I love this weather. Seas are rough and trees are blown on to railway lines meaning that I can't get to work for a shift that is not during my usual contracted hours but felt pressured into changing because some else, who my work clearly think is more important than me, if they didn't they wouldn't have asked me to change my contracted shift, for someone who is not contracted, could work. I'm not even sure that makes sense. Ah well.
The beginning of this week was taken up by one story. Gordon Brown's handwriting.
The poor man can't win really can he? He writes a letter to everyone who has lost a loved one in war. That seems to me to be quite a nice gesture (and it is no more that (a gesture I mean) because really there is no more he can do. Well, maybe make sure that the relative is financial secure but you get my point) at this difficult time. A hand written letter from the leader of our country expressing his sorrow at your lose and his thanks for the sacrifice made by the member of you family. It's a good thing.
One woman complains about the letter she received following the death of her son to the Sun newspaper (I use that term loosely) because his hand writing is scruffy. It also looks like he as spelt the name of her son incorrectly and that there are some spelling mistakes in the letter. The paper decides to run with this story as its front page. What their point is no one is really sure but that doesn't stop them.
Gordon Brown then apologises profusely and is said to be mortified. He also phones the lady concerned to apologise for any inadvertent offence caused and she records the conversation and releases it to the Sun again (anyone else think they may have approached her rather than she, them) and continues to complain. He says sorry 14/16 times on the tape and she claims that he didn't apologise.
I did not know, before this story broke, that Gordon Brown wrote to the families of soldiers that have died. This makes him out to be a reasonable bloke in my eyes.
If he did nothing he would be uncaring, just sending “our boys” off to die. If the letters were typed the response would be, “well, this is just the same letter he sends to everyone, he doesn't mean it, he just signs it.” He could never get that right.
No, he takes the time to write each one out in his own, admittedly scruffy, hand. Can I just point out that he does only have one eye and the working one isn't that good. So poor in fact that he has to use a thick tipped pen in order to see it.
The poor woman had recently been bereaved so Gordon was never going to win. It just had to sit and take it. You can't criticise or argue with those who have recently lost someone, it's just not done.
What was the Sun trying to say? Were they saying that Gordon Brown shouldn't be Prime Minister because his hand writing is bad? It seems likely that it wasn't that poorly spelt but, because of poor penmanship, letters were not correctly formed. If that is what they were trying to say then that is a little harsh being as it is his eye sight that is the problem. They seem to be saying that visually impaired people have no place in government. Nice people at the Sun.
You know that your hectoring and bully has gone to fair when even the Daily Mail doesn't agree with what you are doing.
Oh and as a fantastic postscript to the story the Sun spelt the lady's name wrong on their website and had to issue an apology.
One of the things I don't like about my local pub is the fact that they have 2 televisions on all the time. No sound and only some times do we have the joy of live subtitles, which are always funny. They seem to have Sky News on most of the time and so on a Monday, when we go to the quiz, we get to see, but not hear, a lot of this awful channel (for balance News 24 is pretty poor).
This Monday they were covering the commemoration of the Berlin Wall falling. It's been 20 years you know; ha, now you feel old.
Centre piece of this celebration (is that the right word, I think so) was a line of 1000 massive dominoes that had been decorated by artists across the country, falling like, well umm, dominoes. Half an hour of a couple of World Leaders and ex-World Leaders wondering round in the rain, under umbrellas was entertaining according the director of Sky News but when they finally got round to the dominoes, do you know how long they stayed on it? The main point of the day? After all that hanging around? 30 seconds. They showed 30 seconds of the dominoes falling. They didn't even wait until they had all fallen. Nope. It seems that their idea was “we have told you that this thing would happen and there it is, starting to happen. Right, back to the studio.” Very strange indeed.
But for your entertainment here it is (with non-English voice-over.)
Steven Tyler may or may not have left Aerosmith. This isn't the most important story in the world but the reaction of Joe Perry was quite interesting. He said that they were would be looking for a new singer. I'm sorry? You want to replace Steven Tyler? Now, I'm not the world’s biggest Aerosmith fan but even I understand that Tyler is an iconic front man. And this got me thinking, what does it mean to be a band any more.
Aerosmith are the Toxic Twins, I mean, can anyone, apart from hardcore fans, name the other 3 middle aged blokes that stand behind them?
Have you not made enough money Joe Perry? Do you really want to whore out the good name of your band to make a few extra dollars? I mean, Brian May and Roger Taylor wouldn't do that with Queen would they? Oh wait, that is exactly what they did. First of all they played on the awful cover of “We Will Rock You” by 5ive, then there was the musical and then, worst of all, they got a new singer. Paul Rodgers, who used to be in Free, stepped up to the plate and pissed all over the grave of Freddie Mercury. Full respect to John Deacon who wanted nothing to do with it and still doesn’t.
I understand that musicians want to continue playing together but I point you to the Joy Division/New Order model. Singer dies tragically young; you want to continue playing together, so you form a new band. You do not do a reality series on MTV to replace the only member of your band that anyone, including a lot of the fans, has every heard of, like INXS did. I think the Doors did something similar but they are rubbish so I don't care. I assume the remaining band mates do it because they want to show that the band was more then just the ridiculously attractive, charismatic singer. Yes, ok you wrote the songs but they brought them to life. You can replace a bass player (Arctic Monkeys) or a drummer (Guns N Roses) but not the singer. Although Axl Rose has tried the reverse of this by replacing the entire band and leaving just the original singer. That went well then.
You also get the ridiculous situation that the Sugababes find themselves in, the band name is no more than a brand and it doesn't seem to matter who is in the band, or if any of them were in the original line up. The Sugababes aren't the only band to have done this but they are the most recent. I think that the version of the Temptations that is touring at the moment has no original members in it.
A band is more then some musicians and the songs that they used to sing. If three girls get up and singer covers of the Supremes, are they the Supremes? Of course they aren't. They are just three girls singing some songs; see the Sugababes for an example. A band is the collective experience of a group of people. It is the chemistry between people who understand each other.
So what happens if the press constantly vilifies a whole profession over one, very unfortunate, case? Well it seems that the people who do it leave and not many people want to train to do it.
60% of British Councils are reporting problems in retaining staff. That is a 50% rise on the year before.
Following the death of baby P, or to give him his real name as our press refuse to, Peter Connolly, the British press worked itself into a rabid frenzy. They blamed everyone but they mostly went for Social Workers. “Why don't these uncaring Social Workers take more children into care rather than leaving them with their awful, awful parents?” seemed to be the thrust of many of the articles. Well the answer to that is because policy seems to be based, yet again (see education policy and drugs policy), on headlines and not on evidence or best practice.
Many years ago there was an outcry about the number of children being taken into care. It was pretty much the same outcry as we had this time, except it was the other way round. They were doing too much interfering. So the policy changed. They tried to keep more children in their homes with their families.
This went on for a while until, in one household, it all went very horribly wrong. So again we have a press outcry over the very policy that they wanted in the first place. This brings us round to where we are now, with stories about a massive rise in the number of children getting taking into care.
The Award for Most Surprising Headline of the Week,
I'm just going to give you the headline, if you want to read the story then click the link. The headline, form the BBC website, is “New warning on 'perfect vaginas'”. I don't know about you but I missed the old warning. Was there a meeting or an E-mail?
It sounds like the sort of headline you would get on newspaper in a 50's B-Movie about a perfect, yet deadly, fanny. If, of course, they would have used the word vagina and not some sort of amusing euphemism. Go on, send in your favourite lady part euphemism. A long time ago a patient referred to her front bottom as her “Mary”. This amused me an awful lot but I'm not going to tell you why and I'm pretty sure only one reader will know why. Enigmatic hey? Hello Kate xx (I mean no disrespect by that story by the way)
The Award for Most Fantastic Thing I've Seen in Ages,
Yes, it's a pop up book but look at the beauty,
The Award for the Funniest Thing I saw on Friday Evening,
This is a video of some dolphins. Not that funny you might think, but wait. Suddenly they swim slowly past some jellyfish and then hilarity ensues.
Every time I walk past my sleeping cat I have to stop and check that she is still breathing. Poorly sick cat is still holding on. Used to do the same with patients at work. The number of people who look dead when they are sleeping would surprise you.
Have a good week and I hope you survive the storm.