1 January 2011 – New Year’s Day

Posted by DMC on 1 January 2011 in Diary |

The beginning of the New Year. Traditionally a time when people see it as an opportunity for a new beginning, when they make New Year resolutions which they rarely manage to keep -to go on a diet; to stop smoking; to be nicer to someone or other, etc

I wonder what lies ahead this year? Not only for me and my family but the UK as a whole.

On the personal I note that inexorably my arms and legs perceptibly weaken. I noticed it in so many small things that I am less able to do and seriously wonder how much longer I will be able to shuffle about my walking frame before being permanently confined to a wheelchair. I also notice that my breathing is becoming more difficult even during the day I get more easily breathless.

On the nation front, undoubtedly, we are in for a tough year to try to get our finances in order. All of us will have to take part of the financial strain and that is the way it should be. There are always strong cases to be made for exempting one class or body of people or another but the fairest thing is to spread the load. I have every confidence that given a fair wind we will get through this difficult year and into recovery in 2012.

I must confess that on the whole I am pessimistic about one aspect of the world in which we live today there are the morals and ethics. Compare this with 40’s, 50’s and even the early 60’s, when there was still, to my mind, a degree of innocence in the young, much of which has now been lost through the medium of television showing the most ghastly programmes with people doing the most horrendous things to each other. Sex and sex education has being downgraded to no more than just another lesson in schools which has been taught to younger and younger pupils many of whom in my day would never even have known, or being particularly interested, about getting involved. It is a great sadness that this age of innocence has passed.

Although I am the first to recognise that we cannot go back in time I rate  television as one of the inventions I would completely wipe off the face of the earth if were God. (Hypocritically , in my case as I certainly derive a great deal of pleasure from it). Also the medium of television can be a great comfort,  particularly for the sick and the elderly, but balance that against the damage done to the young from watching totally inappropriate programmes. We used to have what was known as the British Board of Censors (Now called the British Board of Film Classification. Sadly I believe that’s exactly what it does just classifies films however appalling or explicit they might be in the hope that by giving such films discrete classification adults will have sufficient control over the young to prevent them from viewing inappropriate material, which as we all know is complete nonsense).

Looking at the guiding principles for this body, you see that they include:

  • .that adults should, as far as possible, be free to choose what they see, provided it remains within the law and is not potentially harmful

This begs the question of what is’ potentially harmful

When applying these general guidelines one of the three main qualifications is:

‘Whether the material, either on its own, or in combination with other content of a similar  nature, may cause any harm at their category concerned. This includes not just any harm that may result from the behaviour of potential viewers, but also any  ‘moral harm’ that may be caused by, for example, desensitising a potential viewer to the effects of violence, degrading a potential viewers sense of empathy, encouraging the humanising view of others, suppressing pro-social attitudes, encouraging anti-social attitudes, reinforcing unhealthy fantasies, or eroding a sense of moral responsibility. Especially with regard to children, harm may also include retarding social and moral development, distorting  sense of right and wrong, and limiting their capacity for compassion..

All I can say is that from my own observations of what is shown on television this Board have a different understanding of language to me. Particularly, as it appears from the bbfc website that they also apply their guidelines and general principles to DVDs and video games

As I said at the beginning it begs the question as to what they consider is ‘ potentially harmful’.(Bring back Mary Whitehouse). if people want to support an organisation that campaigns for family values in the media then they should get in touch with Mediawatch UK. I make no apology if I sound out of tune with  modern times but I seriously believe that exposure to the sorts of programmes, DVDs and video games that are now widely available are not only ‘ potentially harmful’ but are doing actual irreparable harm to the next generation.

This can be clearly seen in the rapid advances being made in electronic games which even the most intelligent families seem to have to provide for children because of peer pressure. So many of these games show extreme violence so that the young again, become completely in innured in death, blood and guts. I wonder how much this has been partially responsible for me substantial increase in loutish behaviour and even worse knife and gun crime amongst the very young. If you are interested in looking at the research then check out the Byron Review 2008: Safer Children in a Digital World

What about moral teaching? I listened to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s (Primate of the Anglican Church in Great Britain) Presidential Address to the 2010 Synod. Much of what he spoke about was Christianity’s role in today’s society. However, to my mind he could well have spent  little time on the question of today’s ethics and morality He did touch on what he called the Big Society and the importance of ‘ looking to an ideal when men and women were intent on enhancing each other’s lives by building up their freedom to shape their communal life with fairness and generosity. People for whom responsibility is not a grim or oppressive word but a joyful acknowledgement of what we owe each other’. This may have obliquely referred to the sort of problems about which I am concerned but, sadly, this was not made explicitly plain. His message seemed to me to be  more to do with living in peace with each other, and appreciating our differences of  belief.-the ecumenical message’ for the benefit of what he calls the Big Society I do believe he could well have touched on the question of today’s morality, the importance of family life, the importance of parents in passing the right moral and ethical standards on their children and our approach on such matters. But maybe this was not the right forum. Old-fashioned and unpopular in today’s Sodom and Gomorrah environment or what some choose to call contemporary culture.

I certainly do not wish to commence this New Year on a negative note. I have been dubbed’ an extreme optimist’ and that, is indeed, what I like to think I am. I have the utmost faith in the next generation to resolve some of the appalling legacy on moral and ethical issues with which we have left them.

For my part I feel deeply ashamed and impotent by my lack of influence but I’m heartened by the knowledge that there are many young people, albeit in a small minority, who are on the right path and we can only hope that they manage, over a sustained period of time, to bring back some sense of innocence and joy to young people which is being destroyed by modern technology

A very happy and healthy New Year to all my readers coupled with the injunction to do what you can to influence the lives of young people and protect them against the horrors of violence and sexual perversion sharing on television and used in the video games.


2 January 2011

Posted by DMC on 2 January 2011 in Diary |

Not a very auspicious start to the year. I had a collapse last evening returning to my NHS chair in the study. Somehow I slipped off and crashed onto the laptop table. Fortunately I didn’t damage myself or the laptop but ended up on my knees clutching the table. How to get up from there?   ‘My lovely decided that she ought to use the standing hoist so whilst I grimly hung on to the table she moved furniture about and harnessed the hoist. The only problem was as my legs were squashed under me, each time she raised me up, using the hoist, I felt as though she was going to dislocate my shoulders or break my ankles. After a couple of attempts she decided we needed some help and she was fortunate enough to enlist Peter Hocking, a neighbour from across the road, who happened to be outside his garage at the time. So with a good lift from Peter we were soon back to normal but it did give us both a bit of a turn and was also worrying for ‘my lovely’ otherwise all dealt with the crisis magnificently. We must just be more careful in the future.

Add to that I had the worst night I’ve had for a very long time, really painful joints and bones. I discussed this with the good Dr Michael when he was here and I got the impression that he did not think it was anything very sinister. particularly as I have no painful joints or bone discomfort during the day. I think therefore we can rule out rheumatism and arthritis. He wrote a very respectful letter to my GP suggesting, amongst other things, that it might be a good idea if I had a bone scan, presumably to ensure that the prostate cancer has not spread. Dr Lort said she could not order a bone scan directly but she has referred me to an orthopaedic consultant who, no doubt, will be able to order a scan, if he thinks it’s appropriate. In any event, I had a bone density scan following my broken leg, only six months or so ago, so I imagine that had there been anything untoward with the bones it would have shown up then. The problem is of course that once I wake up, if I am really in pain or discomfort, I cannot really sleep. It may be that I shall just have to have more powerful painkillers.

A New Year and some advice for new readers. When you look at the blog for the first time you will note that the latest entry usually covers the previous day’s activity. In other words the current diary is in chronological order from the latest date. However, to make sense of it in terms of reading you want to go down the page as far as you wish, if you like to the end of the current entry, and read up, as events occur at a later stage which refer to earlier happenings. If you read it the other way around some of the comments will not make sense. I suspect the regular reader who only looks at the blog every two or three weeks probably scans done and starts at the last entry they looked at and again moves up towards the current entry. Think of it in terms of your favourite soap. If you have not watched it for a few days you would tend to go to ‘catch up’ and look at the episode following the last one you watched previously and work your way up to the current one. It’s the same with my blog (If regular readers only look at the blogs every three or four weeks or even longer, leaving aside the very few who look at it every day, and we are still receiving around 2500 hits a day, it follows that the total number of people who check on the blog on a fairly regular basis, from time to time could be anything up to  20,000 -30,000, even more. That’s a thought!)

Early evening we invited friends Jane and Kit Orde-Powlett round for a New Year’s drink. (Readers will recall that they are the parents of Rosamund Lupton, these sensational first time novelist who wrote Sister. Apparently this book sold over 300,000 copies in the weeks running up to Christmas.

That is pretty staggering for a first novel. I also heard that the ‘ lad from next door’ – Jamie Oliver –  has already sold over 1 million copies of his latest book. Although, to be fair, I have no idea if this is true or not but it seems a plausible claim. I’m lucky if I sell 1200 copies of my main work which admittedly is now priced at £410. I am obviously in the wrong business!)

We lit the fire and sat in the drawing room – I just adore log fires – but on balance I think it probably would be easier if we entertained small numbers in my study as it saves the whole rather tenuous process of getting up from the chair and transferring back to the study at the end. The fewer times I have to perform this manoeuvre the better.

I discussed the possibility of Kit popping in from time to time for the odd game of chess, to which suggestion he was very amenable. However, I should have known as he is a county bridge player he was also, many years ago, a county chess player so he will have to be very patient with me as I have not played for 20/30 years. Backgammon was my real love but I can’t find any of my contemporaries, who live locally, who are as keen as I am. At least, games like that will break up the day and mean I do not spend their whole time in front of my laptop although, I must admit that reading books on it and moving the pages by voice, could not be simpler.


3 January 2011

Posted by DMC on 3 January 2011 in Diary |

I have been extremely remiss in talking about myself and my problems I have completely failed to wish all my loyal readers and there it happy, healthy and prosperous New Year, which of course, I now do

The last of the five Australian Ashes Test Matches started last night. I promise to keep the reports short! As I mentioned before this last one is significant in that at the moment we have any ‘retained’ the Ashes and a Win or Draw in last Test will mean a win which is a far more positive result. Anyway Australia batted and lost four wickets for 134. Not too disastrous but we’ll see what happens tomorrow (or rather overnight tonight). 

My darling daughter Chloe gave me some sheepskin lined bootees For Christmas. Unfortunately, handsome though there were, I was unable to get into them as  I do not have the flexibility to in my ankles. The dear girl went onto the Internet and has found something very suitable, in fact, designed for people like me with lack of flexibility in their ankles and whose feet are likely to be swollen. If they live up to their description they will be brilliant so I will report later on receipt and then if they’re any good will give you the web page address.


4 January 2011

Posted by DMC on 4 January 2011 in Diary |

Another slightly uncomfortable night, alleviated, to some extent, by the cricket commentary from Australia. I mentioned the problem of my arms and legs are getting weaker and this is making it much more difficult to turn over in bed which I need to do to take the pressure off the painful  shoulder or other joints. It’s the friction between my nightshirt and the cotton sheet that makes it difficult for me to twist round so we going to try either one of those nasty nylon sheets, or even a silk sheet, on the bottom, to see if that makes it easier for me to slide over onto my side-I cannot sleep on my back..

Anyway, my night’s diversion, the second day of the final test match, proved to be really exciting. Australia, had a reasonably good start at 134 for 4, and 171/5, then, after seeing the wickets tumble, ended with a respectable 280 all out, having added 91 runs for the last three wickets. England started well enough but lost Strauss for 60 when the score was 98.    Trott, the star of the previous test, was out, for the first time ever in his test career, in the next over for a duck (no score). Pieterson was next in and scored 36 before being bowled by Johnson when the score was then 165/3, shortly before close of play when Jimmy Anderson had to come in as a night watchman and fortunately survived the ordeal. With England at 167 for 3, being 113 behind Australia with seven wickets in hand, the match is nicely poised. On balance I would say it was probably Australia’s day with their tail end batsmen having performed  so well.

Although I receive a trickle of comments on my blog from various readers on most days,  I am surprised that some of my recent entries have not caused more controversy and therefore comments. Recently, I have launched off into extraneous topics merely in the hope of making the blog a little more interesting. It was these excursions I anticipated would generate more discussion but maybe everybody is too busy to comment, particularly over the holiday season.. For example, here is a recent list of such matters I have dealt with.

3  December – FIFA’s surprise selection of Russia, in 2018, to host the next World Football series followed by Qatar in 2022 when the UK bid was by far the most attractive..

8 December – my discussion on Prof Stephen Hawking’s book The Grand Design. I thought that this would provoke some comment from creationists.

9 December – a discussion concerning the morality of telling someone they have a terminal illness.

12 December – a discussion on bribery and corruption, mainly in the Third World.

18 December – naturism.

21 December – the origins of Christmas.

25 December – a typical Christmas Day in the UK.

1 January – a discussion on the effect on the young of violence and explicit sex on the television, DVDs and video games,.

I hope that, at least, my readers enjoy these types of diversions even if they do not have time themselves to comment on them. If, on the other hand, a large number of people consider these are irrelevant in terms of my blog then I suppose I would find that equally as instructive.


5 January 2011

Posted by DMC on 5 January 2011 in Diary |

I suppose I must start with the daily dose of cricket. Don’t worry folks there’s only two days to go before the end of this particular series, but what a wonderful two days they should prove to be.

England resumed batting overnight and only lost three further wickets during the whole of the day’s session, finishing 208 runs ahead of Australia with three wickets in hand, when bad light stopped play. Two highlights were Alistair Cooke’s 189, just failing to get a double century for the second time in a test series, which would have put him in to the history books along with the legendary Wally Hammond, and Bell ‘s 115. With another 20 or 30 runs added tomorrow morning, leaving the best part of two days to get Australia out, it would seem that the Ashes are in the bag, although as they say, it’s not over ‘until the fat lady sings ‘. (I know this is a totally irrelevant comment but do you know the origin of this expression? As I understand it, it came from the early musical halls when the star of the show, the top of the bill, who was usually the last act, was usually a plump lady singer.-opera singers and the like, in the early days always seem to be plump, maybe it was something to do with their lung. capacity. However, the present generation of ladies with beautiful voices are certainly slimmer and more attractive).

Do I need to report that yesterday Althea came to the house to perform her magic on my hand and toenails?

When I mentioned, in the 2 January entry, my recommendation for new readers to approach this blog from the bottom up rather than starting with the current day’s entry, I should also have mentioned that the archived diaries do, in fact, start at the beginning of the month and run through to the end, so, for example although the current entry will show the December dates in reverse order if you go to the archived entry for December you can read this chronologically from the beginning of the month.

It has been like Piccadilly Circus here today. First of all, , my faithful secretary Doreen turned up, to sort out to my backlog of papers, bank statements, etc. In the middle of this session Clare,. the pretty young district nurse, dropped him to take blood as a result of Dr Michael’s letter to Dr Lort – there are various things they wish to check in connection with the bone pain. Whilst all this was going on I received a telephone call from the surgery explaining what is happening in connection with the possible bone scan. Apparently the matter has to be referred to the Primary Care Trust (PCT) who decide whether or not to refer the patient to an orthopaedic consultant and to which hospital, hopefully to the hospital of the patient’s choice, in my case Addenbrookes.. Then presumably that consultant reports back to the PCT who would in turn authorise the bone scan, or not as the case may be. It sounds a rather convoluted process and one that I’m hoping to compress once the referral is made to the consultant. After all two or three months can be a significant period of time in the remaining life of an MND patient.

Hard on the heels of Clare came ‘Jane the sheep’, muzzled up and refusing to come anywhere near me and she had a suspected cold. Very considerate of her. Then, finally I received a phone call from Sharon at Papworth Hospital who apologised for not reacting earlier to Alice’s request for someone to come and fix and demonstrate the humidifier on the respirator, but the nurse who normally deals with this was away sick and anticipates being able to come next week. On the same visit she will bring with her the latest nose and face mask which might be more satisfactory for my shaped head than the one I have at present which tends to leak jets of air.

A busy day!


6 January 2011

Posted by DMC on 6 January 2011 in Diary |

A record breaking period. Apparently it has been the coldest December since records began over 100 years ago but on the other hand it has been the warmest year for the last 50 years. Certainly something is happening to our climate whether through human intervention causing global warming, a change in the Jet stream due to the melting ice in the Arctic, a change in the Gulf Stream or whatever no one seems to be sure. One thing for certain is that the seasonal weather is certainly different to what it was when I was a young man. I gather this world will eventually die completely at some stage and I have heard varying reports of between one and 5 billion years so I don’t think there is too much for us to worry about that moment.

The other records I had in mind were, can you believe, to do with the Ashes. England is on the blink of an historic win, the first in Australia for 24 years. England batted on to accumulate a score of  644 thanks in no small measure to Alistair Cook’s 189 and two Prior who scored his first ever test century (115). .Then Australia’s lacklustre response having losing seven wickets for 271 in their second innings leaving them 151 behind England with three wickets in hand and a full day ahead of us, So the inevitable is in sight unless the Almighty comes to the Australians rescue by opening the heavens and preventing any play tomorrow  – most unlikely, unless not unlike the occasional weather forecasts in this country, the Australian meteorologists have got it entirely wrong!

Inevitably jokes, at the Australians expense, will now start appearing about this particular series. We have certainly suffered in the past from this sort of ribald humour and therefore must be excused a few moments of triumph, but all good fun. I would normally have included the following in the Jokes section of this blog but because it is so apposite to the moment, for this  I include it here for your delectation

A lady walked into a Police Station and the desk Sergeant said “Can I help you?” 
“Yes” she said, “I’d like to report a case of sexual assault”. 
“Where did it happen?” the Sergeant asked. 
“In the park just down the road” she replied. 
“Can you describe what happened?” 
“Yes, I was walking along the footpath in the park near the trees when a man jumped out of the bushes and dragged me in there, removed my underwear then he dropped his pants to his knees and had his way with me”. 
“Could you give me a description of him?” 
“Yes, he was wearing white shoes, long white trousers, a white shirt and he had these two big long pads from his feet up to and over his knees, one on
each leg”. 
“Sounds to me like he was a cricketer, most probably a batsman”, said the Sergeant. 
“Yes”, said the lady, “He was an Aussie Cricketer”. 
“That’s very observant”, said the Sergeant, “You worked that out from his accent?” 
“No”, she replied. “I worked it out because he wasn’t in for very long”.

Now when Villa all computerised voice their time seeing your number 844 and I punched in mind number of mechanical and it is inevitable that there yesterday i asked about the taking the airI had thought today was Twelfth night, the last day on which, traditionally, you should have removed all your Christmas decorations or risk bad luck in the New Year; the last day of Christmas festivities and therefore one of merrymaking.No longer widely observed, if at all. On the Christian calendar it represents the coming of the Epiphany and concludes the Twelve Days of Christmas. However on looking up the definition I see there is some confusion as to whether it is 6 January or the 5th. It’s all to do with whether the day starts at sunset. Some say it is the evening proceeding Twelfth Night, the night of Epiphany, and some count the night of Epiphany itself. One source of this confusion is the mediaeval custom of starting each new day at sunset so that the Twelfth Night precedes the Twelfth Day. Anyway, whatever you believe, if you are at all superstitious for goodness sake  make sure you have removed all your Christmas decorations.


7 January 2011

Posted by DMC on 7 January 2011 in Diary |

Apologies about yesterday’s joke, it could be said to be a bit ;near the knuckle’. Having written that I was curious to know  the origin of this idilom. It is said that a joke is ‘near the knuckle’ if it refers to sex and therefore might be offensive to some people. In other words, in this context, ‘near the knuckle ‘ would mean indecent. That doesn’t help us much with the origin which may be from the old proverb ‘the nearer the bone, the sweeter the flesh’. Obviously the flesh nearest the knuckle would be more sinewy and less tender and therefore not so good.

Anyway, the reason behind the joke was, as predicted, England won the Ashes last night and by an innings and 83 runs which was the first time they have ever beaten Australia by an innings and by winning the Ashes themselves in Australia, this was the first  for 24 years. A well deserving Alistair Cooke won the ‘player of the match and the series award’ . So all in all a very satisfactory result.

This morning I was meant to go to Addenbrooke’s Hospital to have my cataract either assessed or dealt with. About 10 minutes before the ambulance was due to pick me up we received a call from the hospital to say that the appointment had been cancelled due to the indisposition of the person who was going to see me. Alice was actually quite relieved as she was not keen for me to go anywhere near the hospital at this particular time with so much ‘flu about.. Lynn, the OT, dropped in this morning to check on something but refused to see me as she had been in contact with people who had colds and she was anxious that I should not catch it. It seems that everyone is concerned that I do not catch cold which could turn to pneumonia and carry me off!

When I checked the statistics for this blog last night I was interested to see that the fall off over the festive season has now righted itself and the current daily rate of hits, over the past seven day period, was in excess of 3200

I discovered today that my main telephone line is out of order and probably has been for some days. I spoke to somebody today he said that he had left a message on this line three days ago. When I tried to pick my up messages all I got was a hissing noise. I contacted Orange, who provide my broadband, and they were unable to find anything wrong with the line and suggested  that it has to be my equipment. The only way to resolve this was to agree to a relatively expensive visit from an engineer which was to have been over the next 2-4 days until ‘my lovely’ pleaded with them, and explained that I was disabled, and they agreed to come tomorrow afternoon.

Since I moved all my equipment from the office into the study their is a nightmare tangle of wires which it is almost impossible to see which comes from where and as I am unable to move or bend down and examine the whole business it has to be left to others who really don’t know what they’re doing. Thus the need to call in third-party help which irritates me beyond measure knowing I could solve the problem in minutes if I was mobile.



8 January 2011

Posted by DMC on 8 January 2011 in Diary |

I very quickly received a comment from one of my most faithful readers yesterday that not only did she not find yesterday’s joke offensive but actually enjoying it, so it couldn’t have been too bad.

I was listening, during the night, to a programme about the European Single Farm Subsidies paid to farmers and whilst I avoid, at all costs, making any political comments on this blog, as a layman and taxpayer with little knowledge about the workings of the agricultural policy in Europe I must say I find the whole process very puzzling. Three of the farmers interviewed each admitted to receiving £80,000 subsidy per year, precisely what this was for was not made clear. One farmer, however, did admit that he now did not have to bother about trying to plough the corners of his field and could whizz round with his tractor without these difficult manoeuvres which made the whole process. Amazingly he got paid for leaving these difficult to plough areas of land  in order to encourage the butterflies and insects etc-environmental improvements. Can you imagine a farmer 50 years ago being told that if he didn’t bother to plough all of this land someone would actually pay him for leaving out the difficult bits! I think he would believe he had arrived in heaven, whereas today’s farmer appears to take the view that he should be paid for environmental improvements. which could have been said to have been good husbandry in the past.

I recall one farmer, last year, being interviewed on the subject of subsidies, who was in a big way in wheat, who said he received £250,000 subsidy which he didn’t really want but had little choice but to take it. All of this comes on top of the era, initially of the  the food and wine mountains where a disgusting amount of surplus food was produced, as a result, I seem to recall, of  a minimum guaranteed price no matter how much which produced.. Then the era of when  we paid farmers to set aside perfectly good agricultural land and paid them for not cultivating it – no doubt to get rid of those mountains – then that was reversed. We then paid them to take out all the hedgerows so they would have bigger fields to plough, thus costing less per acre, then that was reversed – they are now paying farmers to replace these hedges in order to create a habitat for the wildlife so essential to the cycle of cultivation, bees and insects for example, making the crops.. Who are these crazy bureaucrats in Europe who make all these rules, without, it would seem, a understanding of basic husbandry which I gather costs the average British family £2000//£3000 a year each every year.

As I said at the beginning I really know nothing about the detail of the European Agricultural Policy other than as ordinary taxpayer. I have no doubt that some of the hill farmers might have a bit of a struggle making a living but then that’s the way it’s always been. Farmers should be really no different to the rest of us, they should be assessed on what they have left at the end of the year after paying all other expenses – that’s how most families survive.  Most farmers have the benefit of a free home, plus I imagine almost free heating, electricity telephone, insurance and all the other bits and pieces the rest of us have to pay out of taxed income.

Admittedly they may not pay themselves a wage but then they probably have quite a lot of free food. Taking all that into account how do they then compare with, say, other trades people,, nurses or teachers, for example, in terms of surplus money at the end of the year. Despite all this subsidy we still import 40% of our food. I hope,  set against a balance of food exports to Europe which neutralises this idiotic situation.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is this crazy business of subsidy has to be phased out completely sooner rather than later, that’s if the French farmers will ever allow this to happen as they usually seem to get their way whenever there is any mention of changing or abolishing subsidy. With all the newly admitted Eastern European Country farmers having a perfect right to climb onto the same gravy train I think it will be many years before we get back to any degree of sanity on this particular matter.

Now, I’ve had my say on something about which I have had ‘a bee in my bonnet’ for some time. I feel the better for having said it but I don’t think it will make me many friends, certainly not among the farming community.

The highlight of my day was the early evening visit from Alice and George Everard, who live nearby in Sawbridgeworth. Alice E is one of ‘my lovely’s’ oldest and best friends and it was great to catch up with them as it is almost 8 years since I have seen them although, of course, my Alice is in constant touch with the other Alice, it’s just that I always seem to be abroad whenever they had a party or dinner to which we were invited. We spend a jolly hour or so over a bottle of champagne catching up with each other’s news. They brought with them their beautiful dog Amber, a Lurcher/Greyhound. How I miss my own Woody, my faithful black labrador friend for almost 14 years. I was amused to hear Mark Tulley, on his early Sunday Morning  programme, quoting the old saying, ‘ a cat looks down on you, a dog looks up at you and a horse looks you straight in the eye’. Really, I suppose, this was in praise of the horse, magnificent creatures though he is, give me a dog any day.


9 January 2011

Posted by DMC on 10 January 2011 in Diary |

Yesterday, I received a cuttingly sarcastic e-mail from a fellow committee member. You know what they say about sarcasm being the lowest form of wit but nevertheless it can be hurtful. My immediate response was to write back in an equally sharp manner which, of course, gets neither of us anywhere. The mature thing to do, of course, would be to respond very politely hoping to shame the original sender, even to the point, perhaps, of an apology. Ask yourself how you react to sarcasm if you have ever been victim of it. Did you take the mature route or, like me being perhaps hyper-sensitive to criticism, the immature response. I can be as cutting as the next man but frankly that is not very clever. Incidentally, the sender of this sarcastic e-mail is certainly no fan of mine and therefore most unlikely to be reading this entry but, in the unlikely event that he does read it he is probably the only person in the world knows to whom I am referring.

Speaking of nice e-mails I received an interesting comment from one of my readers in response to the point I made about finding it increasingly difficult to turn over in bed and possibly trying a nylon or silk sheet. This lady suggested I should perhaps try a silk nightshirt. A good suggestion although Alice says it would not be very warm but it would certainly be slippery. I shall investigate the possibility.

I have decided to sell my beautiful 2/3rd.size snooker table. It takes up a lot of space in my office. It has a 9′ x 6′ table tennis top just covering it and, having had it made two and three-quarter inches higher than normal, is ideal for table tennis. When the milder weather comes I hope to get into my electric wheelchair and will need more room to manoeuvre in the office.

As I say it is a modern table with square light oak legs and is, known in the trade, as triple slate, that is exactly like a full-sized professional table. The pockets are full-size, as are the balls. I don’t think it is an appropriate item to sell on eBay so I have asked son Smiler to take some photographs for me, on his next trip home, which I will send to various friends or friends of friends who might be interested. Alternatively,, if was someone in the UK who feels they might like to buy it then I could send a photograph to them. It would come complete with the scoreboard, cue rack, with a dozen cues plus the usual rests, brush and a set of snooker and pool balls, as well, of course, as the table tennis table, net bats etc.

The main restriction is that whoever buys it must have a room big enough to accommodate a 9′ x 6′ table tennis table, ideally with around 5 feet space on all sides. If anyone is interested then sent a comment on this blog entry, which will include your e-mail address, which I will not publish on the blog, but will get in touch direct.


10 January 2011

Posted by DMC on 11 January 2011 in Diary |

Just after midnight last night there was a power cut, or at least that’s what I thought. My wireless cut out but fortunately the emergency battery on the respirator kicked in. but in doing so set off the alarm which rang continuously all night, in my ears, I imagine something akin to tinnitus (continuous ringing in the ears). As ‘my lovely’ did not appear to hear this at all, I’m not sure what value it is. The problem is that Alice has supersensitive hearing and even has to put earplugs in when she is setting the alarm in the evening, so it would be impossible to have it made any louder.

Anyway, when I woke up and realised that there was no wireless playing and the lights had gone out, assuming that there had been a local power cut, the duration of which would probably not known, I took the view that as the respirator had an eight hour emergency battery and the bed itself works on a battery (at least, I hope it works on a battery, I must check with the OT), I would be okay until ‘my lovely’ came in at 5 a.m.. The alternatives, assuming it was a local power cut of unknown duration, would either have been to have got Chris Wix out of bed to start the generator, which would have to be re-fuelled every four hours, or, as we have been advised, to dial 999 for an ambulance to take me to a safe environment. Neither of which alternative appealed to me. In either case it would have meant pressing my emergency buzzer and waking up Alice, which I was anxious not to do as I know how desperately important a good night’s sleep is to her. However, to be fair to her, she was cross with me for not buzzing her which, in retrospect, was probably very foolish of me.

As it happened Alice had a reasonably good night’s sleep and slept through until her normal rising time of 5 a.m. at which stage she too discovered that was there no power. Like me, she assumed there had been a power cut, so she telephoned Chris Wix, presumably with a view to asking him to come up to start the generator. She was greatly relieved, however, when he told her that there had been a local power cut in the middle of the night but the power had been restored. and this power cut would have automatically thrown our trip switch.

She checked the switch and greatly relieved to find that he was quite right, it was our electricity which was off and this was quickly restored. So panic over.

This morning I had a further training session with Charlie, from AbilityNet. It was meant to be all about how to add media to the blog but we got bogged down early on with other issues and, in particular, found that the computer was extremely slow in reacting to commands. Charlie suggests that I break down the blog file into no more than 30/40 pages at a time and this should speed up the process. In any event, he will mention it in his report and I will have a word with the MND Association as the real solution is a faster laptop.


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