Out Now!

Friday, 28 August 2015

Gis a clue, Billy

I go back to Liverpool on special occasions. When my mother was alive I went often, and the highlight of Sunday mornings was the Billy Butler show: ‘Hold Your Plums’. (Don’t ask)

The format was simple, a phone-in quiz. The result was comedy gold as callers struggled to find an answer despite clues that all but gave it it to them.  I’m not too sure I’d recommend listening to these short clips (5mins average) all in one go, but even now I found myself snorting with disbelief and laughter, much like I did all those years ago. They also bring back memories of teaching, where I would be determined to tease out an answer, and the pupil would be equally determined not to give it.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Worlds disappear

I wondered what to write about this week,  or whether I should bother. A new computer, transferring of files, learning to find my way round a spanking new 'Office' as opposed to the familiar but outdated 2003, posed problems, but on the basis of learning by doing, I ploughed on, exploring this and that like a rat in a maze. Blogging though seemed one step too many.

Then something turned up. Some pictures I thought I'd never ever find. Pictures of Blessed Sacrament Primary and Junior school where people started at five and left at fifteen. I went there at five, fell in love at seven and left at fifteen. When I went back many years later it had been knocked down and replaced with something more modern and with a few houses squeezed in where once there'd been a much larger playground. 

I tell you, I spent ages searching the internet trying to find a visual record of where I'd learnt to read and write, and in-between times played. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. On one of my trips to Liverpool I'd even called into the Church Presbytery hoping there might be a photograph or two tucked in a chasuble. The priest was sympathetic. He murmured a blessing. I left empty handed. 

And then yesterday - this. And it is exactly as I remembered, but you have to imagine red and tarnished bricks, slate roofs and hard grey surfaces where, if you fell, you knew about it. 

The school gates where you were deposited or picked up. I've seen more attractive prisons, but we liked it...in the main,

The Girls' Playground. The Boys' Playground was to the left, marked by a wall and a small exit point guarded by a teacher. Sometimes a nun.

Prefab classrooms at the other end of this playground. To the left, kids who had failed the 11+ were taught. The classroom to the right housed those preparing for the 11+ --- Grammar school, new bikes, leather satchels, and worldly success.

The Boys' Playground

A photo opportunity

And another photo opportunity: A First Communion.

Worlds disappear 

Like old computers

Friday, 14 August 2015

Housemaid's Knee would be better than that

I have one more thing to remember now. 
First thing I think of before leaping from bed. I rub them, muttering fond endearments and encouraging words.
It came without warning but I was slow to realise anything amiss, ie walking down each stair a foot at a time and holding a banister. It may have been wilful blindness - I'm good at that - or just the fact that early in the morning I can fulfil basic tasks like making tea whilst my brain remains asleep.

Gradually I realised I shouldn't be walking like an old man. Not for another fifty years at least!
What was happening?
Why did my knees ache after a good night's sleep, or on standing up from the desk top? 

It was time for Dr. Google. It told me I had a problem with 'the knee cap (patella) and how it moves.' Well, thank you. I'd already figured that one out. But then it went on to tell me more than I wanted to know:

"The kneecap is a small bone, shaped like an upside down triangle which sits in the patella groove at the front of the knee and glides up and down as the knee moves. Huge forces go through it with every day activities. As a result, the back of the patella is lined with the thickest layer of cartilage in the whole body as it is designed to withstand massive compressive forces.
Knee pain going down stairs is not surprising when you consider that the force going through the patella is 3.5x body weight when you come down the stairs (normal walking only puts a force of 0.5x body weight). That means for a person weighing 120lbs, when they come down stairs, a force of 420lbs goes through the kneecap which has a contact surface area of only 12cmsq."

Well, when I read that, I thought 'Respect'. Fondled each knee in turn and considering perhaps it was time to lose weight. But even halving my 210 Ib would still amount to 367.5 lb going through each of my small but precious 12cmsq knee caps. If significant weight-loss seemed pointless, losing a mere stone seemed even more so. (This is how the mind of a reluctant dieter works.)

Well okay. I'd learnt something, time to learn more. The question now was whether it was simple damage to the meniscus caused by intense athletic activity. Reluctantly I discarded that as unlikely. Two options remained: Osteoarthritus, or Housemaid's knee. I liked neither of those. One cast the shadow of approaching apocolypse, the other seemed merely ignonimous. Housemaid's knee. Never!

I read more. One doctor used the analogy of a rusty door, opening and closing ever more smoothly with use. At rest the joint fluid is soaked up by the cartilage like a sponge soaking up water. When the joint is used the cartilage is squeezed and fluid lubricates the joint. However, in an arthritic joint less fluid and diminished cartilage makes for a 'rusty door'. Use brings some respite, over-use makes it worse. 

There is still hope. It may be gout. I like the idea mellowing into the crusty and obstreperous, but then again  I'd have to give up alcohol and cheese. Even Housemaid's knee would be better than that.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Bang bang bang, you're dead.

 The Dutch army is so short of bullets that soldiers in training have to point unloaded guns and go 'bang bang' bang'. They should come to Britain where we, too, seem to have a problem in understanding the reality of violence.

John 'Goldfinger' Palmer, a well known gangster, was shot in the chest six times and the police accepted the paramedics assurance he'd suffered a heart-attack. This may sound unlikely, even unbelievable, but then again society seems increasingly confused as to what constitutes violence. The police, too, so it seems.

A child brushed with a stinging nettle and a man hit by a biscuit have both been recorded by police as violent crimes, acting under new, stricter Home Office rules. Another incident in which a child was caught by a boxing glove being swung about by a younger brother was recorded by Norfolk police as an assault occasioning actual bodily harm.  

The biscuit incident involved a woman throwing said comestible at a man and causing a small red mark. In another case involving two children, police recorded an assault after one of them rode into his friend while they were doing 'wheelies' on their bikes. Similar lunacy involved a woman charged with assault for slapping her three year old son's hand after she caught him stealing a bar of chocolate from a shop.

 I don't know who was most stupid, the police or the member of the public who recorded it. In this context the delay in diagnosing what actually killed John Goldfinger Palmer becomes almost understandable.