:
Ahhhhh, I was hoping you wouldn’t ask.
He’s now home. Arrived last night. Tests dispel initial and obvious parathyroid thoughts but reveal a very rare type of blood cancer.
Treatment will either be put on hold and he will live a long and happy life or not.
This was discovered by invasive biopsy of bone marrow.
Rigby the Dog will live a long and happy life or not… like all of us…
One of my front upper teeth has gone out of alignment with the others. Hopefully this is a false tooth.
Staying on things oral, I have a lifelong dry, irritating (to others) cough, which is very useful for clearing queues during the current coronavirus outbreak.
One of the many British comedic highlights of the past which I missed was The Fast Show on BBC2 (1994-1997 + 2011-2014). I never saw an entire episode though I saw occasional excerpts.
One thing I apparently missed was a running gag/character called Bob Fleming, who had a dry irritating cough. Someone drew my attention to it today.
I had zero involvement in The Fast Show, but I did (inevitably, though Malcolm Hardee) peripherally have a nodding acquaintance with a couple of the cast members. It would be nice to think one mentioned in passing about this bloke John Fleming who had a perpetual irritating cough. That would be my 15 seconds of inspirational fame.
Alas, I imagine the thought of phlegming/Fleming is a more likely source.
Today I also chatted with TV chap Simon Kennedy for an upcoming blog. Inexplicably, the subject of long-time Chinese statesman Chou En Lai came up… and his famous quote.
Ever-wise, much quoted Chinese statesman
In the early 1970s, talking to Henry Kissinger, he was asked if he thought the French Revolution had had a successful outcome. The French Revolution happened in 1789.
Chou said: “It is too early to say.”
I have always seen this as the epitome of Chinese long-sightedness.
But Simon correctly told me that Chou was actually referring to the 1968 student riots in Paris.
What a pity.
It is far more Chinese to say that 1968 was too early to say what long-term effects an action in 1789 had.
MONDAY 22nd JUNE
China – and, indeed, similar political paradises – are known for their bureaucracy.
So today I arrived at my local hospital at 0845 (with my three appointment letters) for my 0900 Nephrology appointment at Outpatients and, on presenting myself and my three letters at Main Reception, was told the department was closed and all appointments had been moved to another hospital.
I ignored this – as I had had the three letters and had had a phone call confirming the appointment. I phoned the Kidney Man’s answering machine, found Outpatients and sat in Main Outpatients Reception (open from 0830 but with no receptionist).
About 0900, the Kidney Man’s secretary phoned me back to confirm I would be seen and if no-one turned up, to phone her back. I was due to see a Kidney Woman.
I said if no-one turned up by 0920 I would phone back.
The Kidney Woman arrived at 0917, unlike the receptionist.
She (the Kidney Woman) told me that, during my 7-day hospital stay, they had not treated me – just observed. Fair enough.
During that time, my calcium level had gone back to normal without any treatment (except the saline drip for 7 days). My calcium level had been 3.2. I had been told in hospital it should be 2.6.
The Kidney Woman told me: “2.6 would be an absolute maximum.”
Apparently ‘normal’ would be 2.2 to 2.6.
My kidney function last October had been an OK-for-my-age 62 but, on entering hospital, it was down to 19. Over 7 days in the hospital I had been told it had risen to 28 which was concerning but no longer “dangerous” and the Kidney Woman today told me it had been 34 on discharge from hospital.
“Anything over 60 would be OK for a man of your age,” she told me. “Your calcium level would affect your kidney function, but your kidney function could not affect the calcium level.”
Still, there is no hint of why my calcium level/kidney function went haywire nor why I keep waking up 6 or 7 or 8 times a night with a parched, bone-dry mouth and have to drink water. Next week, I will hear the result of today’s blood test.
During the day I am mostly OK though I sometimes have to have a late afternoon nap for a couple of hours; and I go to bed, tired, around 8.00pm or 9.00pm. My normal bedtime used to be around midnight.
Whether this tiredness is a result of my calcium/kidney problems or just being old or having constantly woken up 6 or 7 or 8 times the previous night… Who knows?
TUESDAY 23rd JUNE
The pandemic has resulted in much more dental bureaucracy
The tooth cap that was out-of-alignment on Sunday has now got decidedly wobbly. It is hanging on in there, but threatening to either fall out during the day or (in my fantasies) drop out and get swallowed by me during the night.
Miraculously (because of the coronavirus lockdown) I was able to get a dental appointment next Tuesday. My dentist re-opened last Monday (eight days ago) for emergencies.
I got an appointment after answering a lot of detailed medical questions and, I think, because the dodgy upper tooth is towards the front and visible.
There will be absolutely no drilling of any kind because of the danger from airborne spray from the mouth. So anything that would normally involve drilling will, instead, be temporarily repaired.
Around lunchtime, I was sitting on a bench with someone (the regulation two metres apart) in the Green Belt area near my home when a stray football from a nearby game headed towards us. I got up, kicked the ball back and nearly overbalanced and (did not) fall over.
I am constantly lightheaded during the day and waking up hourly at night.
Who knows why?
In the afternoon, I was told of the death of Douglas Gray last Thursday. He and brother Tony were The Alberts, a surreal comedy duo which linked The Goons and Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
I met the brothers years ago – in the 1980s, I think, at their home (I think they lived in the same rambling house but I could be wrong) in Norfolk. They were interestingly and gently eccentric and one – I think it was Douglas – appeared to be dressed for playing cricket for no apparent reason.
They should have been British cultural treasures but, alas, mega-fame escaped them, like so many worthy performers. I seem to remember that they used to pretend to work on a national newspaper in London, before Margaret Thatcher destroyed the ‘closed shop’ policies of the trades unions.
They told me, I think, that they would drive down from Norfolk to London each Friday, sign on as print workers (they had union cards), then drive straight back to Norfolk. They got paid well for working at the weekends although they were not even in London, let alone working on the production of the newspaper.
They were surrealists on and off stage.
Today was the last day of the daily government Briefings/updates about the coronavirus pandemic. The lockdown restrictions will be partially, but not by any means totally, lifted on the 4th of July – our ‘Trim-dependence Day’ as one BBC News reporter put it, because hairdressers will be allowed to open with safety restrictions.
The total of reported UK coronavirus deaths is now 42,927… up 171 in the previous 24 hours
WEDNESDAY 24th JUNE
I have received the three pages of forms I have to fill in before seeing my dentist next Tuesday.
The accompanying letter details what will happen.
The tooth will out…
– I should rinse my mouth with mouthwash before leaving home, to kill off any bacteria in my mouth.
– I should not arrive early, because the surgery’s street door will be locked and I will only be allowed in when the previous patient has left.
– On entry, my temperature will be taken with an infra-red thermometer.
– I will have to wash my hands with anti-bacterial gel before seeing the dentist.
– The dentist and nurse will be wearing protective clothing: presumably face masks and/or plastic face visors.
As if to celebrate my filling-in of the dental forms…
I have been posting a diary supposedly about life in Britain during the coronavirus pandemic – focussing on the everyday amid the historic.
But it took a sidetrack when, instead of COVID-19, I developed some unknown kidney infection or damage or/and calcium imbalance and/or… well… something. No-one has yet found out what is wrong.
So this strand of the blog will now become a more general diary until I get bored with it or it meanders even more pointlessly than normal like a dildo lost in a jellyfish.
A typical 1888 cough syrup (courtesy of Stephen O’Donnell)
SUNDAY 14th JUNE
I had a bad, hacking cough: probably nothing to do with coronavirus.
I took a Tyrozet tablet.
Stephen O’Donnell in Glasgow reminded me of the type of cough linctus they had in 1888 with alcohol, cannabis, chloroform and morphia “skilfully combined with a number of other ingredients”.
Presumably, if that didn’t cure your cough, at least you would be unaware you had one.
Forget the telephone consultation – It’s a face-to-face meet…
MONDAY 15th JUNE
As is now normal, overnight I woke up about six or eight times – basically, at least once every hour – with my throat parched dry, desperate to drink water.
When I left hospital just over a fortnight ago, the Kidney Man told me he would treat me as an outpatient. Then, a week later, I got a letter saying it would be a face-to-face consultation at the local hospital.
Forget the face-to-face consultation – It’s on the phone…
Then, another week later, I got a text saying that, because of the COVID-19 virus, they were changing the face-to-face appointment to a telephone consultation. I joked to a couple of people that, as the NHS is a vast bureaucracy and all vast bureaucracies are a mess, they were bound to phone me up today and ask why I was not at the hospital.
Today, after over an hour waiting for the call, I phoned to check that all was OK.
The appointments people told me: “He’s not actually ringing absolutely everybody. Some patients he’s looking up on the system and, unless he feels he absolutely has to speak to them, what he’s doing is dictating a clinic letter which will go to your GP and you will get a copy as well… It’s a little bit of a grey area.”
About half an hour later, the Kidney Man phoned up because he had been expecting me to go in for a face-to-face consultation and wondered why I hadn’t turned up.
He told me that the Petscan I had about two weeks ago showed nothing abnormal and they still didn’t know what was wrong with my kidneys. So a blood test would be arranged and I definitely had to come in for that, even if I got a letter or text saying I should not.
After that, I went out (perfectly legally) to South London to see my Eternally Un-Named Friend. It was the first day when face masks HAD to be worn on public transport in England. So I wore a face mask on the mostly empty trains.
We walked along the River Thames from Greenwich to the O2 Millennium Dome – a long walk on what (I had forgotten to check) was a Very High Pollen day. I felt hot and sweaty and slightly light-headed and, for my feet, the walk became a plod.
Nothing to do with the pollen or the company. Something to do with the kidneys, I think.
View of Canary Wharf from near The O2 Dome (Photograph by My Eternally UnNamed Friend)
The south (well, really east) bank of the Thames between Greenwich and the Dome has become mostly a post-industrial wasteland which is being flattened or is already flattened for high-rise flats, with some already built. My Eternally UnNamed Friend found some sort of Wordsworthian Romanticism in the open spaces and vistas. I thought it just looked more like a post-apocalyptic landscape.
At 11.15pm, back home in Borehamwood, as I was about to go to bed, sniffles, sneezes and an itchy right eye started to kick in. Over the last few years, I have tended to get hay fever fairly late at night and almost always after dark. What is that all about? What on earth are the flowers doing at 2315 at night?
Well, the news took me a bit by surprise…
TUESDAY 16th JUNE
The man whom I called ‘George’ in my hospital diaries died yesterday. I know this because my friend Lynn spotted his obituary in various newspapers today and – very impressively – guessed it was the person whose identity I had (I thought) disguised in my posts.
I then (perfectly legally) went to East London by train to see writer Ariane Sherine and her daughter in their back garden (well, back decking).
On the way there and back, I wore a face mask in the mostly empty train carriages. There were some other passengers. But we all seemed a bit half-hearted about it as we were all seated so far apart.
The government’s figure for total coronavirus deaths in the UK is now 41,969… Up 233 in the last 24 hours.
Me in my lost hat – Maybe not a great loss…
WEDNESDAY 17th JUNE
I went to Tesco’s in Borehamwood in the afternoon to buy a hat to protect my bald head from the sun. I lost my previous hat two days ago, somewhere by the post-apocalyptic River Thames.
I was hot and sweaty (despite having had a bath at lunchtime) and light-headed.
Ariane Sherine texted me:
“I’ve made a few jokes about you in my new book. I thought I should run them by you to check you’re OK with them.”
I replied: “I will be OK with them. You can say anything you like about me. I fancy being described as a dishevelled, shuffling, shambling mess. I would quite like to be described as a Dickensian character rotting slowly in my wrinkly skin as the dust gathers in my ears. I always think it is better to be laughed at rather than be laughed with… It is much more memorable. People forget jokes but remember OTT characters… Perhaps you could say something like: He was having a mid-life crisis at least 30 years too late, with fantasies of Baby Spice in a bikini rolling around in tiramisu.”
Alas, the book is a serious – though populist – non-fiction work and the reply I got was:
“We are at the proofreading stage, so I can’t add anything, but thank you for being such a good sport.”
My heart sank. I quite fancy being a badly-dressed Dickensian character. But I have never aspired to be a sport.
The government’s figure for total coronavirus deaths in the UK is now 42,153… Up 184 in the last 24 hours.
The ever-admirable kick-ass vicar Maggy Whitehouse
THURSDAY 18th JUNE
Last night, in bed, I had about an hour of feverish hot temperatured forehead and a hacking cough.
I think I may be turning into a paranoid hypochondriac. Or is that tautology? Who cares?
Well that’s a first… I’m on the prayer line this morning and the first caller was a man who said he was in social isolation and lonely. He turned out to be calling from his bath… and was making somewhat too-enthusiastic noises during the prayers. He did say, “Thank you,” and that he was feeling a lot better now afterwards. Obviously, I have to report him to the boss… but I think I should have charged him a very large amount of money… and fortunately, I’m just trying not to giggle.
This seemed bizarre and unique to me but apparently not. Comments on Maggy’s post included:
– I had a fair few of them while on my Samaritans hotline 😉 – I used to work for a crisis helpline similar to the Samaritans and we had many a call along those lines… – I used to be a Samaritans listener… we had similar calls… – Sounds like the time I was a Samaritan on duty on Christmas Day. The tale was different – at the end he learnt it was seen through and it was good he had opened his ‘Christmas Present’ quickly!!
The government’s figure for total coronavirus deaths in the UK is now 42,288… Up 135 in the last 24 hours.
How not to get a review for a show that isn’t happening
And it’s all in aid of a good cause… The authors have suggested, for every copy purchased, a donation to the Trussell Trust which supports a nationwide network of food banks.
The book was free until yesterday and may be free from tomorrow in one form or another.
Ashley Frieze says: “The ongoing pricing seems to be some random mystery concocted by Amazon.”
Ian Fox: “Truthfully, we didn’t realise you couldn’t just do free Kindles anymore.”
The government’s figure for total coronavirus deaths in the UK is now 42,461… Up 173 in the last 24 hours.
If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing in triplicate…
SATURDAY 20th JUNE
As of today, I now have three letters – all confirming my Monday face-to-face appointment at the hospital.
It is to have another blood test, so it is unlikely it will get changed to a telephone call.
But never say never…
Never underestimate bureaucracy…
An article in The Guardian yesterday suggested that, at the height of the current coronavirus pandemic, deaths in the UK may have been 64% higher than reported because, part of the way through the current run of the pandemic, the government changed or, at least, the bureaucracy was able to re-define the type of deaths included in the statistics.
But the worst news of the week is that today I discovered – who knew? – that Tyrozets have been discontinued following a challenge from the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) over whether the use of an antibiotic in throat lozenges is “clinically relevant”.
Who cares? They worked.
Does anybody know where I can get hold of some 1888 cough syrup “with alcohol, cannabis, chloroform and morphia skilfully combined with a number of other ingredients”?