Friday, 27 June 2008

The N.H.S. is 60 Years Old Today

Celebrate! The National Health Service is sixty years old today. The much maligned service, without which thousands among us would be either crippled or dead, was the greatest innovation of the Labour government of 1945. Opposed by those who could afford to pay and coasting much more at the time than expected, surely this fantastic service has been the greatest boon to the nation since the war?

Over the years we have come to take it for granted. We expect to be healed, no matter what is wrong with us. We cannot understand when the NHS fails. We have come to expect too much and we carelessly abuse it too often. However, the health of the nation changed after the war. Free powdered milk for mothers, free prescriptions and the ability of many to obtain glasses and dentists that once were beyond them is a joy we cannot now relate to. However it was not unknown in the twenties and thirties for newly weds to be given a gift, of a trip to the dentist to have all their teeth out and false ones fitted. This was so they could avoid painful and expensive dentist trips in the future! Unthinkable today - even allowing for the lack of NHS dentists in some places. While prescription costs have risen, and attitudes change overall the free inoculations for kids and inexpensive ones for adults, have kept us healthy, apart of course from our disgustingly bad eating, smoking and drinking habits. Drug abuse comes under another category - stupidity!

In spite of the rising costs, in spite of what the Tory press call the 'Postcode Lottery,' in spite of Thatchers disgusting attempt to introduce an American style system that only the lower middle class could support, and in spite of many failures the National Health Service remains the envy of the world. Only the greed of the insurance companies and the medical world stop it being introduced into the USA, and in the early fifties there was an attempt to do just that. Somehow it could not progress although I cannot remember the president who attempted this. We should spend less time complaining about the NHS and more time being grateful to live at a time that such medical care is available for us today!


Today, after I had spent a while on what is laughably called my 'Get Fit' routine, I wandered across to the public gardens to sit in the sunshine and read my book. Some selfish, thoughtless pair of individuals had taken my usual bench, as if it was there for anybody to use, and were wasting their time instead of doing something useful for society. I do not understand how some folks get away with it, I really don't!

Anyway as I was lounging here in the sun I decided to sneak a pic of a wonderful scene. Behind me in the bright green conifer some small bird was chirping, and little ants were meandering across the bench, and me, searching for fodder. For once the squirrels kept their distance and only a pair of blackbirds came near. The benches to my right each contained one person intent on pretending no-one else lived in this overcrowded world. Indeed each and every person you meet in the gardens works on the basis that greeting a passerby , especially a male, could lead to leprosy or the plague being passed on.naturally with such nervous folks around I always say 'hello,' and leer kindly.

The quietness of the great green slab in front was broken only by the two distant dim (well they appear to be students) figures soaking up the sun and recovering from a needless hangover. And quiet it was today. usually there are a crowd of neds lying around noisily, and even the kiddies were further away in the shade of the trees behind the empty tennis courts. Only the occasional few minutes girning was heard when the brats ran off in my direction and whined when brought back by the brutal mother in charge. The rest of the place stayed quiet.

In the far distance, not visible in the picture stands the war memorial. Thirty or so feet high it contains the names of over two hundred souls lost in the great war and those who died in the second. In such situation as today's I often compare the tall structure and it's imposing silence with the sights and sounds that greeted those who's lives are commemorated there. Clerks and shopkeepers, factory hands, skilled and unskilled, volunteers and conscripted, how they would have liked to be sitting here in the gardens instead of lying under some strange foreign soil. Most with little real idea of where they actually were when they met their end! The sun drenched grass with the distant sound of a child's laughter contrasts with the muddy brown shell holes of Picardy. In summer they too would have been bothered by bees and other beasties crawling all over them as they stood on sentry duty and stared into a bleak empty nothingness. Rats of course would have bothered them less than the lice that never seemed to leave them and which took up so much of their free time burning off with cigarettes and pipes. Their lives, ended by loud callous shell fire or rattling machine gun, amid noise and confusion is forgotten by most who sit there in the sun.

Of course, whatever the rights and wrongs of the wars and how they came about, without those men we could not sit here in the silence. Political mistakes and selfish ambition, Empire building and jealousy of another's possession, madness and folly all combined over the years to leave us with a twentieth century of pain and woe. Was it all necessary? No. Could it have been avoided? Yes. But if so another war would have taken its place. Human nature is like that. The men looking down from those great slabs full of names can be happy that this gardens pleasure is one folk can enjoy because of their sacrifice. Had they not fallen the jackboot would sooner or later remove such pleasures from most of us. They did not die in vain.

Euro 2008

Well it's nearly over! Soon I will be able to get to my bed without worrying about extra time and penalty kicks keeping me awake. Last night Spain reached the final of this tournament by beating the Russians by three goals to nil, and well deserved it in the end. Hopefully the somewhat boring, but effective, Germans will be trounced by the fast moving Spanish. Most folks appear to agree that Spain produces the best league in the world, the best players in the world and the best failures in the world! For far too long this country has failed to succeed in such tournaments, at times making Scotland's achievement look great! Now however they have an excellent opportunity to bring home a trophy that such a footballing nation deserves. Few will begrudge them their success.

Euro 2008 has so far been a rousing success. The attitudes have on the whole been very good. Most sides have attempted to play football and not just win at all costs. The refs have been far better than in previous tournaments, and there has been some exciting and dramatic results. Turkey winning by three goals to two after being two down must be one of those! Altogether there can be few complaints about the tournament as a whole.

It is a shame that the same cannot be said for the commentary inflicted on the UK populace. In any contest between ITV and BBC it is inevitable that the Beeb will come out on top. So much so that this Sunday ITV have decided not to show the game live! An admission that the vast majority of football fans will be watching BBC. The question here is will ITV therefore improve their football offerings? I doubt it. The same bland muppets in the studio, the same advert dominated coverage, the same appalling Clive Tyldesley. It would not take much to improve this but they seem happy with tabloid coverage and small audience following. After the last World Cup it was clear they were well behind the BBC and Tyldesley was one of the major reasons for this. He is still here, are they mad or on a suicide mission? Only John Diamond and David Pleat showed any understanding of either the game being watched or the folks tuning in. Well done to them.

The BBC are indeed much more professional. Fair to say they do not have the constant breaks for bad adverts, but they have now inserted trailers for their own 'upcoming' coverage of sporting events which are just as irritating and needless. However the stuffed dummies in the studio are far better than those provided, at great expense, by ITV. Hansen, in spite of being a 'Tomb Tabard' has covered the games reasonably well. Even Alan Shearer, a man with all the personality drained out of him, has almost made a joke on occasion, and the much derided Linekar has never seemed to fail in my eyes. 'The boy done good' as they say.

However there is one real cause for complaint throughout the tournament. England! From the first John Motson has attempted to bring 'England' into everything. The Turkish winger, brought u in Leytonstone, was mentioned so often because he had an English connection. Any excuse, the club an individual played for, any link to a Premiership club in the tabloids, the place he bought his shirts, anything was used constantly to bring England into the tournament the failed dismally to reach. The fact that Russia and Croatia had made it through to the next round showed that 'England had lost to quality sides.' No England were crap and got stuffed by quality sides John! And as for Clive and his hero worship of Ronaldo, well how many times were Man U mentioned during Portugal's games? More than Portugal were I imagine. Tyldseley only knows two sides, Man U and Engerland, no-one else counts. Now had this been broadcast in England it could be ignored, however this stuff was sent throughout the United Kingdom, so Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish were forced to suffer the insufferable English self praise.

I suppose I could write to the self obsessed 'Equalities' minister Harriet Harman and demand action and ask that in future Scotland, Wales, and Northern Irish connections should be shoved down folks throats also but she will probably be doing her hair or counting the number of women in her department. I wonder, if she finds there are more women than men, more whites than blacks or browns, will she replace them with men, black or otherwise? I suspect not.

Monday, 23 June 2008


There is NO football on the telly tonight! Because the majority of Euro 2008 has taken place and we await the last three games there will be nothing to watch now. I expect to be seeing spiders crawling up the wall by 8:30 tonight.

Even worse! Not only is there no football and the TV companies are returning to their usual diet of mindless drivel and unspeakable 'pap' but the BBC have now added Wimbledon to the list! Tennis! Yes Tennis! That middle class lawn game that was surely only invented to make Basketball look interesting? It failed there also didn't it! Why oh why with all the resources available to them do the BBC let the football go to ITV and Sky yet insist on spending our money on two weeks of monotony?

I'll tell you why, women! In spite of the feminist lies that fill the world today the fact is women are not naturally team motivated. While men will join with folk known and unknown and support a football or other team through thick and thin (mostly thin down Gorgie way) women tend to go for the one to one option. This is why activities (I cannot call this 'sport') is such a big draw for the girls. Of course they are lusting uncontrollably after some swarthy, tanned, French, Romanian, Australian or Yank nancy boy as they rush about the court swearing at the umpire and acting like the spoilt brats they are, but they are attracted by the single opponent idea. This is also why so many women spoil acres of really good country by insisting on playing Golf there. Would they be so happy to just walk around the woods like men do, and I have noticed some funny men walking around the woods in my time I can tell you, or do they really have the need to hit a wee ball into a far of hole?

You see it is true that while men gather at a football match, a proper sport, they together support 'our' team. Women at football, rugby or whatever, if not there just to pick up a man as most of the young ones are, support 'their baby.' A far more insular thing. They do have a liking for cricket because while this game is a 'team' game it is in reality just between two men. The bowler, the one who throws the ball, and the batsman, the one who tries to hit it with a big stick. So while eleven run about the pitch most in fact do nothing whatsoever. This makes it a great pastime for those who wish to keep themselves in a state of fitness well into their fifties and beyond.

Of course as Tennis is so female dominated, the women play less games than the men and yet get paid the same amount of cash. How sexist is this? As they play less games they can also add to this the doubles and mixed doubles which men at the top cannot find time or energy for. The top lassies therefore take far more money for far less effort from the tournament than the best men can possibly do. Blatant sexism but for crying out loud do not point out facts to these whining self seeking bitches, in this fascist world facts are not wanted, just 'chip on the shoulder' emotion. Being female dominated also means that the Beeb must hold onto it or the women who run the Corporation will stamp their foot and go blue in their faces. They will also talk for hours about such crime, and who would want to endure that? Not those who should no better at the multi national (yet will not give Scotland it's due respect) BBC.

Two whole weeks of this. Grunting and sweating and middle class anxiety over who will win, and why has Britain (meaning England) not produced a winner since Fred Perry the shirt maker? Who cares really? Roll on the football season.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Churchill by Roy Jenkins

I've just finished 912 pages of Churchill and what a good read it was! Too often this man is regarded as 'The Greatest Briton,' and in some respects this is correct. For quite clearly without his pugnacious attitude in 1940 the world would be a very different place.

Churchill never failed to live up to his aristocratic background. A descendant of another of the UK's victorious generals he was born into the high life at Blenheim Palace in 1874, when he arrived as his mother visited the relatives there. Educated at Harrow, a place he visited annually in later years, he soon set off on an adventurous life.

From India to South Africa he acted as a man in a hurry for fame, which his escape from Boers imprisonment brought him and soon worked himself into a political career. His party was the Liberals, something folk tend to forget these days as his later fame came with the Conservative party. Churchill was of course more interested in the use of power rather than the clinging to party dogma. When elevated to office he , along wit Lloyd George, introduced pensions, Labour exchanges and several welfare supports that we now take for granted. Churchill may have been a 'Toff' but he was not one to enjoy the poorer sections suffering and always wished to improve their lot. If only he had been around when Thatcher reigned, her hard heart would not have been allowed to destroy so many jobs without replacing them!

In spite of his mistaken Dardanelles policy during the Great War, a policy he never thought a mistake, and after his short time in the front line trenches with the Royal Scots Fusiliers, he was once again brought back into front line government. By the early thirties he entered his 'wilderness years,' caused mostly by his opposition to India leaving the Empire. Churchill was a man steeped in history and, rather like Thatcher, he had his own, somewhat romantic, view of that. His opposition during the India debate meant he was without power and much support for several years. How this must have hurt. His books, dictated to a secretary who had to endure late hours and often difficult circumstances, did bring in money to keep him in the style he demanded however.

When war erupted in 1939 it was no surprise Chamberlain brought him back into the cabinet. Once again he returned to the Admiralty and his great, and often absurd, opinions stimulated the Navy. By 1940 he became a some what unwanted Prime Minister. He was a maverick, he had the Dardanelles campaign behind him and many feared he could lead us into disaster. However those who lived through those days testify to the power of his broadcast speeches which nerved the nation against Hitlers expected invasion. His 'Fight them on the beaches,' speech will always be regarded as one of the most powerful in UK history. His love of words, and ability in speech making came to the fore throughout the war, even though many did not realise that an actor often stepped in to read his words on the BBC.

By 1945 he had realised the world was a different place and the growth of the superpowers and the danger of atomic war began to frighten him. One of his main motives in holding onto power during the 50's was the danger of a 'Third World War.' Thankfully this never arrived, in spite, in his view, of Eisenhower's lack of 'imagination' concerning the possible dangers. The remaining years of Churchill's life read like a sad story. Without power and his sick body ageing rapidly he travelled from one place to another enjoying what was on offer and desperately missing the one thing he needed. The desire to be at the centre of the action is one shared by all top politicians and without that power they have nothing in their lives. Power is indeed a drug!

There can be however no doubt that he was the greatest Prime Minister of the 20th century, none came up to his level. No other PM saved his nation, and indeed Europe, some would say the world, during their time. No single man has affected so many people with his fighting spirit and rhetorical flourish. For a man with no religious belief, a vague notion of a supreme power was all he appeared to possess, he did have care for his fellow man, and did seek to alleviate the lot of the poorest around him, as long as he kept his special place at the top!

Greatest Briton? Who can say. However Alanbrooke, war time Chief of the Imperial General Staff, summed him up after musing on the inconsiderate treatment Winston constantly handed out to those around him. Alanbrooke was aware of his faults but said we could not have won without him and he was a 'Great Man!' This excellent book, spoiled only by Jenkins needless use of foreign phrases and 'big words' which he includes from snobbishness and nothing else, reveals him as such, and with all his faults that remains true.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Flanders Stew

Now I am not one to complain, as you know, but one thing that is somewhat irritating about television is the preponderance of 'cooking' programmes. Every channel has someone showing you 'New ways with fish,' or yet another fantastic recipe made from a turnip, a bag of crisps and two tomatoes. Apparently famous cooks travel the world to show how folks in exotic places dine, sometimes showing the locals how to cook their own dinners! Some even go to the extent of gathering a crowd of middle class 'ne'er do wells' who will have one show off cook amongst them make their dinner so they can criticise the chef while they stuff their fat faces. Just how disgusting is that? The sight of these cretins waxing lyrical about their free offerings while in thirty seven countries there were food riots among those who could no longer afford rice or flour turns my stomach more than a Jeremy Kyle offering .

However I have to sit back and consider my fifteen and a half stone of wobbly fat,(overweight the doctor calls it, not obese), and wonder how I can complain about others while clearly taking more than my fair share at the same time. Hypocrite!

This brings me round to 'Flanders Stew.' This is a recipe I made myself, at least no-one has yet sued me for plagiarism. It came from the desire to eat something each day while not spending either time or money on the object. So I came up with this, which if enough ingredients are entered into the pot can suffice for four, five or even six days, or at least until the ambulance arrives and drops you off at the E-Coli hospital.

The ingredients vary. This is because they depend on whatever is within reach. So if the fridge, cupboard, and pocket is empty then there is little to put in. However if there has been a good day at the market and plenty of fruit and veg has fallen off the stands and rolled into the gutter then you can expect a bumper pot of 'Flanders Stew.' That is if you get there before that greedy fat woman with the brolly. Bitch!

First off chop an onion or two and start burning them in the pot. Then get your hands on mince! Preferably lamb mince as it is cheaper in Sainsburys when you go in at seven in the morning and they want rid of last nights left overs. Add this to those browning things that were once onions. Together this will turn into a brownish sludge, this is fine and you are heading in the right direction. Depending on whether you have forgotten to lower the heat it may also smell like a burnt out stolen Ford Escort. At this point add (at least half if not ALL of) a jar of 'Pataks Madras Curry Paste.' This is wonderful for taking away the taste and later when doing the washing up it also clears the drains very well. Ah curry, the United Kingdoms favourite traditional foodstuff. It's what makes Britain great!

Add to this basic substance, and 'basic' is the word, all sorts of things. Mushrooms take up a lot of space so are good, Barlotti beans also, as do Red Kidney beans, I have been known to throw in those strange blackened objects, long and short ones, found at the back of the fridge, some with mushrooms growing on them and chuck them in. It's best not to wonder what they may have been I find. Aduki beans are OK but a bit small as are lentils but remember to take all these things out of the tins first and not to misinterpret the 'Stand in boiling water' instructions sometimes found on the sides of them. I also dump a lot of frozen mixed veg just to give it that something nothing else can give. I can tell you nothing else does!

This usually fills the pot which then gets stirred, the heat set appropriately and I light the blue touch paper and retire to a safe distance. After a while it begins to burn through the pan and the strange rubberish odour that comes from the cooker tells you that it is ready. This is eaten, yes e-a-t-e-n, alongside chips, potatoes, pasta, bread, nan, oatmeal biscuits or whatever comes to hand. But be careful to look where your hand is before you start to eat I suggest. I also suggest using good quality plates for this as those plastic ones or cheap Chinese types tend to melt rather easily.

The name 'Flanders Stew' by the way comes from 'Flanders' and 'Stew.' 'Flanders' is that part of Belgium where the British Army spent most of the Great War holding back the German hordes. As the word 'Flanders' is derived from 'Flooded Country' it was no surprise that when great rainstorms arrived at the 1917 battle (known as Paschendalle) to find the land flooded. The huge barrage of artillery shells broke up what land was not already broken. What streams and irrigation channels remained dissolved into a muddy morass and two armies fought over this mess until the British had pushed the enemy far enough back to believe some sort of victory had been achieved. This was not an encounter anyone involved would ever forget!

The word 'Stew' comes from 'Stew' a method of cooking meat.

I found that cooking my stew left me with a substance that would have been readily recognised by those men who fought in Flanders. The flavour of my stew is similar to the flavour of the mud in which they ate their luncheon. Hence 'Flanders Stew.'

Tomorrow I will tell you, if you really wish to know, how I make potato soup!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Glass of Water

A small boy is sent to bed by his father.

Five minutes later.....'Da-ad....'


'I'm thirsty. Can you bring a drink of water?'

'No, You had your chance. Lights out.'

Five minutes later: 'Da-aaaad.....'


'I'm THIRSTY. Can I have a drink of water??'

' I told you NO! If you ask again, I'll have to smack you!!'

Five minutes later......'Daaaa-aaaad.....'


'When you come in to smack me, can you bring a drink of water?'

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

I've got nothing to say.

Now the nasty folk among you will probably be muttering praises at this moment in time, and one or two will be feeling a slight shock at this news. But I have indeed nothing to say.

I have looked at the world around me, considered the weather, the news, the furniture, the records and all things that ought to be bursting into my mind, and I have found nothing worth posting. I could once again mention my aching knees, caused by the long walk to the far away Tesco's. Quite how I imagine this will aid my fitness regime when I come back aching, worn out and end up with stiff knees for days, I do not know but there it is. The walk in the sun, with the passing clouds lowering the temperature needlessly, was indeed enjoyable. The pathway past the old oak trees especially jolly when the birds are gathered in the branches singing away. I stood and attempted to find one such which had a particularly lovely song today, but when I stood still he shut up, and once I moved on he began again, spoilsport. The bird at the checkout didn't give the impression she ever sang sweetly that's for sure.

However you don't want to know about my knees and would rather read something of importance, something interesting, and something humorous. Looks therefore like you are dwelling in a world of fantasy folks. I suppose I could discuss my habit of taping radio programmes and playing them back to myself when I attempt to enter slumberland. This is a habit I started many years ago and remains with me today. So many radio progs are broadcast at the wrong time. The idea, especially on Radio 4, appears to be that folk can stop work whenever they wish and listen in. This is not so! It may be for the middle aged, middle class females who have never worked in their lives, yet spend all day on the radio telling us about their hardship (and earning vast sums of cash while doing so) but it is not like that for normal folk, like me! Anyway, I am going through a few that have been used but I have not heard, usually because I fell asleep and missed the lot! I am amazed at some of the subjects covered by the radio. Politics, Army spies in the days of the Cold War, humour made out of quotes, humour from silly games, the Black Death alone gave me five fifteen minute programmes that was very enjoyable, although I would not like to pass it on as it were. I have a few still to listen too but who knows what I have taped there, especially as my memory is so bad I forget what I have just written sometimes,especially as my memory is so bad I forget what I have just written sometimes.

So having nothing to say I will wander off and consider cleaning that cupboard under the sink. I usually make a point of cleaning this every five or six years and judging by the pong that time may soon be up. This will help my knees readjust, the smell to ease, the neighbours to stop complaining, and will stop me looking up jobs on the web as I will not have time before I eat some foul tasting evening meal. I cannot guarantee this will be foul tasting but going on previous experience I think it's a sure bet.

I remember now that I was going to comment on my time in 'The Goblet.' You see I had this dream I was back there, sitting in my usual seat opposite the bar, with Gordon Brown and his mates in the seat immediately to the left of the door. Naturally we did not realise that Gordon Brown was Gordon Brown in those days, when there he was just one of 'those student types.' However there he certainly attended and when the pubs closed at ten, as they did then, he would wander back to his shared flat at type away till all hours working himself into a future. His mates just worked themselves onto the floor. At the appropriate time I will drop him a note and let him know I still have the photographs. If that is not worth a lifetimes tax refund I don't know what is! Drop me a line Gordon pal. However I will not mention this as the dream started well and appeared to be going fabulously especially when Lady Muck and her daughter wandered in. There immediately was a lightening of the atmosphere, a brightening in every ones eye and a lifting all round of spirits, although that was quite common in that place, being a pub and all. Just then a fat ageing bloke wandered in also, he looked the type we need in such places as he wore a stained Heart of Midlothian polo shirt, a Hearts scarf round his neck, and carried a bundle of books which he offered for sale at an 'advantageous price,' or so he said. Looking at the bright young things he cried 'Drinks all round' and the two molls immediately rushed to his side, along with all the contents of the hostelry. Pints were pulled, whiskies were poured and the glamour girls beamed happily. 'That will be £478 please,' muttered the barmaid, 'Who's paying?' 'Adullamite is,' muttered Mike from the middle of a pint glass.
I then woke up in a very cold sweat.

Therefore I am not going to mention this dream as it has made me weak at my aching knees........

Monday, 16 June 2008

Chris & Jim's

The other day I had my hair cut. I think it's important you know this, just so you do not think that I sit here like some unemployed scruffy ageing hippy! Indeed I am so concerned to send the right signals to those about me that I have doubled my bath time. Yes indeed, I bathe on Tuesday as well as Sunday now. Indeed, if luck is with me the man next door might throw out one of his old disposable razors and I can have myself a shave also. It's good to care for ones appearance I say!

Chris and Jim are to lads who have opened this shop and developed the place into the towns premier barbers, sorry, hairdressers. Their approach to their customers, their attitude, humour and far from exorbitant pricing has brought them a good solid customer base. So much so they have now one or two others helping out at times. However the barmaid like blond working the day I went in was not allowed to run her fingers through my tresses for reasons that were not made clear. Maybe it was the way I suggested this idea.......

One thing is for sure, while these two may be excellent hairdressers they would never make a success among the trendies, there is no fear of these two running their fingers through your golden locks. A wrong word about their teams latest defeat might mean an accidental slicing of one off your ears mind!

Their sides, Spurs and Liverpool, mean that they are not in a position to laugh at the Heart of Midlothian. This is an advantage as some among us would confirm. Nothing worse than listening to someone who has a side that is top of their division, heading for glory, cash rich, and, in my view, heading for a fall...hopefully! With the cranky directors and lack of success enjoyed by their clubs they are not in a position to laugh at Vlad, after all, they could be next!

I am amazed at how many barbers/ hairdressers there are in this town. There are only around thirty five thousand souls dwelling here, and there seems to be an ever increasing number of such 'salons' to cope with them. We have six barbers alone in the town centre, and five at least for the lassies. This does not take account of those who freelance from friend to friend for half the price and twice the gossip. Nor the shops I have not noticed as keeping note of the females dens around here is something I tend not to do. Having said that I am tempted to stand at the window sometimes and look in. When I visit Chris & Jim's I sit there until called, have a sheet to catch the hair (where does that gray come from?), and then allow my swollen head to swing from side to side as they hack their way through the foliage. Females I note, tend to sit their with their heads covered in bits of paper. From the perspective of the passerby it looks as if they are a Christmas tree covered in kids requests for free stuff or maybe a horse dressed up for the local gymkhana. A cynic who knows the lass involved may feel obliged, when the ordeal is over, to point out that, allowing for the sixty, seventy, or even a hundred pounds that have changed hands, there is little change to be seen. A wise cynic of course keeps his trap shut.

But what are they doing in there? How long does it take to have your hair done? Considering the neurotic nature of women, and their absurd fascination with things that do not matter, the horror if one hair is out of place must make such employment fit only for those who have great patience, or are just fusspots! I just say to the lads, 'Chop it off,' and they do. It looks OK, and no-one laughs, at least not like the time my friend Christine cut my hair for me. It was going well until I sat down and she placed on my knee a book called, 'Hairdressing at home.' Somehow I felt this may not go well. However, from the front it looked OK to me, although I am not a 'fusspot' about such things. It was when I went to my then regular barber, George the Greek, I realised that things were not what they ought to be. He leaned over and asked, 'I didn't cut this, last time did I?' The look of relief on his face when I said .'No,' made me realise just how bad things had been.

She didn't get the chance to do it again, no matter how she pleaded.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

All Ireland Final

A man had great tickets for the All Ireland final. As he sits down, another man comes over and asks if anyone is sitting in the seat next to him. 'No,' he says. 'The seat is empty.'

'This is incredible!' said the man. 'Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the All Ireland Final, the biggest sporting event in the world and not use it?'
He says, 'Well, actually, the seat belongs to me. My wife was supposed to come with me, but she passed away. This is the first All Ireland Final we haven't been to together since we got married.'

'Oh ... I'm sorry to hear that. That's terrible. But couldn't you find someone else - a friend or relative, or even a neighbour to take the seat?

The man shakes his head.......... 'No they're all at the funeral.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Hospital Life

When I first started work on the trauma ward at the Infirmary I quickly got used to the many varieties of the human species. The doddery old pensioner who had long since lost what had once been a brain, the drunk who saw the door in the ceiling being opened, and the fellow who cried out 'Fire' at two in the morning, much to the disgust of those hanging from various 'scaffolding' which was holding their broken bones in place.

Being in hospital allows those secrets we keep to ourselves to escape. We are away from family and friends and the usual run of things and this disruption can be confusing as well as annoying. Under the influence of drugs our minds can wander and we may find ourselves walking through the streets in our pyjamas or informing the doctor not to stand there because he may' harm the white rabbit.' You may be interested to know that this comment enables a patient to be transferred to the Royal Edinburgh within half an hour, a time frame other transfers could not then achieve.

The sight of patients going home is indeed a comforting one for hospital staff, especially if they are bonkers or violent. One we had was certainly a bit lacking in understanding. He was what today we refer to as 'Chav's' but then, in a more practical age, was referred to as a 'nutter.' Playing happily with a woman he found her husband coming through the door. Naturally he did what we all would do and jumped out of the window. I like to think I would have contemplated the three floors he fell down first before jumping myself but we never know do we? Anyway he landed in such a fashion as to break his leg and the husband involved endeavoured to give first aid in bets Musselburgh fashion - by kicking his head in! I am left wondering what sort of lass she was if she was involved with idiot 'a' and what was her actual,man like if involved with her, idiot 'b?' Anyway Idiot 'a' had his leg encased in plaster and eleven (11) times took it off himself because 'It itched.' I recall the registrar, as firm but fair man, informing him that he was now blacklisted and if the plaster was removed again that was his tough luck. He did not return, possibly because the senior registrar has loomed over him when in the bed a day or so before questioning his thermometer reading. 'Usually,' he said in a voice tinged with satire and threat,'people with a temperature of '108' are dead. Why aren't you?' The ward population, sitting in stony silence eager for the reply did their best to stifle the giggling.

This ward population were not the silent type, this was Edinburgh after all. They were most keen to speak when they considered it needful and one of our noble consultants constantly played into their hands by his actions. Each day a consultant would come and inspect his patients, and this one (called Mr Little?) in the usual way brought a few students and a nurse and wandered to his people. He then proceeded to ignore them! His bedside manner was to totally ignore the patient and concentrate on the X-Rays displayed on the light trolley that one of the students was given charge off. Our man would then indicate the wound, the action taken and the result to be expected. However the patient, naturally anxious and rightfully expecting a word of solace from the great man would be ignored. Edinburgh folk are at heart shy, retiring, kind folks, but not keen on being treated as second class or unimportant. "Hey pal, try telling me, it's ma leg ken?" was a not uncommon utterance from one of the few patients in the ward. Cynics would indicate their presence, "Ahm just here, behind ye doctor. If ye turn roond ye will find me, know what ah mean?" It made no difference. Years of arrogant self importance, a habit with many doctors, had led our hero to be oblivious to such cries. He ignored the pleading voice and moved on. Whether he actually spoke to a patient when unconscious on the theatre table I do not know, but he must have preferred them that way.

All this came to mind when cogitating this list I came across the other day. I am not sure how accurate it may be, but I know this sort of thing does happen, but quite where to get up to date figures I have yet to discover.

3 Scots die each year testing if a 9v battery works on their tongue.

142 Scots were injured in 1999 by not removing all pins from new shirts.

58 Scots are injured each year by using sharp knives instead of screwdrivers.

31 Scots have died since 1996 by watering their Christmas tree while the fairy lights were plugged in.

19 Scots have died in the last 3 years believing that Christmas decorations were chocolate.

Scottish Hospitals reported 4 broken arms last year after Xmas cracker-pulling accidents.

18 Scots had serious burns in 2000 trying on a new jumper with a lit cigarette in their mouth.

A massive 543 Scots were admitted to A&E in the last two years after trying to open bottles of beer with their teeth.

5 Scots were injured last year in accidents involving out-of-control Scalextric cars.

In 2000 eight Scots were admitted to hospital with fractured skulls incurred whilst throwing up into the toilet.

The list forgets to add the dozen or so who are hospitalised each year because they burn themselves while ironing clothes they are wearing!

Take care out there!

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

The Need to Exercise

The trouble with sitting around being idle is that you get fat and unfit. I have attempted to keep on the move but constant bugs and general sloth has hindered this. The weather, which is never great, has not helped. However I have once again got the fifteen and a half lump of blubber on the bike and begun the long walk routine. The fact that the bike seat is creaking and the tyres, fully blown up, begin to flatten out when I start off is not encouraging. I did take the camera and attempted to capture the sight of the lovely green fields that surround this town. Not the most successful but gives an idea of the land around us, green with barley and Brussels sprouts, wheat and strange looking stuff. No doubt there will be masses of yellow fields of rapeseed soon to brighten the place. I cycled up to and around the little village and back through the old railway line. Nice trip as you hear the birdies singing, feel the sun on your back and have to avoid the occasional white van driver rushing to get his day over with. (not on the old railway line however.)

Yesterday, in a fit off madness, I decided to walk there! The sun was shining and the sky was blue so I thought it a good idea. Nutter! By the end of my two hour dawdle I had enjoyed the sun, the birds, a few passing dogs and one dirty big wasp like creature, and conversed with one or two yokels before I realised I was knackered! It is not so far on the bike! Still I enjoyed the freedom to wander along with few folks around. Spoiled only as I made my way back in time for the schools coming out. The little dears from the secondary schools rush past on their bikes and then I ran into the wee brats from the primary. Each and every one complaining about something, each shouting loud, and on top of that few of the mothers were worth ogling as I passed! Tsk! What is it about kids that they are always greeting eh? 'I want, I want.' Tsk! The sound just like adults sometimes. Maybe it is because the little spoilt terrors are more honest with their feelings than adults who hide their spoiled nature behind a false politeness and devious words?

I found myself watching these brats and beginning to brood. Why? Then I realised that my ten year old great niece up there has been given a 'Bebo' account. It seems all the kids have them even though you are supposed to be thirteen at least. This means here mother has one to check on who she is dealing with and I was forced to have a 'Bebo' also. I was forced into a Facebook' account in similar fashion, and I thought the twenty/thirty something 'Facebook' a bit childish until I met 'Bebo!' Dearie me! However by keeping in touch with the loud, vacuous, grasping family I find I want them around. I now have this desire to get up to Edinburgh, endure a few days with my mother and meet the kids - just to be kicked around for a couple of hours.

The sun remains shining, I must off and walk in spite of my aches, my pains and my thin soled shoes. But don't worry about me, don't fret ion my account. I would hate you all to be concerned in any way while I endure such hardship........

Friday, 6 June 2008

For All the Real Men & Women Out There

Stiff upper lipped Britons (real and pseudo) need not receive!

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Hello Again!

I am sorry to announce leave of absence must come to a close and I henceforth return to this blog. Naturally you will all now despair at having to look in once more on my psychotic ramblings, and naturally I feel sympathy for you - well I don't actually, so there!

The spiritual problem has eased and indeed may have been other than what I thought. However it was not very nice and I really do not wish to undergo the loss of everything life has again! Dear me no!

I am grateful for the kind words posted here. Some folks either missed me or needed me to exist just to be an example of what can happen if things go wrong! I believe many schools refer to me when warning kids what will happen if.....! However I missed you also! You do not realise how nice it is to find a blog full of wisdom, humour, or just life, every time I look at those on my neighbourhood. A wide range of human life, and I must say a wide range of differing yet very lovely people.

I am grateful for the comments, and glad I know you - even from afar.

Excuse me while I burst into tears like a 'Bafta' winner.