Dont buy the Sun.

Dont buy the Sun.
Hillsborough Justice campaign - Remember the 96.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Bus stopping

Castle Hill Hospital has been, up to recently, the solitary remaining hospital/clinic/medical facility in Hull I have not had the opportunity to inspect. It is situated on the outskirts of Hull, where semi-posh estates of semi-detatched bungalows skirt greying fields full of starlings. Incongrously, in this retiree community of Sunday morning car washing and tidy driveways, gypsy horses roam the grass verges, picking at the grass and totally ignoring the hermetically sealed people carriers and bottom of range Mercedes saloons that swish by.

The hospital's principal fame is as an oncology centre, so locally it's name tends to be articulated wordlessly - people will articulate the name with their mouths without actually saying it, a product, perhaps of superstition and fear.This type of speaking, particularly among older women, was noticed years ago by a brilliant English comedian Les Dawson. The clip is pretty dated by now, so if you dont want to watch the whole thing, the type of voiceless talking I mean is at about 1 min 15 and again at the end from about 2 mins 30 seconds. What Dawson does here is rooted in observation of a characteristic way of talking, particularly here in the north of England, and its worth a quick aside to discuss where it came from. The common account is that in the Northern towns of England during the Industrial Revolution, the factories
( particularly the cotton mills where women mostly worked), were so noisy that normal conversation was impossible. As a solution, women became expert lip readers and could hold conversations without shouting. However, what this explanation does not account for is that the phenomenon is almost entirely limited to women, and usually about 'sensitive' matters.

The hospitals focus also makes its miserable if only by dint of the sheer number of cheerful touches added. There's happy posters, nice plants and lots and lots of noticeboards where you can pick up pastel coloured leaflets (usually with pictures of trees on the front and if not that then an image of some sort of counsellor, head bent at the unnatural angle only counsellors can achieve, faint encouraging smile that's as chilling as any Medusan glance) offering help and advice. Its completely depressing, and for me would be just a reminder that I was quite ill as I'd never have a picture of a tree, or a cloud, or a puppy on my wall at home.

Then you reach the plastic surgery department. This is the real deal - graphic images of the internal structures of the human body so you can identify exactly the tendon, muscle or bone you have injured, and reflect wonderingly,: why (given how weedy and thin they all look ), why you havent just snapped one before? It's a much happier place.

And that's where todays post ends. The stiches came out on the latest injury and all is healing very well. So well in fact , that given some of us might not meet for a while, I feel obliged to post the picture below, as I have been informed there will be very little scarring, and therefore very little evidence that I'm not making the whole injury thing up.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

We are all trolls...............

The morning ritual:

I become aware of a soft tickling on the nose. The tickling becomes a scratch, which then becomes a persistent pressure, half tickle, half scratch, accompanied by a constant rumbling. One eye opens and delivers the news to a brain that's still mostly floating round an alternate universe of dream, in which I'm usually some sort of Road Warrior, that its still dark. Then the unmistakeable, and unique, sensation of a vicious scimitar of keratin gently picking at the flare of my nostrils.

"Hi Tosh" I say to the cat that's sittng on my head, "Morning is it?". We trundle downstairs to the kitchen door so he can go out, an exercise that's as ritualistic as any religious service. He sits in front of the door, gently miaowing at it and glancing up anxiously at me, apparently concerned that this - of All Days - will be the day foretold in cat lore - The Day The Door Didnt Open. ,Then as soon as the slightest crack appears, he sticks his paw through as if he's Indiana Jones desperately struggling to prevent the massive boulder sealing the Tomb of Neferitititi. Once the door is opened he jerks his head forward, sniffing. A victorious little cry and he hops out, mission focused without even a glance back.

Three hours later, and at the decidely more civilised time of eight thirty, and having returned to bed, I gradually arise properly. If RHB hasnt already allowed the cat entry, he's at the window of the back door, clawing at the glass, miaowing. Once he's in , we both hit the food bowl hard - me marmalde and toast, him reconstituted something or other. Then he hops onto my knee and we read the moring papers. Opposite, there is usually RHB, with a slightly smaller cat on her knee, similarly reading.

But this tradition, this comfortable and comforting lifeway that we've developed as we've co-constructed our culture over the years, is about to change for good. Frankly, I've had enough and have decided I have better things to do. Not, I should speed to mention, of the cat. Nor, of RHB. And most definitely not of marmalade on toast. But of newspapers, and the contents thereof, and most of the content on the internet, television and radio, I am done. I'm also a bit sick of literature as well, particularly previous staples like science fiction, biographies of ancient historical figures, anything anthropological. I have never really enjoyed 'funny' books or detective works, hate reading plays and morning's too early for serious literary work that requires thinking. Autobiographies are, by definition, unbelievable and I find a source of previous excitement - lay accessible science or political works - a genre exhausted and diluted by too many poor imitations. My most reecent acquistion in this genre - "How to teach your dog quantum physics" was not only badly written, but as Tosh pointed out, used the sickeningly cutesy device of anthromorphising the author's pet in a cheap bid for readership.

I think I am justified in this disillusion based on quality alone . If 99.99% of what one recieves through media is utter rubbish (or too good to be read in the morning - an important point that would earn itself a footnote if this was an academic paper that I would not, by self definition be reading in the morning) then paying attention to media in the morning is a total waste of time. Despite this justification, I feel I need somone (other than me) to blame. and here I turn to a recent ongoing discussion between RHB and self about the interactive nature of contemporary life.

A long time ago, at the dawn of the internet, when mammoths still roamed past our apartment window near Dutch Village Road, Halifax, we eagerly welcomed the appearance of "Comments" sections in newspapers. As Comments became enabled on various sites of interest, I registered
eagerly -in all cases immediately forgetting the username and password - anxious to contribute to the growing, and welcome democracy provided by the Web. And for a few years, all was fine: environmental forums were friendly places where healthy debate would flop around aimlessly, political comment sections would host ill-informed, but lively, discussions on competing economic theories, football columns would be exercises in thinly disguised bias. Soon, interactivity became ubiquitous - every newspaper column had a space for comments, every webpage had some sort of forum or comments facility. Radio shows respond to twitters and tweets and texts and are supported by an online prescence with accompanying comments sections, even if they are just meterological forecasts. Books have websites that have more content than the original text and websites have websites about websites - all commented, noted, forumed, ranked and tweeted.

Accompanying this have come the trolls - the subject of the debate between self and RHB referred to earlier. Troll and trolling have become familiar terms to anyone usng the net and are usually defined as either corporate stooges pushing a lobbyist line, or agent provocateur of some description who just like a good argument (I suspect late teenage boys figure prominently here). Both have cluttered up comments, forums and interactive sections of the web, its true, but my meaning for the word troll is broader perhaps than most definitions. By troll, I mean anyone who posts anything online, anywhere, about anything.

How so, you might ask? Well, I reply, its because contemporary media, through its interactive nature is a great big baby. It has developed into a pre-sentient creature that, is designed to elicit (demand actually) baby talk responses from us - when newspaper columns write 'provocative' articles that allow climate sceptics space in their comments sections I feel a need to respond, but space denies anything longer than a few sentences, so a whole ecosystem is reduced to a cartton strip. When a book is accompanied by a website and asks for a review, I am duty bound to post something but all that is really required, and read, is three, four or five stars. When a radio show calls for texts or tweets, limited-character opinions flow in on subjects that require a treatise. The content doesnt matter really, its the response which is important.

So I have decided to stop responding, at least in the morning. I realise my list of material that I am self-prohibiting means there is not a lot left for me to listen to, or read in the morning. But there are solutions. This morning I read 'Bosch Operation Manual: Model 4564'. It was a good start - I am now much more informed on the operation of my fridge via content rich material, and was not obliged to respond in any way. It was a much more satisfying start to the morning than the previous one when i ended up shouting at the radio, computer and newspaper in a growing circle of frustration. I already have my eye on tomorrow's literature "Sharp Autocook MicroWave: A User's Guide".

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Axe-ident. My own personal darwin.

One of the ironies life does seem to be, as I told the attending surgeon at hospital, that in at least one of my occupations, I am usually the nominated health and safety representative when i work onsite. In the most recent accident, however, I am ashamed to admit that I broke practically every piece of advice have ever paternalistically bestowed on people.

These are the circumstances. After a four day stint in Leeds of sixteen hour days welding a series of metal frames for a Christmas production of Beauty and the Beast, my back began to spasm pretty badly upon arriving home at night. So, I decided that a great way to unwind was to have a glass of wine in front of a roaring fire. The fire was lit, dinner was prepared and wine was drunk. I however was not inebriated, as only one glass had been imbibed, but was very very tired. I decided that more wood would be needed. So, I got my axe and went out on to my unlit, wet slippery deck, without my glasses or worl gloves and swung said axe at an oversized piece of wood. Of course, the axe bounced off a knot and sunk its newky honed edge into the back of my arm, about two inches up from the wrist, leaving a two and a half inch wound.

To make a long embarrasing story slightly shorter (because, of course, I now have all sorts of deadlines due tomorrow that require typewriting) I cut through the skin, grazed the bone and severed a tendon in the back of my arm.

Emergency treatment has cleaned the wound, but I am unfortunaely going to cost the medical services a bit more because I need plastic surgery to re-connect the tendon and make the wound a bit less messy. That surgery will hopefully be tomorrow.

About the only thing I can say in my defence is that my reaction was very calm - I closed the wound, elevated the hand got a ride to hospital and didnt cry. This however isnt really clear thinking, rather just habituation as I have crocked me' sen (as they say in Yorkshire) with alarming regularity.

I wish not for sumptuous bouquets of flowers delivered to my door in sympathy. But if anyone has got a decent brain hanging round that has not had it's innate 'stupidity acquiescence device' removed, please send it by first class mail.