Pick n’ mix on the 280

Not a good day for LB related reasons. But caught the 280 home from work and had the following encounter with a geezer dude. Kind of cheering…

“I went to Smithers ya’know? Smithers?”
“Eh?”
W.H.Smiths?”
“Ah, yeah.. W.H.Smiths…”
“Yeah. I picked up a newspaper, tucked it under my arm. £2.60 it was. £2.60. I thought I’m gonna walk out with this. Without paying like.”
“Ah.”
“Yeah. But then I saw the man with sweets and I thought YES! I want some sweets! So I got some and thought well I’ll pay for the sweets but then walk out with the paper under my arm… You know, as if I’d already paid for it…? But then I thought Don’t.be.so.childish. Do you know what I mean??? So I paid for the paper too.”
“Cool.”
“Do you want a sweet? There’s jelly beans and all sorts…”
“Nah, I’m fine thanks…”
“Ahhhh. Fuck!! Dropped em! [….] I’m just gonna eat them anyway. Well these ones. Not that one. Look. It’s rolled in some squishy stuff. Yuk. Look at it..  I’ll eat these though. I love jelly beans.”
“Yeah, me too…”
“Funny. Jelly beans still taste good, but other sweets from when I was a kid. They just don’t taste so good now. They put other stuff in them I think. Not nice. When I was a kid, I’d eat some sweets then do twenty laps of the room. Like round and round and round! My mum used to say ‘You ain’t having any more sweets!’ Sent me hyper they did. But I like to get sweets now and again. And like scoff em all.”
“Ha! Me too…!”
“Yeah! Maybe I need that energy rush.. Every now and again. I dunno…”
“Maybe.. Nice to meet you, I’m getting off now…”
“Well a happy Christmas to you missus!! And don’t eat too much chocolate!”

ryan5-14

Half of Frank Ryan

Had a browse through my old sketch pad that tipped up during the recent loft sort out and came across this gem.

Who is Frank Ryan? I can’t remember. It was drawn during my overland gig across Africa which makes it more mysterious. I google the name and find Frank Ryan, celebrity plastic surgeon who died in 2010 after driving his car off a cliff in Malibu, while tweeting about his dog Jill. (Jill survived with mild injury). Too young to be this Frank Ryan, but a salutary tale about tweeting about the dog while driving.

The only plausible Frank Ryan is the controversial Irish republican.  I deduce this through a vague likeness to the drawing in google images, and then remember a couple of deeply political Dublin boys we met along the way all those years ago.

Why only half? No idea.

Doc-advisor

There was an article in yesterday’s Observer reporting on a survey showing that Brits are less likely to ‘rate their doctor’ online than restaurants or holidays. Parking any engagement with the quality of the study (because it’s late), the article underlined the importance of patient feedback in informing change in the NHS and suggested people were wary because they thought nothing would change, the NHS didn’t care, they would get staff into trouble or their care would be affected.

Today I dutifully logged on to NHS Choices to rate my GP. I completed the boxes and fed back. I then read the other five comments about my surgery. An anonymous poster recommended the surgery two years ago, but complained about the leaking roof. One person complained about the lack of continuity of care. Two other very recent posters raised the same issue I’d outlined in my previous post. The sixth person, anonymous in June, wrote an essay about the wondrous care they’d received over the last 15 years. Here is an extract;

I really can’t think of how they could improve it. I marvel at how well-run it is, and how intelligent and knowledgeable the doctors are, and how kind and responsive the other staff are. When I was very ill at home once, they sent round a community nurse every day, and doctors visited me at home and phoned me several times. On another occasion I failed to respond to a letter asking me to make an appointment because of some blood test results, and the doctor personally visited my home and left a handwritten note, they were so concerned. 

Whoa. We’ve been at the practice for 15 years too and haven’t had a sniff of this uber-service. I want to know more. How do you access this level of healthcare? Marvel at how well-run it is?? A handwritten, hand posted note after failing to respond to something?  Responsive staff? Home visits? Concern???? This patient’s 15 year period spans the entire roller coaster experience of LB’s diagnoses and everything that came with that (too laborious and lengthy to even start recounting).  Where was the GP in all of that?

*tumbleweed*

I can only hope this feedback is a plant… Ironically.

Patient choice? My arse

Ding dong time this afternoon with the Practice Manager (PM) of our GP surgery. They’ve introduced a crackpot system where you can no longer book an appointment with a GP. You have to arrange for a GP to call you back that day to assess your need for an appointment. It’s all in the name of patient centred care and choice.

So I had a 30 minute call with PM  who’d swallowed the health policy rhetoric manual but could not explain why I couldn’t make an appointment without a screening call. The gig was that I could agree to a GP call-back and potentially get an appointment the same day, or I could be allocated a loser slot, out of hours on a Tuesday night or Saturday morning.

In response to the (numerous) concerns I raised, she tried to persuade me that GPs were so flexible in this new system that call-back could be arranged to coincide with tea-breaks for people at work who didn’t want to discuss symptoms in front of colleagues, and that an online option existed so patients could type their concerns quietly. No reflection on how unrealistic or burdensome this was.

Yes, in some contexts of course it’s fab to have the option of managing some health related issues by phone. I howled for that when a GP rigidly insisted on ‘seeing’ LB in the surgery before re-referring him to neurology after he’d spent a night in A&E recovering from a massive seizure. But not a blanket screening system. That’s just crap.

Eventually, she suggested making an out of hours appointment in 2034. I told her I’d just crawl off into a corner and quietly die. She didn’t budge. It was screening call or crappo appointment. That was the system. I said I should probably contact the local paper about it. She booked me an ‘in hours’ appointment in a few days with my GP.

So, this new system is also going to feed into and reinforce health inequalities highlighted by, and remaining/increasing, since the Black Report. Fucking great.

Of Gerards and Geralds

I know I’m jumping around a bit with my trove of old diaries, but my 17 year old self having a holiday pash made me chuckle. Not least because I shift from ‘Got up.. dressed..went to bed‘ type accounts to an exercise book filled with ethnographic reflections that Margaret Mead would be proud of. Description, narrative, sketches, music, food and interpretation. Of a two week coach/camping trip to Biot.

It was a cheapy cheapy cheap cheap holiday with three school mates; Mandy, Louise and Tamsin. A two day drive from Gloucester Road bus station, central London, via a night in a campsite ‘near’ Paris, to a craphole campsite in the South of France.

We fell into a happy routine in our fully equipped tent [brown plates, cups, a gas stove which collapsed, a table, 4 plastic ribbed chairs, metal beds with blue plastic mattresses], daily walks to the beach [quite a long walk, over a bridge over the motorway then turning right down a fairly narrow winding road, passed the Camp de Pylon (the other Nat campsite). We then had to cross one main road, go past JR’s through a tunnel, then across another main road to the beach], nosh (tinned ravioli, yoghurt, cacolac) and the campsite bar/disco.

The range of characters included the punks; really nice. 2 couples. Alison and Roger (peroxide blonde) and Sharon/boyfriend. Alison was ill most of the time with diarrhoea and sunstroke. The two couples didn’t get on very well. They lost £200 in Antibes and got left behind at the end of the holiday.

But what about the pash??? Gerard. From Clitheroe. Touring Europe on a motorbike with Vernon [very kind, paranoid about his age, lived with his mum, fell for Mandy big time] and Paul [27, drunk all the time, looked like Starsky and disappeared on Saturday morning and didn’t come back]?

Well. Turns out he was Gerald and not Gerard. And piecing together the story, with the detail provided and hindsight, he played with my 17 year old feelings with cups of Oxo, the odd slow dance to ‘Still Crazy after all these Years’ and general shite treatment [Gerald walked passed me without speaking and spent the evening with the posh girls/Gerald asked me to stir his oxtail soup].

Sigh. Maybe, just maybe, this tale of sun, sea, Oxo, love and leg warmers suggests very early signs of a sociological imagination.

Thanks to Kate Bielby for pointing out that all Gerards turn out to be Geralds in the end.

My any year diary

On a horrible, rainy, cold, early Autumn Sunday, I’ve had a right old cringe-chuckle diving into the box of diaries and old letters we found in the recent loft clear out. There is so much evidence of the laugh riot I was growing up, but in case you still had doubts, a couple of tasty morsels from my any year diary;

April 6th, 1978

Woke up. Sam had to do all the washing up. Started my school needlework (what a mess). Sarnies for lunch. Had my haircut. It’s really short. Ugh. Washed my hair, looks nicer. Read. Peeled spuds. Dad did some of our rockery. Mash, liver, bacon, peas, jelly. Watched TV. Patchwork. Read in bed. A lovely sunny day but rather windy.

The same day, a year later, I went to the Tennis Club Disco with the two Mandys and Claire. Sparing you the ‘woke up’ and what I ate routine, the disco took an exciting turn;

It was quite good. This boy danced with Mandy three times. His name is Peter. She gave us a lift home. Bed.

I (I think I) started to mix it up a bit, the third year. For example; a formal declaration of my diet intentions glued to the inside cover;

Hilarious. With a bucketful of cringe. And nosh of course.

Of tits and trolls

Two hugely inflated ‘stories’. Pics of ‘royal tits’ for sale? I’m not condoning the practice at all, but really, if Will, that strange talking palace and the media had stopped banging on about em, would anyone have really cared? The photos can’t be untaken, and once in the public domain, will never disappear. Get over it*.

Then trolls. A ‘phenomenon’ that appeared with social media, particularly twitter. Interpreted by some as a form of cyber bullying which is serious, of course, but the label seems to be applied to any bit of tongue in cheek banter, or edgy comment, that before ‘trolls’ were constructed, would have been ignored. Twitter, handily, provides a tool for dealing with anyone who you might find offensive. The block button. Press it and move on.

*And maybe get on with something.

My fun life

As usual, in this excavation of my hoarded treasures, what can I say really? Some pages from my ‘holiday notebook August 4-18, 1979’; first holiday without parents at Watermouth Holiday Villas, near Ilfracombe, with big sis Tracey and her mate, and my mate Mandy. I remember having a great time, and (conveniently) don’t remember detailing aspects of the holiday so obsessively thoroughly.

My spending list, across the two weeks, was so thorough I even detailed a ‘jelly welly’ (2p) and ‘bits and pieces’ (5p). (‘Omega Factor’ was the book based on a  tv show, I barely remember). Nice to see my still favourite Double Decker there at a much lower price of course. Food, well that is a consistent theme in my diaries, so I ain’t surprised to see a meal list. I don’t remember a peach instant whip and I’m not sure what a ‘sweetheart’ is, but otherwise, standard holiday nosh. I am surprised, and a little bit shocked, about my daily weather diagrams. I was a laugh riot. Clearly.

Breakfast in London

“Hey, boys, what’s it like having a room to yourselves?”
“Tom’s soooooo irritating…”
“No I’m not!”
“You are. You talk through everything you’re doing. As you do it! You even woke me up this morning to tell me you were going to the toilet.”
“That’s cos I didn’t want you to wake up and find me gone. You might have thought I’d been attacked or something.”
“Attacked? By what?”
“A rabid bear.”