Some days ago I blogged about Lance Armstrong and his
“apology”, for winning 7 Tours de France while using one of the most
sophisticated doping regimes ever seen.
In particular I was incensed to read of his desire for a
“Truth and Reconciliation commission”. This is where a commission hears
everybody confess their misdeeds, for which they then receive immunity. In
South Africa where the criminals of the Apartheid years received immunity,
little changed as a result. In the case of cycling, this would save Lance from
prosecution, protect his assets and open up a new career in Triathlon and
I was even more riled to read that the International Cycling
Union supports this! This is the organisation that accepted two large donations
from Armstrong, at about the times he posted peculiar test results.
Such a commission would let everybody off the hook.
I was reading my luxurious “Official Tour de France 1903
-2004” celebration of 100 years of the race, with its forward by Lance
The key year seems to be 1993, I quote;
“A quick look at Armstrong’s career gives a clear picture of
this young man from Austin, Texas…Lance returned to Europe in 1992 as one of
the favourites for the Barcelona Olympics. He was never in the running, but
consoled himself with the fact that he had already signed a contract with
Motorola. A week later, he rode in his first professional race, the San
Sebastian classic, and came last. Two weeks later he came second in the
Championship of Zurich and then went on to Italy where he won a race
before beating some of the best Italians in the sprint.
If I had to guess when Lance decided to start doping, it
would be here, after being booed and whistled at as he fell off the back of the
race at San Sebastian.
Of course, it wasn’t just him, many were at it. Most of them
have already been exposed. None of them made the money that he did. None were
I think there are probably enough angry US sponsors and a few
DA’s who feel even more angry about it all than I do.
a strange house and before settling down, Mr K looked for the doors leading out
of the house and nothing else. On being asked why, he answered with some
embarrassment: “It’s a tiresome habit. I believe in justice; so it’s rather
important that there should be more than one door out of the place where I’m
I always knew I was stupid, the problem is that I still assume
everybody else knows what they are doing. They don’t, necessarily.
So, for the last month I’ve assumed that the problems I’ve
had with my laptop were down to me, and my inability to sort them out. When my
internet dongle ran out and I bought a new one; I was amazed to find that all
my problems were due to a faulty dongle.
New dongle = new laptop.
Then a friend asked me for a link to this blog – it didn’t
work. I checked it and found I am a dotcom not a .co.uk. Now I never wanted
Blogger to do that – when I opened it, it was a .co.uk. Somewhere along the line
I’ve become American and, more importantly so has my Blog’s address.
Which of course means I’ve been giving out the wrong address.
It also explains why my Blog entries seem to be timed by
Eastern Standard Time. Now that’s interesting too. Thought I was a bit more tired
I’m amazed anybody has ever got to see this Blog.
For that matter, I’m becoming puzzled that anything ever
Since this all started I’ve had this fantasy/wish; I don’t
need my crutches anymore and I take them to a skilled metal worker to have them
bent into the shape of something fairly rude, before I hand them back to the
Accident and Emergency Department at St. Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey.
I won’t do it; they were lent to me free of charge by the NHS
even though it was the Accident and Emergency that gave them to me. However,
I’m certainly not giving them back to that A and E.
So it’s a toss up between taking them to a different hospital
– like my much loved West Middlesex, or perhaps to the Orthopaedics department
at St. Peters, who certainly did look after me.
So, when it hurts again there’s still a chance I may get a
pipe bender and do the job myself. Perhaps I should spell out the name of the
consultant who couldn’t diagnose a broken ankle when he saw one?
Lewisham Hospital is solvent, efficient and well loved by its
patients. Their Accident and Emergency unit has just been refurbished at a cost
of £12 million.
The next door “Trust” lumbered itself with a massive “Private
Finance Initiative” debt, the payments on which are £1 Million PER WEEK or £52
million a year.
PFI is a kind of Hire Purchase agreement where financiers pay
for new Hospital buildings, and us taxpayers are lumbered with a 50 year deal
costing gazillion times the actual cost of building and running the building,
had we paid for it ourselves up front. But we never get to own the building at
the end of the deal.
It’s not too bright of us – at the moment the government can
borrow money at about 2% interest, while the commercial cost of PFI agreements
is about 15% plus annual running costs on top.
And this for a no risk investment by the financiers.
We are mugs.
The result in Lewisham is there is a proposal to shut the
well run A and E and Maternity units there and make those patients struggle to
the units at the inefficient and bankrupt hospitals miles away.
This would “balance” the books. Not in my book it wouldn’t.
Well, the government was happy to nationalise the bankrupt
banks, its time they nationalised the impossibly unfair PFI contracts (with a
bit of compensation) to bail out these bankrupt trusts.
Meanwhile some 15,000 angry people marched through Lewisham
on Saturday, protesting against these ridiculous closures. Feelings ran so
strong that Millwall Football Club had to move the Cup Tie to accommodate the
protests and allow locals to attend without missing the match.
The Millwall slogan used to be “Everybody hates us and we
I’m fighting a war with my laptop. At the moment it’s a draw.
I thought it was my USB, now I think it’s the damn dongle.
Either way, every so often it has a minor stroke and I lose a
load of downloads when it restores itself to an earlier version. That would be
no problem, except I don’t have broadband (a long and boring story, more boring
even than this one), so I have to go to the long suffering Café Nero, to
download a mass of stuff via their broadband.
Yesterday, I did that and it was a really great day. I wasn’t
feeling too bad, which shouldn’t be, given what’s happening to me at the
Best of all, I didn’t take my crutches with me at all. It’s a
really big deal. Up till now (from August) I’ve been either using them or
carrying them with me for as long as possible, until I needed them.
I just had a walking
stick – which isn’t much use for support. It felt pretty exposed, but pretty
I know tomorrow will probably be a bad day again, bring it on.
This is from the Daily Telegraph of 25/1/13, it’s pretty
unbelievable at any hospital but at Stafford – what is going on?
“A scandal-hit NHS trust has apologised after a four-month-old
baby boy was found with a dummy taped to its mouth.
By Steven Swinford
Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has confirmed that a
member of staff has been suspended and that police are investigating the
incident. The trust is at the centre of a public inquiry, due to be published
in less than a fortnight, after up to 1,200 patients died due to appallingly
bad care between 2005 and 2009.
The incident was reported by the hospital to Staffordshire
police three weeks ago, but they have not yet made any arrests or interviewed any
suspects under caution.
Colin Ovington, director of nursing and midwifery at the
trust, said the baby was unharmed. He said he was "proud" of staff
for reporting the incident.
He said: "We will continue to encourage staff to do
this, and will continue to report incidents, even before they have been fully
investigated, despite any negative attention this may create.
An official inquiry into failings at the hospital, where
between 400 and 1,200 patients died needlessly due to a catalogue of failings
and appalling standards of care, is due to be published within weeks.
The £11 million review of what went wrong at Stafford
Hospital between January 2005 and March 2009 will suggest hospitals that cover
up mistakes by doctors and poor treatment of patients should face fines and
possible closure, it has been reported.
A separate highly-critical report by the Healthcare
Commission in 2009 revealed a catalogue of failings at the trust and said
"appalling standards" had put patients at risk.
Between 400 and 1,200 more people died than would have been
expected in a three-year period from 2005 to 2008, the commission said.
In February 2010, an independent inquiry into events at the
trust found it had "routinely neglected patients".
A recent report, conducted by a team of independent experts
on behalf of regulator Monitor, concluded that Mid Staffs is "financially
and clinically unsustainable".
It recently emerged that the trust has paid out more than £1
million in compensation to 120 victims of abuse or their families.”
What can you say?
I cannot understand how such a thing could be allowed to
happen – why no one stopped anyone from doing it in the first place.
No one suspended, no enquiry, three weeks has passed – what
is going on there?
Yet again, perhaps this is a trial for adult patient care in
Took a big hit this morning when I heard on the radio that
Wilko Johnson had pancreatic cancer. Wilco, the manic lead guitar and writer
for Dr Feelgood has decided to go for a farewell tour rather than take Chemotherapy,
and who of us is to say his choice is right or wrong.
The Feelgoods were a great live band, actually that doesn’t
do them justice. If you watch the Julian Temple film; “Oil City Confidential”,
you will get a bit of an idea of this band, which grew out of the backwater of
the Thames Delta known as Canvey Island.
In it you will see Lee Brilleaux’s Mum talking about a gig at
the Hammersmith Odeon in 1977, and she describes how it was so exciting that none
of Lee’s family could sleep that night. I was there, it was so good that when
the kids spilled out into the area of Hammersmith under the elevated section of
the main road, there were running fights breaking out everywhere.
There was no reason for it, it was just the buzz of the night.
Unforgettable. I would guess it was like that when Bill Hailey was playing at
the birth of Rock ‘n Roll.
If there was problem with the Feelgood’s it was that they
looked back at a time when punk was looking forward – they just got left
In a time when bands were pretentious poseurs, they played in
black and white under bright white lights. The first album came out in mono
But the effect of their music was to blast out all the crap
of the 1970’s and open the door to something new that changed the world.
I don’t know why he has been so forgotten here in England, he
shouldn’t have been. It’s a really cheap, bad CD. A collection of old 78’s from
the 1940’s. I would never have bought it except his stuff is so hard to get (I know,
I know, use the net). Thrown together without a lot of thought, because they
are out of copyright and Dizzy has a name they could sell.
And his trumpet hadn’t even got sat on yet.
And yet it sounds great, not so far off how it would have
sounded back then; full of youth and fire and the new.
Strange really. He and Charlie Parker pretty much invented
Bop and his early bands put together many of the major be-bop artists and some
others; there’s a young Milt Jackson in there, whacking the vibraphone like a
wild thing, rather than in the quiet way he does with the rather respectable
Modern Jazz Quartet. They always walked a tightrope between “hotel-foyer” jazz
and great jazz.
I don’t know why Dizzy got forgotten here, he came over a lot
in the 1960’s. Then again, Parker isn’t
so popular either. Maybe people are frightened of Bop.
Ashford and St. Peter’s NHS Foundation Trust thinks it is
pretty well run. Last year it made a surplus of £1 Million.
If you take a look at the Accident and Emergency department,
it has 4 consultants. All the guidelines (that’s mine and the College of
Emergency Medicine) say that you need at least 10 consultants to run an A and E
The “surplus” would be eaten up if the A and E was properly
staffed and that’s only the area where I discovered a problem. There will be
other problem areas I haven’t found. That’s where you come in.
Another 6 consultants is the surplus gone, but the A and E
wouldn’t be sending people home with broken ankles.
Yet if you look at the “Trusts” next door; Epsom and Slough,
they are both “losing” money. I wonder what their A and E’s are like?
The government aims to make hospitals run like businesses.
Problem: hospitals only have one customer and that’s the
Now, “Trusts” are being formed, with a degree of financial
independence. How exactly do they “make” money?
They do more operations. Except, the “Trust” next door wants
to do the same.
Soon, G.P’s will be choosing where people go for operations,
which is supposed to reward “good” hospitals and penalise “bad”. This is
supposed to reward the efficient and penalise the inefficient.
Problem: a Hospital can’t get new work by encouraging A and E
work; the rules state that every case above the 2008 level is only paid for at
30% of cost. So, a successful A and E becomes a financial disaster.
So, hospitals will fight to do planned (elective) surgery.
What’s the effect of this “survival of the fittest”, in terms
of inter hospital rivalry?
1) If the battle is to win elective surgery from G.P’s, this
allows private provider’s to take work from the NHS.
2) If local NHS hospitals are trying to steal work from each
other then hospitals will have to close. Just how that will work out in
practise will be the subject of posts to come.
The government wants hospitals to be run like businesses, now
why is that?
They say it’s because businesses are more efficient than the
State at running things (try out Northern Rock, HMV, Royal Bank of Scotland,
Woolworths, for a start).
The fact is there are good managers and bad managers. The
good ones tend to go for the big salaries, but that doesn’t mean that if you
pay a big salary you get a good manager – it doesn’t work like that.
So, how can a public service hospital be run like a business?
Private hospitals don’t exactly flourish in this country,
even though they all have charitable status (did you realise that?) which means
they pay little or no tax.
They employ very few Doctors or Nurses; they rely on agency
staff, part timers and Surgeons using the hospital for their own private work.
Most of the treatment is paid for by insurance companies
rather than wealthy individuals. The result is that the hospital is parasitic
on the NHS. Most private hospitals are sited very close to NHS hospitals, which
makes it easy for staff to turn up to do an extra, private shift.
What don’t private hospitals do? Accident and Emergency and
difficult illnesses. They all cost money, in terms of staff and equipment.
Insurance companies don’t like that.
What they love are short stay, quickie operations, planned in
advance. Just the kind of thing the NHS would love to concentrate on but can’t.
Using NHS staff moonlighting, they can do these very efficiently.
So, how could an NHS Hospital be run like a private hospital?
It can’t. So the private health providers are circling around like vultures,
waiting to pick off profitable parts of the NHS, leaving the difficult and
expensive things behind.
The public enquiry into mistreatment at Mid Staffordshire
Hospital NHS Trust has still not been published but is due shortly.
It’s estimated that between 400 to 1200 preventable deaths
occurred there due to neglect or mistreatment by staff.
It’s produced an admission by the health Secretary today
that; “whilst we don’t believe there is anywhere else that has got the problems
that Stafford Hospital had, everyone can sense that there are little bits of
Stafford dotted around the system.”
You bet! The problem is that there are going to be cuts
coming – even if the overall spend stays the same. Money is being diverted away
from treatment and care to private suppliers and wages are being freezed.
In a climate of cutting back, it’s up to staff and patients
to make sure that the last thing to be cut back is compassion.
In the following weeks there will be more on Stafford
Hospital, before and after the release of this long delayed report, which was
only ever written after years of campaigning by bereaved relatives.
Cabin fever is setting in. It’s snowing again, the front path
is iced up. It’s that moment in “The Gold Rush”, when Charlie Chaplin eats his
I’m getting impatient, I need to be promoting this campaign
and I’m only too aware that time is slipping away from me. In fact, I have to
assume I’ve got about a month to make things happen.
There are lots of excuses; I’ve got other things to do, my
ankle was bad, it was Christmas, I’m ill, I don’t have broadband, it’s snowing.
Truth is, nearly 5 months have passed and the idiot who treated
my ankle is still there, earning good money and still messing things up for
There aren’t enough staff in the Accident and Emergency unit
at St. Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey for patient safety and my complaint has been
pushed into the long grass where they hope it will be forgotten.
I am letting them get away with it.
I need to get out and about fighting the hospital.
I’m starting “The Bad Poets Society”, (membership one).
Slogan; “Perhaps it would be better for everyone if you didn’t seize the day”
Regular readers of this Blog will probably have noticed that
in between the hard hitting reports on the NHS, the cutting edge computer
graphics, the up to the minute hold on the new technologies and social media,
there are occasionally some really bad poems.
In fact most poetry is bad, only a tiny proportion is any
good. I’m only adding to the mountain of bad poetry, it’s a vocation, really.
OK bit of an exaggeration there. There’s a little bit of snow
now, a lot more on the way.
Yesterday I did the shopping, then went for a walk in the
afternoon. All the while only carrying my crutches.
Truth is I still need them for emergencies. So it may only be
a little bit of snow, but I’m snowed in.
On the other hand, the angry river has quietened down. By the
time the snow melts, the flood waters should be that bit slower.
Lance Armstrong has made his “confession” and as far as I can
see is asking for a “Truth and Reconciliation commission”. This is what
happened in South Africa after the Apartheid regime fell; “people confessed”
and their crimes were excused. Very convenient. In that situation only one side
had done anything wrong – so they all got off.
Right now Lance Armstrong needs to answer to the Federal
doping agencies, the sport, the sponsors, his fellow members of the peloton and
above all the fans – those are the people who lined the road to watch the races
I don’t think we are in a forgiving sort of mood.
These days, saying sorry comes very easy. So does getting
away with it.
I think its tomorrow that Lance Armstrong’s appearance on
Oprah is broadcast. It isn’t going to be a helpful show – by which I mean that
he’s going to use it to wriggle.
I’ve been a lifelong cycling fan, it’s always been common
knowledge that the sport was plagued by doping, until 1998 when the French
police took criminal action, there seemed no way of dealing with it.
Here are two facts;
Until recently, when gifted amateurs moved over to semi-
professional racing on the continent, their performances often improved
dramatically at their new clubs and no one could explain it. Now this could
have been due to better training, diet, more races but actually it was doping.
My heart goes out to those who lasted one season, then got fired. They went
home a failure – they were probably drug free.
Lance Armstrong won the Tour De France 7 times. His closest
rivals in those races have all admitted doping as have some of his team mates.
So he could beat the dopers and remain drug free? I don’t think so.
The rest we don’t need to hear.
There needs to be a clearout of officials in the sport and
the French Police need to be as pro-active as they were in 98.
sitting in my favourite café, on the net. I’d done the boring things I needed
to do; updated things, downloaded boring stuff, tried to fix problems that will
never get fixed.
Then I ended
up wasting time on you-tube, which I shouldn’t have been doing. I was getting
nostalgic, checking out live performances from the 70’s – the Jam, the Clash.
Trying to work out if I’d been there (well, sometimes I had).
in a way, a chance to re-live all kinds of things.
What I also
remembered was how angry we were then, when there was nothing new happening for
youngsters like us, how everything was looking back. Just like now, actually. We changed that.
I can see
how the “new” technology is fantastic, things we never had or even dreamed of.
But the hardware isn’t really what it’s about, it’s the stuff you put on it.
And that new
stuff just isn’t there.
Edison inventor of the phonograph (wax cylinders), had to go round America and
Europe promoting it. An advertisement wouldn’t do; people wouldn’t understand
what it was about.
So, he would
book a theatre and then put a string quartet on the stage. After the audience
had got used to the music, the curtain would slowly come down. When it came up again,
the quartet had gone and in its place was an Edison Phonograph, playing the
same piece. Then they took in the orders.
people weren’t so familiar with technology – there wasn’t much back then. But
the point is that a new cylinder on a new machine was a pretty hot item, not
like hearing a scratchy old thing now.
hungry for cylinders – their problem was they couldn’t afford enough of them.
Same in the 1930’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70's with records and then CD’s all the way up till
say ten years ago.
worked in a record shop in the 1980’s and CD’s first came out they were £25,
when I was earning £75 a week. They flew out. People couldn’t get enough. It
wasn’t just the technology, it was the music.
problem is that there isn’t anything new that really matters to young people
anything that has something to say. Back
catalogue music is just living someone else’s life. Which is the real reason
HMV just went into administration.
Aaron Swartz, died yesterday at 26, it’s likely he killed himself. He
was facing up to 30 years jail time, if convicted at trial due to start in the
next few weeks. There’s a lot of pressure when they come after you.
His crime? He was consistent in fighting for free access to information
on the net and did things to try to realise it.
The actual trial was about downloading academic articles, just as
previously he had been involved in trying to make US legal docuements/cases available
This was significant, just like there are scientists trying to patent
genomes or bacteria in order to make money, the companies that publish
information are trying to privatise it, so that we all have to pay for access.
No one objects to publishers making money when they publish, it’s just
not right for this to be a permanent licence to make money.
Lawyers who have access to case law on Lexis-Nexus, which costs big
bucks have an advantage over lawyers who don’t. Guess who they represent? Yet
those cases were public information once.
Scientists in the first world can access scientific articles, those in
the developing world can’t afford the subscriptions. This includes articles
from 30 years ago. Scientific progress
needs the free flow of information if we are to keep developing.
There are a surprising number of “hackers”, actually earning a good
living from the FBI, Department of Defence or the big corporations.
Aaron Swartz seems to have been one of the good guys and we are all the
worse off for having lost him.