Monthly Archives: October 2004

My nob

Squeamish folk look away now.
In the last couple of days I have become concerned that my op may have ended up going pear-shaped. Call me over-cautious if you wish, but this is my nob. I’m not taking any chances. Today, the current poor state of the NHS was emphasised to us on several occasions.
I didn’t want to call NHS direct, because they are powerless. They daren’t give a catagorical answer over the phone, because if they were wrong they could get sued. So all they ever do is refer you to A&E. A&E means a minimum of 2 hours in the company of the local sick, mad, and violent, until you get seen by an overworked, uninterested, tired doctor who really couldn’t give a monkey’s toss, and would prefer that you visited your GP..even if it was your GP that referred you to the hospital in the first place. Our wonderful new, semi-privatised, NHS is not coherent because every surgery, hospital and consultant is now concerned about individual spending. As a result, patients act as human tennis balls between uninterested, overworked GPs and uninterested, overworked hospitals. You can only hope that at some point you accidentally meet a doctor with some vestage of professional integrity who will actually endevour to make you better.
So, today, I wanted to make sure I didn’t have an infection. The only way to ensure this would be to have someone, ie a human, look at it. I can’t walk, for reasons that should be obvious to every uncircumcised male reader. And I had no intention of hobbling down to A&E via several busses, or paying for a cab, which would involve just as much walking.
Michele phoned the weekend GP service (SELDOC) who, of course, told her to take me to Lewisham hospital. No! I’d rather wait until my cock fell off and then sue them! She rang back and got someone else who, perhaps because he was male, took it more seriously. He organised a doctor to phone me back within an hour. A doctor did ring me back. His predictable suggestion was for me to drive to Lewisham hospital. In fairness he did understand that, not having a car, or any friends with a car, this was a problem. I had to ask 3 times for a home visit before his supervisor allowed it. He clearly appreciated my predicament, but was powerless until blessed by his supervisor. So we got the promise of a home visit within 2 hours. 3 hours later (not bad for the NHS on a Saturday night) a really nice quack turned up, inspected me and prescribed me a course of antibiotics. He also reassured me that it was probably nothing to worry about. Again, that is fine, but this is my nob. I need to be sure.
All the time he was here, Humph was quiet, well-behaved and even reverent! All day long, he was noisy and demanding but in front of the quack…not a peep. It’s like he (she) could tell there was something important going on. Good bird.

As you probably know by now, my hero, Charlie Brooker, got in all kinds of ultra-right trouble with his recent Guardian article. If you want to read it (now the Grauniad have bravely removed it from their site), you can see it here.


Yesterday I had my long awaited operation. Now I’m sitting on the sofa, typing this blog with Humph sitting on top of my iBook screen, preening. Pain-wise I’m fine (co-codamol/ibuprofen). But every time I’m forced to observe the “operation zone” I get scared. It’s scary. It scares me! If it gets more scary I’m off to the quack. However, as I type, co-codamol, ibuprofen and red wine are doing their thing. Please don’t get concerned about that combination of drugs…because I know a lot about them…more than you think I know…and probably more than you know. But I’m feeling fine and my swelling is very low at the moment. So shut-up.
If my experience of Lewisham hospital is typical then I would recommend it to anyone. Especially to those poor sods in Greenwich that have to deal with the QE. The nurses in the day surgery were lovely, attentive, and genuinely appeared to care…just like the fictional nurses we read about in childhood books. One of the nurses complained about the lack of Marmite availability in the “pantry”. As soon as I get fit again I will be buying them a jar.
Lots of nice text messages and e-mails have made me feel very happy.

A couple of work colleagues ended up dealing with a very shitty hardware situation that they really shouldn’t have to deal with on their own. As a last resort…and it really was a last resort…they called me about it and apologised a million times. No need. They shouldn’t have been put in that position in the first place and they dealt with it perfectly. As soon as I logged into the mail system, after it came back up, I intended to write them a thank-you note. However, before I got a chance, one of them, Sue, turned up at the door with a bunch of flowers! So nice of her. All we could offer her was a cup of tea…when, in fact, it’s her and her work mate that deserve the thanks.

Humph has now become scared that Michele has left the room…but he’s still on the laptop – looking at me. Good bird.
I’m feeling a lot better, but the “operation zone” is still in a scary state. I know that one day it will be normal again…but it’s hard to bear that in mind at the moment. This CD is really rather cool BTW!
There were loads of other things I wanted to get off my chest, but at the moment, with Humph sleeping on the laptop as I write, I feel quite content and mellow. More when the anger rises :)!
Love to you,

Rusty cycle

Saturday. It was so grey, so rainy, so miserable that we all enjoyed spending that day curled up indoors.
For dinner we ordered a curry from a really nice place. Sadly the people that run it don’t understand the basic rules of selling food…ie, that we are hungry. They don’t bother to employ people to deliver the food. Instead favouring to outsource the delivery to the local minicab service…who are clearly crap. It took ages, and we had to verbally guide the guy to our house…despite him having the address and despite the address being very simple to find. Nonetheless, the dinner was worth it. South Indian cuisine of the finest quality (I have ever tasted anyway). Dosas and Kotthu Roti are really gorgeous…

Last night I came in, fell asleep on the sofa, and slept for 12 hours. Humph decided that my knees were clearly parrot perches and flew over to one for a long sleep. Michele took a photo.


Hello folks!
Time for a catch-up: America.
The temptation to do a bunk and just stay over there was immense. Luckily and coincidentally we received a letter while were over there from the immigration people saying my I-130 had been approved. This is stage one in the kafkaesque process of getting residency in the U.S. How many stages and what they entail is a mystery.
We had such a good time, and staying with the in-laws was great. It was a well needed holiday and, despite getting a serious load of snot and headaches, has chilled me out more than I can say.
As for the wedding – spectacular. OK the full catholic mass was a pain in the arse…literally..and the knees for that matter, but that was no surprise really. Luckily the groomsmen, of which I was one, were composed of either severely lapsed catholics or atheists, or both, so we managed to have a laugh and yet still appreciate how wonderful the bride and groom were together. Michele, me and my mum (watching the webcast live from London) all welled up when they read the vows to each other.
The reception was mindblowing. I can’t begin to describe it. It’s easier to describe the bit that will stick in the minds of everyone there:
The bridal party (ie bridesmaids and groomsmen) were all ponced up in our tuxes. For reasons that would take too long to explain, the brides sister decided we should all be announced into the party bandaged up, on crutches, walkers and zimmer frames. In the mean time, the brides mum (mom) had already decided that we should be wearing these extravagant parrot hats. So we combined the two and attempted to get to the ballroom without being seen.
Now, this event was taking place in one of the poshest hotels in Philly. Brass, marble, obsequious staff, the lot. We hid in the lift, which was a good idea except for one thing: the doors. It was like Trigger Happy TV. The doors would open, revealing a bunch of people in over-formal dress, all bandaged up with plasters, zimmers, crutches and bandages…with parrot hats. The usual reaction was open-mouthed astonishment, just as the doors closed and we all fucked off to another floor. Repeat.
The bride and groom were intending to enter the room under a tunnel of the bridal party holding up recorders (that everyone referred to as “flutes”). However, when they did actually arrive they had to walk under an arch of crutches, zimmers and bandaged arms. Well…we were pissed and it was very funny at the time.
blur blur blur blur blur…
Someone offered me a coconut cigar. Now, I don’t smoke, but at the right time and in the right state of mind I will, very occasionally, smoke a cigar. Had a nice smoke and chat with various people, and then got asked to leave the ballroom by one of the coolies; there was no smoking there…America…they would have had no problem if I was brandishing an AR10…
Anyway, I wandered down to the hotel bar to complete my yummy coconut cigar, forgetting I was in a ludicrously posh tux (with tails), together with a large felt parrot on my head. Instantly I get called over by a table of three middle aged people who were clearly intrigued. To cut a long story short, they were Quakers and we had a really excellent hour-long chat about how much of a twat George Bush is. At the end, one of them told me that, despite me not being religious, they wished God would go with me. This is totally in-line with every other Quaker I have ever met: really, really sound, thoughtful, tolerant, kind, people. If only all religions were the same. If only I believed in a God! I’d be able to go out and either become a Quaker or a Sikh. Both excellent beliefs sets…if only it wasn’t for the whole God thing 🙂

American Coup

Back in the U.K. Great wedding, enjoyable time and I’m not at all happy to be back (despite getting to see my parents and Humph).

I had heard that the U.S. TV networks were not covering the Iraq situation ine the same way as Britain, and the rest of the world. Well, not having seen Fox, I don’t know. But what I do know is that ABC, in Philadelphia at least, is putting serious airtime into the issue. As is the UK. In Philly, we watched stories of the troops, whom Bush and his cronies claim to support, getting treated like scum by the current administration. The “shillings” they accepted, which are actually in the region of thousands of dollars, are being requested back by the government in they return injured! One guy was living out of his car!
This surprises me, because the Republicans surely know the importance of keeping the Army sweet. I can only guess that the situation in Iraq is so fucked up, that they are in serious trouble…and they are. You don’t piss off the Army, especially when you are relying on them for supporting your message. And this is what Bush is doing. Careful, Georgie!
While this is going on, how is Britain reacting ? Are they taking the opportunity of pulling out, saving more innocent lives, saving money, defending the military and appearing strong through independence ?
Or are they rolling over on their backs and asking Bush and Cheney to tickle their bollocks?
Careful, Geoff!
Tone doesn’t have to be careful, because he has distanced himself from the decision to send more AK fodder into Iraq, as he did with the fox hunting ban , fuel increses and the London mayor (when Ken was out of favour). Geoff Hoon could soon well find himself in the crocodile pit under the Blair desk, struggling to stay above water alongside Frank Dobson.


You know what my mum and dad really need after all of the recent stresses of family death, illnesses, money worries and general shit luck ? To have their car stolen, just after they spent 500 quid on it. And fortunately, some kind sole olbiged. It’s a fucking Mini Metro! WHY ? I’m glad we’ve got gun laws in the UK.

Freedom is Slavery

We were sad to notice that the view from Bob’s Diner no longer includes the best piece of animated neon signage I’ve ever seen. Luckily I managed to photograph it in all it’s glory last year. Here is my attempt at rendering the simple beauty of the animation. Hair Restoration Neon
Lots of stuff to say: the two nights at Coyles, the scary tuxedo, the massive steaks at Outback…but instead of that, I’m going to rant on about the most predictable topic imaginable. The US election.
Michele and I find it shocking to hear that there is even a single US citizen that is considering a vote for W. But what I’m beginning to find even more disturbing are the reasons people give (generally during vox pops) for choosing their candidate…Democrats and Republicans alike.
I was listing to the local NPR station yesterday morning, and in between the desperate, undignified appeals for cash, that made me yearn for Radio 4 and the licence fee (really), I heard people talking about the reasons for their choice. Frequently, on both sides, the same things were said:
“Well I think [CANDIDATE] is a real gentleman”
“I can see [CANDIDATE] as President. He’s very Presidential”
“[CANDIDATE] would make a strong leader!”
“[CANDIDATE] would protect us and lead us properly.”
“I like/hate [CANDIDATE]’s voice!”
“[CANDIDATE] is so charismatic!”
“[CANDIDATE] has strong opinions and stands by them!”

It seems to me that what the population want is Adolf Hitler, “Uncle” Joe Stalin, or Saddam Hussein . They’re very smart, very strong leaders, have very strong opinions and stand by them. They would protect you from outside agression using force if necessary. They would attempt to police the world by force if necessary. They wouldn’t be scared to bring in serious measures (like the Patriot act, pogroms, kerfews) to protect the “freedom” of their citizens.
And this is not just Americans. The British are exactly the same. I’ve heard the same shit said about Thatcher, Encoch Powell, Kilroy, Blair etc etc. Nothing changes. It reminds me of a line from Citizen Smith. Shirley asks Wolfie if perhaps the people don’t actually want freedom. “Of course they do!” he replies. “Well they’re going to get it whether they like it or not.”

Flying High

The cold that has been oscillating in intensity inside my body for the last week or so has reached its highest peak. I feel crap. I was feeling crap before I even got on the plane. Luckily, Heathrow and BA are not shy of dishing out alcohol. The upshot of which is that pain of the 2 hour journey through the grim, cold, rain and rush-hour Tubes from my flat to the airport was attenuated by a nice pint of IPA at the Wetherspoons. The whole flight experience was surprisingly good, despite it taking place on a bloody 747-400 (hate hate hate). We’d bought tickets on-line and so I was able to use the self-service check-in. Saved hours of queuing and allowed me to give myself a window seat at the front. This was so that, once landed, I could race the rest of the plane to immigration – they take prints and photos these days so it takes longer. Didn’t fancy that one bit.
Once on the plane it was lovely. Some medicinal red wine and whisky, a good meal and quality film entertainment followed by a two hour nap. It was like Christmas, but without any arguing. Thankfully, BA have been upgrading the in flight entertainment on the knackered, rusting, flapping, sheds that are 747s. 18 channels afforded me a choice between good films, unlike the “best of a bad lot” you normally get. One of the channels, called something like “film club”, was showing a 1976 film called “Network”, which I plumped for over the new Mike Leigh. I can’t express how much I enjoyed it. I also can’t believe I’ve never seen it before. Sadly, unlike a real film club, there was no way to have a great enthusiastic chat with other viewers (preferably over a pint) afterwards. What the planes need is internal chat rooms for chatting to other passengers. I wanted to phone people and tell them how good it was!
After the film I watched the britcomedy channel which had, amongst other things, “The Smoking Room”…I laughed myself to sleep and woke up just before the approach. Superb.

Regrets and Omissions

Everyone hates funerals, and as a result, unless it was someone very, very close to you, they’re never quite as bad as you expect. Particularly once you get past the bit where you’re standing in the cold crematorium car-park, before the ceremony, talking to the family members you haven’t seen since the last funeral. And it can be nice to see bits of the family you haven’t seen for a while.
There was a very moving speech by one of the close relatives, followed by the playing of a tune that meant something special to them both. That’s the bit that invariably causes me to start blubbing. And this was no exception. And why don’t I ever remember to bring any bloody tissues? I’m sure my extended family think my tache is permanently full of dried snot…
So I’ve decided that at my funeral, the only records that get played will be upbeat…none of that maudlin stuff…”Enjoy Yourself” by “The Specials” it will have to be.
After getting back from the reception/wake thing I had a pre-arranged doctors appointment for…blood pressure. Then I went up the Union to meet a few people from work and ease down.

Michele flew off to Philadelphia this morning, and I follow on Tuesday. My brother in law is getting married and a holiday is just what I need at the moment. Humph is going to stay with my mum and dad who have performed major structural changes to the house in preparation.
Oh yes – we have discovered that Humphrey is…a girl!
Oh dear. We considered name changes to “Humphrene”, “Humphrietta” or similar, but really it doesn’t make a lot of difference so she’ll remain Humphrey.