Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Hello again

Sorry for the break in transmission but I really was busy having a good time, catching up with old friends and trying to be a bit more active. Yesterday I ventured into town and hobbled around the streets quite well. I visited a few favourite shops that I hadn't been in for a year... since I fell ill. It felt so good to be doing normal, everyday things like browsing through CDs or having a good nose round my favourite kitchen shop. All the things I used to take for granted seem so exciting, as if I were experiencing them all over again for the first time. I'm sure the novelty will wear off but I'm going to enjoy it for now.

As for the New Year... I'm going to be careful with this one. Last New Year's Day I remarked to Mrs XTM that the year had been a bad one and that 2009 couldn't possibly be any worse because of that fact. We toasted in 2009 with Champagne as we watched the New Year's Day concert from Vienna, oblivious of the events that were about to engulf our family barely six weeks later. It seems a lifetime ago... well, it's actually twelve months, eleven general anaesthetics and ten weeks in traction ago. That's probably why it seems like such a long time. I won't tempt fate this year by saying good riddance to 2009; after all, it's taught me many valuable things: the power of family, the good fortune in having so many kind friends and the danger of taking things for granted. And for that, I'm truly grateful.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Back soon

Sorry for the dearth of posts... I've been enjoying Christmas. Back later today. XTM

Friday, 25 December 2009

Christmas feast

I wonder what they’re having in the hospital

Merry Christmas

A big thank you to all of you who've followed and read my blog this year. A merry Christmas to you all. Your support, kindness and unstinting encouragement has been so precious to me. I couldn't have made it through ten weeks of traction without you. I'm a long way from being back on my feet and it will be a difficult year as I try to walk again, but I feel the worst has passed and for getting this far I have so many of you to thank. Here's hoping your Christmas is a peaceful and truly happy one. May 2010 be kind to you.


Thursday, 24 December 2009

For the love of sprouts

Of all the foods that I detest most, the Brussels sprout has to be up there at the top of the list, along with beetroot and fresh coriander. I don’t care how people dress it up. You can sauté it with hand-reared, milk-fed pancetta or stuff it with the finest Iranian caviar for all I care but it’s still a disgusting vegetable.  And I’m not the only person who thinks so. I only know one person who enjoys eating these wind-inducing, foul smelling, soggy little brassicas… and that’s my father! And why do we hate sprouts? Well, it’s all down to a chemical with a sulphorous stench called glucosinolate sinigrin, which is released when sprouts are overcooked.

However, despite being universally despised, two British women are trying to rehabilitate the humble sprout with a cookbook devoted solely to Brussels’ finest. Deborah Kershaw and Rachel Peck’s book is devoted to the vegetable and features recipes for bubble and squeak and sprouts masala to a cake with sultanas and coconut. And get this… the book includes a recipe for sprout ice cream. Yes…sprout ice cream. Frankly I can’t imagine anything worse except for, perhaps, hamster fricassee.

The authors of the book met each other when their daughters were being treated for cancer at a hospital in Sheffield. Unfortunately, Deborah’s daughter Laruen, who loved sprouts, didn’t make it through her treatment so proceeds from the book will be donated to the hospital. Deborah and Rachel’s recipe book, Once A Sprout, Always A Sprout . . . Or Maybe Not? is available online for £5 from

Anyway, I thought I’d ask you, dear readers, if you consider sprouts to be a good thing and if anyone out there with the energy and wherewithal might be willing to make some sprout ice cream and then report back to let us know if it’s a flavour to rival vanilla. If you’re interested in giving it a whirl then here’s the recipe...

 175g sprouts
 600ml single cream
 2 large eggs
 100g caster sugar
 1/2tsp vanilla extract
Blend the sprouts and 100ml of cream until smooth. Heat 300ml cream, two egg yolks and the sugar to a custard-like texture, then leave to cool. Once the mixture is cold, stir in the sprout mixture, vanilla extract and the remaining cream, then place in an ice cream maker. Begin the freezing process, then whisk the egg whites until fluffy and add to the mixture.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Spirit of Christmas - Part Two

At the risk of being accused of even more Christmas humbuggery, I bring you: The Spirit of Christmas – Part Two.

Stranded motorists, who were forced to abandon their cars in a pub car park when a blizzard whipped up a white out in Hampshire this week, were dismayed to discover their cars had been clamped. That’s right! Only in England at Christmas time could the spirit of yuletide be so cruelly crushed.

For those readers in other countries who still fondly imagine this land as Merry Old England where everyone is tolerant, fair and the snow brings forth little children with upturned apple cheeks and a community spirit that harks back to the Blitz can think again.

The immobilised motorists were stranded when some of the worst snow conditions for many years swept across the UK this week. Particularly badly hit was the county of Hampshire. Roads came to a standstill and with no possibility of reaching home; motorists abandoned their cars and made their way home on foot. Some poor unfortunate souls carefully parked their vehicles off the road in the car park of the Roebuck Inn, in Winchester rather than block the road even further.

Unfortunately, when the drivers returned next day to collect their vehicles, a private security firm had beat them to it and clamped all the cars that had been parked up for the night and was demanding up to £157.50 to release each car.

A delightfully festive spokesman for the clamping company claimed motorists should have parked their cars by the side of the road instead… presumably where other sliding vehicles could crash into them. The soulless drone added: “They weren’t forced to leave their cars in the car park of the Roebuck Inn. The last place you would want to leave a car would be where there are legally placed clamping signs.”

A statement on the company’s website read: “People who use private car parks without authorisation are not only extremely inconsiderate but sticking a proverbial two fingers up at the landowner. We provide a service that gives people their car parks back.”

That last comment is utterly priceless. It’s a bit like kidnappers claiming they offer a service that gives people their loved ones back.

Once again, Britain leads the way in spiteful petty minded nastiness. Whatever happened to the British sense of fair play and tolerance?

Sorry, forget I asked that!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Stealing yourself for a better Christmas

The Church of England used to be a religious order that preached the Ten Commandments and obedience of the law. However, in this mad and topsy-turvy world it was only a matter of time before the church flung off its cloak of respectability and got down with the masses to make itself more appealing. Not content with introducing guitars and tambourines into services, along with speaking in tongues and politically correct prayers, the church is now throwing away the Ten Commandments by encouraging people to steal.

All that nonsense about theft really is out of date in this modern and more liberal world. Don’t believe me? It’s true. Rev Tim Jones from North Yorkshire has advised his more hard-up parishioners to pop out for a bit of five-fingered discount should they find themselves a bit short this Christmas. No… really! Father Tim thinks it’s okay for his parishioners to shoplift as an alternative to mugging, prostitution and burglary. Presumably he hasn’t got round to endorsing those three felonies yet.

Father Tim tempered his comments by saying: “I would ask that they do not steal from small family businesses but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices. I would ask them not to take any more than they need, for any longer than they need.” Jolly nice of Tim, don’t you think?

Actually, the good father is no stranger to controversy and is rather adept at manipulating the news agenda so he can have Telegraph and Mail readers foaming at the mouth. Last year Father Tim took direct action against Playboy stationery products aimed at children. When he spotted the stationery carrying Playboy's bunny logo on the shelves at his local Stationery Box store, next to Winnie-the-Pooh and Mickey Mouse products, he took it upon himself to clear the shelves. I suppose that’s the modern equivalent of turning over the moneychangers’ tables at the temple.

However, those killjoys at the North Yorkshire police have gone and misinterpreted Tim’s advice on shoplifting by taking a pretty dim view of the whole affair. Still, it’s nice to see the police actually upholding the law for a change… who says miracles don’t happen at Christmas?

Monday, 21 December 2009

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Elf and Safety

I was going to treat you to another of my diatribes on the subject of the ruination of Christmas by the Elf ’n’ Safety brigade who are rapidly turning our world into a joyless place but someone has beaten me to it. So rather than reinvent the wheel I commend the following article to you...

How health and safety is killing Christmas

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Setting a bad example

Good grief! Is nothing off limits to the miserable and humourless PC brigade? Last week we had the story from a Canadian academic accusing Thomas the Tank Engine of being a Nazi, and this week it’s the turn of the antipodeans to have a pop at Santa Claus for setting a bad example.

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for publicity and self-promotion if you’re a starving academic in an educational institution. The pressure to publish papers and bring in research grants must be intense. However, I think the assertion by Dr Nathan Grills of Monash University in Australia that Santa Claus is a bad role model really takes the Christmas cookie.

Dr Grills claims that Santa’s unhealthy body mass index as well as his propensity for scoffing mince pies and sherry while being in charge of a sleigh and six reindeer doesn’t promote a healthy lifestyle. At the moment, Santa Claus is used by Coca Cola to promote its fizzy sugar water and he’s more recognisable to young children than Beelzebub himself… Ronald McDonald. That is unforgivable in Dr Grills’ view and as Santa is exported to more of the developing world, the fat old man is in danger of setting a very bad example to children of those ‘emerging nations’.

The good doctor thinks Santa Claus is such a universal figure he should be pressed into service on behalf of the propaganda war to promote healthy lifestyles. It seems that Father Christmas will be asked to shed quite a few pounds, switch to muesli and low-fat yogurt for his breakfast and swear off the sauce by turning teetotal.

Santa’s driving also comes in for a slating as Dr Grills thinks that the wicked old man’s traditional habit of necking a couple of thousand sherries while being in charge of six caribou on Christmas Eve is totally unacceptable in this zero tolerance, risk-averse world of political correctness.

And as if all that weren’t enough, Santa also gets it in the neck from Dr Grills for being a germ-laden carrier of all sorts of biological nasties. If Santa has even ten small children sat on his lap in the course of a day and sneezes over them, then he could be responsible for a swine flu pandemic. And he can do all this without having been given the all clear by the Criminal Records Bureau. So, until Santa’s jumped through that little hoop we may as well fling the accusation of being a paedophile at him too. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t be surprised if he beats up Mrs Claus after a few sherries.

And on that happy and cheerful note I wish you a Merry Christmas. Ho, ho, ho!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The spirit of Christmas

A lot of sentimental sloppy nonsense gets written or reported around this time of year, but sometimes you read something that really does make you wonder if the spirit of Christmas hasn’t been totally demolished under the tidal wave of consumerism or petty bureaucracy.

Today’s piece of Christmas humbug comes to us courtesy of Britain’s burgeoning army of humourless public servants who sound more like Nazi concentration camp guards by the day. “I was only following orders,” they protest as yet another cock-up comes to light.

The latest of these Scrooge moments comes to us via Ryecroft Primary School, in Bradford. Brother and sister Sean and Claire Watson were barred from an end-of-term disco held to reward children with a 100% school attendance record for the Winter term. Those who had been ill or absent for any reason were not invited.

I imagine a disco with just two or three kids wouldn’t have been much fun but that’s not the point. The purpose for holding the disco was to humiliate, exclude and cajole others to improving their school attendance record – a nicely balanced blend of stick and carrot akin to modern day stocks. However, the children in question were just five and seven years old. What’s more, they were barred from the party because they’d had the temerity to take four days off school when their father died of a particularly aggressive form of cancer.

When the children’s mother Samantha phoned the school to confirm that the children had been barred from the party, the robotic twerp of a school secretary assured her that Sean and Claire could not attend because even time off for a bereavement counted as an ‘absence’.

Well, soon the PR shit hit the fan and the school’s headteacher rapidly backtracked and apologised, but not before adding that the way the mother spoke to the school secretary was an aggravating factor and implying that if Samantha had sucked up to the petty little bureaucrat and dripped honey in her ear, she might have deigned to ask the headteacher to bend the rules.

The harridan of a headmistress claimed: 'We have an attendance disco and within that policy we look at the children who have a 100 per cent attendance record. It's not instead of all the normal Christmas parties, it's in addition to that as a reward. We are trying to build a community that attends school and regards school as absolutely vital for the future. It's so strict that, for example, families who have a lot of lates are not invited to the disco because we are committed to getting children here. I would feel so sad to take away this reward for excellence because some people are sad that they are not invited.'

The headmistress also cooed that the school always supported families that suffered bereavements and she was sympathetic to the Watsons' situation – but obviously not that sympathetic!

She added: 'We have gone from the bottom six up 39 places in the league tables of achievement in Bradford. We beat the national standard for writing and for science.'

So that’s all right, then!

Monday, 14 December 2009

The tree is up

I can't take any credit but for those who love the Christmas spirit here's a snap of the Christmas tree that Mrs XTM has hauled in from the forest and decorated with baubles and fairy lights. Not sure who that old bear with the glasses is supposed to be...

Sunday, 13 December 2009

More bankers

Cat therapy

Whisky's working really hard to heal that bone. He does this a lot but it's still taking time. Unfortunately the bone is diverting calcium from the rest of me so my teeth are suffering and I think I just cracked a weakened rib. Time to get the calcium tablets and multivitamins out.

Friday, 11 December 2009

It’s war in the supermarket aisles

I have no particular view on the whole sorry mess of Middle East politics but I may just have been given a gentle nudge in Israel’s direction thanks to a bunch of handwringing types who want to politicise every aspect of our lives, including the weekly shop.

I’m talking about the decision by some concerned people that labelling food as coming from either Israel or Palestine is simply not good enough if you want to pop down the Co-op for a bit of right-on and discriminatory shopping. Until recently I can imagine these Birkenstock-wearing types were stuffing their faces with anything marked Produce of Palestine in a well-intentioned effort to support the cause of Palestinian self-determination and there’s nothing wrong with that, of course.

Unfortunately, someone has pointed out that Palestine also includes some Zionists who’ve settled illegally in the West Bank. Now imagine how the pious Grauniad readers must feel when they realise those stuffed olives they’ve been scoffing like they were going out of fashion have been picked and packed by Israeli settlers. It must be a bit like being a vegetarian and then finding out you’ve been eating curried poodle when you thought you were having tofu korma. It’s enough to make you choke, I would imagine.

So now the UK Government has suggested that food imported from Palestinian territories should be labelled either Palestinian Produce or Israeli Settlement Produce depending on their origin. This will help the people who feel the need to boycott one side in a dispute that’s happening a couple of thousand miles away. It may also encourage people of the opposite view to discriminate the other way. Still, I suppose anything that extends choice can’t be bad.

Perhaps it would be easier if the produce were even more easily distinguished. How about a lovely cuddly heart logo on one and black skull and crossbones on the other? That would help the socially progressive shopper to get things straight when they’re girding their loins for a spot of boycotting.

The UK Department for the Environment, Regions and Agriculture has said that traders would be committing an offence if they did declare produce from the occupied territories as "Produce of Israel". No doubt we can soon expect to see a clipboard-wielding civil servants from Whitehall marching into the West Bank with a summons for any settlers mislabelling their goods.

I only hope they’ll have flak jackets and an armed guard.

Glaswegian advent calendar

Don't blame me for this... blame Andy Bascombe for sending it to me. Thanks Andy! Nice one.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Thomas is a Tory

I have huge respect for Canadians. Any country that can maintain its character and independence when sat on the doorstep of the world’s only superpower deserves to be viewed with a certain amount of awe. However, my esteem for the Canuks has been dented somewhat by the mad mutterings of Shauna Wilton, a professor of political sciences at the University of Alberta.

Ms Wilton claims that Thomas the Tank Engine, a popular series of books and TV programmes about steam trains with cheeky little human faces, is in fact a fascist Trojan horse. Apparently the show’s politics are distinctly right wing. The poor little engines are punished and squashed if they show any initiative and individualism. She also paints the Fat Controller who bosses Thomas and his chums about as being some sort of bullying aristocrat. He’s probably a freemason and a foxhunter, I shouldn’t wonder. Thomas meanwhile is a lacky and running dog of international capitalism.

As if those crimes weren’t enough, it seems that the story suffers from a lack of female role models. The professor watched the TV show with her three-year old daughter and was concerned enough to launch a full-scale witch hunt… er… academic paper which she then presented at a conference on political science in Canada.

"The female characters weren't necessarily portrayed any more negatively than the male characters or the male trains, but they did tend to play more secondary roles and they're often portrayed as being bossy or know-it-alls," she said. Any attempt to break out of this controlled hierarchy to gain individual power, show initiative or dissent is met with punishment, usually because it goes wrong.”

Thankfully it’s not all bad news as Professor Wilton concedes that Thomas has some acceptable values including contributing to the community, tolerance of others and good communication. However she does go on to say that children who watch the programme will attain full political citizenship, and the opinions and world outlook they develop now will be partially influenced by shows like Thomas.

Thank goodness the professor has an open and balanced view of politics. If she weren’t such a paragon of fairness and tolerance one might imagine her students would be influenced by her anti-conservative agenda, although I’m sure she’s far too impartial to allow that to happen.

So who’d have thought it? Thomas the Tank Engine… the Fuhrer of the railways. It’s amazing how clever those right-wing zealots are at hiding subliminal political messages in the most seemingly innocent guises.

On the other hand it could just be a fun and enjoyable story about steam trains for children who know nothing of politics.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

More hospital

No post today as I decided to take the day off to visit the gastroenterologist to see if we can't track down the hideous streptococcus that started all this nonsense off last February.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Another day, another Quango

Apparently our children are not safe on the internet thanks to armies of paedophiles, cyber bullies, pornographers and identity thieves. It’s a jungle out there in cyberspace and that can mean only one thing. Yet another fake charity or quango is needed to regulate things and make life even more difficult for the rest of us.

This week’s newest Quango (Quasi Autonomous Non Governmental Organisation) is the UK Council for Child Internet Safety. According to government spin doctors, it is “a coalition of government, industry and charities that should be the conscience of the industry”. God spare us from government-funded consciences.

I’m sure the internet is rammed full of inappropriate sites and sights but so is life. If you don’t want your kids to see bad things then take responsibility and either use the internet with them or severely restrict their access to the web. If you were to take the government’s conclusion on internet safety to something else that’s dangerous – like cars, for instance – we’d all be forced to hide our car keys in case a child got hold of them and nipped off for a joyride. It’s insane.

Why do we have so many of these committees interfering and busybodying their way through our lives? Quite simple… can you say ‘consultancy’. All those reports to be written on child internet safety won’t write themselves you know. Oh no. Someone will have to be paid to do it. Then there are the travel expenses, the away-days for team building, the secretariat to support the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, the plush offices, the ever-increasing staff with their gold-plated pensions. It just goes on and on.

The UK is now full of pseudo charities that appear to exist just for the benefit of their large staff and armies of fundraisers. Very few of these charities actually do much, preferring instead to be political pressure groups and lobbyists. It’s often a nice little job to cut your teeth on while you wait for a safe seat in Parliament.

Fake charities (find out more at represent a disturbing aspect of modern life. Increasingly, politicans take more notice of these publicly funded do-gooders than they do of their voters. And each organisation enjoys some spectacular tax breaks, top salaries and a light workload. Nice work if you can get it.

Got a problem? There’s a Quango for that!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Kicking up a stink about pink

The UK is currently embroiled in war, financial depression, soaring crime rates and a general air of corruption in public life. In fact there’s plenty for the politicians to get their teeth into, and that’s before things like failing schools and filthy hospitals have been tackled.

So what would you say might be the most pressing situation for an MP to get involved with? War? Famine? Pestillence? No… pink toys! Yes… that’s right… pink toys. Some humourless gorgon masquerading as an MP has declared war on pink toys for girls.

Bridget Prentice MP, a minister at the Department for Justice, has lent her support to a campaign being run by twin mothers who live in Ms Prentice’s Lewisham constituency. Sisters Emma and Abi Moore have set up a website called Pinkstinks. It’s a campaign and ‘social enterprise’ that challenges the ‘culture of pink’, which invades every area of girls’ lives.

Apparently Pinkstinks will focus on providing real role models who will inspire and motivate girls to achieve great things based on ability and effort and not how they look. Laudable in some ways but totally missing the point by blaming it on pink toys of all things. Pinkstinks is organising a boycott of shops including the Early Learning Centre, which the group claims is leading the “pinkification” of girls' toys which end up crushing female ambitions later in life.

Incidentally, can anyone tell me what a social enterprise is? Could it be a website with not much to sell that exists to grab some headlines, make some cash without the need to sully one’s hands with a business or anything horribly commercial like that?

Ms Prentice threw fuel on the pink bonfire with a few of her own inflammatory remarks: “It’s about not funnelling girls into pretty, pretty jobs, but giving them aspirations and challenging them to fulfil their potential. We want to say to organisations like the Early Learning Centre that we rely on them to be progressive about encouraging girls to think of themselves as equal, and not to reinforce the old stereotypes.”

We live in the age of pressure groups where a couple of people with a computer, a grievance, a spare bedroom and too much time on their hands can set themselves up as if they’re representing a large slice of public opinion. Before you know it they’ll be asking for a grant to spread their lunacy further. I can see it now: pink outreach workers and drop-in centres operating a pink toy amnesty. Before you know it, girls with pink toys will be placed on the local authority's ‘At Risk’ register and the little poppets will be encouraged to denounce and report anyone who buys them a pink toy.

Frankly, it sounds like a damn good idea to me. I’m going to turn this blog into a social enterprise and book my ticket on the pressure group gravy train. With any luck I need never work again.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

It’s curtains for Brown

Sorry for the light blogging but I seem to be spending rather a lot of my time walking around in circles as I practice my gait and try to acclimatise to life with a one leg permanently shorter than the other. In the grand scheme of things it’s not a big deal and just makes walking barefoot a bit of a pain.

However, it is nothing compared to the suffering that British soldiers have experienced in Afghanistan recently. I simply can’t comprehend how the young men who return here with limbs blown off and serious bomb blast injuries manage to keep so cheerful and recover so well. Of course they’re pissed off with what’s happened but they just get on with things. That doesn’t mean to say they’ve forgotten what happened and why.

To show how they felt, a number of injured soldiers being treated at Selley Oak Hospital, near Birmingham, took the sensible decision to close the curtains around their beds when the prime minister Gordon Brown popped in for a brief pre-Christmas photo opportunity... er... I mean goodwill visit.

The soldiers described the Labour leader’s visit as ‘opportunistic’ and ‘a waste of time’. The men were forewarned that the clunking fist was on his way and were given the opportunity of declining a personal bedside photo.

Sapper Matthew Weston, 20, who lost both legs and his right arm when a bomb exploded on a dirt track outside Sangin, said: “I didn’t want to speak to him, I didn’t want to waste my time talking to someone who was just trying to make themselves look good. I spent the day with my family instead. Half the lads didn’t want to speak to him and those that did pretty much blamed him for everything. Many of the lads just closed their curtains and hid themselves away. I met Prince Charles and Sir Richard Dannatt [when they visited Selly Oak]. I have respect for them. Prince Charles spoke to me for two hours. I really didn’t want to speak to Gordon Brown.”

I think if I’d been so badly injured and was about to receive a visit from a man hellbent on cutting my compensation, I’d have closed more than my curtains. Another soldier, who’d lost his right leg after being caught in a mine blast in Afghanistan, said that more than two-thirds of the 25 soldiers on the ward closed their curtains. He, however, decided to speak to Brown.

“I wanted to find out how the guy’s head worked,” he said. “I was interested in what he had made of his trip to Afghanistan and what he had learnt from it. I feel that even if someone is a moron, he should have the opportunity to defend his moronity. [His response] all seemed rather textbook and not from the heart. The straight fact is this: we don’t like the man, he has done nothing for us and continues to kick us in the teeth over equipment and compensation.”

There’s not much you can add to that, is there?

Friday, 4 December 2009

A bunch of yankers!

The senior plaster technician made an odd remark yesterday while I was having my Meggitt Brace replaced at the hospital. She told her colleague that I was 'a bit of a yanker' and that was why my brace was all skew-whiff. I thought for a moment that the term 'yanker' was cockney rhyming slang for the incredibly abusive term 'banker', which as we all know is about the worst thing you can call anyone these days. It turns out she merely meant I yanked up my adjustable brace a little too enthusiastically and that's why it needed replacing.

If 'yanker' had really meant 'banker' I would have been terribly upset. These creatures from the square mile of the City of London have done much to earn the opprobrium of just about everyone in the country. Not only have they hovered up around £850 billion of taxpayers' borrowed money to keep their clapped-out and overcharging businesses in the black (remember how much mercy they show most debtors?) they're also now insisting that they be allowed to dish out some tasty bonuses using our money. The cheek of it! I'm not normally someone who adopts the herd mentality and neither am I anti-business, but this really is the limit. These pompous and spoilt cads really haven't learned anything, have they? Bonuses indeed!

I was trying to think if I'd ever received a bonus in my working life. Hang on a minute while I consult my memory. No! Never! Zippo! Zilch! Nada! Never have I received anything other than my salary or payment of an invoice for simply doing what I was asked to do to the best of my ability. I believe the same is true in most jobs. Nurses, for example. Do they get big bonuses for really making an effort to do their job and take care of their patients? No, I didn't think so. If bankers need an incentive to get out of bed in the morning then how about the rest of us? It's preposterous when you think about it.

Actually, I must confess that this Christmas I will receive my first bonus ever. Now that I'm in receipt of a small Disability Living Allowance until I get back on my feet, I'm going to be awarded a £10 Christmas bonus in order to bring some small cheer to the festive season. Believe it or not, I'm actually very grateful for the gesture. It won't make a huge difference but it's nice to be recognised at last.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Off to hospital

Today's my monthly check at hospital. This is the first one since I came home. It's a two-hour drive this morning to the hospital so no blogging until I get back.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The lunatics are in charge

No wonder NHS psychiatric services are stretched to the limit. All this stress brought about by the credit crunch, global warming and endless surveys telling us how dangerous everything is has driven swathes of people into the arms of their local psychiatrist.

Of course, it would help ease pressure on mental health services if there weren't so many lunatics already knocking around the system. Fortunately, some of them have been released into a special 'Care in the Community' project housed in a large gothic building in Westminster, right on the edge of the Thames. The inmates of this facility have a nice big clock tower so they know when their appointment with the doctor is due. They also get endless pocket money and a series of subsidised bars and restaurants to cater to their every whim.

Unfortunately, some of these nutbars have been listening to 'experts' when it comes to matters of climate change. I should declare at this point that I am a global warming 'denier' - a term of abuse is applied to anyone with a heightened ability for sniffing out bullshit and humbug. Chief amongst those having a go at the 'deniers' while feeding the residents of the Westminster care project with heaps of nonsense is one Lord Stern. This former career civil servant and economist is now an expert and is telling the loonies that anyone not swallowing the whole global warming story is 'muddled'!

To be fair, Lord Stern condescendingly agrees that sceptics deserve to be heard (there, there... pat on head) but that their views should not be seen as 'searing insight'. On the other hand, lying and cheating academics keen to create a new religion out of climate change by manipulating data and covering up facts, apparently do have searing insight.

The shrill clamour for us to do something about global warming grows ever louder while I sit here writing this, shivering under a blanket with the heating turned up. In the meantime, the noble old goat is urging higher taxes on everything that helps fight the good fight. He even wants us to borrow lots of money and then give it to poorer countries so they can join in his fantasy too. No doubt his Lordship will be well insulated from the financial effects of his climate change medicine with the help of his index-linked, gold-plated, final salary pension.

Perhaps it's time we tried reducing our carbon footprint and improving our mental health statistics at the same time by burning politicians and their advisors instead of using fossil fuels. It may not make much difference but we all have to make sacrifices, don't we?

Throw another MP on the fire, will you?

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

They're taking the piss!

Forgive me but I've just about had enough. Long-term followers will already know that I suffer from a terrible affliction that I've battled with on a daily basis for some time now, but I simply can't go on like this any more. My nanny allergy has blown up with the Government's latest intrusion into my private life. The Nanny State has finally managed to out-nanny itself by releasing an iPhone application to keep track of alcohol units.

That's right! Over the Christmas festivities, Nu Labour is urging owners of flash mobile phones to download a free 'app' that enables drinkers to tap in the number of alcoholic units they're consuming as they tip them down the hatch. Brilliant!

Government public health minister Gillian Merron said: “It is all too easy to lose track of how much you drink. So as the festive parties start to build up, this innovative tool will help people keep tabs on their drinking – wherever they are. It’s one of many ways the Government is helping people to understand how much they are drinking. Sticking within the NHS recommended limits means you reduce the risk of serious conditions such as mouth cancer and strokes.”

God they're good to us. They steal huge amounts of our money, squander it on illegal wars, failing schools and hospitals and then spend the loose change left over on developing a computer program so we can start spying on ourselves. And who knows... there may even be a little routine in the program that relays your drinking record back to NHS computer servers in real time so it can keep a tally there too. Should you stray over the conservative and totally arbitrary Government guideline, klaxons and sirens will go off at NHS Central where an Alcohol Rehabilitation and Support Education officer (ARSE) will be scrambled to your boozer to hand out sensible drinking advice leaflets and Alka Seltzers.

I never imagined that Nu Labour would go so far as to try to take the spirit out of Christmas, but with this miserable little 'app' I think it's come close. I wonder if any of the geniuses that came up with this topping idea ever wondered how drunks are going to be able to accurately input their alcoholic units when they're totally wasted. I can't use my iPhone with any great accuracy when I'm sober so I dare not get drunk as I wouldn't be able to use it at all.

Oh well... with all my pain killers I doubt I'll be in need of Gordon Brown's iPiss application as I'm three sheets to the wind on Oramorph most of the time anyway.