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A clattering of Jackdaws.

When we bought this house, we noticed that there appeared to be a pair of Jackdaws living in the chimney. We had to block off the chimney, so felt rather bad about serving these elegant birds with an eviction order, but serve it we did.

They may have lost their home, but didn’t give up their ‘territory’. Day after day they would reappear and stalk round the garden collecting breakfast, then later for twigs – they were building a new house somewhere locally! I was busy in those days, living a normal life; write something in the morning, then get on with housework and helping Mr G transform this derelict pile into a home for us.

Now life has changed for me – immeasurably. I remain fixed in one place, and only see what is directly in my line of vision, can only reach what is left within arm’s reach. If someone puts a cup just two inches out of my reach it might as well be a mile away – I can do nothing about it. It is not the physical problem of what has happened to me that matters – it is the psychological impact of being so utterly dependant on other people and so restricted in my world directly in front of me.

However, I have learnt that there are bonus points to this new life. I study intently what is happening in front of me – and since that includes a bird conservation meadow – and my pair of ‘prancing judges’ as I call them – the Jackdaws – that has a fascination all of its own.

Not many people get the opportunity to watch a pair of birds from the warmth and comfort of their bed, day after day. They start work every day as dawn breaks – and coincidentally, when I wake. I love the early mornings – the mist rolls over the meadow, the deer stretch their legs and start to graze; the white barn owl flies out of the old tin shed next to the signal box and starts his own search for breakfast; the marsh harrier swoops over all of them, searching for a baby rabbit, or perhaps an unfortunate baby bird – all of them solo.

Yet my prancing Judges work as a pair, their grey wigs bobbing up and down as they scour the lawn. Is it that their own young are so safe they can both leave together? Perhaps they have no young? They seem devoted to each other, so perhaps they mate for life like swans?

This morning I discovered the answer – so flipping obvious I cannot believe it had not occurred to me before.

I used to travel to the northern industrial towns a lot in my search for stained glass when that was one of the things I specialised in selling. For some years I have collected chimney pots. Mr G now has them dotted around the garden, flower pots in the top of every one, bursting with a display of marigolds and begonias and peonies to ensure that wherever I look there is a blaze of colour – but one of the pots is rather special. It has a ‘crown top’ and cascading down the sides are a series of downward facing ‘pipes’. I assume it was made to ensure that some noxious gasses successfully escaped from somewhere.

There may be a cascade of orange begonias filling the top of the pipe – but that intelligent pair of jackdaws have discovered that they can hop into the pipes on the sides and still live in a  chimney pot……who says a chimney has to be on top of a roof in order to call it home!

If I hadn’t been in a fixed position, day after day, I doubt that I would ever have realised that this is where they are living. It is forcing me to examine more closely the world around me, and to realise how much of our life we waste rushing from one place to another, forever searching for the greener grass – when actually the greener grass is under our feet all the time.

There really is a silver lining in every cloud.

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A View Definitely Not to Die For!

Mr G has been beavering away since March 19th when it became obvious that I would never walk upstairs again.

There had been an old boiler room attached to the side of the house when we bought it – a haven for spiders, a toilet for the resident scruffy lap dog belonging to the previous owner on rainy days, a defunct boiler, the remains of an old oil burning stove, and several coats that would have been out of date 25 years ago. He hired a skip and filled it to the brim in hours.

Then came the task of digging out new footings – apparently the previous owners thought that the entire house might slide into the river under the weight of their new boiler if they didn’t give it at least three-foot of solid concrete underneath. Sheesh! Mr G swung a sledge-hammer against that concrete for days, finally enlisting the help of Trev the Trannie. Trev might be midway through his two years of dressing and living as a woman, but he knows how to put a jack hammer to good use. The village was monumentally impressed. (When you live on the main road, you acquire Assistant Site Foremen by the dozen as everyone drags their dog down to the post office for their morning paper).

Eventually four tonne of hardcore was dug out and put into bags – and the task of refilling the trench with er, another four tonne of concrete, began. I think this is like the offside rule, something that women will never understand. What was wrong with the four tonne of concrete you started off with? Eh? *Sighs* Best not to ask.

Eventually the building started leaping upwards as through possessed. A foot high, two foot high. Windows appeared on a lorry and were fitted to the walls. The ribbed framework of a roof appeared looking like the upside down remains of a beached whale – and surprise, surprise, the thatchers who are booked up for two years ahead, turned up one day and announced they had five days free before they started their annual holiday and thought they might just spend it thatching this little bubble on the side of our house…

The plasterers appeared, a rarer sight than traffic wardens in this neck of the woods, and amazingly, they also had some free time before they went on holiday, sufficient to plaster the ceiling – I was beginning to recognise the unseen hand of our friendly but very elderly local builder at work. Favours were being called in, in the rush to get this finished for me.

Mr G was permanently locked in his workshop, machines whirring the only sign that he was still alive. He rushed hither and thither with tape measure, but refused to discuss what he was doing. Since my bed in the kitchen was placed facing the front of the house, I could see nothing of what was going on behind me, occasionally a nurse would exclaim ‘Ooh, it’s going to be beautiful’ and be told to ‘Shush!’ Until finally I was wheeled out to see the semi-finished version. Still the floor to be done…..the oak was ready but the man with the machine needed to turn it into floor boards was due to go to the Isle of Man for the races…would he do it in time?

He did.

And finally I was wheeled out in state into my new abode. It is fantastic. My favourite jugs laid out on the widow cill. All the power points connected up to plug my bed into; a new table (a lash up according to Mr G!) made out of an old desk top to sit beside my bed and hold my computer and all the things I need within reach – tissues, notepad and pen, radio, mouthwash (this medication gives me the most disgusting taste in my mouth) telephone, buzzer to call my carer, everything I need to exist. Even double doors that make it feel as though I am out in the open world.  What more could I want? Mr G is an incredible man.

 

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What is left of IICSA?

Sign-of-the-IICSA-759472This afternoon, Phil Frampton of the Survivors of Organised and Institutional Abuse (SOIA) has formally withdrawn his support for IICSA. This follows the withdrawal of the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association and that of Andrew and Jane Kershaw, two individuals who have worked ceaselessly to bring to the attention of the authorities the child sexual abuse at Forde Park Approved School. Jane Kershaw was granted Core participant status on the 19 August 2016   By the 25th February 2017  this had been withdrawn.

Phil Frampton feels that this leaves IICSA as little more than a box ticking exercise. Those powerful institutions – the church, the local authorities overseeing children’s homes, the Department of Education, the Crown Prosecution Service and the police, indeed the Home Office which had direct responsibility for children’s homes, have been able to fund expensive legal teams and will have both foresight and time to consider the questions that may be posed to them – however survivors will only have a voice where it is provided by pro-bono law firms and no core participation allowing them to pose questions directly.

This is not equality of arms.

Last July, the inquiry’s truth project began. Unfortunately, the statements given to it by survivors have no legal standing – they will appear in the final report, suitably anonymised, much as the girls from Rochdale appeared in Professor Jay’s report on Rochdale.  Tidy little ‘quote marks’ fitted in to the margins to make the page look better. This is not what the survivors envisaged when first David Cameron said, ‘No stone will be left unturned’ nor as series of ‘chairs’ promised to put ‘survivor’s voices at the heart of the enquiry’.

Lowell Goddard went so far as to say that she believed survivors lacked ‘objectivity’, and thus should be excluded. She went on to refer to survivors as ‘the victim community’. This was a woman so sure she was not part of the establishment, that she married a Scottish Laird with a 6,000 acre estate, has given legal advice to 29 different governments, and was both friend of and neighbour to, Lord Brittan.

This is not equality of arms.

I am better known for writing in defence of those falsely accused – it has not blinded my eyes to the fact that there are genuine victims of sexual abuse, nor to the fact that they are slowly and quietly being shafted by this inquiry. They deserve better. 

There were several girls at Duncroft who had been abused – not by the staff, nor whilst they were at the school – so I was never unaware of the horrors of child sexual abuse. Karin Ward had most definitely been abused by members of her family long before she arrived at Duncroft. So was Anita Veale who became a close friend of mine whilst we were both there together. She had felt unable to unburden herself of that memory when we were young, but came to see me years later after she had become both alcoholic and a heroin addict. We talked for hours as she told me of her famous grandfather that she had felt unable to ‘unmask’ as a sexual predator – and I thought I had given her solace and kind words – it was not enough – would anything have been enough? That night she took the train from my house, lay down on Hampstead Heath and drank a bottle of vodka. By morning she was dead. I never have, never will, forget her.

In my work in Wales, I came across many young girls with learning disabilities of varying kinds who had been sexually abused, and received compensation through the criminal injuries board. They would not have received that abuse if there had been sufficient staff to monitor them – so it has always pained me that so much money has been spent chasing false allegations against high-profile names and so little at looking into the institutions that allowed abuse to continue – in all its forms.

IICSA, in its present form will be a ‘talking shop’ for highly paid academics and lawyers to produce endless glossy reports – this is not the answer that the survivors were looking for. They are no nearer to achieving transparency as to the actions of those closed institutions. It is a great shame that some of those with a more ‘vivid imagination’ – the fake ‘victims’ – were allowed to hog all the media limelight, and consume the millions of pounds investigating their ‘fake claims’ leaving people like Phil Frampton still fighting for justice on a shoe string.

They deserve better.

Savile to lose his title?

How curious. Surrey police let off Savile seven times – seven times when they had evidence that could have convicted him. Whatever were they doing all that time? – certainly not investigating Levi Bellfield! They had failed to investigate 24 sex attacks that could have been linked to him!  They spent millions and millions chasing Savile from one end of the country to the other, hired hundreds of ex-detectives to interview middle aged women and middle aged men who claimed to have been attacked by Savile in the most unlike places – and yet Surrey Police couldn’t spend a penny investigating or following up genuine leads to serious sex attacks right across the country that were linked to Levi Bellfield – was it because they were too fixated on Savile?

I am so angry with myself that I am now too sick to follow this up – I do hope that Moor takes up the challenge and digs into this Sunday Times story. It looks as though Savile is in danger of losing his crown as ‘Britain’s’ most prolific sex offender’ and it might be handed to Levi Bellfield. After five years hard work on the Savile case, it is galling that I can’t see it through to the bitter end, but there you are.

I hope to be going home from the hospice tomorrow, back to the Tender’s Nest that Mr G has constructed for me; every Ship has it’s Tender moored alongside, and so does his Ship.

Sorry, that is as much as I am capable of writing today, it takes the morning of medication to straighten me out after a night’s heavy sleep and leave me pain free for the afternoon and by that time I am ready for another sleep! Tomorrow I go home to Mr G who knows exactly how to care for me – they don’t mean to be unkind, but they are always so busy in here and they have so many rules and regulations that have to be followed – that they only have to have one man who was seriously ill (which they had) and one lady who fell out of bed (which they did) and there is no nurse available left to deal with me consequently I was left from 4.30am screwed up in a corner of my bed, unable to straighten myself out, with the pain of lying like that increasing by the hour. It was 9am before they got round to me and I had to chose between having pain relief and breakfast or having a wash. I decline the wash….so I stink, but by the time Mr G arrived at 10,30 (he’s not allowed in any earlier – another rule!) at least the pain was easing and he was able to slip me my vape e-cigarette, which naturally I’m not allowed either…’no evidence that it’s ‘safe’ – so after 10 days I am suffering from severe nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

What would you do? Go home with some pain not yet controlled from the ‘EastAnglian Centre of Excellence for Pain Control’ with some pain not yet controlled – although it would be by Mr G applying the pain control at 4.30am and keeping it up every two hours on the dot, plus copious Yorkshire Tea and frequent puffs on the e-cigarette and just his warm comforting hands and presence – or stay here?

I’m choosing the ‘Go Home’ option! I can put up with a bit of pain, I loathe this place.

Apologies; I’ve veered off the subject of Levi Bellfield. Please do use the comments to discuss your views on whether they should have been following up the Bellfield leads, or chasing the imaginary ‘Britain’s Greatest Living Paedophile’ – Savile – across the country.

Here’s a copy and paste of the Surrey Police article from The Sunday Times for those of you who don’t have a subscription to The Sunday Times.

New evidence seen by The Sunday Times links the murderer of the schoolgirl Milly Dowler with a spree of unprovoked bludgeon attacks on women across Britain that the police never fully investigated.

Levi Bellfield, a former wheel-clamper from west London, is now linked to 24 violent attacks and rapes in the two decades before he was caught in 2004. This would make him one of the most prolific serial attackers of women in British criminal history.

Two newly identified suspected victims of Bellfield last night called on the Metropolitan police to investigate their cases. In separate incidents they were both clubbed over the head while walking alone.

Police intelligence on Bellfield seen by The Sunday Times shows detectives suspect him of nine attacks, in addition to a series of rapes and assaults previously investigated but never prosecuted.

Bellfield, who is serving two whole-life tariffs, is challenging his conviction for murdering Milly Dowler in 2002. He was also convicted of killing Amelie Delagrange and Marsha McDonnell and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy.

Officers from the national police serious crime analysis section (SCAS) uncovered a series of unsolved attacks that took place in London, Surrey, Middlesex, Sussex and Lancashire.

The intelligence was collated before Bellfield’s first conviction in 2008 but has not been revealed until now. The attacks match his movements around the country at the relevant times.

Two of Bellfield’s murder victims were bludgeoned to death
Two of Bellfield’s murder victims were bludgeoned to death

One of the victims identified by police was Sarah Spurrell, who received three blows to the head as she was walking to a friend’s house in Hastings, East Sussex, on a January evening in 2004.

Although the police SCAS unit identified Bellfield as a suspect, it did not inform Spurrell and dropped the investigation after he was convicted of murder.

Spurrell, a 38-year-old mother of two, said yesterday she was “100% sure” her assailant was Bellfield after being shown his picture and called for her case to be reopened. She confirmed that the size, build and eyes all match Bellfield’s appearance and believes she could have been the “next Milly”.

Officers found the new cases by searching the national crime database for specific factors including: a female victim, aged between 15-40, no evidence of sexual activity and the use of a heavy weapon around the head.

Two of Bellfield’s murder victims — 19-year-old gap-year student Marsha McDonnell and 22-year-old French student Amelie Delagrange — were bludgeoned to death with head wounds.

Former detective chief inspector Colin Sutton, who led the murder investigations, confirmed the research and said it suggested Bellfield was a serial offender.

“We were looking for blitz attacks on lone females, especially where there was no robbery or sexual assault, because that is something we know he did which is extremely unusual. Attacks of that ferocity for no apparent reason are rare,” Sutton said.

The new cases date back to July 1994 when a 29-year-old woman was hit from behind on the head by a blunt object at a deserted petrol station in Hinchley Wood, Surrey. The assailant — wearing a balaclava — struck her twice more after she fell to the ground but she still managed to fight him off.

A woman, now 49, who was attacked in Croydon, south London, in 1995 said last night: “The force of the blow wiped my memory . . . It fractured my skull and I was in hospital for several days.

“I didn’t know Bellfield might have been a suspect. I’d like the police to investigate. It’s not enough that he’s in jail. I want to be sure it was him.”

She said the incident “broke” her confidence and it had worried her for years because her attacker remained unknown.

Two similar assaults on women took place in Blackpool, Lancashire, in 2003 and 2004 when Bellfield was visiting the town for nights out. Several other cases occurred around Twickenham, west ­London, near his home.

Sutton described the evidence linking Bellfield to the attacks as compelling: “We couldn’t find any similar offences that we couldn’t link to Bellfield.”

The cases were not investigated further. Senior officers at the Met decided to use resources on other priorities as Bellfield was in prison for life. “I didn’t dis­agree with the decision, although I would have been happy to continue investigating the crimes,” said Sutton.

The crimes Bellfield has been linked to include: six rapes of teenage girls, three rapes of older women, an attempted murder, one kidnap, an indecent assault and three further hammer attacks.

He was tried for two of those cases: the attempted murder of Irma Dragoshi, then 33, from Hounslow, west London, who was hit over the head with a blunt instrument; and the kidnap of Anna-Maria Rennie, 17. The jury failed to reach a verdict.

Bellfield, 49, who has converted to Islam, is in Durham’s high security HMP Frankland. He claims he was wrongly convicted for the murder of Milly Dowler, 13, and says he now has CCTV footage and a new witness to back up his case.

Last year the Met held another investigation into Bellfield which proved inconclusive. It did not comment on the nine new cases in the intelligence research.

 

 

All lit up with a Tilly Lamp.

Sandra-with-Claudia-426 (1)
Sandra with Claudia – another trafficked hen. No, I don’t know what she does with the eggs either – they pop out what ever she thinks. Perhaps she boils them humanely.

There is a carnival atmosphere up in Lancashire. The drums are beating, that distinctive sound of the new age traveller that we hear at the G7 conference, the ‘go green’ meetings, the ‘call to arms’ of the vegan social justice warrior. Fracking is about to start. The Police have a half million pound a month budget to keep order. You may think there is a whiff of anarchy amongst these demos – but no, they have a leader, a Sebastian Keeley, who want to  ‘reclaim the power’ from the elite and hand it to the, er, non, elite, which presumably makes them the new elite, does it not? Perhaps they get Yurts instead of second hand tents and prime locations to erect thier tents……

The Mister Whippy ice-cream van is already in position, no sign of a burger van – too many vegans I suppose. The beleaguered boss of the Fracking company was pointing out in vain that his was the most highly regulated fracking site in the world; he was being measured for air quality, water quality, and traffic disturbance – the environmental agency had already done 6 inspections and he hadn’t even started work yet!!!

I often feel like writing these days, but then the pain returns, or the nurses have some procedure they need to perform, or the Doctor is calling in – life is never as quiet and organised as it used to be when I jumped out of bed and sat down in front of my computer and started another post…..but today that music exercised me and I wanted to know more about it. What was it called – Garage Band? If you know the answer please let me know in the comments, it’s driving me nuts.

I’ve been led on a merry dance. Somewhere along the line, I found the original track for Rolf Harris’s Waltzing Matilda. Practically the Australian National Anthem these days. Veering off on a tangent, as I often do, I pondered on it’s fate. Had it been vanquished from sight in the same manner that all Jimmy Savile’s Top of the Pops appearances had been? After all, Savile had never been found guilty of heinous crimes, only ‘believed to be so’ – whereas Harris actually had been convicted, however unfairly. Nope, Waltzing Matilda was too much a part of the fabric of Australian life to suffer the same fate it seemed. There is even a museum dedicated to the song! It burnt down a couple of years ago. Now I was firmly on the track of Matilda – my mind works like this, in case you haven’t noticed.

The tune to Waltzing Matilda is actually Scottish – “Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigielea”- if you really want to disappear down a rabbit hole try googling that marching song….Ms Raccoon did, and didn’t emerge for an hour or so – the things I do for you! So almost back on track with Matilda, and what is this I find? If its not Matilda Higgins….

Sandra Higgins emerged 2008 in Ireland. Sandra is a psychologist who founded the first Vegan animal sanctuary in Ireland, the world possibly, where animals who had been ‘trafficked’ and enslaved for human use were saved (stick wth me,  please). Amongst these modern day slaves torn from their mother’s breasts crying piteously, so that we humans could consume thier livers and slice up their thighs without so much as a thought, was a hen called Matilda. Eventually Matilda came to the end of her natural life – I shall let Sandra take over at this point:

The night she was dying I promised her I would dedicate the rest of my life to vegan education. In her memory I opened Matilda’s Promise, Animal Rights & Vegan Education Centre. Go Vegan World is one of the activities of that centre.

Never again would humans wait at a hen’s rear end for their ovary to produce another egg, a potential son or daughter, carelessly tossed into boiling water for a few minutes, ready to be consumed by an eager monster of a human youngster,

It must have been a moving evening, comforting young Mathilda as she lay gasping for breath, I have tears in my eyes as I think of it. Perhaps I should open the first Palliative Care Centre for Hens?

Anyway, moving smartly along, Matilda’s ideas have gathered so much financial support that she has enough money to buy full page adverts in many of the main stream media’s dying organs. They, of course, are so short of money these days that they don’t care where the money comes from.

So today I had a visitor carrying a full page from the Daily Telegraph.

‘You are going to love this’ he said.

He was right. It seems that Sandra is now campaigning to have us stop drinking milk. ‘Humane Milk is a Myth’. Calves are torn from their Mother’s who are still bloody from birth (watch the terminology) and are searching frantically for their daughter’s. They tremble piteously and drink milk from rubber teats on the wall instead of their Mother’s nurturing bodies. All because human’s take their milk! Their son’s are slaughtered for their flesh, and they themselves are slaughtered at 6 years old – their natural lifespan is 25 years.

Now we may not agree with gummint, and think they should be replaced with dreadlocked morons like young Sebastian but surely before they go they could pass a law for us saying that it was illegal to traffick baby calves and stop people having milk in their tea?

Think of Matilda. Her feathers gradually fading in colour – do they have Hen Ketamine?

Tilly is short for Matilda. In case you didn’t know.

Just thought you’d like to know where my mind had been today, wandering along all sorts of paths – don’t think I’ve actually lost the plot yet, but my ability to write a serious post is still in doubt. So it’s either nothing, or put up with my meandering.

We have so much to worry about in the modern world.

My campaign is bearing fruit.

Not sure if I can do this but I will do my best. The disease is progressing and today I have had my medication pushed up to 300 ml of Ketamine and 275ml of Fentanyl to cope with the increase in pain, but I have just received this press release from Kate Tullet and I am so pleased – the publicity generated by my story in the national newspapers has born fruit and here is the press release.

From: “Tullett, Kate” <Kate.Tullett@medicalprotection.org>

Date: 13 July 2017 at 14:11:40 BST

To: “Tullett, Kate” <Kate.Tullett@medicalprotection.org>

Subject: MPS comment on NHS Resolution 2016/17 report on clinical negligence costs

Commenting on the 2016/17 NHS Resolution annual report into the cost of clinical negligence to the NHS (just published) –

Emma Hallinan, Director of Claims at the Medical Protection Society (MPS), said:

“While there has been a small but welcome reduction in the number of new clinical negligence claims, the cost of claims to the NHS continues to spiral with £1.7bn paid out during 2016/17. This is up from £1.5bn in 2015/16, and since 2010/11 spend has increased by a worrying 98%.

“It is important that there is reasonable compensation for patients harmed following clinical negligence, but a balance must be struck against society’s ability to pay.  If the current trend continues the balance will tip too far and the cost risks becoming unsustainable.

“Legal reform is required to strike a balance between compensation that is reasonable, but also affordable – this includes the introduction of a limit on future care costs based on a tariff agreed by an expert group and fixed recoverable costs for claims up £250,000 to stop lawyers charging disproportionate fees. From the £1.7bn paid out in 2016/17, legal costs accounted for 37% of that bill.

“Given the pressure on the NHS and the change to the personal injury discount rate – which has significantly increased the NHS’ provisions for future clinical negligence costs – there has never been a more pressing time to tackle this issue, alongside continued work to enhance patient safety.”

END

Notes

Full NHS Resolution annual report: http://resolution.nhs.uk/annual-report-and-accounts-201617/

Brief NHS news article: www.nhsla.nhs.uk/CurrentActivity/Pages/News.aspx

MPS launched its Striking a Balance campaign in June, setting out a package of legal reforms to control the spiralling costs of clinical negligence and strike a balance between compensation that is reasonable, but also affordable. Find out more at www.medicalprotection.org/balance

For further information about MPS contact: E: kate.tullett@medicalprotection.org T: 0207 640 5290

About MPS:

The Medical Protection Society (“MPS”) is the world’s leading protection organisation for doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals. We protect and support the professional interests of more than 300,000 members around the world. Membership provides access to expert advice and support together with the right to request indemnity for complaints or claims arising from professional practice.   

Our philosophy is to support safe practice in medicine and dentistry by helping to avert problems in the first place. We do this by promoting risk management through our workshops, E-learning, clinical risk assessments, publications, conferences, lectures and presentations. MPS is not an insurance company. All the benefits of membership of MPS are discretionary as set out in the Memorandum and Articles of Association.

Kate Tullett

Media Relations Manager
Tel:            +44 (0) 20 7640 5290

Mob:          + 44 (0)7989 423667
Fax:           +44 (0) 20 7399 1371
Email:       kate.tullett@medicalprotection.org

Medical Protection Society  |  Level 19, 32 London Bridge Road  |  London SE1 9SG  |  UK

 

Fleeing Doctors

GPI was quietly dozing to the background of yet another documentary the other afternoon, this time one on the Australian flying doctor service. (well worth raiding the BBC 4 archive facility, some really interesting stuff hidden in there!) when I became dimly aware that almost every Doctor they interviewed was English. No wonder we were so short of Doctors here – the NHS train them, and they promptly take their skills overseas – then we import Doctors from overseas to fill the gaps!

Last year Jeremy Hunt did impose a four year period during which junior Doctors must work for the NHS after receiving their training. Not before time and it should have been longer!

Since the mid 90s, GPs have been required to publish their salaries, so it is not hard to find out whether it is the wage gap that is prompting this exodus.  In Australia they can expect to earn £156,000 -and the sun shines!

This Government wants to widen access to GP services to evenings and weekends. And it is prepared to redirect and add extra money to do so. Is this so unreasonable? The public perception of GPs is that they are wildly overpaid, a figure of £100,000 is often quoted – and indeed some GP partners in some surgeries may reach this figure, but it is not an average figure for all GPs. Many GPs these days are female, and they tend to work three day weeks, combining child care with their job – that means the surgery must pay locums to cover the extra hours. Sometimes two female GPs ‘job-share’ – nothing wrong with that except that the NHS has trained two Doctors to end up with the equivalent of one Doctor working!

The British Medical Association (BMA), the Doctors ‘Union’ has been described as ‘greedy, selfish, petulant, arrogant, pompous, elitist and out of touch’. I can’t expand on that, it cover all angles. The BMA passionately opposed the idea of a state-run health service such as the NHS  from the start, prompting Nye Bevin to later give the famous quote that, to broker the deal, he had ‘stuffed their mouths with gold’.  Sixty years later, the BMA opposed working an average of less than one hour extra each week in return for the best financial settlement GPs have ever been offered.

I think that in looking at the current situation with Doctors, one needs to separate the views of their union with those of the average Doctor, in the same manner that we separate the views of John McDonnell, with his calls for ‘revolution in the street’ from the views of the average Labour supporting working man.

I have talked at length with my own GP – he visits every day, and we usually end up talking about politics. He would love to ‘wind down gradually’ as he comes up to retirement. In order to do so, he must pay a higher rate of insurance premium for working less hours. Confused? I was. Apparently the insurance companies work on the theory that since he is not working full time, he is more likely to make a mistake, less likely to be fully aware of all the factors in a particular person’s care – thus more of a risk. I can just about follow the line of thought there – but it means that he will be penalised for working part time. The figure of £17,000 for mandatory insurance cover was quoted.

Whereas in the past, people were more willing to take the expertise and professionalism of those who cared for them as a matter of trust, today, post Harold Shipman, a better informed and more questioning society requires that trust to be underpinned by objective evidence.

So he must also – at his own expense – be required to revalidate at five year intervals, by producing evidence of his continuing fitness to practise. He must be able to demonstrate a minimum number of hours of continuing professional development; quality improvement activity such as an audit; feedback from 12 to 15 colleagues on what he is like to work with personally and professionally; feedback from between 28 and 34 patients; how he has learned from significant clinical events; and complaints or compliments he has received. Evidence of all these must be contained in his portfolio.

I cannot argue with any of that, all laudable aims  – but I think Shipman’s adoring patients would have ensured that he passed his box ticking exercise, and since his was a sole practice – there would have been no colleagues to put forward another view……..

Then there are the changes being made to his pension. The reduced cap means he will have to pay 55 per cent tax when withdrawing pension from April this year. The one million cap sounds generous – but will only buy a lifetime income, after tax-free cash, of just over £27,000 a year – with payments linked to inflation and protection for a spouse.

Andy James, head of retirement planning, at Towry financial planning said: “A lot of them have their eyes on the door.

Many GPs have set up their practice so they can pay up to 28.5 per cent of their earnings into their pension and when they look at the potential tax charge for continuing to do this, they are thinking: ‘What is the point of carrying on?’

You can see the factors mounting up on the ‘do I really want to go on working part time versus retiring all together’ page. I should stress that at no point does he resent the new measures being introduced – he is simply weighing up the virtues or drawbacks of continuing to provide his wide knowledge of patients in this area on a part time basis or retiring altogether.

In total 5,114 GPs have retired in England between 2011 and 2015. Across Britain, 10.2 per cent of full-time GP positions are vacant, according to figures provided by the Royal College of General Practitioners. With an ever increasing population, it can only get harder and harder to get an appointment to see your GP.

I am lucky, my GP is of the old school; this is a small village – many of the inhabitants he delivered as babies. Those he didn’t deliver he has known for a lifetime. When our local builder gashed his arm open helping someone moor a boat recently – it was straight round to the surgery and in between patients, he was duly stitched up and bandaged. Every day when he finishes his surgery he drops in here to see how I am, and to chew the cud over the latest political development and have a cup of tea. Yes, he is aware that I am writing about him – he has given his permission.

He hasn’t made his mind up yet as to what he is going to do. What would you advise him to do?

Truth and Consequences.

cute-animals-sleeping-stuffed-toys-36I slept so much yesterday, after they increased the Ketamine and Midazolam, that by midnight I was wide awake and contemplating the world and all its meaning. As you do.

I spent a fair amount of time debating with myself the meaning of the word ‘friend’. To me, someone like ‘Old Holborn’, David Rose, James Gillespie or ‘Blocked Dwarf’ is a friend. Neither have asked anything of me; I have never had to lend them money, or been asked to lie on their behalf. They have just been there, quietly in the background of my life, ready to share in the good moments, supportive in the bad moments. I trust I have been the same for them. We have met in real life; shared a coffee or two. Met each other’s partners, been welcome in each other’s homes. Neither have run away squealing ‘don’t include me’ when it looked as though being ‘friends’ with me might be inconvenient. That is my definition of a friend.

The Internet, it seems, has a different definition of a ‘friend’. To the Internet, someone is a ‘friend’ if they ‘follow’ you by ticking on a box. This is a strange definition. It has no tangible content. An anonymous stranger ticks on a box – an act you play no part in – and henceforth they are your ‘friend’. You never meet. You do not speak. There is no mutual exchange of goodwill, in fact it would appear that the only part you can play in this game is to be punished for having this person as a ‘friend’. The Internet friends have lots of different names. Janette Scharenbourg is apparently a ‘friend’ of mine because she phoned me on Facetime and talked about her illness. Then people appeared on my timeline saying that ‘the welsh woman’ was my friend, or the ‘tulip lady’ or ‘the dutch lady’. I’m supposed to know who this is. Not only know who this is, but hang my head in shame for this person being my ‘friend’. You start getting DMs explaining that that ‘tulip lady’ is Janette Scharenbourg and that she has been trolling someone called Sonia Poulton who you also have never heard of, along with Simon Just who works with Barbara Hewson and who hates Old Holborn. Then you start getting DMs saying that someone else you have never heard of is never going to speak to you again because you are friends with the ‘tulip lady’.

It’s an odd world. For days I got DMs from someone called addeybob. He was very helpful. Obviously knew a lot about palliative care. Gave me reams of advice about cannabis liquids I think they were, and how they could help me manage the pain. Ever so friendly and helpful. Then suddenly one night he said it made him sick to see me ‘bigging up’ Old Holborn’ (I hadn’t mentioned Old Holborn at all!)  and told me to ‘sort it’ – then blocked me so whatever I was supposed to sort, I couldn’t have sorted anyway! I have no idea what that is all about. Has ‘addeybob’ ticked a box somewhere saying I am a friend of his? Will someone else come along and  hurl abuse across the cyber waves at me for being a ‘friend’ of ‘addeybobs’? Because if Janette manages to be a ‘friend’ of mine for phoning me once, then surely he is a ‘friend’ of mine for DMing me a dozen times?

Both Blocked Dwarf and Old Holborn, and indeed David Rose and James Gillespie, have opinions on some subject that I don’t agree with, but it is just one opinion on one subject, such a small part of the whole person, that it doesn’t impinge on the friendship and warmth I feel towards them. I am sure I hold views on some subjects that they don’t agree with – I have always been anti-abortion, and I know that at least one of them would disagree profoundly with me on that subject, but because we know each other ‘in the round’ as it were, in real life, we manage to stay friends, friends with diverging views. It seems that in cyber land, you must hold identical views or be shunned forever. A strange world with strange consequences if you fall foul of its rules.

Truth is another issue in cyberworld.  I believe in the truth.

If I didn’t believe in the truth I would never have written the original posts on Duncroft. I couldn’t just write ‘Bebe Roberts is lying, Savile wasn’t at Duncroft in 1965′ – I had to write the whole story, how I came to be there, how I knew she was lying’. That cost me dear, because many people were embarrassed at me revealing my background. They didn’t want to be associated with someone who had such an ‘awkward’ family background. It didn’t fit in with their social milieu; they would have preferred that I lied. My family are embarrassed to be seen in a photograph with me because I didn’t go to the right schools, and didn’t follow the right career path. I didn’t have their choices. I did the best that I could with what I had. I’m embarrassed to be seen in photograph with them actually – I know how many lies they conceal. They are still my family, so their photograph stays on my profile. They are the best I have.

Amanda Savile wanted me to lie. She has turned her back on me because I told the truth. She says the truth has embarrassed her and her family. That hurt me greatly because I have supported her for five years. Listened to all her worries and concerns, tried to offer advice that might help her, tried to be a friend, albeit a cyber friend, for we have only met once when she wanted me to take part in a programme to be made by Louis Theroux – then she found out that Louis was planning to tell the truth and she didn’t want to take part in that programme any longer. It was never made.

Then there was Sister Frances. A friend of hers wrote to me asking me to write about her because the main stream media were not writing her story of why she had been banned from the hospice she founded. So I did a lot of research and wrote the story. I linked back to all the documents and newspaper stories I had found so everyone could check out what I said and make their own mind up. As soon as it was published I had Ros Burnett on the phone to me saying Sister Frances wanted the article taken down. Why? Had I got something wrong, left something out? I said if I had, I would issue an apology and a correction straight away. No, I hadn’t got anything wrong, nor left anything out – I had written the truth, and she didn’t like seeing the truth in print. Now Sister Frances is in charge of FACT, the organisation for the falsely accused, and I am in the dog house for writing the truth.

I thought Gloria Smudd was my friend. I have known her for ten years. Originally when I left Anorak, she and I were going to write a blog together, but she had huge family problems, and I spent hours listening to her on the phone trying to sort things out for her. There are some subjects that I have never written about for fear it would upset her, even though they were subjects I should have been writing about.  Eventually they were sorted but another huge family problem arose and I spent another five years or so listening to her tears and trying to help her through it. Eventually that was sorted, and Lo! another family family problem arose. Again I would spend hours listening to her. Ten years had gone by and she had never contributed more than a couple of articles to the blog – but by that time I had become immersed in false allegations – and she decided that she didn’t even want to comment on the blog in case anyone realised who Gloria Smudd was in real life. That hurt. Someone else who can’t face the truth, wants it hidden away behind lies.

I won’t lie for these people.

I won’t pretend that Old Holborn isn’t a friend of mind to please someone hiding behind a false name that I have never met.

I never made any pretence of the fact that the media were welcome to use my ‘story’ in anyway that would publicise the NHS Litigation Fund issue. I didn’t put any restrictions on what they were allowed to say about me, or not say. My only request was that the faces of my grandchildren be pixellated.

The things Barbara Hewson has been saying are beyond offensive. To suggest that Andrew Rosthorne ‘couldn’t be arsed’ to come down to London for the count is simply untrue. It was going to cost him £600 to stay in London overnight. I told him it wasn’t necessary. Then Barbara asked him if she could be his deputy. I thought it was a great idea, she said she wanted to write an article for the Spectator. It seemed a wonderful opportunity for her to meet Jeremy Corbyn. I am shocked that she is mixed up with these people – people who have run vicious trolling campaigns against numerous people.

My inbox is filled with screenshots going back years from people who thought they were alone, frighted people, people with panic alarms fitted in their homes, because they have been cyber bullied for holding the wrong opinion, or being friends with the wrong people. Frankly if the Internet closed down tomorrow I shouldn’t mourn its loss. It was a great idea, but one that has played into the hands of the wrong people.

I shall continue to write. Perhaps not every day. Today I slept most of today, including thorugh most of a visit from some dear friends on their way to Cyprus – I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. After the week-end I shall be moved to one of the several community hospitals in this area. I shall be sad to leave this room, but unfortunately, other people have seen Ms Hewson’s Tweets and more phone calls have been made to my local health authority – whether by Ms Hewson, or by others who thought they would help her campaign along by joining in, I don’t know; they have all been anonymous – but the sum effect is that my Doctor is concerned about the situation and wants me moved somewhere where I can have peace and quiet and write to my hearts content, without worrying about who might be coming to the door next.  She is as angry as Mr G is now.

I am lucky in having had the same palliative care Doctor for some years now, and she is well aware of what a beneficial effect writing has on me, and is determined that I am able to continue to do what I can, for as long as I can, in peace and quiet. I want to tackle the area of Elder abuse, and also the situation regarding GPs leaving in their droves because they cannot afford the new insurance rates for working part time. I want to look at Grenfell Towers and the Corbynistsa move for a revolution in the streets to depose Theresa May and her government – but with the dead still uncounted, it doesn’t seem decent to start apportioning blame.  I shall continue to engage politely on Twitter – I seem to have acquired several new cyber friends on Twitter and so long as they wish to debate politely, then I shall continue to converse with them. I will not be drawn into taking ‘sides’ with anyone. I don’t so ‘sides’. I do truth.

That is me. I am what I am. Don’t read me if you don’t like it.

To those of my commentators who have found me here – welcome. The virtual pub is open and will be as long as I have breath in my body. Your familiar faces are a welcome boost to me.

“You can NOT afford to smoke!”

icandyNo, this is not a ‘Blocked Dwarf’ rant about the Smoking Ban, nor a ‘like Gildas without the IQ’ thesis about some fascinating tit bit of tobacco history;  I save those for Granddad’s site. (where, hopefully, this week, there will appear my humble treatise  on Picardian  Smuggling Dogs of the C19). [Ed: Must Google Picardian Smuggling Dogs.]

“Now you are married, have a child and responsibilities you can NOT afford to smoke!” said my late pietist Prussian mother in law, who obviously mistook me for the German, even Prussian, son-in-law she had hoped for.

Prussians, for those who don’t know, are Germans with a Pickelhaube inserted where ‘die Sonne notten shinen’.   To be fair to the woman, whom I grew to love…after  20 years or so…I was a bit of a heavy smoker back then – up to 5 packs a day when I could chain smoke in an office. Though to put her command into some financial context,  a pack of fags cost 4 DMs, and had for as long as anyone could remember – I’m talking even ‘quality’ brands. 4 DM. Which was, in 1989, about £1.30!

Can’t recall what 20 B&H cost me in the UK then but I have a feeling it was well over twice that.  At the time I was bringing home, net cash, £1k or 3K DM a month and we had but the one baby and we were living rent free-ish with the parents-in-law (NEVER DO THAT! How my mother in law survived the 6 months of sharing a 2 bedroom flat with us I shall never know, I came close to swinging for her on an almost daily basis).

Could I afford to smoke? Probably not, says the older wiser me, but at the time I replied: ‘I work 60 hours a week with 20 hours travelling time in the dark and cold of a Hessian winter. I can’t afford  NOT to smoke!’

Then there was my mother-in-law’s bestest friend, Edda the evangelical Norwegian. For those who don’t know, Norwegians are Germans with a ski stick inserted ‘Solen skinner ikke’ (‘Solen’ from ‘Sol’ or the Latin word for sun I’m guessing?) who, when  The Bestes Frau and I moved into our first flat, admonished us to “save every bean”.  

So, of course, I immediately stopped drinking, smoking and started reusing teabags? No! of course I didn’t.  Both those good ladies had grown up in the aftermath of WW2, both had been through the sort of poverty in childhood that would now be classed as child abuse. Both had started their married child-rearing lives on a budget that involved adding  water to stew to ‘extend it’ and not being able to afford new shoes if the children had inconsiderately decided to grow again. Both had felt themselves blessed to have married non-drinking non-smokers. Not for any pseudo scientific health reasons but simply because a couple of Dmarks a day on beer and a couple more on fags would have meant the difference between having jam, butter and real coffee for breakfast or petrol based marg and ‘Mucke Fuck’ (Ersatz barley based fake coffee). Anyone here over the age of 60 or so will probably recognise what I’m describing.

Life everywhere for young parents was tough back then after the war and in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Hell it remains tough today. The lack of money and lack of sleep don’t change with fashion.

What I’m trying to say is, it is none of my concern what young couples spend their money on. I do not expect young couples (or single parents for that matter either) to bring their babies up in the sort of relative ‘poverty’ we ourselves had to. In fact I believe that each generation should ‘have it better’ and when my youngest and his wife spent the equivalent of my first month’s real wages on a wide screen plasma coffee-making TV I held my peace.  I’m happy that my Grandkids’ Mom and Dad can afford not only to run a car but his big bike as well, and that on fairly low wages. I accept Granddaughter needs a wardrobe full of more clothes than I think or the wife have owned over our entire lives.  And if they want to replace the perfectly good, serviceable and easy clean linoleum floor with carpet hand woven from water proof yak wool then fair enough.

Yet this morning I was chatting to a young, 23 years old, soon-to-be-Father of my acquaintance. He’s what I’d describe as a ‘good kid’, works hard at some just over minimum wage job, treats his equally hard working ‘missus’ well, doesn’t get too drunk too often and aside from the fact he is a Norfolker, speaks ‘Norfolk’ not English, and insists on discussing something called ‘football’ with me and regaling me with the ups and downs (a lot of downs it seems) of ‘his’ team ‘the Canaries’, he seems an all round well balanced young man. Not too bright, not too thick, content with his lot in life, now he has finally gotten his missus in the club and his driving licence. Pretty sure he’ll  make a good Dad.

So this morning he ‘do say he doo’ that he and she had been out shopping at the weekend and had bought a baby buggy. For £500 (in words: HOW BLOODY MUCH?!?!)  I hadn’t had time to pick my jaw off the floor when he added ‘it was 2nd hand, new they cost £1.2K’.  

In what universe does any young couple pay more for a 2nd hand buggy than his or mine car is worth?  I-Candy? I can bloody not!

I get that every young parent wants to give their child the best; I surprised myself and shocked my own Aged Mother Dwarf by paying £25 for a pair of welly boots for Granddaughter2 not so long back (in my defence, they had pink cats on them and proper pull up handles!).

But five hundred nicker for a buggy? Stroller on, mate! Leave it out….in the porch all night John, not!

Sweet Jesus wept but he was scared he’d get tear stains on the i-upholstery.

The price is what gets me. Not the fact that my young friend was doting enough to part with what must be a week’s wages + for them both for a buggy, a buggy that will be no more serviceable than the one I got for £5 at the car-boot for Granddaughter2 when she is here. That and the fact that there are young couples out there who think that paying £1.2k for a buggy in ‘Thai fusion lime green and pastel grey with McPherson® suspension’  is somehow ‘normal’ or the ‘right thing’ to do – I don’t care how much they bloody earn.

The landlady once recounted how she made nappies for her baby daughter out of old curtains. You can imagine her reaction when I recounted my experiences of this morning to her.

[Ed: Mighty fine nappies they were too, with tasteful brown fern leaves dotted about on the most expensive terry towelling that the Canadian Embassy could run too; sadly, folded in the required triangles, they looked disconcertingly like skid marks….sweet memories!]

I hate to sound like either ‘Heli The Outlaw’ (my mother in law), Edda or even my own Aged Mother Dwarf  but the saying ‘Cut your cloth to fit your coat’ seems appropriate.

Catching the 60s by it’s Tail….

weiser-antiquarian-book-catalogue-110-aleister-crowleyI woke this morning around 4am and watched the mist rolling back across the marsh as the first brave deer led their young out to feed on the new grass. The Marsh Harrier was already swooping low across the dyke in search of baby rabbits for his brood; there must be several in the brood for within minutes his mate had joined him in the hunt leaving the young unprotected, needs must when they squawk so loudly. The Canada Geese strut up and down the purlins on the groyne beside the station box – they violently object to anyone even overflying their territory. Probably what woke me up.

Now awake, I searched for something to take my mind into different areas. The venom directed at me over the past two months is still very fresh and I have to be vigilant that it doesn’t overwhelm me. I found this programme on iPlayer. For anyone born after 1979 it will be educational – for anyone born before then it will be a welcome reminder of how life was in the 60s for teenagers. I do recommend you watch it. It is well researched, and well documented, not a ‘surface feeder’ type of documentary at all. More in the league of Adam Curtis’ work.

It showed how the ‘nature boys’ – a group of German naturists who lived free off the land, and started the first ‘Diggers’ shop in San Francisco where food was literally free (Did you know that Nat King Cole’s song ‘Nature boy’ was written about them? I didn’t) joined forces with what was then the radical left – believing in free love, equality of sexes, even the rights of paedophiles, all came together with the first ‘yippies’ (not hippies at that stage) those following the mystical beliefs of the far east – and even dates the start of the ‘Hippy’ explosion as being January 14th – with a concert in San Francsicso where all three ‘tribes’ were invited to join together and form one movement.

Both Aldous Huxley (Did you know that Jim Morrison’s group was called The Doors in homage to Huxley’s book ‘Perception of Doors’? I didn’t) and importantly, Alastair Crowley with his Satanic beliefs were invited to join in and 100,000 free ‘doses’ of lsd were handed out for the occasion. The idea was that lsd would enable a melding of thoughts amongst those present, so that what would emerge was a single figure that believed in eating raw vegetables from the nature boys; would absorb Crowley’s Satanic beliefs; the Marxist rhetoric of the radical left – now neutered to form the basis of Spiked magazine, where latter day Marxists still expound their views – and present it under a single banner of ‘hippies’ fastening flowers to the guns of soldiers heading for Vietnam.

It was the start of a remarkable counter-revolution that didn’t look towards the traditional working classes to rise up against their masters, but rather harnessed the ideals of a young, well-educated, middle class that had no need of jobs and could afford to indulge themselves. More than worth watching for anyone interested in how that social counter-culture explosion has led us to the present day ‘horror’ of viewing any sexual behaviour between young and old as being repugnant and criminal – at that time, both young and old were being pressured into behaving in exactly the way they did – or being seen as ‘not cool’.

It was only an hour-long so I followed that up with another programme;  A repeat from 1978 ‘Where have all the flowers gone’. It followed the progress of several early hippies who had had to abandon their ideals of free love, free food, and free-living, when they formed relationships and had families. They had finally realised that carrots are only free to be picked if someone – the farmer – has paid for the seed; paid for someone to tend the plants; paid for someone to pick the crops – and that they couldn’t create nirvana in isolation. It was an excellent choice to watch straight after the first documentary.

That took me up to 8am and the first nurse of the day – and I promptly went back to sleep until 2pm when the next set of drugs arrived, so have answered no emails, seen no DMs and am now on the hunt for something to watch this afternoon – suggestions more than welcome.

I think I have finally sorted out the comment facility on this new blog, though as someone pointed out, all the people who were happy to comment on my old blog seem to have deserted me, frighted off by the intimidation and threats, so if you are out there and have never commented before, then please do – it encourages me to write, and that is good for me. It keeps me focussed on what I can do rather than on what I can’t do.