1 September 2011

Posted by DMC on 2 September 2011 in Diary |

Yesterday was what we have now come to accept as a rare lovely summers day. Two . of my pals came down from London to give me lunch at the Cricketers. It was incredibly kind of them as they are both busy lawyers. Danny Gowan, the senior partner of the DAC (Davis Arnold Cooper) and Rowan Planterose, another partner, who was originally a barrister and switched to being a solicitor some years ago.

I’m sure throughout this chronicle I have mentioned Rowan several times. How he has contributed to . my books and the pièce de résistance, the Fission Chip case in Budapest. Both Danny and Rowan I met through arbitration ,so I suppose I have know t known them both around 25 years.

I will not go into the story of the Fission Chip case again as I’m sure I recounted this not too long ago . However, I cannot remember whether I told you about my little prank with Danny. I was sitting in an arbitration in Chambers near Fleet Street and it unexpectedly settled in the morning. I find myself at a loss at lunchtime quite close to DAC’s offices. I wondered whether I could persuade any of my friends to come and have lunch with me and decided to play aa little joke on Danny

I went up to reception in DAC’s offices and asked the receptionist to be good enough to telephone through to Danny’s secretary and let her know that I was here for our lunch date. Apparently this threw Danny and his secretary into a bit of turmoil as, of course, there was no record of such a lunch having been booked. Nevertheless, Danny appeared 10 min’s or so later with Rowan and another partner apologising for keeping me waiting and off we went to lunch. I seem to remember we had a very jolly time together which started with a bottle of champagne. Of course, I did not let on at that point as it would have spoilt the fun but had every intention of coming clean a short while after. I then heard through the grapevine that Danny had given his poor secretary a hard time over forgetting to note the appointment. (Not too hard a time as  Danny is far too nice a person for that) At that point I felt I should come clean and so sent Danny an  e-mail begging him not to sack his secretary and then explained why. I think from Danny’s point of view it was worth every penny of the lunch as he dined out on this story from long time afterwards.

Anyway, then we were yesterday sitting under a blue cloudless sky bathed in warm sunshine enjoying an excellent meal together and chatting over old times. I am so lucky to have such good friends who are prepared to make the journey from London to give me lunch and more than anything else to enjoy the pleasure of their company. Such occasions certainly improve my quality of life, despite my disability, and make me realise what small things can give you such a great amount of pleasure. I sincerely hope that my blog gets this message across to others who might be in a similar position to me,and their carers, and inspires them to continue to lead as normal a life as possible. Okay, you can’t feed yourself but then I have never yet once found that any of my friends I had  sitting next to have the slightest problem in feeding me. After all most of them have had small children, at one stage or another so, although they might be a little rusty, they do know what to do.


2 September 2011

Posted by DMC on 4 September 2011 in Diary |

Another milestone today I have finally had to give up trying to clean my teeth using the electric toothbrush. It is simply too heavy and difficult for me to turn it round to the back and front of each row of teeth This follows giving up trying to feed myself some two or three weeks ago-it was all becoming a messy process I know my arms have been getting weaker, week by week and I particularly notice it in bed last night when my right arm was ridges I could not bend it and suddenly realise that I would not be able to move it to press the alarm needed to do so. We must think up an alternative is a matter of urgency in the same strain trying to do. I do have armrests on both sides but neither of them work terribly satisfactory. It is for that reason it has now become imperative that we sort out the voice activation so that I can carry out everything by voice once the microphone is up and running which should be at start-up.

The biggest problem at the moment is when the microphone freezes of course there’s no way I can save my work will give it any other commands. I had another session with Ruben yesterday morning and he now has sufficient information to go back and have a video conference with the software manufacturers to see if they can get to the bottom of my problem. One little tip for other Dragon users. If you find yourself in this position where your computer is not correctly responding to your commands it is usually a conflict between Word and Dragon. In which case you can temporarily use DragonPad which is not part of Word but of Dragon. Then when you fix a problem you can copy and paste the template file into your main document. This is what I’m having to do at present from my blog. I do hope I do not get to the position when I am physically unable to do the blog. I shall find a way round it somehow.

I read an interesting article that good Dr Michael sent to me, concerning the diaphragmatic pacemakers. I think the bottom line in my case is that my lungs of gone too far leave a high percentage success rate for patients with ALS as being when there Forced Vital Capacity is in excess of 50%. Mine certainly was when I started seeing the MND team so I wonder why this was not mentioned to me at that time. Now I am almost certain it is too late.

I had my tax return today showing that I own a substantial sum of money to the Inland Revenue.

This is precisely what happened last year but when the good Edward Oliver checked over the calculation for me we noticed that they have made no allowance for declared losses and in the end instead of me and their money I received a welcome refund. I suspect the same as happened this year. With so much reliance upon computers I always check such calculations by hand as well is my monthly bank statements as they can very easily make a mistake or to mis- posting.

On a more cheerful note it was another lovely warm summers day so I spent a couple of hours sunning myself in the afternoon.. Not only is it building up my vitamin de defences for the winter to come, which I have a horrible feeling is not far away but I always feel good with the sun on my bare skin.


3 September 2011

Posted by DMC on 4 September 2011 in Diary |

The One-Day International, England Really India at Chester Le Street Durham was disappointingly interrupted by heavy rain but not before England had scored 270.

Then, after India had taken 2 cheap wickets remaining returned with a vengeance and the match had to be abandoned. Probably just as well from England’s point of view as 270 was certainly gettable.

I had every intention of getting out into the garden again this afternoon but there was too much cloud about and chilly wind so in the end I abandoned the idea.

I spoke to my mother and Richard by phone today as I always do once a week. Nan said how the much you would like to see us and I had to reminder that they were coming down here on 15 September. Sadly, she had forgotten so I suppose her Alzheimer’s is beginning to take a hold but fortunately dear Richard seems to be managing okay for the present.

This afternoon we went through the Saga Health Plan documentation ever since I gave up BUPA, almost 3 years ago, Alice has had no cover so we thought we ought to look into various schemes. At the time of giving up BUPA my annual premium was around £6000 and as this did not cover anything in connection with the MND it seemed poised to continue. I did consider some years ago that as it was getting so expensive I would be better off putting the money into a separate bank account earning interest and then hope that they will be sufficient there if I need to pay for any medical expenses. I believe this would have been a really good idea as I was with BUPA for around 40 years and I have already saved £18,000 in the last three. Alice” from saga look extremely good in the light of what I was paying previously I think she can get a perfectly reasonable cover for around £800 per annum, so after clarifying one or two points we will probably go for that one.

Insurance is a funny business. There are clearly some that are worth having and some perhaps where you would be better carrying the risk yourself. Pet insurance is a classic example 14 years of contributions comes to quite a lot of money and unless you are unlucky for unlikely to have claim the other area of insurance and I believe all self-employed people should consider is an Accident and Sickness Policy.

Any Barrister for example is merely a tenant of Chambers and is not covered in the event of an accident or sickness their income could stop literary overnight and there are many other friends and indeed family who are in the same position. As a one-man band, firstly as an independent project manager and subsequently as an arbitrator and lecturer I would not have been covered anywhere in the event of accident or sickness so I took out a policy that will produce sufficient money to cover our day-to-day running expenses without any luxuries. At least it gave me peace of mind and I thoroughly recommend any young person setting up in a one-man business to do the same.


4 September 2011

Posted by DMC on 4 September 2011 in Diary |

Alice had one or two jobs she wanted to do today so she engaged the services of Paul, my computer friend, to sit with me for a couple of hours which was very useful sorting out small problems I have been having with my laptop other than those being dealt with by Dragon. Paul is quite brilliant on the computer and it seems a pity that he is not currently employing his talents in this area were. He certainly a great help to me when it comes to WordPress which are used for my blog.

The one area that I am relying on Paul to resolve is an easy way to embed videos, photos and PowerPoint slide shows into my blog as I have quite a number stored on my computer waiting to be used and they certainly liven up my written work which I believe can become rather boring without something light-hearted from time to time.

For those readers who share my love of cricket ,and even those who do not, I have included a piece of work by one of my cricketing colleagues, John Fawkes, for which, sincere thanks. In order to put this into context I need to explain a little more as to why John wrote it. If you start off by reading The Cricket Match, in the Anecdote section of this blog, at the end you will find another piece of work by the same friend, rhyming couplets describing my first game of cricket ever, at the age of 70, in India. You do not really have to read the whole of The Cricket Match unless the subject is of interest to you, but the rhyming couplets are very amusing, particularly when you consider they were read out in the presence of an internationally known poet, who, to his credit, find them hilarious.

There was an excuse for the first work from John, as I was given a wonderful private dinner at Rules restaurant in London, by my oldest friend, Geoffrey Hanscombe, to celebrate my 70th birthday, where most of the guests felt constrained to make some contribution. Jamie (Snowdon Barnett) did me the honour of writing a special poem for the occasion – I believe he called it Heroes m – and bearing in mind his international fame as a poet, this was a great honour. Unbeknownst to us John Fawkes had also written what he considered was a poem but what James, in his usual forthright manner, described as doggerel. Doggerel or not it was cleverly written and gave us all a great deal of amusement. Now John has done it again for no special occasion other than the urge took him, or it may be to celebrate my 77th birthday.


I make no comment on this work, other than to express my gratitude to John for taking the trouble to write it and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as .I did..Although the courage said on what John has written is greatly exaggerated I do hope he’s right about the blog being inspirational, for that indeed was its original purpose.


5 September 2011

Posted by DMC on 5 September 2011 in Diary |

Today was my quarterly assessment at the Respiratory and Sleep Centre at Papworth Hospital. Of course, I only go there for the respiratory side of things, having not been referred there for my general insomnia. As I have done with two or three hours sleep for however long I can remember and then spend the rest of the night listening to Radio four, in the normal way I would probably have been a suitable case for treatment. For around 30 years I used to keep a pad of loose sheets of paper by the side of my bed, and as thoughts came to me during my dosing stage I would make a note in large round letters, writing in the dark, so as not to disturb’ my lovely’. Many of my best ideas have come to me during this period of the night, although I must confess that when I looked through anything up to a dozen loose sheets of paper in the morning some of them were more like a snail’s trail, totally incomprehensible.

Anyway, as I say, I was there to carry out my usual respiratory and expiratory tests and I will receive a letter within a week giving me the precise outcome. Michael Davies (the consultant) who I have seen on the last two or three occasions, seemed quite bullish about the results. I asked ,specifically about the volume of air in my lungs and my Forced Vital Capacity (FVC). I think that Michael said that the deterioration in volume in my lungs which had gone down 1.5 in the previous three months, this time had only gone down by .6. The FVC had dropped from 49% to 46%, again a slower rate of deterioration than before. (When I started going to this clinic two years ago my FVC was 87%) although the FVC does not mean very much to most people apparently it is an indication of one’s overall condition.

I didn’t raise, with Michael, my weakening voice and suggested that I imagine this was as a result of my deteriorating diaphragm

He said I was absolutely right and confirmed that there was no indication of bulbar, when the MND attacks your vocal chords. I was, of course, relieved to hear this as I have always dreaded the day when I end up with one of those Mickey Mouse type voices which is inevitable once the disease attacks your throat

The long and the short of it is that I am going downhill at a slower rate than previously. Whether I have plateaued I will only be able to tell when I have my next assessment. Of course, Papworth only deal with the long side of things and my main assessment will be in a couple of weeks time at Addenbrookes.

During my discussion with Michael I did again raise the business of the diaphragmatic pacer as the good Dr Michael Long had sent me an article about this procedure being carried out in California. Apparently, they have fitted up over 200 patients with this pacer and in most instances the results, according to the article, have been very encouraging. When I raised the matter previously, Michael’s colleague, at Papworth had spoken to another hospital, I think in Sheffield who were carrying out trials on this pacer but they had not been convinced that it really worked with MND patients. Just to be sure they had applied for a grant from the government to test it out over here and, having got the money offered the inventor of this procedure, who has sole rights to perform the operation, to carry out a supervised test in this country, all paid for by the NHS but for his own reasons he refused. Of course, one jumps to the conclusion that the claimed success for this procedure could have been exaggerated or perhaps only carried out on carefully selected patients with a higher chance of success than the norm. In any event, quite obviously the NHS would not pursue this procedure without it being carried out under supervision in this country. Even if it had proved to be a successful procedure all it did was to delay the day when the MND patient would require respiratory intervention. As I already sleep in a respirator, even if the NHS has approved this $20,000 operation, in my case I was probably passed the point when it would be beneficial.

That really was my big excitement for the day. I left around 9.45 (having been ready, as instructed since 8.30, the ambulance having been delayed, as usual, by heavy traffic) and returned around for .4.00, the actual tests and consultation having taken no more than half an hour. There would have been a time when I would have become agitated by his drawn out procedure but I am much more laid back now and, provided I have a good book to read on my Kindle, can stomach reasonable delays.

When I returned home, having not yet posted my blog for yesterday, being rather weary, I got thoroughly frustrated in attempting to copy John’s poem without leaving a blank page between it and my own entry, so I called help to Paul, who fortunately was working across the road with his brother and, in any case was shortly leaving for home and would have passed my door on the way Good old Paul sorted out the problem in about 3 min and, at that stage, I surrendered myself to relaxing in front of the television. The last programe I watched dealt with the domino affect from the overthrow of the president in Tunisia, followed by the effect on Egypt, Syria and Libya. Unfortunately, my carrier arrived to put me to bed before I saw the end of it but the fascinating thing that came out, early on, was how Facebook had largely been the method of communicating between the anti-government factions and without this method of communication they would certainly not have succeeded to the point which they have to date. Whilst applauding this channel of communication, it cuts both ways. It was our liberal approach to the Internet and associated App’s like Facebook which the rioters used to great advantage in this country a couple of weeks ago. In other words, you are caught between a rock and a hard place. If you block all such means of communication in troubled times then you’re no better than a dictator state, if you allow total freedom to use these methods of communication then you have to put up with the consequences.


6 September 2011

Posted by DMC on 7 September 2011 in Diary |

The unseasonal inclement weather continues and again my Tuesday visit to the golf club was a washout. Not only was there a threat of heavy rain but there was also a very strong chilly wind neither of which would be conducive to driving around the course in my wheelchair, so I cancelled my wheelchair taxi. I must admit that Ollie and Debbie, who run the wheelchair taxi service, are extremely understanding and will accept cancellation as late as 830 on the morning that I would normally leave at 10 o’clock but to be fair to them I try to make a decision the night before/

Ellen, the district nurse, popped in this morning to look at the scratch on the top of my head, which had been caused when my nightshirt and being dragged over it. It was still sleeping four days after it had happened so I asked the doctor at Papworth what he thought. He suggested that I had it looked at and cleaned up, thus Ellen’s visit. The doctor also mentioned that the skin on the crown of my head was not only very thin but also very dry and recommended some special hair sensitive Aqueous cream. The ordinary Aqueous cream, if allowed to come into contact with hair, apparently makes it fall out and heaven knows I have little enough as it is

Absolutely magnificent. This is a collection of aerial photography produced by Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

Large scale photos cover several continents and are a result of a five year odyssey around the world by the photographer.
click on link below




7 September 2011

Posted by DMC on 8 September 2011 in Diary, Photos |

Last evening I watched an interesting programme on television showing black and white film of the evacuation of 3½, million children from London, or thereabouts who were evacuated to the country. This event was probably one of the earliest I can remember as I was one of those evacuees, a few days past my fifth birthday. I recall the label around my neck and my gas mask in its cardboard box. I do have a clear memory of disembarking from the train with a group of other children. I think there were about eight of us in all taken off around the village by an evacuation officer. I’m sure it was pure serendipity as to what station you alighted and no doubt different groups were instructed to alight different stations alo

Under emergency legislation passed in anticipation of war (although this was a few days before we declared war on Germany) emergency legislation made it compulsory for every household approached by the evacuation authority to take in at least one child, provided that his there was no reasonable excuse for not doing so. Of course, they could take more than one if they were so inclined and had the space otherwise it was quite possible for siblings to be split up. In fact, it has been disclosed since that some people took advantage of the evacuees as a source of cheap labour.

I do recall traipsing from house- to house with my co-evacuees and being critically looked over by the would-be foster parents who after examining everything except our teeth would select from those of us who remained.- rather like a far Eastern slave market where one hoped one would be picked out by one of the kinder looking people who came to their front door. Some of the people indeed were quite hostile as they seemed unaware of their liability under the law. 0In any event the number dwindled until only I was left. I have no doubt that the evacuation officer was anxious to complete her task and get home

I was small for my age and for some reason did not appeal to the people being forced to take in an evacuee. I seem to have memories of it getting dark and beginning to rain when we knocked on the last door It was opened by what looked to me to be a very ancient witch-like figure, who having heard the evacuation officers ultimatum about taking in a child called her husband who was equally as old and wizened – I doubt if they were over 50! but to a five-year-old….. (even my own dear granddaughter Lara, when she was three, looked at a one-day “grandpa, you are very old”) They certainly had not envisaged being asked are clearly upset by the prospect of having a ‘ dirty little boy’ in their pristine house, but then the law was and they had no choice.

The elderly couple were clearly not enamoured with the idea of having a small child in the house and within a week and being unloaded onto her daughter explore. She was a jolly chubby soul with children of her own and I cannot remember being particularly unhappy there. I do remember, however, pushing the large brown that I can hardly see over the edge of. The great excitement of living with these people is the husband was a driver for the London Brick Company and in my school holidays I was allowed to ride with him on his deliveries. I stayed with this family for a couple of years before going off to boarding school.

Click here to see a picture in a billion. This was taken at the entrance to Katlan Bay at the end of the road in Sitka, Alaska.

The whale is coming up to scoop a mouthful of herring(the small fish seen  at the surface around the kayak). The kayaker is a local Sitka Dentist. He apparently didn’t sustain any injuries from the terrifying experience. The whale was just around the corner from the ferry terminal, and all the kayaker could think at that moment in time was: “Paddle Man – really fast!”


8 September 2011

Posted by DMC on 9 September 2011 in Diary |

Today seemed to be one of those days with lots of comings and goings, consequently this combined with the on-going problems with Dragon,meant that I did not get my blog written.

After the morning carers had left, Lynne, my occupational therapist, arrived to sort out problems I was having with my hands pressing the keys on the lap top. I had designed a new splint for the right-hand which I thought would do the trick but Lynne, thinking ‘outside of the box’ came up with the obvious solution. Why not move the articulated armrest from the right-hand to the left. Simple. It works perfectly well with the splintered finger. Why didn’t I think of that?

As Lynne was about to leave Edward Oliver turned up with my tax return or rather the tax demand. Last year the Inland Revenue had overlooked the losses I have incurred during the year and instead of me owing them money it was the reverse. I rather hoped that they had made the same mistakethis year but Edward, the bearer of bad news confirmed that the Inland Revenue’s calculation was correct and I really did owe the taxman a substantial amount of money.

The next visitor was that good man Barry, who, with his wife Denise had driven us down to Cornwall to attend Augusta’s wedding and assumed not only the role of chauffeur but also that of carer for the 3 days. It was only days later that he was in intensive care with an infection in his spine. Fortunately, after a series of operations, a very worrying period, he is now out of hospital and on the mend, s shadow of his former self, having lost 2 1/2 stone but nevertheless well on the road to recovery. This was a great relief to us as initially we suspected that his back problem had arisen from lifting me around in Cornwall, which fortunately did not prove to be the case.

I had a very nice e-mail from one of my readers today following my entry about being evacuated during the war, saying how interesting he found it and he would like more anecdotes of the same perid. These anecdotes tend to be triggered by outside events but I promised to note his request, as and when the occasion presentrd itself. I can however just mention one particular anecdote. Following on from the evacuation. I was placed in the local primary school where, after assembly, the entire school sang its way through the times tables, from 2 2′;s are 4, all the way through to 12 12’s are 144. This together, some years later at senior school with the discipline imposed by not being allowed to use logarithm tables until we had calculated our own correctly to 5 places of decimal including sines, co-sines and tangents, meant that I was always reasonably innumerate. Compare this with today’s youngsters who are weaned almost from birth to use a calculator and consequently when they get an answer they have absolutely no idea whether it is in the right magnitude of accuracy or not.

T he example of this and I gave in a previous entry was my ability to multiply to 4 figure numbers in my head, within a minute or two, with around 5% accuracy. I’m not as agile in the brain as I was but just for fun I asked Sally, one of my morning carers,to jot down two random four figure numbers before she left. and I would see if I could still do it.

The first thing to remember is that the number must be under 100 million as there are three noughts, or the equivalent on each of the four figure numbers. So, for example two 4 figure numbers each starting with 4 would give you an answer more than 16 million and less than 25 million. This is clear by 4 x 4 equals 16 and 5 x 5 equals 25.

The two numbers that Sally left were 4748 and 6599. So if we call the first number 4 3/4 and the second number 7, we can see that the answer lies a little short of 35 million.

4 3/4. x 7 =33.25 or 33,250,000 ( in your head you would say 5 x 7 = 35, less 1/4 of 7 (1 3/4,) gives you 33 1/4.or 33,250,000.

Then, to refine your answer you would deduct 1 x 4748 plus 250 x 7000 ( 6599) 1,750,000.

33,250,000 minus 1,750,000 s 31,500,000.

Finally you could deduct the 250 when you called 6599, 7000 in the last calculation, to give a final answer of 31,250,000. Well within the 5%. error as the correct answer is 31,332,052. Simple!!


9 September 2011

Posted by DMC on 10 September 2011 in Diary, Videos |

A quiet uneventful day. I had hoped to be in a position to bring up-to-date the missing videos and pictures on the blog but I have still not heard from Dragon following the video conference last weekend with the software people who designed the programe. I really cannot believe that my problems with the Commands are that difficult to resolve.

England won the third of the One Day Cricket Internationals, this one at the Kennington Oval, by a handsome three wickets with, seven balls to spare. The fourth ODI is scheduled to be played at Lord’s on Sunday, although the weather forecast looks appalling and it may well be a washout.

Here is a little diversion for you.

This is a 24 hour observation of all of the large aircraft flights in the world, condensed down to 1:11. From space we look like a bee hive of activity.

What you will see is a video taken from a satellite. You won’t believe this! The yellow dots are airplanes in the sky during a 24 hour period. When you click on the link below you will see the light of the day moving from the east to the west, as the Earth spins on it’s axis. Also you will see the aircraft flow of traffic leaving the North American continent and traveling at night to arrive in Europe in the morning. Then you will see the flow changing, leaving Europe in the morning and flying to the American continent in daylight.

How many people do you think are in the sky at any given moment? You can tell it was spring time in the north by the sun’s foot print over the planet. You could see that it didn’t set for long in the extreme north and it didn’t quite rise in the extreme south.

We are taught about the earth’s tilt and how it causes summer and winter and we have had to imagine just what is going on. With this 24 hour observation of aircraft travel on the earth’s surface we get to see the daylight pattern move as well. Remember watch the day to night….. Day is over in Australia when it starts.

Click here to see the Worldwide Traffic

Be patient takes a minute or two for this complex video to load.


10 September 2011

Posted by DMC on 12 September 2011 in Uncategorized |

A truly sporting weekend. At least the for armchair type such as me. We had the excitement of the Walker Cup – which for the uninitiated is a golf match between two teams , Great Britain and Ireland against America. We need 13 ½. points to win the cup, against the Americans 13 points to retain it. Our youngsters doing extremely well and finished the day 7/5 up in other words two points ahead. It will be decided tomorrow

We saw the beginning of the Rugby World Cup being played in New Zealand. – I think it goes on for two or three weeks .Our boys managed to scrape home against Argentina but we have to play a lot better if they are to progress through this competition.

For those so inclined there were the qualifying rounds for the Grand Prix which personally I find pretty boring with cars just going round and round the same circuit. I do however like to watch the start with the cars jockeying for position at the first two or three bends.

The highlight of my day however was the Final Night of the Proms. Again, for the uninitiated this is the finale of eight weeks of wonderful classical music put on at the Albert Hall (built-in memory of Prince Albert Queen Victoria’s husband) it is a very special night with the promenaders all dressed up, many of them in black tie with festive touches like balloons and so on and the evening ends with the whole audience singing patriotic songs such as Jerusalem and Rule Britannia .. All very jingoistic but great fun. ‘My lovely’ entered into the spirit of the occasion and sang along with me the audiences on the television. I said the Albert Hall but there were several more concerts going on simultaneously, throughout the country, including one at Hyde Park, which I believe is free, and to which tens of thousand attend.

Most of these other venues had their own programme until the second half finale when all concerts were synchronised, so there were probably millions of people throughout the world joining in. A grand way to finish the day. As we have tuned in most evenings, over the past eight weeks we shall miss the uplifting music



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