31 December 2011 – NEW YEAR’S EVE

Posted by DMC on 1 January 2012 in Diary |

Well, another year gone by and I suppose I should be grateful that I’m still around to welcome in the New Year. Whether I should here this time next year is another matter, although my Chinese friends have assured me that I am immortal!

I’ve been asking my carers over the past two or three days how they celebrate the New Year. It seems most of them this year I’m going to quietly celebrated at home or in small parties with their friends but then my carers, apart from Louise, are not teenagers. The girls tell me that most people today going to a local pub where a special meal will be provided at, what seems to me to be an exorbitant price. What is even more amazing is apparently the fact that those plans are charging an entry fee. For what? The pleasure of drinking there!

I suppose it is justifiable if some form of entertainment is provided but I’m told by the girls but that is not generally the case.

How are Alice and I celebrating this demise of the year 2011 and the birth of 2012. I’m sorry to say that like most people of our age we will be going to bed pretty much had our usual time. I would have cracked open a bottle of champagne had it not been for the fact that the good doctor Michael will be with us in three days time and then it would be a bottle at night for the trio for days he is here so, tonight I shall abstain.

I had to leave you with the impression that we are sticking the months and would not celebrate New Year’s Eve and in that respect I refer you to the anecdote New Year’s Eve which I hope will remind you that we too were young once and could let our hair down from time to time t.

The New Year is traditionally the time for making New Year resolutions. On the bus to front, generally about eating less or perhaps drinking less, getting fitter and such resolutions about being nicer to’ auntie Doris” or’ John Smith’-a fellow worker etc

I received rather less serious New Year Resolutions from to my regular readers. This amusing one from Roz which’ The Vicar’ (See 15 December  2011 entry ) would definitely not approve.

Dear God,

My prayer for 2012 is for

A fat bank account & a thin body.

Please don’t mix these up like you did last year.


And from an even more regular contributor Bob, this rather amusing salutation which I suspect was written after rather good party..

H A P P Y,             H A P P Y ,               N E W  Y E A R

Finally, click here for some more excellent advice from Bob for those for those of you who are anxious to work off a few pounds after indulging in too much Christmas pudding and from yours truly wishing each and every one of my faithful readers.

A Healthy Happy And Prosperous New Year.


1 January 2012-New Year’s Day

Posted by DMC on 2 January 2012 in Diary |

I am not going to the catalogue of disasters and triumphs of the year past or make any prophecies about the forthcoming year except the following. The two most significant events to my mind last year were the Arab Spring uprisings and the global economic situation.

What was so interesting about the Arab uprisings was that it was spontaneous and generated from within, after 30 or 40 years of, in many instances tyrannical dictatorship, the man in the street had had enough.

These were not just small groups of individuals, as the leaders would have us believe, but mass demonstrations against the dictators, this even in the face of great danger of being shot. For example, in Syria, even as I write, (if one can believe the ostensibly independent journalists) hundreds are being shot daily as those in power attempt to hang on. My prediction therefore is that most of these revolutions will succeed and there will be a new pattern of governments to deal with in the Middle East.
Those that do survive will have been shaken up so severely they will have to do accede more power to the people, leading to a greater degree of democracy, albeit still limited, to have any chance of long-term survival.

The other aspect of these uprisings is that they will lead inevitably towards an exacerbation of the split between his Moslems and the Christians and, I suspect, that the second phase of the battle will be for control which will decide whether the country goes Christian or Islamic. I just hope it does not lead to a wholesale ethnic cleaning of the Christian minorities.

The other issue which will touch us all, is the very shaky global financial situation. The two regions that matter most to us, are America and Europe. The situation in America unfortunately is worse than we were led to believe and the growth towards recovery again is lower than that which was forecast. It will survive but it may take longer to come out of recession than we had hoped which will effect all of us, particularly our exports.

The European scene is even more grave from our point of view as it accounts for around 25% of our exports. I believe by the end of this year the shape of the Eurozone will be different from now. There is every possibility that Greece will have left (or being thrown out. as may be Italy, Spain and Portugal.) Whether these last three are actually thrown out or not will depend upon what restructuring Germany, together with France, manages to work out. I’m certain there will be some sort of two tier membership of the Eurozone (if it still exists) as I cannot see Germany continuing to support the profligate governments in these, countries. I have mentioned or any other Eurozone country. In the same way as the whole of Europe seems to owe more money to the Chinese than we can ever pay back, certainly the four countries I have mentioned are in the same position and face many years of austerity. Strikes will avail them nothing. Striking against the inevitable can clearly only make things worse.

Where will the UK end up in all this. Well, fortunately we are not a member of the Eurozone, although we do have 7/€8 billion guarantees which can be called in as a last resort.
if the Eurozone does crumble, as I predicted this will obviously have a serious effect on our exports and could well drag us into in recession. Of course, the other factor which will come into play is the determination of the Germans and French to make us suffer for using our veto to stop the introduction of the new EU Constitution. The introduction of this Constitution, could have been disastrous, from the U.K.’s point of view in that we could have lost more control over our own affairs then we have lost already and just become a satellite of Germany and France. I believe our Prime Minister, Mr Cameron, took precisely the right stance which now leaves the door open for us to negotiate the opting out of some of the more ridiculous directives which control and effect the lives of all of us.

Frankly, we are balancing on a knife edge and could go one way or the other. How will this affect the man in the street, the ‘man on the clapham omnibus.

Well, we will all have to tighten our belts and spend less although if we don’t spend how is the economy going to pick up? That is the dilemma for the government. (I suggest spending on major public works may be one solution). The government seems to be encouraging people to spend to bring back confidence, this despite all the noises that they are making now about restricting borrowing to individuals to avoid the tens of thousands building up impossibly high debts; the drastic cutting the public services; increasingly the pension age and the amount people have to contribute (otherwise UK ltd. could have bankrupted by about 2050 caused by the weight of public service pensions, many of which are inflation proof) and perhaps most important of all, getting real control over the unemployed and ‘disabled’, at least half of which would be capable of doing some sort of work, except that many of whom are not prepared to work for the minimum wage, as our the other youngsters from other European countries (because they are paid too a higher benefit for not working) hus saving billions on benefits. (Solution- make those physically able to earn their benefits and then leave the government to top them up to a living wage).

How the government manages this in the face of the immigration from 27 countries in the European union coming as they please – with no restriction on numbers – ,many of whom are prepared to work for the minimum wage where our own young and that they are not, I believe is a real dilemma. We should never have agreed to complete freedom of movement between countries without having some sort of control over the numbers. Maybe if the Eurozone crumbles we will have the opportunity of renegotiating that particular element

That then is the end of my macro prophecies. I suppose the other prophecy I need to consider is the one that affects me and my family. Will I survive the year and, if so, in what state? The short answer is that nobody knows- not even the doctors. All they willl say ,when you ask them what is the prognosis, is that every patient is different. I think this really is the long and the short of it. They simply do not know.

There’s no doubt that I’m becoming perceptively weaker month by month but I admit that it is fairly slow. The rate of deterioration over the last two things I have, that work to a degree, will be the determinative factor. The 25% usage of my arms and around the under 50% breathing capacity in my lungs will determine my future, bearing in mind that the first signs of MND became obvious in September 2007.
So this September is a significant date bearing in mind that we are told that 50% of people diagnosed with MND die within 14 months and the other 50% within five years apart, from the odd individual who can go on as long as 10 years or more However, I have a significant number of milestones to pass first post Our 49th wedding anniversary in March; the birthdays of my two children, in April and May; then’ my lovely’s birthday in May followed by the cricket season at Lord’s and my own 78th birthday in August. I just take it one milestone at a time.

I have deliberately not mentioned the terrorist threats as we seem to have come to live with these, however, click here to see of the ‘alert status’ world situation as seen through the eyes of one of our English funny men and tall person’ John Cleese.



2 January 2012

Posted by DMC on 3 January 2012 in Diary |

With all the doom and gloom of yesterday’s entry I deliberately avoided highlighting some of the excitement we can look forward to this year. For example, the Queens (65th) diamond jubilee celebrations and, of course, the Olympic Games.

It’s extraordinary thing that the last time the Games were here was in 1948 (at least I cannot recall being here since then), immediately after the end of the Second World War. How on earth we managed to mount such an event in a heavily blitzed London was pretty amazing but then the whole thing has grown like Topsy, beyond recognition from those earlier, simpler days before the incredibly lavish opening and closing ceremonies that we are now expected of the host country. We accepted that there is no way we could compete with the two ceremonies mounted by the Chinese which were absolutely incredible but relied upon something in the order of 200,000′ volunteers’! In many ways this was a good thing from our point of view as it means that we could bring back some sanity to these events. For example, we could incorporate something on the lines of the Royal Tournament with our British Bands and soldiers going through their paces, which nobody does better than us. -,something uniquely British, rather than someone like Mr Beckham kicking a football, despite of the country being besotted with the game and no doubt Mr Beckham is a charming ambassador. Having said all that you can imagine that I was none too pleased to learn, only a day or two ago, that Cameron has now allocated a further £45 million for the opening ceremony, ominously, in his own way, seeking to compete.

I certainly don’t remember the 1948 Games, although I must have been around 15 at the time. I suppose they were quite expensive and I probably watched them on some little 14 inch black-and-white television. The Games I do remember were the 1956 ones in Australia where I happened to be at the time. My regular readers will recall that as there were so many planes coming into Australia and leaving empty I took advantage of the situation and the cheap fare on offer went to New Zealand to 3 weeks.

As to the Queens Diamond Jubilee this should be a magnificent affair with all the brilliance that we are capable of in organising it. I’m sure the two events will attract millions of tourists to this country which is precisely what we need perhaps to kick-start the economy. The doom and gloom we have suffered from over the past couple of years and,, in particular,, the prognostications by many of the leading world economists could well become a self-fulfilling death-wish unless we are very careful. Let us be satisfied with our lot, and those who have a job be thankful, and forget all about striking for improved conditions, instead have confidence in the future and build on this confidence to restore economic growth.

Switching the subject to the mundane, one of my international readers has written and told me that her partner uses ‘ tart cherry juice mixed with water’ to ease his pain at night. I assume he drinks it and doesn’t rub it on!     Although this remedy does not readily appeal to me I don’t even know what ‘tart cherry juice is) I thank the reader for letting me know about it, which leads me to wonder whether any other reader has experience of this particular remedy, or any other, that has been particularly efficacious for painful joint?

I have had a flurry of e-mails from various friends, wishing us a Happy New Year and suggesting they come down and give me lunch at the Cricketers. I have optimistically suggested waiting until the weather is warm enough for us to sit outside so that I can enjoy a cigar. Something to look forward to.

Talking about how well the Chinese do things when they put their mind to it, for example. the Yangtze River Project; the longest bridge in the world between the airport and the mainland (pictures of which I will show you later) reminds me of the most staggering model I have ever seen and that was in Shanghai. From memory, I guess it covers an area of 30 to 35,000 ft.² and included an accurate model of every single building, including those in the suburbs, to a scale of (I’m guessing now) 1/250. When a building, or it’s environs, is changed in any way, similar changes are made to the model. I guess there is some sort of ordinance that imposes an obligation on all building owners to send details of the changes to the city authorities.

I can now show you something which in its own way rivals the dedication to detail (sadly. German, not British) I suggest you click the URL below and look at the video first before letting your mind boggle over the statistics.

This train set, which is the world’s biggest, covers 1,150 square meters (12,380 square feet), features almost six miles of track and is still not complete.

Twin brothers Frederick and Gerrit Braun, 41, began work on the ‘Miniatur Wonderland’ in 2000.

The set covers six regions including America, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Germany and the Austrian Alps. The American section features giant models of the Rocky Mountains, Everglades, Grand Canyon ..and Mount Rushmore. The Swiss section has a mini-Matterhorn. The Scandinavian part has a 4ft long passenger ship floating in a ‘fjord’.

The model is expected to be finished in 2014, when it will cover more than 1,800 square meters (19, 376 sq ft) – probably around the same size as the Shanghai, model I mentioned earlier. It feature almost 13 miles of track, by the time detailed models of parts of France, Italy and the UK will have been added and comprises 700 trains with more than 10,000 carriages and wagons.  The longest train is 46ft long.

The scenery includes 900 signals, 2,800 buildings, 4,000 cars – many with illuminated headlights – and 160,000 individually designed figures.  Thousands of kilograms of steel and wood was used to construct the scenery. The 250,000 lights are rigged up to a system which mimics night and day by automatically turning them on and off.

The whole system is controlled from a massive high-tech nerve centre. In total the set has taken 500,000 hours and more than 8 million eoro to put together, the vast majority of which has come from ticket sales.

Gerrit said: “Our idea was to build a world that men, woman, and children can be equally astonished and amazed in”.  Frederik added: “Whether gambling in Las Vegas, hiking in the Alps or paddling in Norwegian fjords – in Wunderland everything is possible”.

The world’s biggest model train set is on display to the public and is so big that they employ more than 160 people to show visitors around their creation.


3 January 2012

Posted by DMC on 5 January 2012 in Diary |

The good Dr Michael arrived from Sweden around six this evening (as usual his timing was impeccable, just-in-time for us to drink a bottle of champagne before supper!). He will be here until Saturday morning, giving’ my lovely’ a couple of days down in Cornwall to see her mother. She leaves at some ungodly hour tomorrow morning and will arrive back about midnight on Thursday. Michael then assumed the role of number one carer but with the usual backup visits from the team at Ross Nursing, so we managed very well. My main concern was waking up in the middle of the night, in pain, waiting to be turned over which does not seem to worry ‘my lovely’ but I did not think would be that popular with the good Dr.,

Although he doesn’t know it yet I intend to put the good doctor to work while he is here, Firstly, to help me to print off of the latest batch of diary notes for the hard copy of the Blog (three-time 68 pages!). I have been keeping for the children as part of my autobiography. I then intend to ask if you would kindly assist me in the process of marking the examination papers from the Chinese students. Hopefully his role will be restricted to turning the pages over of each set of examination papers to the appropriate question which I wish to mark. If Lynne my occupational therapist has done her job I will hopefully be able to make some sort of tick against the key points in the answers and scrawl the total number of marks awarded. Once I get to that point I can then transpose those marks onto my Excel generated schedule. If I find a pen too difficult to manipulate I shall have to read the answers and ask the good doctor to make the necessary ticck but I really hope it doesn’t come to that. In any event these will be the last examination papers I shall ever have tomorrow which is not fill me with sadness!

Around four in the morning, my lovely came in, gave me a kiss and set off to Cornwall. She is absolutely amazing the way she manages these very early on very late journeys, without, it seems, getting absolutely exhausted.

Click here for a slightly naughty joke.


4 January 2012

Posted by DMC on 5 January 2012 in Diary |

As it turned out. Michael was marvellous and had observed much of what goes on in the morning so the getting up and so on followed very much the usual pattern except we deferred breakfast, shaving and teeth cleaning until after the girls had gone and we had breakfast together in the study.

As threatened,. we then started on the examination papers. Although initially I found I could make the odd indecipherable mark on the paper where they were keywords which I was looking for in the answer, they were such a scrawl that in the end I marked each subsection in my head and then Michael recorded it on the schedule which I have prepared previously. Fortunately, between Paul (my successor in China) and I, we had prepared an excellent ,very comprehensive, marking schedule which made the process so much easier, but nevertheless I certainly could not have managed without Michael and there is no way’ my lovely’ would have got involved. It took us the best part of the day to complete the actual marking leaving some tidying up and a clean typed schedule to prepare tomorrow. In fact, we only managed to get into the breakfast room at about 5:10 with Paula due to change me for bed at six

As we had really deserved a drink and I was going to enjoy a cigar, we decided against hurrying the whole process and Paula was excused much of our normal duties and just put on my nightshirt leaving us with our champagne and cigars in the breakfast room.

It certainly had been a very long, hard day during which I had taken no rest whatsoever and I was very encouraged to have got through it without any exhaustion, which I hope augers well for the future.

Make managed to work out how to operate the oven and produced a possible supper. The evening was a short one as everything was much later than usual and after watching minder on television Sam arrived to put me to bed. Unfortunately, last night Sally came to be instructed on the slightly complicated process of settling me down after fixing the respirator and then making the bed on top of me. We understood therefore that she was coming back tonight, but in the event that the Sam. We have to play it by ear, so to speak.

Michael was his usual proficient self and managed to do all the little things that had to be done in locking up and so on . After I had been settled down. All went well until two or three o’clock in the morning. when I panicked slightly, convinced that the respirator was not delivering enough air. I was really struggling to breathe and was having to suck air in rather than letting the respirator gently do it for me. I pressed my panic button and Mick appeared like a genie and went through the whole process of getting me up, sitting me on the edge of the bed and removing the respirator to check it out before settling down again. Then, thank goodness, it seemed okay and the rest of the night passed uneventfully.

I have the perfect anecdote to do with marketing questions. Click here, to read about the Brilliant Student. thank goodness, not one of mine.


5 January 2012

Posted by DMC on 6 January 2012 in Diary |

The early morning pretty well followed the one we established yesterday. So after breakfast I completed the blog entries for the last two days while Mick had a shower, etc and then we were able to finish of the exam marking with me typing in the final marks obtained by each candidate on my pre-prepared schedule. There were only 6 papers to mark in the end which was just as well. If I had had 24 like last, year it would not have possible to finish them during Mick’s visit. I must say I was very grateful to make handling the paper and making a note of my marks as I could not possibly have managed without him. I made it clear in the Examiner’s Report, which I wrote later, that I would not take on this task again.

Although we had finished all the marking yesterday there was still the adding up to do and entering the figures onto my pre-prepared schedule and again, this took most of the morning.

The nurse arrived at lunchtime and got me into my electric wheelchair.as we had prearranged to go to lunch at the Cricketers and I then drove it to the pub in a howling gale. The problem was the very strong wind, and at one stage on the journey the wheelchair was actually moved sideways by a strong gust of wind. However, we arrived safely and were seated at our usual round table adjacent to the restaurant. We both opted for the ‘credit crunch lunch’ (£8.95!) which today was Haddock, chips and peas. The fish had clearly been cooked for us and the very light batter made it quite delicious. I was quite abstemious and had no pudding but Mick got stuck into a rather delicious looking home-made Bakewell tart with a scoop of ice cream which I could not immediately identify.

On our return, I still had a little work to do in connection with the paperwork for the examination, in particular the examiner’s report and Mick therefore was able to relax and read for most of the afternoon .

The six o’clock carer from Ross nursing was Catherine Penny, who had only been once before. She reminded me that they lived in France (she reminded me that she only works occasionally, for Ross nursing when she is over in this part of the world) quite close to Guy and Judy Kent. (Guy is Jane Orde-Powlette’s brother and Jane is the mother of Rosamund who, with her first novel,’ Sister’ caused a bit of a sensation, topping the bestsellers lists several weeks). Anyway, it was nice to see Catherine and to hear news of my friends in France.

To be honest, when Catherine arrived to prepare me for bed. I really didn’t feel to be fit. We had already decided to skip a champagne tonight and substitute it with whisky. Also, I would not go to the trouble of hoisting me into the wheelchair going into the breakfast room, so no cigar tonight. It is a rigid house rule that there is to be no smoking in the house other than on rare occasions when ‘herself’ gives permission for me to smoke in the breakfast room. Usually in the dead of winter weather window open, so that one doesn’t get too comfortable in their own want to prolong the agony for ‘my lovely’. In the end I even skipped my whisky and had nothing to eat and, as a result, went to bed only slightly off colour.

As far as I was concerned the evening was a bit of a disaster. Normally, Alice has scanned the TV Times and worked out a schedule for us but with me unable to turn the pages of the Radio Times and not having enough strength to press the buttons on the remote control. The whole business was in Mick’s hands who wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about watching the box anyway. With unfamiliar equipment and controls to handle we watched mishmash of bits and pieces before Sally arrived to put it to bed. Unfortunately it was right in the middle of the only program that I had enjoyed all evening. It was about the restoration of the Georgian mill by a young couple who discovered that wives cervical cancer had returned and it was touch and go as to whether she would get in to the house before she died. A sad note on which to go to bed.

Mick had done a really great job in Alice’s absence, but I was pleased when she returned from Cornwall, around 11 o’clock, to the takeover as she has the whole process down to a fine art and the show runs like a well oiled machine. Apparently she came in on her arrival, but I was dead to the world, so she did not disturb me but came back, an hour or so later, just to let me know that she was back safely, and once more in charge.

Click here for today’s joke.


6 January 2012

Posted by DMC on 7 January 2012 in Diary |

I can now disclose why Alice went down to Cornwall. Sister Victoria had been concerned that her mother was not really eating properly and not talking. So, ‘my lovely’ decided she would go down, while Mick was here, perhaps, to say goodbye. Sadly, my dear mother-in-law passed away the afternoon before Alice planned to go to Cornwall but she went. nevertheless, to support her sister. As it happened, from that point of view, the timing could not have been better. Admittedly, ‘my lovely’ would have liked to have been there when her mother died but as it was she just slipped away in her sleep and nobody knows precisely when death occurred. Therefore, it would have been difficult to time the visit to achieve that objective. As it happened, Victoria was very pleased to have her sister’s support in working out the details of the things that needed attending to, initially the funeral next week and start working on the Memorial Service for the spring. My dear mother-in-law played her role public service. I believe she was .Cheif Guide in Wales and Chairman, or something close to it, for the Welsh Branch of the Red Cross. As a result I have no doubt that the Memorial Service will be quite an affair as, apart from anything else she was much loved and respected in North Wales in which she spent most of her married life.

When Alice has to go to Cornwall for the family funeral next Tuesday, she will have to employ one of the Ross Nursing Team to sleep here over the two nights that she needs to be away. Jane ‘the sheep’ too apparently as Jane knows her way around the house. So I should be well cator.

The good Dr very kindly offered to come back from Sweden to look after me over these two days. next week. but he has own family to think about who are all on the move again coming or going from or to Australia; Denmark; Sweden;, UK or USA so it would be quite ridiculous for him to go to Sweden and turn round to come back here two days later, but very generous of him to offer He may well come in February when the family go to Wales for the memorial service.

I was very fond of my mother-in-law and got cross with people when they tell jokes about mothers-in-law. She had a great number of friends-unfortunately, most of whom are now dead –but nevertheless she will be sorely missed by the family and the younger generation of people she knew extremely well. I shall certainly miss her having had the pleasure of knowing her as part of the family for the last 50 years.

Whilst I was being prepared from bed last evening I received a phone call from a dear old friend, Duncan Fairfax Lucy, who I had met when I became chief executive of Sanctuary Housing Association (previously The World of Property Housing Trust) and Duncan was the Finance Director or Chief accountant, when I took up my post, The timing of his telephone call could not have been more unfortunate as I was in the middle of being prepared for bed by one of the nurses. Not to put too fine a point on it, I was incommoded at the time. Anyway, I managed to ring him back a short while later and make my peace with him. Duncan is a very charming and delightful person who comes from an ancient family, the Fairfax-Lucy’s of Charlecote Park in Warwickshire which was owned and occupied by the Lucy family since 12 Century It is a beautiful stately home, surrounded by parkland which was laid out by the famous landscape gardener. Capability Brown. I have not heard from Duncan for sometime so was very pleased and touched that he took the trouble to pick up the phone to see how I was. The value of long-term friendships is something that my mother-in-law certainly appreciated.

At 1.30 today the long-awaited video conference with the Dragon technician took place. Despite this conference having been rearranged foor times to suit the two senior technicians, in the event, neither Ruben nor Mehdi, were available and we were serviced by one of the team of technician. Egoitz,. who ,like the other two, could not be more courteous or helpful. In the end this long awaited conference merely resulted in us telling them what Paul has done in attempting to isolate a problem. In other words, all the things they should have done themselves and have failed to do. Not once during the last six or seven months, since this problem has been with me, have these people made one suggestion how to resolve it. Now the ball is in their court. once again. Frankly, I wish they were far less charming and courteous and more competent in solving my problem

I tried to find something beautiful and appropriate to commemorate my dear mother-in-law. Unfortunately, what new media, I have is very limited, so I thought I would reproduce a collection of over 100 black-and-white photographs  Erinnerungen (Memories) covering the middle part of my mother-in-law’s life.Clicck  here and then click the slideshow button on your computer  You could not exactly call these beautiful photographs, but they are certainly evocative of the age in which she lived and would mean more to her and her generation then the present generation and are certainly worth preserving..


7 January 2012

Posted by DMC on 8 January 2012 in Diary |

Campaigners have revived the discussion on assisted suicide, which was given great prominence last summer by Sir Terry Pratchett’s visit to Switzerland to observe a Mr Smedley going through the process and was actually present at his death.

Sir Terry’s dilemma is that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and has no idea how much longer he has in order to satisfy two doctors that he is of sound mind. A recent conference on the issue, chaired by the Former Labour Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, concluded that terminally ill patients ‘should have rights to ask their doctor for lethal drugs’. The report went on to say that the right to die should be limited to those who have mental capacity to express their wish.

Having said that, Lord Falconer, admitted that no system was watertight, implying, I suggest, that people with an ulterior motive for wishing someone dead might well be able to take advantage of new legislation on the matter. It is this very legislation which is so difficult to draft, in absolute terms, so as to thwart the ambitions of the dishonest.

Anyone given 12 months or less to live should have the legal right to ask the doctor to help them to kill themselves in as easy and painless manner as possible, the report, published a few days ago by the Commissioner on Assisted Dying, However, the report stopped short of recommending euthanasia of the kind practised by the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland. To avoid unnecessary suffering. There should be a right to choose to die but it should be limited to those who have the mental capacity to express a wish to ed their life and had been diagnosed with a terminal illness by two doctors.

Under a string of safeguards, the report proposes a minimum two-week period in which the dying person will be given time to change their mind. Anyone physically unable to take the prescribed deadly drugs would be ruled out to avoid the potential for abuse of the vulnerable by malevolent relatives or friends.

In a follow-up radio programme, Lord Falconer said ‘I don’t think you could ever have a system that is completely watertight. We therefore looked at the current system where there is no check on whether or not you are really terminally ill’. As things stand, you can go to Dignitas without having a second check,

The commission was set up in 2010 amid the growing controversy over the deaths at Dignitas and the erosion of the 50 year-old-law, which sets down a maximum 14 year jail sentence for anyone who’ aids or bets’ the death of another

The new rules set down by the Director of Public Prosecutions, effectively frees people from the threat of criminal charges if they help the suicide of someone who is desperately ill, out of compassion but without thought of their own gain.

Predictably, the right-to-life groups said the report was fixed in favour of calling for legalised assisted suicide. They pointed out that it was financed by author, Sir Terry Pratchett and businessman Bernard Lewis, both prominent backers of assisted suicide. Lord Faulkner, who chose the other 10 members of the commission, himself led an attempt to bring in an assisted dying Bill in the Lord’s three years ago.

The 415 page report states ‘A dying person who met the criteria would be able to ask a doctor to prescribe them a dose of medication that would end their life’

The present report sets out in detail how a system of assisted dying would work. The individual would have to be diagnosed by a doctor as having a terminal illness likely to kill them off within a year. As MND sufferers know this will be an extremely difficult diagnosis to make as we are all different and no one can predict the speed at which a person may deteriorate. However, that is another bridge to cross if anhen the legislation is in place.

A second doctor would have to approve the first doctor’s diagnosis and then both would have to speak to the patient to make sure that the decision to die was firm and not made under pressure from others This two doctors system is similar to the process developed to allow legalised abortion in 1967 and which has been in use as numbers of abortions in England have risen to nearly 200,000 a year. The report recommended that if either doctor was suspicious there are independent assessment should be carried out by a nurse, care worker or a social worker. A doctor should collect the poison from a pharmacist and supervise the death, but the patient, the report said, should take the poison himself, preferably by mouth. The report went on to say that people like me who are disabled and unable to take the poison themselves might be allowed to use an automated syringe machine. In any event, if one was determined to go through with it, I see no difficulty in actually taking the poison. For example it could be sucked out through a straw.

On such a controversial topic, it would be surprising if the report did not have its critics. For example, Richard Hawkes of the disability charity, Scope, said he had ‘little confidence’ in the coalition’s over-simple safeguards’, which he said drew ‘an arbitrary line between people with a terminal illness and people with long-term impairments’. He added ‘in reality the lines between the two can often be blurred, making this distinction unworkable’.

Dr Peter Saunders, of the Care Not Killing campaign group, dismissed the commission as ‘a sham’ adding’ this investigation was unnecessary, biased and lacking in transparency and its report is seriously flawed. Those with differing views, including representatives from the major disability rights organisations and doctors’ groups were not invited to join the commission. Sarah Wootton, of Dignity in Dying said ‘opponents to a change in the law will continue to attack any efforts to find a solution to the unbearable suffering which continues daily, in the absence of a compassionate assisted dying law, but they themselves cannot suggest an alternative.

This report appears to me to be reasonably well-balanced and cognisant of the complexities that such a law will throw up. Nevertheless, looking at the experience of the 10 commission members I have every confidence that something will be put forward for Parliament to discuss, certainly by the next session. If not, towards the end of this present one.

I have quoted freely from The Mail Online, Sunday, January 8 2012, without asking the Editor’s permission. I hope I will be forgiven this discourtesy but this is a hot topic for my readers and carers and I did not wish to waste time pursuing permission,. but, in any event, my sincere gratitude for this succinct summary of the situation on this extremely sensitive issue.For a full discussion on the issue surrounding Sir Terry Pratchett’s visit to Switzerland to Dignitas, see my 15 June entry 2011

Click here for a few jokes about my generation to show that we can take it on the chin without taking offence


8 January 2012

Posted by DMC on 9 January 2012 in Diary |

A quiet day at home after all the recent excitement. Of course, it’s Sod’s law that my Dragon was worse than ever,. immediately following the co-browser session with the technician when it had behaved itself reasonably well. (It’s what I call the ‘dentist syndrome’. We’ve all been there. Been kept. awake all night with a raging aching tooth. Booked an emergency session with your dentist you are in his chair and find it’s impossible for you to tell precisely him which tooth was troubling you) Today Dragon was totally ”beyond the pale’ and I very nearly gave up and thought I would skip a day on the blog . In the event I persevered and managed to get something down.

The problem with the present stop start method is that I am having to put up with, is that the lack of fluency in the entry itself. When I get an idea on something that I would like to develop into something thought-provoking for my readers ,the sense of continuity goes out of the window ith the frustration of having to log on and off every few minutes

Presumably we must be getting close the end of the road with these Dragon people now that the whole history of the case is being sent to the USA. They have a contractual duty to get it right. and as I made clear to them. I intend to pursue their current breach-of-contract. But must first radio. I must do everything I can to mitigate my. Loss ( damages). I consider I will have reached that point when I see the outcome of this latest co-browser session

I really must not bang on about this problem too much as I’m sure the reader is getting as tired of it as I am.

(Here is an example for you. I dictated these last two lines but when I looked up at the screen, they were nowhere to be seen. In fact they were between the 8 and December in the heading). My reason for being so persistent in pursuing this matter is very much the same as it was for pursuing the dentist over fraudulently charging me for work which he had not done. (Admittedly, the outcome was not very satisfactory. but that was mainly because I could not afford the risk of failing on a Judicial Review or a private court case and find myself landed with all the costs.).

I want to inspire everyone, who has a genuine gripe to follow through and not be intimidated by some pumped up arrogant person at the other end of the telephone. We are all equal under the law and everyone has a right to complain if they have bought something and it doesn’t work. I am really trying to make all my readers understand why I have continued this battle for seven months., Apart from the fact that there really is no alternative voice activation system for me after using this one for the past 20 yea

It is as much for what I call the’ little man’ (and I hate using an expression because it sounds so patronising). Those people who know me will know that I am not being patronising when I use that expression. It is for the man who has not got enough confidence to stand up for himself. The one thing I have, and just about the only thing now, is my voice. Add to this the snobbery attached to being a professor and it is often possible for me to get to the most senior person very quickly. That in itself makes me very cross as there is nothing at all special about being a professor. These days, just about everyone on television seems to be one.

But to return to my purpose in running this complaint for continuing to run this complaint for seven months. It is the same as a problem I had with the dentist, which I admit I did not ultimately resolve in my favour, but I certainly got the issue fully aired at the Dental Council, but could not simply afford to risk losing a Judicial Review or even a case in the Small Claims Court, which were the only two avenues open to me.

I shall await the outcome of this latest co-browser, said and then if we are no nearer resolving the problem may well resort to the courts. I already have a good barrister friend of mine who has agreed to run it for me. ‘Pro bono'(at no cost to me). In fact, I may well run the case myself from my electric wheelchair, with my friend, the barrister, sitting next to me in court. Every litigant in person, which is what I would be as no one is forced to be legally represented in the lower courts, is entitled to take a friend in with him to assist him within a matter. This person is called a’ McKenzie friend ‘after a case which there is no point in me going into/

Perhaps I need somebody like this Chuck fellow as my ‘McKenzie Friend’ to sort out my Dragon problem!. Click Here and see which you think,


9 January 2012

Posted by DMC on 10 January 2012 in Diary |

A day of coming and goings. Alice’s mother’s funeral is on Wednesday so there were many things to organise to allow ‘my lovely’ to be away for the best part of two nights. It might just as well been a month for amount of things that had to be arranged. First of all, there was the evening session with the carers. Tonight, Carla, one of the Ross nursing team and our most regular carer came to do the 9.30 session and then stayed on in the spare room above me ready to carry out the morning duties, getting me up sitting on the edge of the bed, giving me my morning cup of tea; then my orange juice and my daily mineral and vitamin tablet, Berroca ; then breakfast, a shave and cleaning my teeth with my electric toothbrush..’My lovely’ normally gets all is done before the 7.30 girls arrived to give me a shower, dress me etc .

On this occasion Carla carried out his duties very proficiently before Emma, the other carer, joined her to carry out the next stage. In the meantime’ my lovely’ got about four o’clock to catch various trains to get her to Cornwall in time for the funeral. I’m not quite sure how it works but I know she’s going to be away tomorrow night and then back late the following day. So it’s Carla again this evening with Jane’ the sheep in the background in case things go wrong as she is more familiar with the house, than Carla.

It’s amazing the amount of things that Alice had to think of in advance. quite apart from the medication and the meals. It was a real military exercise. I must say everybody says how wonderful Alice is. I really should tell her more often. I much appreciate what she does for me. No matter how good the other carers are, there really is no substitute who comes even close to her. I suppose she understands my needs better than anyone else. Having said that, Carla, who is our most regular morning carer, was very good and picked up on most of the things that needed to be done.

Paul ‘the computer’ popped in a couple of times to tweak my computer; the hoist man turned up unexpectedly to do the annual maintenance check and the district nurses came in to take some blood as a result of my recent visit to Papworth. What with struggling with Dragon. most of the day in between all these comings and goings. the time passed swiftly. The problem is that from about 6.30 p.m onwards I begin to feel pretty exhausted and cannot be very good company in the evening, although up to that time I am usually pretty perky but go downhill fast. I just want to go to bed except that the longer I stay in bed the longer I have to put up with the painful joints, so I always hang on until the 9.30 carers come in.

Reading this again I’m very sorry that it is rather dreary but then I suppose we are all entitled to our off days. I include these details of how I feel in order to share them with other MND patients so that they realise that they are not alone.

Two good things to report, to finish on the right note.The sheepskin lined electric foot warmer that Smiler and Kimberley gave me for Christmas has being a great success in un- freezing my icy cold feet.

I also have to look forward, hopefully only until tomorrow, when Paul is going to bring me an infrared device that will enable me to operate my iPod ,on its Bose speaker stand, I have over 5000 pieces of music (mainly classical) on my iPod and feel deprived of late in not being able to play them. I really miss my music. The remote control has to be pointing precisely at the iPod and I really do not have enough strength in my fingers to press down on the right buttons. So, being able to operate it from my laptop will open up an entirely new chapter for me.

In trying to decide what to add to today’s blog that might be of interest to readers. I decided to use an extraordinary clip about a couple who had reared a baby lion cub who had lost its mother. It was released into the wild and then reunited with them, a year or two later.in the jungle, where he had been released when he became too big to keep at home, It really is the most amazing sight to see this lion who has spent the last year or so in the wild, in his native surroundings, rush up to these people, greatly excited like a dog, licking them and wagging his tail (or do whatever lions do to show they are happy and not about to bite your head off !!). He even brought his wife to be there. Click here to watch this amazing clip.(I just hope that I have not used this clip on an earlier entry.)

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