Friday, December 29, 2006


I am feeling better thanks to lemsip and industrial quantities of fruit.
So, being bored I watched a lecture about cryptography...interesting but not enough detail
I joined't discovered what the point of that is yet
I sort of surfed around and look what I found, clickety click
......... a veritable goldmine for those of you who like unusual cover versions. This should keep me away from my essay for a while, hurrah!!!

Doctor, heal thyself

I'm sick which is a total bummer because sitting at a computer makes me feel nauseous and I have spent all morning trying to set up a wireless adapter on my eldest's computer which has meant far more interaction with helplines than is good for one.
I am not hungover and have eaten nothing but I have a slight fever and a cough so I probably have a minor upper respiratory tract infection. Pausing only to post this guff, I am crawling back under the duvet. I will emerge re-invigourated and hopefully with something more interesting to post.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Seasonal Greetings

Right, I am pausing in my prepartions to do a last post before Christmas. I shall have to undergo several hours of armed combat in Tescos later and then will be chained to an oven for the next three days. I will emerge battered and bruised and covered in a sheen of bacon fat on Boxing Day.

I have to say the only thing I'm looking forward to is the Royal Institution's annual Christmas lectures on science, see here, which I have watched every year since I can remember. But then, I am a bit of a saddo, as you know. They are on maths this year, hurrah! I would highly recommend these talks especially to wannabe geeks without a background in science but with an interest in cryptography.*

Hope you all have as happy a time as it is possible to have when confined in a small space with your close relatives and a shedload of alcohol. I will leave you with a seasonal scene courtesy of littlest realdoc (who is so excited she is spending at least 75% of each day standing on her head.)

*You know who you are.

Monday, December 18, 2006

'Tis the season of school musical extravaganzas

We are well into the season of school Christmas productions, one down and one to go in our house. Old fashioned Nativity plays seem to be out of fashion in favour of a more democratic form of entertainment with a somewhat distant relationship to the greatest story ever told.

We have already 'enjoyed' a musical evening at littlest realdoc's primary school. This involved the whole school on the stage dressed in a variety of costumes from rock star to gospel choir (not blacked up I am pleased to report but I bet it was mooted at some point) and featuring numbers set in, to name a couple of examples, a Greek restaurant ('Come and try our tara-mas-a-lata') and a department store ('Let's go shooopppping, let's go shoooppping'). We were treated to several anguished pleas for the loo and one younger participant falling asleep and missing his big moment. Much respect to all you primary school teachers out there, at least we're related to the little buggers. All in all I've seen worse but then I have worked in A&E in the past and the standard of seasonal singing in there is pretty woeful.

The main problem is that going to these things brings back Mr. realdoc's memories of his days treading the boards at school. He has a distinguished CV including Yum Yum in the Mikado and Nancy* in Oliver. (It was a boys only establishment.) You have not experienced pain until you are woken in the morning by the strains of a consultant radiologist singing 'As long as 'eeee neeeeeds meeee' in the shower.

*Mr. realdoc had been promised the part of the Artful Dodger and a family holiday was postponed in anticipation, he has never really got over it.
PS for those of you browned off with Christmas the solution lies here. Thanks to baggie for pointing it out.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

My Christmas Hell

I am risking another post as blogger seems to be behaving again. I was starting to think about giving up the ghost with the bloody thing to be honest, but your brave efforts to comment despite any challenge put to you has spurred me on.
A few observations:
  • bloggers are much better qualified than your average man in the street.
  • No matter how self-obsessed I am I'm not as bad as this.
  • TV hits all time low.*
  • Is it wrong to be fed up with Christmas when it hasn't even started yet? I hate being the family Scrooge, but it's hard not to be grumpy when you have to organise the whole bloody thing. 'But just think of their little faces', yeah, sugared up to the eyeballs and behaving like primadonnas with PMT because they've been up since 5 in the morning.

*Yes, your opportunity to vote which endangered species should die first.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Posting in a vacuum

I'm not sure what is happening but it seems that non-beta bloggers can't post comments on my blog at the moment. This is very irritating. Does anyone know anything I can do to solve this problem other than quitting and re-registering somewhere else and losing my archive? I don't want to move if I can avoid it. Blogger help, known issues etc have been no help at all.


*This was the first photo that came up when I put vacuum into google images.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Our Tune....try not to boke.

A funny thing happened. Mr realdoc and I have a song, it's our song and has been for nearly 20 years. It's a fairly obscure soul classic from a lady called Barbara Lewis called 'Baby I'm Yours' and it is very soppy in a sweet sort of way. It's the sort of song that you pick as 'your song' when you're young and the world still seems like a soppy and sweet sort of place.

You can imagine us in the first flush of young love looking a bit like the couple on the cover. You can imagine us like that if you like, we don't look anything like them , but still.

Anyway back to the funny thing that happened. I discovered that the fashionable, power pop combo The Arctic Monkeys had done a cover version of our song. I was stunned, no really. This is a song that I have never once heard played on the radio and have met very few people that have even heard of it. Well I had to hear it, so I downloaded it and Mr. realdoc and I listened and they hadn't sped it up or messed around with it. They have just done a fairly standard cover version really....... well we went a bit misty-eyed for a minute and just for a little while felt that the world was a soppy and sweet place to be in again.

Just thought I'd share, hope I haven't caused too many regurgitations on to keyboards. Do any of you have a song?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I am now officially a multimedia realdoc!

Well, my sister got me all the stuff to do it for my birthday so it seemed a shame not to do it even though the result sounds like amateur hour on Radio Ballykissarse without the ads for pig feed.
Anyway hope some of you like the music on it and all that.

realdocast 1

*UPDATE* I've changed the link so it should work now. Thanks annie.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The NHS is dying.

I have been forced today by circumstances to do a serious post about the state of the NHS in this country. Quite recently I turned to the dark side, leaving frontline medicine for medical management.
My motivations for doing this were many but chief amongst them was the desire to make a difference to the service which I considered was being mismanaged.
I am becoming disillusioned. It has become increasingly clear to me that this government has no desire for a better, more efficient service. They want rid of the service, period. Various initiatives which I, to my shame, have been involved in implementing, are destroying the psychological contract between doctors and their employers at the Department of Health.
Today on the radio I was listening to the comments made by General Mike Jackson with regard to the army, see here. Now I am no fan of the army, or of General Jackson in particular, but some of his comments regarding the ethos of soldiering and the trust between a population and its armed forces struck home. It would be easy to replace the word army with the word medicine.
In my younger days I worked 140 hour weeks for a service I believed was doing good. For the most part health professionals were left to make decisions regarding the resources they required to do the job properly. They had the respect of the government and the public. In return they worked long hours and had a real pride in what they were doing. This is no longer the case. Resourcing decisions are in the hands of management consultants, frontline clinicians are given targets and protocols without the means to deliver them. Respect from the public is decreasing and their confidence in the service is at an all time low.
It is my belief that the government's unspoken agenda is to bring down the NHS and contract health services from competing multi-national health providers. They will do this by continuing to undermine the service by setting business-style peformance targets without consultation with those delivering those targets. Clinicians are leaving the service, medical education is a mess and getting worse. I am afraid that when I am old and vulnerable there will be no NHS to look after me. I have tried to influence this process from the inside but I have failed to make any impact. Where this leaves me personally is my concern but the rest of you should be very afraid, very afraid.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Other people have the best ideas.

I didn't know what to post and I am struggling with a (ahem) side project which at the moment appears to be much more trouble than it will be worth in the end, and then I read patroclus and I thought what a good idea I'll nick that.

What have I learnt from men? Well patroclus has had 4 serious boyfriends in the last 15 years but I've just had Mr. realdoc who, as you may know, is not very communicative and has borderline Alzheimers, so the answer to that would probably be frig all. But after some thought that's probably a little uncharitable so my list of things I have learnt from men is as follows:

googlie bowling, the difference between pinot and cabernet, the physics of MRI scanning, an appreciation of Beethoven (sort of), fire lighting (the proper way, no firelighters allowed),knot tying, astronomy and the Yorkshire method of putting on socks.

**UPDATE** But obviously not googly spelling (thanks dave)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Restricted post.

No piccies or links yet so you will just have to make do with some quotes of the day from the lovely, but slightly demented Mr. realdoc.

'Are your fountain pen cartridges trans-gender?

'I love a bit of Elgar with my shredding.'

For those of you having trouble with your compose toolbar this is how you fix it.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Blogger playing up

The 'compose' toolbar is gone when I try to make posts so I can't put up pictures or links or change the font or anything. I haven't changed my settings. Does anyone know how to fix this problem? The help page hasn't been much help.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Birthday, pah!

I am a year older today than I was yesterday, which in my book is nothing to celebrate. I share mon anniversaire with the following people and events.

1953 First issue of Hugh Heffner's Playboy magazine: the centre-page spread featured American actress Marilyn Monroe in the nude.

Fullveldisdagur Islendinga

World Aids Day

Rosa Parks was arrested for challanging race laws in Montgomery, Alabama

1969 - Vietnam War: The first draft lottery in the United States is held since World War II

The Sex Pistols shocked the world by saying four-letter words on a telly programme.

Richard Pryor, Woody Allen and Bette Midler were born.

Anyway, being a miserable, mopey cow I have had the Birthday I deserve. This cake sort of sums it up....

I shall cheer up tomorrow as it will no longer be my birthday and littlest realdoc is coming back tonight. (Just cross your fingers that it's not too windy for the ferry crossing or she may come back covered in puke.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Do any of you out there feature in this tome?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Would you buy a hospital from this man?

Apparently the government, in its infinite wisdom are going to allow hospitals to use 'celebrities' to advertise their services.

This conjures up some horrific images. Just imagine Geri Halliwell or some soap star, in soft focus, espousing the merits of her local maternity unit, we might even get film of the birth itself if we're very unlucky.

Gazza or Wayne Rooney endorsing the excellent service provided by their local A&E, 'when I had a night on the tiles and ended up in a punch up they stitched me up lovely'.

There's only one problem with this plan, in my experience celebrities don't avail themselves of the NHS, at least not when their star is on the rise. Pete Doherty has probably been in a few NHS clinics but I don't think his endorsement would count for very much.

The article also mentions that those perceived as 'medical experts' by the public could not be used although the government is 'still open'minded about whether this restriction should apply to actors in medical soaps'???????
Now I know the public is stupid but surely they realise that these people don't really know anything about medicine, don't they?
So who would be your top pick for a celebrity NHS endorsement?

Friday, November 24, 2006

The world is a wonderful place

I have just discovered my new favourite animal in the whole, wide world.

Here he is:

He is called a Blobfish.......probably.

UPDATE: for those of you who didn't believe he was real here is the wiki link.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I am stupidly busy at the moment trying to do some or all of the following things:

1. Facilitating a culture of excellence in primary care.

2. Assisting in the creation of integrated, pathways of care.

3. Analysing the data from the QOF (Quality and Outcomes Framework)

4. Doing an irritating post-graduate diploma in health service management.

5. Buying all the Christmas presents, food, etc etc etc

6. Writing bloody, bloody, bloody Christmas cards.

7. Revamping the contents of my ipod.

8. Contemplating the imminent demolition of my kitchen.

9. Worrying in a pathetically clingy mother type way about littlest realdoc going away for 4 days.*

10. Angsting over what is the best way to approach the purchase of a 'first bra' for eldest little realdoc.

So if I am around less for the next few weeks that's why.**

*Should she bring her sucky blanky? Upside: she is comforted by its presence, downside: she may get teased.

**What I shall probably do is spend hours hanging around in cyberspace kidding myself I am searching for useful references to systems theory when I am in fact 'just checking' on the blogroll in case anything earth-shattering has happened.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Thank you

Now this is going to be tricky.
Here I am 40 something. Married, kids, good job, nice roof over my head. I am very aware that there are a lot of people out there much less fortunate than me. My problem is that I am at the end of the book, so to speak. The rest of it, life I mean, doesn't usually warrant more than a postscript.
It's a matter of preparing the kids as best I can for their lives and then slipping into the background and let them get on with it. I am in the process of passing the baton. Trouble is I don't want to let go of the bloody baton.
It's all very well talking about raging against the dying of the light and growing old disgracefully but that is not as easy as I thought it was going to be. So this is a thank you to all of you out there who are making the whole process a little easier by making me laugh, providing a soundtrack and making me think that there is a lot more to discover about the world and the people in it.
Ladies and gentlemen.....the blogroll. Take a bow all of you.

*and to think this post was going to be a review of Casino Royale, well you can read that in the Sunday papers*

UPDATE Wyndham's review of Casino Royale is the only one you need to read.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Direct action

Today the Guardian felt the need to include a free wallchart featuring pictures of crops on it. Now I'm not sure how many Guardian readers have a need to know what fodder beet looks like, (this if you're interested)

but I suspect that farmers already know and the rest of us don't give a toss.
Maybe you have been waiting for a crop wallchart to make your life complete, feel free to tell me about it if you have, but if so I suspect you are in a very small minority.

The thing that annoyed me is that they did it on a day when they also published this, so why not do what I'm doing and post it back to the hypocritical bastards.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

From the sublime...

Well, that quiz turned out to be slightly tedious didn't it. Good job I have a competitive sister to spend all her waking hours trying to find the answers. I shall buy her a coffee or something next time I see her.

Anyway this caught my attention the other day.

The combination of this..

and this.....
may not be a good idea, apparently.

Not letting drunk people fire rockets out of their arseholes....

It's Health and Safety gone maaad!!!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A little something for the weekend.

Due to a general lack of inspiration and the bloody stat counter here is another quiz.
I did first lines of books last time so in a daring bastardisation of the genre this one will be last lines of books.
1 point for the title, 1 for the author.
The winner will get something, probably, if I can be bothered.

1. Peace.
Underworld Don deLillo TME

2. I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers, for the sleepers in that quiet earth.
Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte Annie

3. The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the utmost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky - seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.
Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad mangonel

4. Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?
Cloud Atlas David Mitchell timorous beastie

5. And on the way home, she met her brothers, and there was a rough-and-tumble, and the lovely crown was broken, and she forgot the message, which was never delivered.
Possession AS Byatt TME(nearly)

6. The gun, Bill Roach had finally convinced himself, was after all a dream.
Tiinker Tailor John Le Carre vicus

7. For the first time they had done something out of Love.
Perfume Patrick Suskind TME

8. "The republic of heaven," said Lyra.
The Amber Spyglass Phillip Pullman Annie

9. Just go to bed now. Quickly. Quickly and slowly.
Seymour an introduction JD Salinger TME

10. One bird said to Billy Pilgrim, 'Poo-tee-weet?'
Slaughterhouse 5 Kurt Vonnegut vicus

11. Bitter women will call you to rebellion, but you have too much to do. What will you do?
The Female Eunuch Germaine Greer TME

12. 'Darling,' replied Valentine, 'has not the count just told us that all human wisdom is summed up in two words? -"Wait and hope."'
The Count of Monte Cristo Alexander Dumas Nobody

13. There will be no conclusion.
Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow Peter Hoeg TME

14. Might I trouble you then to be ready in half an hour, and can we stop at Marcini's for a little dinner on the way?
The Hound of the Baskervilles Arthur Conan Doyle Tim

15. I should hope, then, that by the time of my employer's return, I shall be in a position to pleasantly surprise him.
Remains of the Day Kazuo Ishiguro TME

16. O God - please give him back! I shall keep asking You.
A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving TME

17. All waiting for the amber.
All waiting for the green.
If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things Jon McGregor TME

18. The strains of the piano and violin rose up weakly from below.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being Milan Kundera ziggi

19. Between Barton and Delaford, there was that constant communication which strong family affection would naturally dictate; and among the merits and the happiness of Elinor and Marianne, let it not be ranked as the least considerable, that though sisters, and living almost within sight of each other, they could live without disagreement between themselves, or producing coolness between their husbands.
Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen chaucer's bitch

20. "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."
A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens chaucer's bitch

There you go then, some really easy ones, some hard and a few, I think, are almost impossible. No googling, though, because that, I think we all agree, would be cheating.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Aural irritation

You know those new fangled cardboard CD covers (which look all quaint and homemade) where instead of clicking the CDs into a plastic CD shaped space you slide it into a pocket? Like this one.

Well they bloody well scratch the CD aaaarrrrggghh.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


I have been tagged by the lovely Tim, (he's written a book you know). This means I must do the meme...5 things about me. Well here goes:

1. I make a mean roast dinner.

2. I love my ipod, I worry I love my ipod too much.

3. Despite the fact that I did 'all the right things', I still feel my parents find me somewhat disappointing.

4. Books and music often make me cry.

5. I am a redhead, which, despite popular opinion, is a good thing.

So there you go, I now 'tag' mangonel, llewtrah and dave. Get to it guys.


'Remember that it isn't always the sensational stuff that writers are looking for, it can just as easily be something that you take for granted like having raised twins or knowing how to grow beetroot. Mind you, if you know how to fly a helicopter or have worked as a film extra, do feel free to let the rest of us know about it.'

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Worry, worry, worry.

There are a lot of things I should be worrying about,
having to write an essay on systems theory,

the state of the world,

whether the way I wear my scarf will single me out as a twat,

how to cope on less sleep than normal because the bloody BBC are repeating this so bloody late,

if littlest realdoc will cope alone for 4 days here on her first school trip.

What, in fact, am I thinking about when tossing and turning in the wee, small hours.......

Bloody stats

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Another medical post? You decide.

Part of my job is to try and help GPs improve their service. One of the things we tell them to do is to consult their users to find out what they want. Earlier in this blog I had a bit of a rant against fictional portrayals of the medical profession, see here. So I thought I'd do a little user consultation of my own. So, if you are very bored why not answer some or all of the following questions...
1. Who is your favourite fictional doctor and why?
2. What makes a good doctor?
3. Any bad experiences of the medical profession? Tell me here.

Is this your sort of thing?

or maybe this?

or even this?

PS I see the Guardian must have been reading Patroclus

For my sis

Happy Birthday, here is your favourite song.
A little love permanently in cyberspace for you


Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Night at the Opera (House)

Last night I went to see this. I'm sure a lot of you have seen it already in London, or even the film version, but we're a bit behind the times here. Anyway, the 4 of us who went all thought it a good production of an excellent play. The staging was snappy, with intercuts of film of school corridors and an eighties soundtrack (baggy trousers, Adam and the Ants etc pretty obvious choices really).

The actors playing the boys were convincing even if their haircuts weren't quite bad enough to be truly 'eighties'.* Steven Moore was paying Hector and he was OK but not quite up to Richard Griffiths' larger than life persona. Isla Blair played the woman teacher which distracted me as I kept thinking of Isla St. Clair? who I think used to present the Generation Game when I was a kid.

One of my companions had a 17 year old son, which I think rather coloured her view of the whole thing. When you have a son studying for his A levels, seeing a pederast in action, is probably not the most soothing of experiences.

As I was doing my own Oxbridge entrance exam at the same time as The History Boys it all rang very true. We were also told that you have to have 'an angle' to convince the dons to let you in. The boys using long words they didn't understand, mispronouncing Nietzsche etc was all very familiar.

The only irritating thing was that where I was sitting I was surrounded by older people who were, perhaps, teachers, they tutted every swear word and laughed too loudly at every literary reference or joke about the 'subjunctive'.

The discussion on the way home revolved around whether Hector was a hero (inspirational, horizon-broadening) or just a dirty, old man. My view, he was both.

What did you all think?
*A typical eighties haircut

Monday, October 30, 2006

It's a moral maze out there.

It's a fine line being a modern mother. Mr realdoc and I often argue about the sort of stuff the kids should see, read and listen to. He feels the horrors of the modern world should be kept away from them as long as possible. My default position is to be against censorship but I accept that there are some things which they are not yet emotionally mature enough to cope with.

The kids are 9 and 12 and hide behind the cushions for certain episodes of Doctor Who*. The things that upset them most on telly, are, however, the real life stories. Those films of little African children searching for scraps in fly-infested dumps, you know the sort of thing.

I don't really censor the 12 year-old's reading but try to point her towards things she can understand, so, Jacqueline Wilson, Phillip Pullman, Mallory Blackman...OK, Melvyn Burgess...not quite yet.

We had a friend staying and he said he would be quite happy for his 12 year old to watch films with violent or sexual content as long as it wasn't 'gratuitous'. On closer questioning he meant arthouse movies or those with a liberal or anti-war message. 'Apocalypse Now' and 'Schindler's List' were mentioned. Mmmmm, not sure about that one.

Music is another thing entirely. I find Westlife and their ilk offensive on so many levels but some parents find this sort of thing acceptable.

We do have a bit of a problem with the watershed. It seems as soon as Big Ben has boinged they can show full on penetrative sex, copious swearing and graphic violence. Now I like the odd swear as much as the next fucker, but, they should ease us into it....

9 to 9.30 - 'bloody', 'crap', a bit of snogging and the odd slap
9.30 to 10 - 'shit', 'arse', some semi-clad groping and a bit of a punch up
after 10 - anything goes

So should the 12 year old be allowed to see 'The Catherine Tate Show', ("Everyone in school watches it except me, you boring, old cow."), or not?

*'Are you my mummy?' enough to send them screaming from the room.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Shit day

It has been a day of downs and further downs. Having failed completely, and rather publicly, to post a link on a comment box. I have also discovered that I have lived in both of the top 2 least desirable places to live in the U.K., here and here.

In fact when, as a student I lived in the worst bit of the worst place to live in the UK.........

Murder Mile, Hackney

I didn't get murdered but a strange man did approach me at a bus stop once and asked for a fag but didn't say please.

In fact when I lived in the worst bit of the worst part of the UK I lived in a house which, as the result of a bizarre building accident*, had no toilet for 2 months. This necessitated frequent visits to the pub and the pinching of catheter bags from work.

I was an object of derision in the neighbourhood for being over 21 and not yet having had a baby but other than that and the perilous state of our plumbing it wasn't a bad place and had the bonus of being on the route of the Number 38 bus, one of the superior bus routes in my opinion.

* The landlord, a mate of mine met a guy in the pub who said he could fix the bathroom cheap. He fixed it but unfortunately after he left the upstairs loo fell through the floor and landed, by coincidence on the downstairs loo, smashing it to bits.

So, how shit was your day?

*UPDATE* All blogger links from here appear to be down I hope that wasn't me.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Mad, middle-aged women on wheels.

Biggest little realdoc, (she's not little at all any more, she can look me in the eye now and bloody hell, that's disconcerting) has got a pair of these for her birthday. As her feet are now as big as mine I was 'persuaded' to have a go and..............
Let's just say she has probably filmed the whole episode on her phone and posted it on youtube and if I do discover that this is the case, no I bloody well won't give you the link.
* * *
PS Whales' blog is back, hurrah. But he isn't allowing comments, boo. Anyway whales if you're reading this get yourself over to Wyndham's where there is a tricky physics problem that needs your expert input.

Friday, October 20, 2006

'What will become of the myotonic goats?'

I have been thinking recently of one of my old profs. Professor Pat Merton was a distinguished physiologist and a pioneer of cybernetics. He was also a very funny man. When I arrived at Cambridge Pat Merton was one of those who made the strange new place feel like home.

He had a novel interview technique. One rather pompous and over-confident public school boy was shocked when in his entrance interview for medicine, Prof. Merton, noticing he had mentioned playing the cello on his CV (at the very bottom, he'd had 1 or 2 lessons) passed him a cello and asked for a tune. He did not get in.

Pat had an individual teaching style. In those days a lot of the teaching was carried out in small tutorial groups. I arrived early for one such tutorial and Prof. Merton issued a challenge that we both try to drink as many glasses of sherry as we could during the tutorial without the other students noticing. After surreptitiously finishing off 6 glasses of sherry in under an hour Prof asked me to read out my rather second rate essay. After I had, rather painfully, slurred through it he pronounced it rubbish. 'But I used all of your old papers Prof', I opined. 'I have changed my mind', he said, decisively.
Once I went to him worried that I had not done enough work for the forthcoming exams. 'You are here to be educated, not to pass exams', was his reply.

Always fiercely intellectual and resolutely eccentric, his lectures were a delight. His lecture on the balance organs of the ear involved the use of a live duck. If you got up early enough you could see him running around on the river bank trying to catch one.
His reaction to the news that the Cambridge vet school farm was to close was unique, 'but,what will become of the myotonic goats?'

They don't make them like that anymore.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Lost the knack..

The drummer from the Knack has died apparently.
'My Sharona', that was one of their songs.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Another in an extremely long line of 'list' posts.

In our house over the years a number of film and TV quotes seemed to have wormed their way into our everyday speech. We're not quite as bad as those lost souls who recite Monty Python sketches to each other in the pub. No, actually, we're worse than that. We don't have conversations, we have quote-offs. Thus, in our house you may hear the following:

1. When finding something we have lost - 'stop your grinnin' and drop your linen, found them'

2. When anyone sings - 'not raga'

3. When happy -'I'm as happy as a Frenchman whose just invented a pair of self-removing trousers'.

4. When a meal is slow in coming in a restaurant - 'I'm a doctor and I want my sausages.'

5. When going to see my family - 'My mother-in-law's so fat, etc, etc, etc'

6. When we are going out for the evening - 'we're on a mission from God.'

7. When Mr. Realdoc wins at scrabble he will leap to his feet and shout 'and how can this be? For he is the Kwisack Haderach'(sp????).

Obviously we're a very sad household. Are we the only ones? Extra marks if you can identify any of the quotes above.

Crap, intertextual crap, but crap nonetheless

My head is so full of crap at the moment, eg
Is my blog better than my bosom(s?) or viceversa? (see billy* comments)
Who's biography features a reference to Wyndham? (see Wyndham*)
Why has patroclus morphed into a bunch of scantily clad women? (see patroclus*, it's fixed now boys no links to that sort of thing on my blog, oh no)
Should I have written a diary type thing today for some very important project? (see Mr Swipe*)
How would I address Mr Alan Sugar if I met him?** (see bluecat*)

Are we living in one of millions of parallel universes? If so is there one in which I have a stupendous bosom and a much visited and award-winning blog and feature in a biography and write my diary whilst scantily- clad and carressing Sir Alan? .......No, thought not.

* I'm bloody well linking now, I'm on a linking roll, me.

**This is unlikely unless he got sick, in which case he would probably consult someone much more eminent and expensive than me. I'm free (see Romo* comments), not a quasi-realdoc at all. (see Tim*).

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Cultural overload

I think I am suffering from some sort of cultural overload at the moment. When I was young, back in the days when everyone wore brown and pasta was an unusual ethnic cuisine, it was pretty easy to keep up.
Music - You listened to John Peel under the bedclothes (no duvets then, oh no).
Cinema - All the cinemas in Belfast had been blown up so it was just a case of reading the TV listings in the Christmas Radio Times to see which Bond was on.
Fashion - this was the seventies, there was no fashion just what your mum let you buy from C&A.
Books - You went to the library to see which of the 3 interesting books were available that week.
TV - most homes, mine included had one TV so you watched what your parents watched. Luckily my dad liked Monty Python, unluckily he also liked variety shows featuring old men in jumpers singing.

I don't know when things changed but the amount of stuff a reasonably well -informed person should know about has increased to a degree that is difficult to keep up with without giving up the everyday tasks of earning a living and bringing up your children.
I don't want to give up trying yet. I feel that would be the beginning of a process which would end with me listening to Nana Mouskouri (sp?), reading nothing but the latest biographies and wearing clothes from those old lady catalogues I have started to receive.

So, how can I find a middle ground? Or do I just accept that wisdom is knowing how much you don't know? Help!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Who is your favourite physicist?

This man is my favourite. Read all about him here.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Tired of London, Tired of Life and all that.

Anyway, here I am back from my travels. So this is what we did...
We went to Brick Lane for a curry. Bloody hell Brick Lane has changed! Food was good though.

We went back to our old local and met a lot of the old regulars who amazingly have not died in the interim. (If you want to go to a proper old East End boozer with the best landlord and landlady I have ever come across I heartily recommend The Palm Tree in Bow by the way.)

We saw the Leonardo exhibition at the V&A which was interesting, if lacking in exhibits. The Queen seems to own everything on display which tempted Mr. R. to storm the palace in a fit of republican indignation.

We went to the Science Museum (again) and saw the first CT scanner (again) and bought a model aeroplane (again).

We went for tapas in this place which was yummers.

We went to The Borderline to meet the bloggers but were too late and they had all gone. This disappointed me more than it should have, perhaps, but served to remind us both of every student union bar we have ever got drunk in. Don't know if that's a good thing or not.

We went to Spitalfields market which is OK I suppose. Only difference* between it and a car boot sale in Ballykissarse is that the tat on sale has been deemed 'trendy' using a set of rules I no longer understand.

All in all it was a good weekend, however, travelling through the hellhole that is Stanstead airport, brought us back to earth with a bump. (Do you see what I did there?).

Do I miss London? Yes, very much but I realised that the longer you're away from it the more difficult it would be to live there again. This made me sad.

* This is obviously not true as in Ballykissarse, unlike Spitalfields the people are mostly ugly, badly dressed and fat.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Realdocs hit the big city!!!!!

Anyway, Mr Realdoc has not bought me an ironing board cover as predicted but has stumped up for a weekend in the big smoke. This is good as I will be missing the annual 'team-building' beano at work which apparently requires 'stout walking shoes' and which will no doubt end in tears and recriminations.
So all you hip young gunslingers I need some recommendations for what to do whilst we're there.

Under consideration so far, in no particular order..
1. The Leonardo exhibition at the V&A.
2. A look at the newly restored Hawksmoor church.
3. The Holbein exhibition.
4. Tapas, curry and any number of other types of ethnic cuisine unavailable in the environs of Ballykissarse.
5. Science museum (natch)
6. A raaawwwkkking night out with fellow bloggers. I have to say Mr Realdoc is very anxious about this one as he fears no-one will talk to him. (He also fears me getting rat-arsed and making a tit of myself to be honest. Also he thinks you may all be grooming me.*)
7. Shhhhhhhooooooooppppppppinnnnnggggggg. Hurrah!
8. All manner of unmentionable activity in a luxury hotel (where Madonna had her birthday party apparently).

So my little Docettes** what should we do?

*How do you groom an old bint by the way? Pluck out her grey hairs and trim her gnarled toenails perhaps.

**Docettes sounds very wrong, like some sort of feminine hygiene product.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

For M

So, anyway it's my wedding anniversary this week. 15 years, how did that happen?
My other half is a rather curmudgeonly radiologist who loves wine, physics and books about Nelson's navy. So why have I lasted this long?

1. He makes me laugh. The other day whilst watching telly a video by the Verve came on, 'some people think that Richard Ashcroft's a musical genius, but he's just a surly cunt', he says causing me to give myself a sinus washout with Chilean pinot (not recommended).

2.Watching England win the Ashes made him cry.

3. He gets offended by Dr. Statham off Green Wing on behalf of his profession.

4. He has read 'A Brief History of Time' all the way through and understood it.

5. He is an honourable man.

6. He plays the piano when he is happy.

7. He hasn't a sexist bone in his body.

8. Whenever we go to the Science Museum, which is more often than I would like, he always goes to look at the first CT scanner and always buys a model aeroplane which he flies over the fence the first time he tries it out.

9. Whenever we go to Tate Modern, which is not as often as I would like, he follows me around dutifully and tries to bite his lip but always says, 'this is all bollocks, isn't it?' at some stage.

10. He knows I blog and can't understand why, but has never asked to read it.

So anyway readers what will I get him for an anniversary present? He will, no doubt, get me a new ironing-board cover but we all have our cross to bear.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

It's not my fault I'm fat, doctor, it's my heritage.

Did anyone see David Tennant on that researching your ancestors programme? Being from Northern Ireland I found the whole thing quite moving really. Mr. Tennant was obviously disconcerted by his heritage, the trouble is around here heritage is likely to jump up and bite you on the bum.

In Northern Ireland you have to be one thing or the other, a neutral position is not accepted. Having lived in England for 17 years I found it all very depressing to come back to, the fact that attitudes haven't changed at all. The Good Friday agreement has reduced the violence but hearts and minds have not changed one iota.

Just to give an illustration, there is a big problem with obesity around here, and being Northern Ireland there is a sectarian aspect to this problem. The theory I have heard proposed by a (protestant) consultant physician is that protestants have a race memory that starvation was a catholic problem from the famine days and that therefore being fat just confirms your protestantism to the world. Sort of floored me, that one.

In our house we stick our heads in the sand and avoid the 'little local difficulty' by making sure we studiously avoid local TV, radio and news media. Like many other middle-class people here we have completely disengaged from the political process and left the loonies to run the asylum. Makes me feel guilty that. Anyway I would be interested in your views on this one and I, ahem, refute the charge that the whole post was just an excuse to post a picture of Mr. Tennant, oh no.

PS To the Whales...Whalster, you sounded very down on your last couple of blogs and now you've gone!!!! Hope you're OK. Post and let us know, please.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Too old?

So, on Saturday night I headed out to a social event organised by the kids' school which featured what is known as a 'Dad band'.
Basically this was a group of dads from the school who had played in bands in their youth and were prepared, for the entertainment of the rest of us, to relive their youth in public.
Most were over-endowed in the belly department and under-endowed in the hair department but the delight on their faces more than made up for those deficiencies.
They were surprisingly good and played a decent set with 'Back in the USSR', 'Werewolves of London' and 'Teenage Kicks' standing out.

So why did the whole thing make me so depressed? Maybe I'm just a miserable sod but the palpable feeling that they were all too old for this now, despite the fact that they all obviously enjoyed themselves, was just too painful. Too many memories, too many regrets, too many opportunities lost.

God, it made me feel so old.
I hate being old.
I bloody,bloody, shitting bloody well hate it.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Which famous person do you look like?

Well, I told you I was bored. So I went on here and apparently (and amazingly) I look like this person

and this person...

but also (unfortunately and somewhat less amazingly) these people

So there you go, you can now imagine me as a rather bizarre combination of Famke Janssen, Selma Blair, Kevin Smith and Pete Doherty.
***Just for your information I don't have a beard****

Ho hum

Bored, bored, bored today. Well at least there's a Green Wing book coming out soon.

I may have mentioned before that Mr. Realdoc is a radiologist. He was at a conference recently and was given a little dolls' house CT scanner, so thanks to him and to littlest realdoc (who did the sets) here is Green Wing in Sylvania.

I have also been developing an editorial policy along the lines of the very yummers billy.

Realdoc's editorial policy

1. No real names

2. No real point

3. No reality at all really

4. Shameless plugging encouraged

5. Free medical advice for all those suffering from bizarre and embarrassing conditions

6. Whinging and ranting almost invariable

7.If losing readers post a picture of a sylvanian

8. Absolutely no shame about plagiarising other bloggers good ideas*

9. um

10. is a nice round number

* bugger forgot an apostrophe here it is then ' (Bad grammar gets you into trouble around here you know)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I'm Bob Swipe! No I'm Bob Swipe etc etc ad nauseum

*See Mr. Swipe's blog for clarification

Well Swipsters Bobcast 3,856,721 is up and features many wonderful works from Twickenham's finest bands and some Roxy Music B sides.
So get over there now and subscribe today and you can have my soothing tones ease you through every minute of your day.
Meanwhile, to my female readers, I definately would! Especially Spins and Heather.

Now open your books at page 87 and lets get our heads around Camus shall we.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Bazooka Story? You decide.

So anyway, a while back I did a post about stories. I have subsequently read some absolute stonkers from Molly and Spinsterella. Here is one of my medical school stories....

Picture the scene:
Histology laboratory 9am, about 50 med students slumped over their microscopes.
The elderly, boring lecturer informs us that this morning we were going to take swabs of the cells in our cheeks, stain the cells with various chemicals to see the cellular components and look at them under the microscope.
So we all got on with rubbing the inside of our mouths with cotton buds staining the cells and examining them. Meanwhile the lecturer drew a representation of what we should be seeing on the board. One girl sticks her hand up, 'sir there's a cell here that doesn't look like that.'
The lecturer strolls over and peers down her microscope....
'That, my dear, is a sperm!'
Cue sympathetic noises from her fellows....
Not sniggering, oh no, I'm mature , me.

This is what she saw......

Friday, September 15, 2006

At last...

a completely accurate medical show on telly. If anyone saw That Mitchell and Webb Look last night they will have seen a sketch in which someone 'gets a bit poorly as a result of too much electric'.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

The schizophrenia inherent in blogging and other unrelated topics

I was reading a most excellent post from Mr. Swipe which set me musing on the split personalities that result from blogging.

I try to be truthful in my posts but I acknowledge that a certain amount of 'buffing up' goes on. My virtual readers do not get to see me blowing a gasket at work or standing on a table treating everyone (well, no-one actually) to the rude version of 'Yesterday' after a few too many gin and gins. ('Thank the crucified Christ for that!' you all chorus.* )

Which is the 'real' me? Work me? Home me? Realdoc? I suppose all of them if I were truthful. I tend to be quite selective in who I tell about my blog but I have noticed that I tend to tell people who know me very well and who have known me for a long time.

The other funny thing is my mental image of various bloggers based on their cyberspace persona. Mr. Swipe, for example, I picture as an interesting but rather rebellious English teacher. The Mollster I imagine lying on a chaise-longue in a large white room with blowy net curtains. Billy, in my head, is always wearing a linen suit and a boater. (I think it's the 'yummers' that did it).

I will sign off as I have just realised that this post is just incoherent wittering. You can all imagine me pacing around my book-lined study musing on a diagnostic dilemma if you like.

(Slopes off to cook the fish fingers and slump in front of the telly.)

*'chorus'... who am I kidding.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Bloody hell, a medical post.

For some reason medicine is second only to crime as a setting for TV programmes. There have been hundreds of medical dramas and comedies. Some of these have even been quite good but nearly all have been completely unrealistic.
For some reason the media want to portray doctors a some sort of superheroes, curing the incurable, righting wrongs and spending every waking minute agonising about their patients. This is not only irritating for those of us in the profession but also raises the expectations of the public to a completely unrealistic level. Even Hawkeye , for all his wise-cracking, had the air of the superman about him when it came to his operative skills. Doctors loved Green Wing because the doctors featured were all flawed (some were psychotic) and the action concerned everything but the patients.

'Bugger me, doctors are just like the rest of us.' Well... duh.

At best, doctors can give some sensible health promotion advice, provide a listening ear and may even delay the inevitable slightly but as for curing, that doesn't happen very often. Most disease that we 'cure' would go away its own if we did nothing. Often the 'cure' turns out to be much worse than the disease. Most of the treatments and investigations we foist on an eager public we wouldn't dream of having ourselves.

There are exceptions to this rather cynical rant and I am aware that there may be readers facing illness in themselves and their families who may find all this depressing and upsetting. If this is the case I urge you not to lose your common sense when you interact with doctors. Demand the full facts before embarking on anything. The most important question to ask is 'What would you do if it was you?' *
Most doctors avoid the medical profession like the plague.
If you want to be healthy eat well, exercise, don't smoke, don't drink to excess and have good genes. Above all avoid hospitals. The chance of dying in hospital is 1 in 100 admissions. That's slightly more risky than manned space flight.

There was one medical drama which struck a chord with the profession. Cardiac Arrest by Jed Mercurio (a lapsed doctor) which aired in the mid-nineties and featured the much-admired Helen Baxendale as Dr. Claire Maitland. At the moment over at the online forum (no link, you have to have a GMC number to get on there) they have started a petition to get it released on DVD. The Royal College of Nurses hated it, Virginia Bottomley who was the health minister at the time said it was 'propaganda' running down the NHS. What it did was show a system that turned idealistic youngsters into callous, cynical old trouts like me. I had just escaped after 4 years as a junior hospital doctor at the time and I have to say it often reduced me to tears it was such an accurate portrayal of what I had just survived. So if the petition succeeds I urge you to watch. In the meantime just be aware that Green Wing is a hell of a lot more realistic than Casualty.

* I agonised about this post in case I may upset someone who is ill, let down the profession etc etc but I really feel this is a subject that ought to be debated with a bit more honesty than has previously been the case.

a flawed but honest doctor

Saturday, September 09, 2006

My strange attraction to a particular sort of facial hair

I have never been a fan of facial hair on men, but I have recently developed a strange fascination for a particular type of moustache. It is all this man's fault...

At first I thought, ''that man would be quite attractive without that moustache.'

Now I think, 'that man is really very attractive because of his moustache.'

It has to be a very full moustache which curves around the mouth. Here are some other examples.

and even, though I am ashamed to admit it...

I wonder if this is yet another symptom of becoming middle aged, along with having horrible things happen to my feet and talking to myself.

Perhaps I am turning into a gay man at this late stage in the day.

Does anyone else have this problem? Let me know.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Quiz Results

You all did much better in the quiz than I expected. I thought that post would last me a few more days at least. Anyway the final results were:

1. Tedward's missing ear 12 points
2. Billy 10 points
3. Annie 6 points
3. Anon 6 points
5. Chatterbox 4 points
5. The whales 4 points
7. Vicus scurra 2 points
7. herschelian 2 points
7. ziggi 2 points

However as the winner is actually my sister and has seen my book shelf I feel that Billy should get the prize. Here for you Billy is some soda bread...enjoy.

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Literary Quiz (well it's about books anyway)

Several people did a quiz of first lines of random songs taken from their ipods which was good apart from the fact I didn't know any answers cos I'm old and there was a lot of death metal involved.
Anyway, back to the point, I thought I would do a first sentence of books quiz. This may turn out to be virtually impossible as there are a lot of books in the world so I have confined myself to fiction, some classics and some modern but reasonably well known. I need title and author's name, 1 point for each. Winner to get something if I can think of anything.(See my profile for the sort of stuff that may be on my shelves.)

1.On they went, singing 'Eternal Memory', and whenever they stopped, the sound of their feet, the horses and the gusts of wind seemed to carry on their singing.
Dr Zhivago Boris Pasternak Tedward's missing ear
2.Call me Ishmael.
Moby Dick Hermann Melville Billy
3. I am a citizen of the United States of America.
Stupid White Men Michael Moore Vicus Scurra
4. Imagine! November the 15th, 1973.
The Rotter's Club Jonathan Coe Chatterbox
5. London. Michaelmas term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln's Inn Hall.
Bleak House Charles Dickens Tedward's missing ear
6. The summer she was fifteen, Melanie discovered she was made of flesh and blood.
The Magic Toyshop Angela Carter Annie
7. I was twelve tears old the first time I walked on water.
Mr. Vertigo Paul Auster The Whales
8. The education bestowed on Flora Poste by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged;
Cold Comfort Farm Stella Gibbons Annie
9. Early in the morning, late in the century, Cricklewood Broadway.
White Teeth Zadie Smith ziggi
10. When in April the sweet showers fall
And pierce the drought of March to the root
The Canterbury tales Geoffery Chaucer Billy
11. It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
1984 George Orwell Billy
12. Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
100 Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez Billy
13. I believe that what separates humanity from everything else in this world - spaghetti, binder paper, deep-sea creatures, edelweiss and Mount McKinley - is that humanity alone has the capacity at any given moment to committ all possible sins.
Hey Nostradamus Douglas Coupland Anonymous
14. That was when I saw the Pendulum.
Foucault's Pendulum Umberto Eco Tedward's missing ear
15. I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy in an emergency room near Petosky, Michigan, in August of 1974.
Middlesex Jeffrey Eugenides herschelian
16. 'Eh bien, mon prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now no more than private estates of the Bonaparte family.'
War and peace Leo Tolstoy Tedward's missing ear
17. The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.
The Secret History Donna Tartt Annie
18. The schoolmaster was leaving the village, and everybody seemed sorry.
Jude The Obscure Thomas Hardy Tedward's missing ear
19. I was captured by the Fascist Militia on 13 December 1943
If This is A Man Primo Levi Nobody
20. He was tall, about fifty, with darkly handsome, almost sinister features: a neatly trimmed mustache, hair turning silver at the temples, and eyes so black they were like the tinted windows of a sleek limousine - he could see out, but you couldn't see in.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil John Berendt Anonymous
21. Though brilliantly sunny, Saturday morning was overcoat weather again, not just topcoat weather, as it had been all week and as everyone had hoped it would stay for the big weekend - the weekend of the Yale game.
Franny and Zooey J.D. Salinger Anonymous
22. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.
The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald Billy
23. When he was nearly thirteen my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.
To Kill A Mocking Bird Harper Lee Tedward's missing ear
24. When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.
Day of the Triffids John Wyndham Chatterbox
25. There was no hope for him this time: it was the third stroke.
Dubliners James Joyce The Whales
So there you go, enjoy. I'll start to give clues after a bit if no-one gets any answers.

**Update still some to go you're all doing very well.**

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Love and truth

After all the fuss about the Independent saying that female bloggers only ever write about childcare and gynaecology I have been very wary of straying into those subjects on my blog but after reading this beautiful, heartfelt piece of writing I am no longer letting that bloody Dejevesky woman dictate what I should and should not write about. I think I'll give the gynaecology a miss though.

Rock on Mollster!!

It's funny the way the blogosphere restores your faith in human nature. It's truth you see, it always gets you and people seem to be able to be really truthful on here. Strange, when I have had patients who have been prepared to be so truthful with me and it always hits you straight between the eyes. You never forget those people.

One day I was griping and shouting at the kids and realdoc minimus, she was about 4 at the time, just put her arms up and said, 'Love me, mummy'.
How could I not?
I do and I will and I will never forget.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

TV is crap and so on.

The other night I managed to win the evening tussle ,with Mr. Realdoc, over the remote control (termed bosher in our house God knows why).
Instead of a documentary about death, his choice, I selected one of those 50 best... shows, giving Mr. Realdoc the opportunity to shout 'I went to school with him' every time Alan Davies or Hari Kunzru appeared. It's not a bloody life achievement or anything but the fact that he went to school with someone who is a ?'F' list celebrity seems to make him content so who am I to argue.
Anyway these shows are titting irritating aren't they? You say to yourself 'I'll just watch it for 10 minutes'
but then they show the end of Blackadder 4 and you think it might be good
but then they show endless clips of crap like Robin's Nest or Love Thy Neighbour so you think you'll turn over
but then they show the 'I'm a doctor and I want my sausage' clip from Fawlty Towers (a particular favourite of mine) so you stick with it.
After all this you watch to the end even though it goes on until 2 in the morning or something and the No. 1 show is something completely obvious. You own most of the good shows on DVD, anyway, but haven't had them out of the box since you got them for Christmas 5 years ago.
So you go to bed writing a letter to Feedback in your head. (Why oh why are our TVs clogged with this claptrap etc etc etc I'm a doctor and I want my quality programming etc etc etc)

At the end of the day it's nothing but bloody repeats ...harrumph.

Climbs out of Daily Mail reader persona and tries to resume normal life.

The link between The Beatles and the CT scanner is that EMI made so much money out of the Beatles that they gave their engineers loads of money for research and they came up with the CT scanner.
No Beatles, no accurate cross-sectional body imaging. Who says music can't change the world eh.

Does anyone know

the connection between these loveable moptops

and this hi-tech piece of medical imaging equipment

I'll tell you next post if you don't work it out.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Big, Big Sea*

I have often moaned in my posts about living a long way from civilisation but there are sometimes advantages. I happen to live 15 minutes drive from this place...

White Rocks Beach, Portrush

I have to say mostly it is pissing with rain so perhaps this photo is rather flattering however there are days when it is just as beautiful as it appears.

On days like this I dress up in a rubber suit and throw myself in the sea hanging on to a piece of plastic. There is no better cure for feeling low, fed up or angry than being tossed about like a piece of flotsam (or is it jetsam? I can never remember the difference).

I have a dear friend who once gave me a very good piece of advice. She said we should all imagine we have a spiritual box, a physical box and an intellectual box and you've got to put something in each of your boxes every day to have a happy life. For me swimming in the sea takes care of the first two boxes. So if anyone out there is feeling down and you happen to be near the coast I recommend flinging yourself into the big, big sea.**

*The Big Big Sea by Martin Waddell, one of the best children's (picture) books ever written. Worth a read even if you've got no kids.

** If you are planning to swim near here and are not teflon-coated the rubber suit is essential

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Aubergines - pah

I really hate aubergines. I recognise that this dislike is irrational as I don't really mind the taste of aubergines it's just everything else about them...
the way they look like haemorrhoids (large haemorrhoids I concede but haemorrhoids nonetheless)
the way they look so manky when they're cooked
the way they soak up oil so I envisage biting into a sponge full of lard.

I have a friend who is mildly disconcerted by pomegranates, (they don't look inside like what you'd expect apparantly) but most people don't seem to have this problem with everyday things. So if you have any irrational dislikes I would like to know so I don't feel so weird.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Singing in the Rain

I don't get out much as you may have noticed from the content of this blog but yesterday I got hold of a ticket for a Snow Patrol concert at the last minute and thought what the heck.

I've not been to a gig for a good many years and things have changed. Well the horrible loos and the 20 mile queues for the bar are no different but now they put adverts on the big screen between the bands and that can't be a good thing can it?

Anyway Ed Harcourt was on first and I thought he was great despite the fact that it pissed with rain all through his set and most of the audience were having their tea at the time. The band were really impressive especially the fiddle player with 'Shadowboxing' being a standout for me. I think old Ed won over a fair few people which is much deserved in my opinion.

My 40 year old bladder gave out at this point and I missed Editors (do they have a 'The' by the way?) in the queue for the loo. My glasses were all steamed up so I couldn't see them anyway. I realise this is conjuring up a very attractive picture of an blind, incontinent crone spoiling the young people's fun but bear with me.

Snow Patrol will never be a cool band but they are a band with a bit of heart and that goes a long way. The lead singer has the look of a man who narrowly escaped becoming an accountant and he can't believe his luck. That sort of joy you can't fake.

The band played all their best bits which is what you want at a home-coming and we all sang our hearts out. Communal singing, very good for the soul. Most people around me were smiling and my sis and I decamped to the pub after for a chat about Samuel Beckett and cultural theory (fairly one way conversation that as I had had a few and don't know much about Samuel Beckett or cultural theory). So a great evening was had by all.

ps if I posted on your blog last night sorry.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ding Dong

Separated at decide.

The lovely Stephan Mangan and the lovely Elliott Gould (as he was when I remember him about the time of MASH) or is it the other way round?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Passenger profiling...ooops

There has been a lot of chat in the media about passenger profiling for air travel. It seems now,that if they don't like the look of you, your fellow passengers can get you ejected forthwith.
Having been born and raised in Northern Ireland I have been subject to this sort of thing in the past.
"Look, there is a pale-skinned freckly type person, let's get her!"
I was once pulled from the line of Belfast passengers in Heathrow and questioned at length. It went something like this.
Some bloke who looked like an extra of the Bill,"What is the purpose of your visit?"
Me,"I'm a student here."
Fat bloke,"Where are you a student?"
Me,proudly(I was only 18)"Cambridge."
Him, not as impressed as he should have been,"Which college?"
Me, "Trinity."
Him,"What street is your college on?"
Me,"Duh, Trinity Street."(see that's where I made my mistake.)
Fat man with ironyectomy, "List all the shops in Trinity Street."
Me, "You're kidding!"
He then went on to question me for at least 40 minutes on Cambridge and its environs and the detailed content of the first year medical syllabus. I was getting rather shirty by the end of all this but quite impressed by the extent of this guy's knowledge of geography and basic biochemistry. Anyway my point is that passenger profiling is an opportunity for fat blokes with irony deficiency to aggravate people for the hell of it.

The other thing is that they may question people who know you about whether you have any past form and I have to confess a guilty secret.
When I was 8 this happened. Feeling inspired I kidnapped my little sister's much loved teddy bear, cut off his ear and left the gory evidence with a ransom note on her bed. Now, this may have demonstrated an early talent for microsurgery but could look bad if I ever have to prove to any fat jobsworths that I am not a potential terrorist with borderline psychopathic personality disorder.
Hey ho holidays in the land of the leprachaun (and perpetual rain and crap food) for me then.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

City Bonuses

Apparantly the estimated levels of bonuses in the City of London this year is set to top £19billion!!!!!!
Think about it. In 2005-06 the entire budget for the NHS was £76.4billion and the NHS is the biggest employer in the Europe.
It's enough to make tea come out of your eyes.

Friday, August 18, 2006

It's all about the stories

I have a theory that most people have 5 or 6 really good stories. (You know the kind of thing, my auntie for example shook hands with Bobby Kennedy the day he was shot which by anyone's reckoning is a pretty good story.)

When you first start having a relationship you sit up late at night telling your stories to each other and it's great. After a while however you know the other person's stories so you reproduce so you can have someone else to tell your stories to. Then when you have your little tribe you tell each other your stories again and again and it sort of reinforces the family unit.

The cornerstone of medical diagnosis is listening to other people's stories (taking a history in the medical parlance). As an old Prof. of mine once said "Listen to the patient and they'll tell you the diagnosis." One of the real privileges of being a doctor is that you get to hear stories from all sorts of different people. An old lady in her 80s once related to me her story of being an unmarried mother in the 1930s which was so moving.

Our world view is also informed by stories. After 9/11 we heard all sorts of harrowing and moving stories which made us connect and sympathise with the victims and their familes. We hear less from Tyre and Rwanda and Darfur etc etc and perhaps that's why we are able to countenance some of the things happening there.

The question is how early in your blogging career do you introduce your real bazooka stories, given that we all have a limited number? I will ponder that for a while longer.

Meanwhile I saw this on yourdictionary which was quite interesting I thought...

Today's Word: Librocubicularist (Noun)Pronunciation: [li-bro-kew-'bik-yu-lê-rist]
Definition 1: One who does something with books in the bedroom-not someone who necessarily reads in bed.
Usage 1: Today we are sending out a warning of a lexical virus spreading across the Internet. Someone with a smattering of Latin and English has concocted this word and is palming it off as a legitimate compound meaning "someone who reads in bed." English, of course, is full of words that began illegitimate and ended up respectable members of our vocabulary. This one may, too, but so far it hasn't: be wary.
Suggested Usage: If you were to use today's word, be sure to read the etymology first. It does not mean someone who reads in bed but someone who does something with a book in a bedroom. If we allow this word into our language, let us at least demand that it means the sum of the meanings of its parts. We recommend you avoid using this cheap substitute in word's clothing.
Etymology: Today's ostensible word is a fanciful combination from Latin liber "book" and cubiculum "bed chamber," so the actual meaning would be "book-bedroomist," not "someone who reads in bed" as is commonly claimed by those out of the know. This word could be used as appropriately to refer to some who publishes books from his bedroom or eats them there. English does not normally allow more than two Latin or Greek stems in a borrowed or created compound (medical terminology excepted). So there are several reasons why this word is not found in any dictionaries. (Thanks to Zack Smith of Johnson City, Tennessee for alerting us to the spread of today's pseudo-word.)

Any ideas about what you could do with books in a bedroom (as opposed to any other sort of room) gratefully received.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Arrogance and album art

I would like to thank bowleserised for pointing out the almost pathological levels of self-confidence seen in the following for-real site. Click here why dontcha. (and scroll down to dating tips)

Also following on from patroclus' blog on pretty album covers I present the following for your delectation.
My local record emporium in Ballykissarse may not have Sufjan Stevens but I just bet they stock all of these.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Book Meme

I thought I would borrow the Cultural Snow book meme thing as I always find it difficult to name my favourite book and this allows a bit more explanation.
1. One book that changed your life: Down and Out In Paris and London, by George Orwell. In the most wonderful stark text I received an insight into what poverty really means and I hope I have never forgotten.
2. One book that you’ve read more than once Lots and lots; special mentions to Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger as it reminds me what I was feeling at about 16 and His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman as it's just a stonking* story.
3. One book you’d want on a desert island The Diary of Samuel Pepys (unabridged version). I don't think I would ever get sick of the brilliant honesty of it all and it's really funny.
4. One book that made you laugh A History of the World in 101/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes. Especially the chapter about heaven because it is exactly what I would like to imagine it to be.
5. One book that made you cry How To Be Good by Nick Hornby because the author sounded so broken by life and it pushed quite a few personal buttons.
6. One book that you wish had been written I wish Bill Hicks had written his autobiography after a long and productive career.
7. One book that you wish had never been written Any sporting/celeb autobiography. Why waste publisher's money on crap.
8. One book you’re currently reading The People's Act of Love by James Meeks. It's bleak, it's about revolutionary Russia so perfect holiday reading then.
9. One book you’ve been meaning to read Anna Karenina by Tolstoy tops an extremely long list.

*I never say words like this in real life, honest, but it just slipped out and I have promised myself not to self-censor.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

WiFi "quick" installation

My afternoon was completely wasted trying to install wifi on my laptop. My brother in law who is a professional computer whizz spent 4 hours fiddling with the bloody thing to no avail. If it makes him curse and shout and bang things about what chance do the rest of us have ( being in our twilight years with early onset Alzheimers).
After a blissful first day as a blogger, feeling all cool and techno-sorted, my equilibrium has been upset by this and also by the fact that I have been harrassed by some bird flu police people simply by saying I don't want to think about our imminent destruction by said virus.
Is there a nanny state in the blogosphere now? Will I get rude comments from the wifi police or the Alzheimers police if I am not sufficiently reverential about their chosen obsession.

So here is a pretty picture staged and taken by realdoc minimus to cheer us all up.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Death and destruction

Mr. Realdoc is an average bloke, I suppose, but he seems obsessed at the moment with death and disaster documentaries. You know the sort of thing.. tsunami will destroy the American West Coast, asteroid to hit any day, global warming to kill us all, killer bird flu will send us back to the stone age etc etc. (He particularly likes the one where half of one of the Canary Islands is supposed to fall into the sea.)
Now, I have no doubt that one or all these disasters will hit the human race and we will all perish in the most ghastly way, however I don't want to think about it particularly. My TV watching is confined almost entirely to comedy, drama and films. Does this make me a bad person, an uncaring person that I don't spend my leisure hours fretting about what may kill my children or grandchildren? Don't get me wrong. I recycle with the best of them, buy local produce try to be ethical in my shopping choices, all those things, but I don't fret, I don't want to know the details whereas Mr. Realdoc is obsessed with the detail. 'If you live in Kent, it will be so hot by 2050 that all your skin will drop off if you go outside', he will say over breakfast to send me cheerily on my way to work.
Is it a male thing? Is he secretly fantasising about a post- apocalyptic world in which he hunts and gathers and fights off invaders? Maybe it's his version of a mid-life crisis. I just wish he would buy a motorbike like all the other 40+ men around here.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A Virgin Blog

Well, I finally bit the bullet and joined the blogosphere. As this is my first ever post I thought I would try to explain why I am drawn to start blogging. I have been reading a lot of stuff on other blogs I regularly check like patroclus, heather, molly bloom etc about the media's recent hostile reaction to bloggers which has come to light of late. All of this has set me thinking. I am drawn to read blogs by an absence in 'reality' of true human to human connection. We are surrounded by spin, lies and manipulation. This creates an atmosphere of fear and alienation which prevents us from making true connections face to face. I have recently discovered that a true community exists with humour, intelligence, high and low culture all over cyberspace and I am enjoying being part of it. I feel more human when chatting on a forum or posting on a blog than I do in countless inane interactions in the real world. Perhaps the fault is mine but it seems I'm not the only one.

Please excuse my feeble attempts to create links post photos etc as I am new to this and I'm trying to pick it up as I go along.