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31 November 2011

Posted by DMC on 2 December 2011 in Diary |

The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Report was all gloom and doom. First of all he confessed that despite the earlier promise that his government had made, he was now not able to say that they would eliminate the deficit by the end of this present Parliament. At least, that was honest. Certainly everything has being against the Chancellor since he took over. Not only was the economy In a far worse financial state than they had been led to believe but, in addition, he has had to cope with the weakness of the global economy, in particular the Euro. He has warned that if there was a default in the Eurozone , it would certainly reverberate on us but to what extent no one can predict.. I think the biggest worry is still Italy who had to pay 8% on its most recent borrowing to service its debt. Interest at this level is totally unsustainable and unless things turn round fairly quickly Italy could go bankrupt. If they did it could be the beginning of a domino effect followed by Spain and Portugal which I then suspect might cause a total collapse of the Euro. Clearly there is a limit to the extent that the strong German economy can, or will be willing to, continue to support these weak countries.

On the home front I picked up very little detail other than there will be more cuts in services, benefits etc although the old-age pensioners were be getting five pounds a week more in the New Year (hurray!) The biggest problem facing us at present is, how the strikes by the public services union’s against increasingly retirement age to 67 and making them pay a little more towards their pension, is going to turn out. The first of strikes took place today and I got the impression that the country did not grind to halt as the unions led us to believe it might. In fact only 29% of those balloted for strike action agreed to it. Out of those there will be a number of people who voted in favour of strike action but in the event went into work. Although the government claims that they are still in negotiation with the unions it is difficult to see how they can compromise on the key issue of the retirement age but I suppose maybe a little room to manoeuvre in the amount of additional contributions that they workers have to make. With all these things it seems important that when the strike action is over strikers are able to say they have won when clearly it is nothing of the sort.

Ironically in the face of all this gloom and doom the stock market seems to be holding up exceptionally well, settling above 5300 when I fully expected it to drop to something in the region of 3500. It must mean that those in the know consider that the underlying strength of our economy is not as bad as we are made to believe.

After I finished doing my blogging e-mails I then thought I would sort out my tickets to Lord’s this year. I was horrified to see that the application has to be in by 16 December as I had decided to write to all my regular guests offering to make an application for Rover tickets for any match they wish to go to, but for obvious reasons I could not guarantee that I will be there myself. What this meant was I had to e-mail all 14 of them asking them to let them know their preferred dates so that I can collate all of these requests and make one application say no later than 12 December

In searching through my files today I came across the following amazing pictures which can genuinely be described as awesome. Click here and judge for yourself.

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1 December 2011

Posted by DMC on 3 December 2011 in Diary |

I mentioned, in yesterday’s entry, that early in the morning I started to feel unwell. At that stage I stopped doing anything and just rested  but got worse and worse as the day went on. Both eyes were streaming badly and my nose was pouring but worst of all I had the most awful discomfort in my stomach. I felt seriously ill and couldn’t think straight and really thought I was in for a bout of something very serious. I had nothing to eat or drink all day. As it came towards my bedtie, I got more and more panicky as to what would happen if I was sick with the possibility of choking on my own vomit. Frankly this frightens me..

Because of my concern we rang our local doctor who dropped in and diagnosed ‘flu. So much for the flu jab which I had a few weeks ago. Even the doctor admitted that there were useless. He prescribed a strong dose of antibiotics and I took the first tablet before he left. The doctor asked me if I wanted to go to hospital but bearing in mind it iwa Thursday he said it was almost certain I would have to spend the weekend there. There was no way that I wanted to go the hospital as, frankly, at the weekend especiallys, the doctor on duty almost likely to be junior consultant, or registrar, if you’re lucky, then the rest of the time you’re just left languishing in bed. I’ve been there before. You press the alarm button and wait about 10 min before the nurse arrives unless you are in intensive care unit will you do not get much nursing and I knew I would be much better off at home. All sorts of suggestions were made about sleeping at night setting up in bed without my respirator. I really didn’t fancy that as I couldn’t see how I could sleep as I always sleep on my side. In the event I tried lying down as usual and after a few minutes the breathing settled down and although I felt like death that seemed the best sleeping solution. ‘My lovely’ one was her wonderful self and came down regularly, during the night, to turn e over. Although I don’t think I slept a great deal the night passed without event except for one emergency when I was quite sure I was going to be sick..

In the morning, miracle of miracles, the terrible sick feeling had virtually disappeared from my stomach and although I felt a little weak not having eaten or drunk anything . for 24 hours I got up and followed my usual routine. All very weird because if it was’flu, as a doctor suggested, in clear up in 24 hours seem pretty amazing, particularly as he was not prepared to commit himself as to how long it would take to clear up. I suppose the most encouraging sign was that he listened to my lungs and confirmed that they sounded quite normal. Without which, I imagine, I might have been liable to get pneumonia.

As a result of this indisposition I missed much of the news concerning the Chancellors Autumn Statement. Unfortunately I simply cannot manage a newspaper so from the snippets I picked up from the radio it seems that everyone is bracing themselves for the possible collapse of the euro, at least, they have contingency plans in place to minimiize the damage. There is still much about the possible breakup of the Eurozone followed by a limited reconstituted smaller group of countries should Italy, for example, default. The Governor of the Bank Of England made one of his rare television appearances when he stressed how very precarious was our economy today

I suppose one of the good pieces of news is the slow down in the growth in China’s economy to just under 9%. This is partially due to an increase in internal consumption and the slowdown in exports. The trouble with the global economy today, is that a shudder in America and China will reverberate in the world markets.

Now for something completely different. There have been so many new dances introduced since my youth but the one that really impressed me most which I was never really able to do was the Boogie Woogie, I think it was probably introduced to us by the Americans when they came over during the war. Some of my older readers will remember it and for them I say, sit back, turn up the sound, close your eyes, wallow in your memories and enjoy this! Incidentally, the piano player is Swiss.

Boogie Woogie is very popular in Switzerland especially in the Suisse Romande and Ticino. If you experience any trouble tapping your foot to the beat, you had better hurry and schedule an appointment with your physician.

Click here to see some real experts with fast feet and fingers!

Watch what his feet and knees are doing. Note that the top of his heard remains at a constant height ,no matter what his legs and feet are doing. The pianist from Switzerland, and plays some of the best Boogie Woogie anywhere. He is so BIG in the USA, that they hold a week-long Boogie Woogie contest every year and all the best players in the world are invited. In this video he is joined by 2 amazing dancers… The male dancer even has a haircut from the forties.

Do you think this is the time for a revival? It certainly beats aerobic classes and the latest craze, Simba dancing, But if you could keep up boogie Woogie, at anything like the pace at these two are going you will certainly get very fit indeed and were able to forget all about aerobic classes..

 

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3 December 2011

Posted by DMC on 4 December 2011 in Diary |

I made my customary call to my mother and Richard this morning only to find that they too had been unwell in fact my mother been in for bed 12 day. One of the blessings of early onset of Alzheimer’s she had no memory of being there so long. Then Paul Richard got the same bug so the pair of them were ‘hor de combat’. In the normal way this would be very worrying, with them both being well into their 90s viruses or colds can very quickly turn into pneumonia. And the awful thing is I feel so helpless myself not being able to do anything. Fortunately, to remind the oldest friends, the Prytz’s live within 20 min awayI am godfather to the oldest girl, Amanda, who married a New Zealander and now runs a very successful wine business in the best winegrowing district, Marlborough. They have been absolutely marvellous and called in everyday to see if they could do some shopping and so on. I don’t know what we would do without . The trouble with Richard and Nan (short for Nanette) is that the doctors will hand them in hospital at drop of a hat, whereas they are far better off in their own home provided there is somebody, like the Prytz’s keeping an eye on them.

I am now almost fully recovered myself and am so relieved as had it been a really bad bout of flu it could have gone on for two or three weeks.

Paul ‘the computer’ came round yesterday afternoon and continued bringing the old files up to date. We are very nearly there. It’s such a pity that the other problem with Dragon, seems no further forward. I have heard absolutely nothing from them for weeks, despite, or perhaps is because of me referring the matter to the Trading Standards Office. Even they had been recalcitrant. I rang up the man allocated to the job, Mr Missen, only to get his answerphone message to say he will be away until 8 August I replied, touque in cheek, that I thought that was rather a long time, particularly, as my complaint concerned the delay of Dragon sorting out my problem. I’m not sure that he appreciated the joke. However, to keep them on their toes I spoke to his supervisor who said Mr Missen had been very busy but he would ask him to give me a ring me next week. During our conversation the supervisor dropped a bombshell and said that whatever happens they have no power to force any person against whom a complaint is made, to do anything at all, leaving it to the complainant to take the matter to court.

Why on earth did they not tell me that at the beginning and why do we spend millions every year maintaining such a useless outfit? It’s like beating someone with a feather duster. I’ve no doubt that the corporate lawyers in America at Nuance, quickly acquainted themselves with the powers available to the Trading Standards Office and instead of quaking in their boots just laughed the matter of. After I speak to Missen on Monday I must take serious consideration as to whether to put you on this matter in the local court. I’m sure one of my legal friends would be prepared to represent me ‘pro bono’.

With the Eurozone debate occupying a great deal of media and thought you might like to see an alternative view to the Greek situation than the one I gave earlier. (See 15 November 2011 entry)

Click here.

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4 December 2011

Posted by DMC on 5 December 2011 in Diary |

I had the most extraordinary comment ,on my blog today from one of my Australian readers. She wrote last November mentioning that her 75year-old husband had been diagnosed in 2003 with MND In 2009 he was re-diagnosed with flailing arm syndrome),MND. -which is what I was said to have. However, his biggest problem seemed to be that he was suffering from a great deal pain in his neck, shoulders, arms and hands. (An MRI showed to be suffering from ‘Severe Cervical, Spine Stenosis which is probable cause but of the pain of in his neck and shoulders and down his arms.

She wrote again yesterday to say that in January this year his neurologist said he had made a mistake and changed his diagnosed to Multifocal Motor Neuropathy (MMN) with conduction blocks. (According to the MNN website ,this is often confused with MND (Also this gentleman seemed to have many similar symptoms to myself. He had and still has fasciculatiions in his arms and legs, He has lost the use of his legs at and arms and could no longer feed himself. He has also lost a lot of weight.

His lungs have not been affected, He became doubly incontinent although this side of things has improved somewhat since getting treatment for control of his bladder..

For MMN the recommended course of treatment is fortnightly injections of ‘Intragam’ which is an intaveinus infusion of ‘Gammaglobulin”. Since this treatment started he has already shown promising signs of improvement. He can now walk with a Wheely Walker for short distances and feed himself with difficulty. It is all vey positive,

For these people this is clearly a miracle because MMN is treatable and you can ultimately be cured.. Naturally when I read these comments from my Australian reader I couldn’t help but have a spark of hope that I too have been wrongly diagnosed, but recognise the odds of 1,000,000 to one. At least, I hope they are able to tell me how they eliminated the possibility that I had MNN. However I’m not letting my hopes yet to hire a is clearly slight differences between the symptoms of both in particular the incontinence, which I do not suffer from and the weakness in the lungs from which I do. It is just the fact that he was originally diagnosed with ‘flailing arm syndrome’ as I was, that makes me curious. In order to learn a little more about MMN I went on to its website and it seems to me that most of the symptoms are similar to ALS in factbu it is admitted that they are sometimes confused.

Fortunately I have my quarterly MND assessment on Thursday of this week so will raise the matter then and report back to my readers in case any of them might think it worthwhile being checked .I am certainly not holding my breath but I would be a complete idiot if I were not to follow through on this when there is so much similarity between the two diseases. I know that my team Addenbrookes which came out of the evening team at King’s College London, are not likely to have made what must be a fairly simple mistake but I need to be reassured

I’m very grateful to the carer who made the comment in the first instance, on my blog, which is precisely what it is for, i.e. to share issues such as these with other patients which can improve the quality of life or even be life changing.

I shall avoid any reference to the global financial problems today as this matter is of far more interest to my readers.

Watch this space for further developments.

 

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6 December 2011

Posted by DMC on 7 December 2011 in Diary |

So, yesterday was my quarterly visit to Papworth Hospital, where they conducted the usual extensive blow and sniff tests basically, checking the volume of air and strength of your lungs. Last night I slept with my finger attached an oximeter ,always provided by Papworh prior to my quarterly checkups. This is one of the most important tests as the oximeter measures the amount of oxygen in your blood in your lungs.

After all of the tests had been carried and results were available, I saw the the doctor to discuss the tests, this time was Dr Ian Smith, he seems to box and cox with Dr Michael Davies. Basically he was quite pleased with the results.

Bearing in mind that the combination of the tests will give you a good idea of your Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) which I gather is the most important overall test .My on my first visit on !0 September 2009 was 83.7%. 9 months ago it had dropped to ago, averaging this out that means a drop of every three months or so. 9 months Six months ago it was 46%; 3 months ago.

The results over the years, for supine (seated) are as follows;

Jan.2008 4.36 litres predicted 107%

26th.Mar. 2008 3.82 litres predicted

Apr. 10th. 2008 4.3 litres predicted 96.7%? 22.488

Sept 25th. 2008 4.32 litres predicted 83.7 % ? 19.375

Dec 18th. 2008 3.94 litres predicted

Mar 26tth. 2009 3.82 litres predicted

July 2nd. 2009     4.02 litres predicted

Sept 10th.2009 3.5 litres predicted 87%. First visit to Papworth Hospital.

Jan 14th 2010 3.55 litres predicted

April 8th 2010 3.3 litres predicted

June 28th.2010 2.5 litres predicted 74%

July 22nd.2010 2.5 litres predicted 74%

Aug 23rd.2010 2.15 litres predicted 64%? 10% less than last equates 2.4 litres predicted, not 2.5

Nov1st.. 2010 1.5 litres predicted 59% see Sept 2011 1.55% litres predicted 48%

Dec 13th. 2010 1.8 litres predicted

Jan. 2011 litres predicted 58% ?

Mar 2011 1.65 litres predicted 49%

Apr 2011 litres predicted 52%?

July 2011 1.55* litres predicted 46%

Sept 5th..2011 1.55 litres predicted 46% 27.74

Dec 5th . 2011 litres predicted 48%

NB.Figures marked with an asterisk are extrapolated by me.

These are the best figures I can produce from the various reports I have had. Some of the predicted percentages may be a little suspect that I can check on these in a day or two and if necessary change them.

The main thing is they show a downward trend which is what one would expect and it is the most recent is nine months or so which is of most interest.

From this we can assume that they FVC may well have plateaued although the next visit will give us a better idea ,if it still is around the middle 40’s that will be very encouraging.

How long that plateau will last nobody knows the least the time being the lungs are not deteriorating. It will also be interesting to find out what Dr Chris Allen has to say about this when I go for my quarterly MND assessment this Thursday

Incidentally, Dr Ian Thomas, knew nothing about Multi-vocal Motor Neuropathy As She Pointed out he is not an urologist). So I will take it up with Dr Chris Allen.

On the international front the world seems to be on tender hooks about a possible collapse of the euro, in the event that one of its member’s defaults (possibly Italy). In the meantime Pres Sarkozy and his female German equivalent President Merkell are hatching up a plot for a new EU constitution which they plan to publish in my March. The main purpose of which it seems is to create a group of 17 stronger members to underwrite your area and to impose tighter restrictions on all of its members to avoid this possibility of collapse occurring in the future.

Today, Jane ‘the sheep’ moved her sheep, for the winter, from our field. She and her doctor friend John, assisted by Alice had a great deal of trouble catching them but then eventually managed to get them into a pen. I don’t think they would have done too at one of our sheep trials! I was quite pleased to see them go-no doubt they’ll be back in this spring-as ‘my lovely’ has more than enough to do looking after me and the thought of her having to venture out, in all weathers ,to give the sheep, fresh water and hay, every early morning ,is quite unacceptable. This is the first time in almost 50 years that we have been without an animal . At peak we had three sheep, two donkeys, two cats and a dog – always a dog. We are both very fond of animals but Alice, in particular, sends modest contributions to a number of animal charities. I rather stuffy tend to stick to my favourite charity, the Salvation Army. A body of people who I admire enormously, who work quietly and tirelessly in the background doing tremendously good work, especially at Christmas for the poor and needy. A time when they know that these poor souls feel at their loneliest For two or three days, they are taken into the warmth, are treated to some Christmas fare and made to feel that somebody cares. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing, if like good King Wenceslas, each happy family sought out a lonely person to share their Christmas dinner.

As we are now touching on approaching Christmas this is the first of my Christmas contributions of jokes and pictures. A poor start but nevertheless. Click here

Our almost new lady vicar decided to drop in unannounced and, as I was struggling with Dragon to send a rather different e-mail, although I stopped to speak to her, you I suspect she was not too impressed with me. In any event, being a godless creature, she probably worked out that that she would not get much support from me – although to be fair we do make a modest annual contribution to the church roof fund The last time the vicar turned up unannounced call me, was when I was in Addenbrookes having my prostate operation. The first person I saw when I came round from the anaesthetic was a vicar. – not this one but one of the earlier ones .I didn’t exactly think I gone to heaven when I did quickly wonder whether I might have been on my way -last rites and all that!

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8 December 2011

Posted by DMC on 9 December 2011 in Diary |

My quarterly MND assessment at Addenbrooke’s today. I didn’t get my usual team, Dr Chris Allen ,was elsewhere and even the co-ordinator (Jo) was attending to another group but she did pop in for 5 min or so just catch up. Since Jo has had her baby she only works part-time so I was allocated to her other half for my assessment (whose name I am ashamed to say I have forgotten). The only other person there was the Speech Therapist who agreed that, although my voice has changed slightly that is a result of the weakening the diaphragm rather than anything more sinister. We also had another lady in attendance who was observing the whole process as she was setting up a similar assessment centre in Bury St Edmunds (?).

As usual I found myself having to do most of the talking after answering the question ‘ How are you keeping’. My own assessment of the difference between this visit and the last was that my arms are slightly weaker and possibly my legs but not using the m it is difficult to say. Otherwise, there was very little else of substance to deal with.

They looked at the Papworth report in which Dr Ian Smith had said that the volume of my lungs had been consistent for the best part of the year and he said that ‘that was very reassuring’, whatever that means!

I raised the question of the Multifocal Motor Neuropathy (MNN) and, of course, Jo knew all about it as they have several MNN patients. I knew that it was 1,000,000 to one chance that I have been mis-diagnosed but having been made aware of the mistake made by my correspondent from Australia, who was also initially diagnosed with’ flailing arm syndrome’ until it was changed to MNN, it would have been foolish of m Dr Chris Allen was not there, I asked Jo to specifically ask Chris to answer my question, that they have been through the process of eliminating the possibility. I know this is rather remove impugning the experience of my consultat but one has to grasp at every straw and I would not have done so had I not received the case history of the gentleman in Australia, who was misdiagnosed with’ flailing arm’ syndrome only to have it changed months later to NNN.

We went through the problem of the pain I am suffering from a night and the coordinator made note of the need for an urgent follow-up from that injection which I had at Papworth and, to the best of my recollection, this was about as far as we went. I mentioned that we had cracked the running nose (rhinitis) by using Rhinatec nose spray, and the rumbling tummy, which caused me to be so bloated, had been improved by a change of medication.

Then, off to my second appointment at the Eye Clinic, which was scheduled for 2 p.m. ( and it then being only 11.10 p,m, I would have been in for a long wait) but that kindly and helpful receptionist, Angela, managed to squeeze me at the front of the long list for the consultant to see. (I needn’t have bothered to exercise my charm on Angela, for in the end I had to spend two hours in the draughty front hall waiting for the ambulance to bring me home.) The main object of my visit to the Eye Clinic was for the consultant to check up on the left eye on which I had the cataract removed. He seemed well satisfied with the outcome and, as a result, we discussed doing the second eye. Although the cataract in this right eye was not so serious as the earlier one he thought it well worth doing. Accordingly he has undertaken to fast track me as much as he can, bearing in mind my uncertain life expectancy.

As I was leaving I asked the consultant where he came from and he said Greece. So I commiserated with him over the financial state of his country I suggested that (from personal knowledge) one of the main problems is that a lot of people do not pay their taxes.

He agreed that certainly was one of the main causes but also said was that corruption was rife and we both agreed it would probably take a decade of austerity to bring Greece back to equilibrium.

After leaving the Eye Clinic I made my way to the transport desk in the front hall and on the way there an elderly gentleman managed to back his wheelchair into me. Unfortunately, my laptop was in a bag hanging on the back and it was not until I took it out to read my book (on Kindle) that I noticed a small crack in the screen at the top which had produced a large black spot the size of a plum. Clearly, I shall have to have a new screen. My dilemma, in reporting this now is that they will want to take the laptop away and Toshiba only offer a three-week turnaround. That means that, bearing in mind the Christmas holiday, I would not see my laptop again until sometime in early to mid January. As it is my right arm and my only means of communicating, inwriting,with the outside world I shall have to cook up something with ‘Paul’ the computer to avoid this immense void in my life – no emails; no Blog; no reading from my Kindle books and no diversion from Sky and the various television i Players.

Not a happy prospect, particularly concerning my Blog – how many of my faithful followers would I lose?. I will have to get Paul or Richard, (Morris) my web designer, to make a short entry explaining the problem for my readers, reassuring them I had ‘not popped my clogs’! (I should explain to my overseas readers that to ‘to pop one’s clogs’ means to pawn them being the only thing you have left, for a small loan, as you would have no further need of them as you were going to die. No doubt, the money raised would be spent on liquor to dull the ending.! Hence ‘pop goes the weasel’ from the nursery rhyme. The weasel being absolutely essential to a weaver to make any money,)

Where was I before I started all this nonsense? Ah, I remember I was bemoaning the fact that my laptop had been damaged following my visit to the Eye Clinic. I should have completed explaining about this visit.

After giving me the okay for the eye that had been operated on, the consultant looked at the other eye and agreed that it would be sensible to have that done too. He knows about my MND and how valuable every month is to me, and very kindly promised to try to fit me in on any cancellation they got provided I would accept a 24-hour notice. I agreed, praying that if telephone call came, it would not clash with any other arrangements we might have made.

Well, that’s about it I think you would agree that after all that grief it has not being a particularly happy day and I really deserved the large whisky when I got home!

I finish with a typical medical joke. Click here

V

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9 December 2011

Posted by DMC on 10 December 2011 in Diary |

After all the frustration I had yesterday with Dragon (it took me nearly 4 hours to do my blog entry) it was no more promising today with half an hour wasted before I could get the wretched thing to work. No news either from the Dragon technicians themselves or from trading standards. Yet another week goes by and we are now near solving the problems. So more telephone calls on Monday.

My mother’s 95th birthday today- she is in better shape than I am. Fortunately 92,year-old, ex naval husband, Richard, who is an absolute saint and copes wonderfully well with her in the early onset of dementia. I’m not so sure that I would be as patient as he is. Anyway, they are too far away, in Church Street Shropshire, for us to drop in on a regular basis but we’re very fortunate indeed in having two of my oldest friends, the Prytz’s – parents of my god-daughter, Amanda, now married and living in Malborough, New Zealand making excellent wine with her husband – living quite close, who do drop in regularly and keep an eye on them for us. They have very kindly invited them over for Christmas dinner .Before the MND we would visit my parents a couple of times a year and I would dutifully ring up every Friday, indeed, as I still do – to make sure that all is well. Now, from time to time they come here, by a local taxi, for lunch and then a mid-afternoon return. That seems to suit them well and it is just about the only way we could manage to see them.

All of today’s newspapers are featuring the stance taken by our Prime Minister, David Cameron, in vetoing the Eurozone plan for saving the Euro. He was a lone voice amongst the 27 members 23 of which supported the plan. Mr Cameron exercised his veto (so far as I understand it, for the first time any British Prime Minister has done so). His reason for doing so was to protect the British economy and our financial institutions which would have been severely threatened by this new constitution. We lnow stand isolated, so far as Europe is concerned, and later may well be ostracised from any decision-making, some of which may affect us. However, we have not heard the end of this.

I hope that Cameron – ‘having once wielded his handbag’ – will take advantage of the current situation to renegotiate some of the terms of the existing constitution. For example, opt out of many of those ludicrous Health and Safety regulations which infect our society, having come from the European Parliament. Secondly, making our own judicial system independent of appeals to the European courts. I have every confidence that our own Supreme Court, headed by British judges, are far more likely to come to a just conclusion on human rights and the other issues which are referred to them than nine or 10 judges from all over Europe who have entirely different standards to our own

So far as the economy is concerned it will be interesting to watch and see if they try to make, for example, Frankfurt the financial centre for Europe, that it has always aspired to be, to the detriment of this country which has generally been recognised by the world as the best financial centre. Our problem I suppose will be over trade with Europe , which at present represent something like 40% of our GDP. So we obviously have a vested interest in saving the Eurozone from collapsing for two reasons. First of all we have something like £650 million invested in financial institutions, banks etc and no one can predict, at this stage, what effect such a collapse would have on the world market. Personally I doubt whether it would spark off a world depression so long as people keep their heads. Economic depressions seem to be generated from weak financial positions where the countries concerned do not have enough confidence to get themselves out of trouble. To some extent we’ve seen signs already in this country. People are simply not spending, so the economy is not expanding and our GDP this year is now forecast at 0.78% (compare this with China who are deliberately slowing down their growth to 9%). I’m no economist and so these are just personal views. The glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel is that at least the world leaders seem to be combining to establish contingency plans, hopefully learning from past mistakes.

If you’re worried about losing your job and you want to see if you’re still on the ball click here and try this

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10 December 2011

Posted by DMC on 11 December 2011 in Diary |

From yesterday’s doom and gloom to the mundane but to me probably my biggest problem. What to do with my defective laptop screen that does not leave me without the means of continuing my blog and answering my daily e-mails? Fortunately that good Paul ‘the computer, came round this afternoon so that Alice who could go and do some Christmas shopping. We have found a relatively inexpensive way of replacing the screen which Paul is clever enough tofit himself .so I shall not worry the MND Association – whose computer iit is -or my own insurance company but just pay for it myself.. We spent three happy hours together fiddling around with the computer, tidying things up and investigating sources of improving its performance. Paul is so experienced that it is a pleasure to learn from him how some of these things are done.

Talking of Christmas, the winter is coming with a vengeance, icy roads and blustering winds, although the middle part of most days we are treated to a blue sky and sunshine. Great fun if you’re young and fit and I used to enjoy playing golf in such weather provided I was well muffled up against the cold. Much of the country north of Birmingham has already experience heavy snowfalls. Certainly our pretty local historic town of Saffron Walden..pulled out all the stops, as they do every year with their Christmas Fayre! Market stalls selling all sorts of little gifts; Father Christmas ringing his bell; the local church choir singing carols around a tall twinkling Christmas tree,with hot mince pies and gluvine on offer, or if your preferred it, a little bag of hot roasted chestnuts straight from his brazier fire..Although I didn’t manage to make it this year seeing that always made me feel that at last Christmas was upon us. Such a pity there was  not an inch or two of snow on the ground which would be made this timeless scene all the more magical.

I wonder if we will have a white Christmas here, which is the driest county in the United Kingdom. I hope so, so that when the grandchildren come they can build their snowman and get out our ancient sledge. Much more fun for the the little ones doing something in the country rather than in their pocket handkerchief size garden in London.

We had a kindly gift from our local MND association, a pretty Christmas card with a £25 voucher to spend at Marks and Spencer. In the same post we received a request from the MND head office for a donation. I sent them a cheque for £50!

For those of you who retain any residual doubt about the part played by the American bankers in the recession which started in 2008 you really must try to see the BBC film Storyville, episode 14 , which is only available for viewing, on BBC iPlayer,for a few more days. It  is really a film about the hardly believable greed of the top echelon of American bankers hedge fund managers (There was one CEO or MD interviewed who had obsemely ‘earned’ £485 million, in salary and bonus, in one year and shamelessly faced the camera and claimed he deserved it.)who ignored all the warning signs and when the bubble burst, tens of millions of people lost their job , their savings and their homes , A salutary lesson which one can only pray the bankers have learned from or alternatively the supervising bodies will prevent a repetition .

In these hard times this little   nugget of sound advice may well strike a chord with some of you. Click here to read it.

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11 December 2011

Posted by DMC on 12 December 2011 in Diary |

In the light of the current world situation I thought I would start with what have been described as the five best sentences ever written, Some of which were written centuries ago but are just as apposite today. and then I will conclude this entry with 25 excellent homilies. or, If you prefer it , Great Truths.

FIVE BEST SENTENCE
1. You cannot legislate the poor into  prosperity, by legislating the
wealth out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without  working for…another person must work
for without  receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything  that the government does
not first take from somebody  else.

4. You cannot multiply  wealth by dividing it.

5. When half of the people get the idea that they  do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of  them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to  work because somebody else is going to get what they worked for, that  is the beginning of the end of any nation!

Well, last night coincidently, the BBC put on a documentary entitled How the West Went Bust. This was the. European side of the sorry tale of which I previously watched the American side, that probably started the avalanche over parcelling up and selling on the sub prime mortgages as triple AAA investments.

After glossing over the corruption and millions of euros which are unaccounted for, the documentary turned to the English economy. Much of it was about consumer credit. In other words people buying things they could not afford and building up a large amount of debt. It rather quaintly showed the world in which I was brought up in when you were cautioned by your parents not buy anything until you could afford to do so, i.e. have saved up sufficient money.( I remember doing a paper round to save up £15 to buy a full set of Dickens – which I still have today) but then it showed the introduction of Hire Purchase in order to stimulate post war consumer spending. Which as I say was foreign to my generation so some smart Alec, euphemistically quickly renamed it ‘Deferred Payment’ which did not sound so drastic , a change from the way that we had been brought up to save the things that we wanted to buy.

Certainly the greedy bankers in this country had a part to play in the current financial crisis but, as the head of the Royal Bank Of Scotland explained. the banks are between the devil and the deep blue sea. Unless we pay the ‘going rate’ ,then our best people will go and work elsewhere, so in effect the banks will pay more and more to get the best people until it becomes uneconomic .Ideally, there really needs to be a worldwide moratorium on salaries and bonuses rather like the nuclear disarmament agreement. However I can see the impossibility of achieving such worldwide agreement. There will always be some small offshore country that would be prepared to host these massive financial institutions which can turn over £4-£500 billion in one day, so I really don’t know what is the answer to this no more than I know how they can bring footballers wages back to realistic levels. Interestingly, knowing nothing about football, it seems to me that clubs appear now to be reaching the ceiling whereby the wages they pay are crippling them and a number of them are going down, so it may well be that FIFA will cleverly devised some means of capping these ludicrously high wages for kicking a ball about.

Unless some sanity is returned or imposed on the financial institutions we are all doomed. Greece will almost certainly collapse having failed to honour its debts and be forced out of the Eurozone. Others like Italy, who have no choice but to pay interest on their debt at a rate which is totally unsustainable, will probably be next, followed by who knows? Portugal, Spain and then once the whole thing starts to unravel maybe the collapse altogether of the Eurozone. What effect that will have on the global economy no-one knows, one can foretell, only speculate and then base the contingency plans on that speculation. But then as I have said before, I am no economist so what do I know about it! The only glimmer of hope in all of this is that there are a lot of very clever people spending every day scratching their heads for a solution. Pray for them to come up with one soon.

More to my point is that I received a lovely long newsy e-mail from my darling daughter Chloe, basically apologising for not having spent time with me or contacting me over the past few weeks. Poor thing must be run off her feet with a part-time job in a very senior position as a clinical psychologist and three young children, all having to be ferried to different Christmas parties, pantos, school plays etc and a busy husband ,to keep happy. Of course, I don’t expect that the darling thing to spend a lot of time with me it’s quite enough that she thinks of me daily and prays for me whenever she can (albeit I am an aetheist). In any case I’m so looking forward to seeing her and the rest of the brood here over Christmas.

To finish this rather heavy entry, as promised I now give you 25 very sage sayings. Click here, learn and inwardly digest.

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12 December 2011

Posted by DMC on 13 December 2011 in Diary |

As another week has gone by with no telephone call from either the Trading Standards people or the Dragon technician, I thought I would chase up Trading Standards who are meant to be chasing up the Dragon people. . Christmas is upon us and there is little time left to resolve this matter before the festive season begins. Chris. Missen, the member of staff who was delegated to deal with this formal complaint against Dragon referred, me to a conversation I’d had with his supervising officer, which in effect, apparently meant, in government speak, that there was nothing more that they could do. (What, if anything, have they done?) Mr Nissen acknowledged that the Trading Standards office had no teeth and could only draw attention to the complaint and hoped, that this official intervention would have been sufficient to concern the Dragon people to try to resolve this matter. I can just imagine the corporate management of this international company quaking in their boots upon receiving this official complaint

So far as this supervisor informing me that ‘nothing more they can do’ I am totally unaware what they have done and seen no e-mails, no correspondence of any sort, had no report from Trading Standards and therefore have not the faintest idea what they had done. It seems to me to have a government backed organisation which has a supervisory role and no teeth is as useful as a chocolate teapot and if Mr Cameron is looking for savings then the Trading Standards Office must be a prime target

As I seem to have come to the end of the line with the Trading Standards office I had no alternative but to telephone Dragon the senior technician, Ruben, and ask where we are in this matter which has now gone on for a long over six months. Ruben denied receiving a copy of a reply to one of his e-mails sent to me on 22 November. I was able to forward a copy of my reply to the hand. As they do not have a ‘read receipt’ set up on their inbox I asked him to be good enough to acknowledge receipt by giving me a ring.

As is quite common with Ruben I heard nothing. However, during our earlier telephone conversation I had suggested that the only way that they were ever going to get to the bottom of this problem was to send one of their technicians to sit with me at my computer and see all the problems for himself. Rubin said that they did not normally provide such a service but I have left it to him to think about.

As it took me four hours to do yesterday’s entry, due to Dragon breaking down every few words, I’m keeping this one short and sweet and will report back later on my progress with Dragon.

I had some difficulty in deciding what excitement to add to today’s entry so click here and see what I selected which I think reflects the times we live in.

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