Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Paternoster Row.

I was noodling on the internet and thinking about James Agate's laconic diary entry which I posted on my Blog yesterday. 

He posted a statement of account from his publishers, Messrs Hutchinsons, which showed that after taking account of 'bomb damage', his book had sold no copies in the previous year.

Hutchinsons, like most other major publishers, had their head offices on Paternoster Row, a busy city street in the shadow of St. Pauls Cathedral.

It had been named because the local monks chanted prayers on daily walks around their monastery, which meant that the local maze of streets eventually all had religious names.

When I used to commute to London, I walked past the cathedral every day and struggled across a vast, empty windswept square surrounded by 1960's office blocks - this was Paternoster Square.

The wind cut into you on the stillest of days and in winter it was icy cold. Just for our benefit, every December, the Police put a smashed up car in the middle of the square as an example of the perils of drink-driving.

It was a truly depressing place.

By 2003 it was completely rebuilt in the mock 18th century 'Disneyland style', favoured by architects with no imagination.

Or in this case by a Japanese real estate company. It's now the home of the London Stock exchange and a variety of merchant bankers and other thieves - it is definitely not the place to get a cheap snack.

In fact it's become 'privatised'; what was once an open space is now private. You can pass through but hanging around isn't welcomed by security.

In 2011, this was intended to be the site of 'Occupy London', which I visited and supported. However by Security, Police and injunction, the protestors were forced to set up at the entrance to St. Pauls instead.

But the story of the square starts here, on the night of the 29th and 30th December 1940 when the whole area around the cathedral was destroyed in what became known as 'The Second Fire of London'.


Clearly, the cathedral was a target and even though there were wharves and industrial buildings along the river, this may well have been the inspiration for the later 'Baedeker raids' of 1942.

This extraordinary picture was taken by Herbert Mason, chief photographer of the Daily Mail, who was 'fire-watching that night on the top of his paper's building on Fleet Street.

Clearly all the buildings around St. Pauls were destroyed; in fact the cathedral was only saved as a result of a special team of firewatchers who worked through the night, putting out the incendiaries that landed on the roof. They were determined that the cathedral, which had been destroyed in 'The Great Fire of London', would not be burnt down again in the second.
  
To the north of the cathedral was 'Paternoster Row', a medieval street that had once been lined with lace and cloth sellers but soon became a street of stationers, book sellers and publishers.

By the 19th century every major publisher was there and on the night of the attacks, some 5 million books went up in smoke. As Hutchinsons were there too, this probably included much of the stock of James Agate's "Speak for England", which probably wasn't really too much of a loss.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Cat Strutting.


It's been a strange morning - I didn't feel great and ended up having a very long lie in in bed. It's not like me and it isn't good. Apart from anything else it allowed me to think about various moments in my life that could have gone better and each of which would have changed the whole direction of my life.......for the better.

Of course I would have to have been a completely different person.

When I eventually did get up I was faced with a surreal situation - Robyn had been going around the house tidying up things.

Meanwhile, at exactly the same time, Sydney the cat was running around the house chasing a mouse, scattering stacks of CD's and overturning tidy piles of stuff in her frantic chase.

It's really, really cold and it isn't just us who are suffering. All my life, the little field mice who lived here before the houses, roads and airports came, used to seek shelter in the houses when it was cold.

Last night was freezing, so it wasn't a real surprise that Sydney found a mouse.

I don't think Sydney caught it but it's learnt it's lesson now and probably moved on. Meanwhile Sydney the cat is doing a bit of 'cat strutting'.

I have been enjoying another guilty pleasure - reading James Agate, a once famous theatre critic and columnist who was writing from the 1920's to the 1950's. His diary is always funny, often quite 'arch' and very much of a different time. He himself was always amusing, always in debt and occasionally in trouble.

I enjoyed this diary entry from Easter Monday 1942, which he headed 'A sad little sum'.

Agate received a letter from his publisher Hutchinson and Co, regarding the firms accounts for Agate's recently published book.

James Agate Esq.
In account for Hutchinson &Co. Ltd.

SPEAK FOR ENGLAND

Statement for 12 months ending Dec 31 1941.

1941
Jan 1   To Stock on Hand              ..        1603
Dec 31 By Stock on Hand            534
Destroyed by Enemy action         1069    1603

                                                     Sales         0

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Monday, 28 November 2016

Royal Surrey County Hospital - the scandal update.

It's just as well I hadn't planned to go down to Guildford Crown Court today to watch the start of the Peter Lewis trial - after months of delay he nipped in last week and changed his plea to guilty.

Check out the story and then I'll have my take on why this is symbolic of a real problem in the NHS;


get surrey
Royal Surrey County Hospital
Former Royal Surrey County Hospital IT director pleads guilty to corruption
charge


The cost to the hospital of the fraud committed by Peter Lewis and Richard Moxon is calculated to be some £81,000, a court has heard.

By Georgina Townshend
22 NOV 2016
 


Royal Surrey County Hospital


A former senior member of staff at Royal Surrey County Hospital and an IT company director have pleaded guilty to corruption in relation to the awarding of a contract for software to record data in the hospital’s A&E department.
 
At Guildford Crown Court on Monday (November 21), Peter Lewis, 57, of Windlesham, admitted receiving payments from Richard Moxon, 41, of Wybunbury in Cheshire, in return for awarding him an ICT contract worth £950,000 in 2011

Lewis originally denied one count of receiving corrupt payments in March, and was due to face trial next Monday (November 28).

At the same hearing in March, Moxon pleaded guilty to one count of making corrupt payments.

Surrey Police said Moxon each month would submit multiple invoices from different companies he controlled.
   
The invoices were all at, or just below, £15,000 - the value that Lewis was able to sign off without oversight.


In return for the arrangement, Moxon paid Lewis nine payments totalling £73,770, and made a further payment of £7,200 to a stables to whom Lewis owed money.

All the payments were made between January and December 2011.

The fraud came to light in December 2011 when the trust conducted a disciplinary investigation into his relationship with another supplier.

Subsequent work found that 40% of the ICT product supplied by Moxon did not meet the needs of the trust.

According to Surrey Police the hospital was able to recover some of the lost money by incorporating Moxon’s software into a new system in August 2012 but the trust still declared losses in its financial year of 2011/12 of £433,000 in respect of the project.

The direct fraud against the hospital was nearly £81,000.
 
Detective Sergeant Chris Rambour, of the Surrey and Sussex Economic Crime Unit, said: “Peter Lewis chose to breach the trust placed in him by the NHS and to feather his own nest.


"It was only through the diligence of the trust that his corruption came to light.

                              -----------//----------

All of that is fairly straightforward and not so surprising; a highly paid manager at an NHS hospital trust rips us off.

But there are a couple of twists to this story.

First of all, here's an extract from another article in 'GetSurrey', this one comes from 2012;

                         ----------//-----------

THE senior management team at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford has been thrown into disarray for the second time in as many months, after the deputy chief executive handed in her notice this week.

News of Sue Lewis’s resignation followed her husband’s recent dismissal from the NHS trust.

Mrs Lewis, who was also chief operating officer at the hospital, resigned from her post on Wednesday (February 8) following 17 years of service.


Her husband, Peter Lewis, the former informatics director, was fired following an investigation into irregular financial transactions.

Peter Dunt, the trust’s chairman, said the executive board understood and accepted Mrs Lewis’s reasons for stepping down and paid tribute to her "significant" contribution through many years of service.

“During the investigation which led to the disciplinary of Peter Lewis, evidence of irregular financial transactions emerged which the trust felt obliged to forward to the police,” he said.

“The police are now conducting their own investigation.
“These findings, and Peter Lewis’s dismissal from the trust in December, have been very difficult for the trust and undoubtedly had an impact on Sue Lewis as both his wife and our chief operating officer and deputy chief executive.

“As a result, she has been evaluating her position at the trust and has decided that the right course of action is to offer her resignation, which the board fully understands and has accepted.

“Sue has worked at the Royal Surrey for more than 17 years and has been a board member since 2003.
                              -----------//-----------

Now the first point is that while there is no suggestion that Ms Lewis had any involvement in her husbands dishonesty, it is surely completely inappropriate that a married couple should
both hold such senior positions in an NHS Trust - at the very least it raises suggestions of a conflict of interest.

So then I followed the subsequent career of Ms Lewis after she left Royal Surrey County Hospital in these unfortunate circumstances.

You won't be surprised to hear that she has had no problem continuing to earn a good living from the NHS.

For nearly two years she worked for Bart's Health NHS Trust
and here's an extract from her online CV;

• Member of the Trust Management Board
• Responsible for legacy Trust sites (including Royal London) and their performance
• Member of senior team that led the operational transition of the merger to form the largest Trust in England
• Responsible for identifying key issues in performance including A&E waiting times; RTT and cancer targets and supporting transformation in these areas.
• Led major bed modeling programme across Trust
• Trust lead for emergency pathway
• Represented Barts Health externally including HealthWatch, Tower Hamlets CCG and LA.
• Operational lead for Quality and Risk, including link for the CQC inspection
• Trust lead for Integrated Care, with membership of the WELC Pioneer programme.
• Supported the achievement of CIPs
• Deputised for COO for both functions (eg budget responsibility) and attendance at Trust and other meetings, eg FT preparation.


Now it was at this time that I was highlighting on my other blog, the extensive problems at this Trust. They certainly needed expert help. Unfortunately, it came to nothing - the medical and financial problems worsened until in 2015, Bart's Health was placed in special financial measures, because it's finances were in such a disastrous state.

So where did Ms Lewis do then?

She chose self employment and created her own consultancy company......which has been engaged by 'Monitor', the health service regulator which is there to raise standards in the NHS.

Here's what she's been up to over the last couple of years advising three trusts who were placed in special measures;

Working as an Improvement Director with the Health Regulator, Monitor/NHSI with three contracts over the last two years. One at East Kent Hospitals and a second at Colchester NHS FT. Have recently successfully completed a similar role at Peterborough & Stamford Hospitals NHS FT.Significant work in ensuring improvements in all areas performance alongside each Board.

Led refresh of Boards where necassary.

Drove improvement through PMO's.

Acted as challenger, advisor and supporter for Trust teams ensuring improvements.

Worked with various external stakeholders and other in the political landscape.

Last contract due to end September this year.


Now it may just be me (and there is no suggestion Ms Lewis has broken the law or is personally incompetent) but is she the most suitable person to be involved in highly paid roles sorting out NHS Trusts which have been placed in special measures?

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Wraysbury Macmillan Cancer Support Christmas Bazaar.

I don't know, I was doing really well.

Thursday we went shopping or, at least, I pretended to while Robyn did all the work.

Friday was really very good - I went out on my own. I drove to my doctor's to get the prescriptions then back to Tesco's to order the meds. Then spent 20 minutes wandering around the store until they were ready. I was invincible.

Then on Saturday morning when it actually mattered I was in agony!

Never mind, we were doing a sale at the Wraysbury Macmillan Cancer Support Christmas Bazaar, so I had to be there.


I've been going to their events for most of my life but now Robyn is making jewellery it seemed only natural to have a stall ourselves.

It was very Christmassy;


And there was a good crowd having a coffee and a chat.


After we didn't do so well at the Poultry group's sale a couple of months ago, I didn't have very high hopes, but were determined to have a go.


Robyn's been making jewellery for over a year - based on things we collected on our adventures and things that matter to her.

All the jewellery is either reclaimed, recycled or recreated and when I look at it I remember where we were and what we were doing at the time.


It's all very unique; one piece may be based on shells we collected while another was moulded out of a recycled milk carton. Because it's so personal, Robyn started a Blog where she writes the story behind each piece.

You can check out 'The Dangling Journey' here;

http://thedanglingjourney.blogspot.co.uk/

This time Robyn made a whole batch of jangly Christmas earrings and they went really well;



In fact she had some good sales and I sold a couple of pots of my marmalade too. We've not made our fortunes and, strangely, no one wanted to buy my collection of historic Shot Glasses.......again but we came out well ahead which was nice.

We also had a nice morning, chatted with a couple of people and the cost of the stall went to a very good cause.

And in the afternoon my hips thawed out a bit and I collected some wood for a fire.

Good day.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Saturday, 26 November 2016

For Fidel.





                                       For Fidel.



I am a truthful man                                           
from the land of the palm trees.                         

And before I die                                                  
I like to share the songs of my soul.                    

My songs are like a soft whisper                           
and of a crimson red.                                            

My songs are a wounded fawn                             
that searches for the protection of a mountain.                   

With the poor of the earth                                   
I would like to share my fate .                                 

The streams of the mountain range                       
please me more than the sea.                            

Guantanamera.

By José Marti.


Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Friday, 25 November 2016

Thanksgiving 2016.

I can't pretend it hasn't been a struggle; we've been together through three Thanksgivings and up till now they never happened.

In 2014 we had all the ingredients ready when I got a very bad dose of Flu and coughed so bad that I broke my back. Of course, I didn't realise that at the time but that's what happened. Back then the main problem was just that I could have died from the infection. At the same time my Mum was getting more and more ill and ended up in hospital. So the meal never happened.

Then last year I had to go into hospital for a couple of days for a kidney operation - except that wouldn't stop bleeding and I ended up there for a week - again no Thanksgiving.

So this year I was determined it was actually going to go ahead but in my heart I felt something was going to go wrong again.

It didn't! So Robyn ended up spending the whole day in the kitchen.

Ooh!




There was 'string bean casserole' and 'succotash' bubbling away on the cooker;


And a feast;


Pumpkin Pie to follow;


We made it and if I didn't really understand what it was all about, it didn't matter......it took us a couple of years to get there so it was worth it;


Happy Thanksgiving!

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Don't do the Things.


Many thanks to Chole Nicole for sending me this on facebook; I'm not religious but it's still very funny.
The stories of the Bible in TL:DR form
(Too Lazy: Didn't Read)

GENESIS
God: All right, you two, don't do the one thing. Other than that, have fun.
Adam & Eve: Okay.
Satan: You should do the thing.
Adam & Eve: Okay.
God: What happened!?
Adam & Eve: We did the thing.
God: Guys
THE REST OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
God: You are my people, and you should not do the things.
People: We won't do the things.
God: Good.
People: We did the things.
God: Guys
THE GOSPELS
Jesus: I am the Son of God, and even though you have done the things, the Father and I still love you and want you to live. Don't do the things anymore.
Healed people: Okay! Thank you!
Other people: We've never seen him do the things, but he probably does the things when no one is looking.
Jesus: I have never done the things.
Other people: We're going to put you on trial for doing the things.
Pilate: Did you do the things?
Jesus: No.
Pilate: He didn't do the things.
Other people: Kill him anyway.
Pilate: Okay.
Jesus: Guys
PAUL'S LETTERS
People: We did the things.
Paul: Jesus still loves you, and because you love Him, you have to stop doing the things.
People: Okay.
PAUL'S LETTERS PART II
People: We did the things again.
Paul: Guys
REVELATION
John: When Jesus comes back, there will be no more people who do the things. In the meantime, stop doing the things.



Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

“We can’t have a situation where I end up paying for the destruction of my own head office.”

After having tried to stop the unstoppable expansion of Heathrow Airport for over 40 years and failed it takes a lot to make me laugh.

As a student I spent a while at the public hearing into whether terminal 4 should be built - it was but with a promise there would be no Terminal 5. That was followed by terminal 5 and now a Third Runway. before long there will need to be a Terminal 6 and a Fourth Runway.

But just occasionally the script goes wrong - as this hilarious article from The Guardian shows;

The Guardian 22/11/16

The boss of Heathrow’s biggest customer, British Airways, only discovered that building the airport’s planned third runway would require the demolition of his airline’s head office after looking at a map.

Willie Walsh, the chief executive of BA’s parent company IAG, claimed that despite the group being responsible for about half of all flights at the London hub, he received no formal warning of the proposed demolition.

He said: “We were never actually informed or advised by Heathrow that they intended to knock down our headquarters.”

Caroline Pidgeon


Both IAG and British Airways are based at Waterside in Harmondsworth, which opened in 1998 at a cost of £200m and sits in a 115-hectare (280-acre) manmade park. Walsh said the HQ was “a fantastic environmental achievement on our part”.

However, it looks unlikely to stay that way. “The first I saw of it was when the Airport Commission report came out and I saw a map and I thought, that looks very close to Waterside,” Walsh said. “Then I discovered it actually went right through Waterside.”

Walsh’s grievance over his doomed HQ has been compounded by the prospect of being effectively charged for the compensation bill.

While all properties in the path of the runway will be compulsorily purchased at 25% over the market price, the way Heathrow’s charges are set by the Civil Aviation Authority means that airlines are likely to pay more to operate from the airport as expansion costs grow.

Walsh said: “That compensation goes into the regulatory asset base and we end up paying 56% of that.

“We can’t have a situation where I end up paying for the destruction of my own head office.”

The Waterside affair may have contributed to apparent rising antipathy from Walsh towards Heathrow, which he lambasted as “fat, dumb and happy” at the Airport Operators Association conference in London.

The IAG boss accused Heathrow of failing to hold proper discussions with airlines about creating a cost-effective airport and expansion plan.

He said: “I don’t think they have the capacity to engage.
They’ve never had to go out there and encourage airlines to operate from [Heathrow], unlike every other airport … Heathrow sits there fat, dumb and happy, waiting for the queue to build up.”

In approving Heathrow’s expansion plans last month, the government said that increased domestic flights from around the UK would be a precondition.

But Walsh stated that his airlines would not operate routes to airports such as Newquay in Cornwall, “even if [Heathrow chief executive] John Holland-Kaye got down and begged me”.


Well, it made me laugh, anyway.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Sustainablitity and Transformation Plans.

As if wasn't enough to just be ill - the National Health Service is going through a major transformation and the funny thing is no one knows about it and no one (by which I mean us) has any say in what happens.

Since December 2015, the NHS has been drawing up a "multi-year Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP)", which sounds just fine.

That involves creating 44 STP 'Footprints' which also sounds just fine.

However, it isn't fine and the clue is that we aren't allowed to know what the STP's involve, there has been no consultation and no democratic debate about the development of the plans and the NHS has been refusing to disclose information under the Freedom of Information Act, to which we ought to have access.

While there's nothing wrong in having a plan (heaven knows the NHS could do with one) the problem is that everyone knows that healthcare is currently not sustainable without a further injection of money or a reduction in services.

The problem is that as healthcare is bundled into bigger and bigger areas, they will cut services and centralise them with no thought about transport links or costs. So it becomes sustainability for the organisation and not for the patients or staff.

As the tory government has made it clear there is no more money available it means cuts are being prepared.

Effectively, the NHS has re-divided the map so that each STP area now includes a number of Clinical commissioning Groups; those are the doctors bodies that commission healthcare from hospitals. The CCG's were set up so that clinicians were, in theory, in charge of commissioning healthcare. The NHS Hospital Trusts were set up to be independent bodies which would become efficient suppliers of healthcare.

Grouping CCG's together at the same time as not increasing the money needed for an aging and increasingly ill population means cuts.

And as the majority of NHS Hospital trusts are now operating with financial deficits this means cuts in services.

Independent estimates are that all hospitals are likely to be cutting beds under the STP's and a third will be closing their Accident and Emergency departments.


Anyone who has attended and A and E recently will know that the service is already at breaking point, the statutory requirement of admission or discharge within 4 hours is now regularly broken even by good hospitals and the queues are incredible.

This week it was announced that (again in breach of statutory guidelines) hospitals are operating with 98% of beds occupied. Full beds mean A and E patients waiting on trolleys and routine operations being cancelled. How can more beds and wards be closed?

As I said earlier, neither patients, local authorities, parliament or the press actually know what is being planned. The only clue is in the new 'footprints which give a clue as to which Accident and Emergency departments will close.

You can try and work out how it applies in your 'STP' here by downloading the "map of STP footprints in England'.

https://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/futurenhs/deliver-forward-view/stp/


Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Monday, 21 November 2016

The Price of Art in Luton.

I'm coming down off the worst of the pain now, which is more of a surprise than the hurting in the first place.

Here's a stolen John Hegley poem to celebrate.

The Price of Art in Luton
On the bridge approaching the railway,
the man was begging.
I said draw me a dog
and I'll give you a quid.
So I gave him some paper
and he did.
And I said, there you go, mate,
you can make money out of art!
Will you sign it?
As I handed him the one pound thirty-odd
I had in my pocket,
he informed me that the signed ones were a fiver.


By John Hegley.


Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com
 

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Thursday I don't care about you, it's Friday I'm in Love.


So it's Friday and I spent the whole afternoon on a bed getting my Chemo, which isn't working. We got out at about 5-30pm and I'm in a lot of pain so it takes a while to get to the car and we end up in the rush hour traffic, which is painful when you legs hurt.

We end up on the main road west and turn the radio on and the Friday request show is playing 'The Cure's' 'It's Friday, I'm in love and we are singing along.

I'm not the biggest 'Cure' fan but this is just the best Friday afternoon song ever.

Here's the video; a masterpiece of 1980's Art School Imagination.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wa2nLEhUcZ0

And if the link doesn't work here are the lyrics anyway.

"Friday I'm In Love"
I don't care if Monday's blue
Tuesday's grey and Wednesday too
Thursday I don't care about you
It's Friday I'm in love

Monday you can fall apart
Tuesday, Wednesday break my heart
Thursday doesn't even start
It's Friday I'm in love

Saturday wait
And Sunday always comes too late
But Friday never hesitate...

I don't care if Monday's black
Tuesday, Wednesday heart attack
Thursday never looking back
It's Friday I'm in love

Monday you can hold your head
Tuesday, Wednesday stay in bed
Or Thursday watch the walls instead
It's Friday I'm in love

Saturday wait
And Sunday always comes too late
But Friday never hesitate...

Dressed up to the eyes
It's a wonderful surprise
To see your shoes and your spirits rise
Throwing out your frown
And just smiling at the sound
And as sleek as a shriek
Spinning round and round
Always take a big bite
It's such a gorgeous sight
To see you eat in the middle of the night
You can never get enough
Enough of this stuff
It's Friday
I'm in love

I don't care if Monday's blue
Tuesday's grey and Wednesday too
Thursday I don't care about you
It's Friday, I'm in love

Monday you can fall apart
Tuesday, Wednesday break my heart
Thursday doesn't even start
It's Friday I'm in love

The Cure.

Just the cure for a long afternoon in Chemo.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Saturday, 19 November 2016

To the Ends of the Earth with Norman Akroyd R.A.

What an amazing, if austere sight;


At the entrance to Charing Cross Hospital is an array of etchings by Norman Ackroyd R.A. donated to the Imperial College Healthcare Art Collection by the artist himself. In 2017 they will be moving on to St. Mary's and Hammersmith Hospitals by turns.

Atkinson has drawn some amazing views of the barren outposts of the Irish and Scottish Coasts and Islands.

This amazing and gaunt picture is of 'Stac An Armin' on St. Kilda, a very remote group of islands on the furthermost edge of the Outer Hebrides.

It could be the ends of the earth.

A couple of years ago Akroyd was filmed by BBC 2 to show how etchings are made from his London studio. This usually follows a fairly precarious spell sketching on a boat on wild seas before returning to London and carving the images onto copper plates which are then differentially acid washed to create the shading and detail before the printing process begins.

So it was nice to be face to face with the pictures themselves; pictures of wild and windy outposts, of borderlands and frontiers, literally of the ends of the earth, of World's End.

Meanwhile I had a really, really painful couple of days which (of course) had to coincide with two days of hospital appointments and chemotherapy.

I got yet more bad news - I think I would have been more upset if I hadn't been in such pain. The journeys were a struggle.......as if I'd just made a dramatic boat trip to the Outer Hebrides themselves.

So I had a bleak couple of days.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Friday, 18 November 2016

Holly Berries.

It's enough to cheer anyone up........
  

........almost.

It's been freezing cold and after a couple of milder days it's getting cold again.

I'm trying to get into the festive spirit but it's not so easy. I saw this variegated holly on Sunday and stole a picture of it.

In some ways I prefer the traditional dull green, especially for Christmas. But it made a change seeing this in the winter sunshine.

And I was reminded of the Seamus Heaney poem 'Holly';

Holly

It rained when it should have snowed.
When we went to gather holly

the ditches were swimming, we were wet
to the knees, our hands were all jags

and water ran up our sleeves.
There should have been berries

but the sprigs we brought into the house
gleamed like smashed bottle-glass.

Now here I am, in a room that is decked
with the red-berried, waxy-leafed stuff,

and I almost forget what it’s like
to be wet to the skin or longing for snow.

I reach for a book like a doubter
and want it to flare round my hand,

a black-letter bush, a glittering shield-wall
cutting as holly and ice.

–Seamus Heaney

 
Which is about an older man reflecting on how hard life was when he was young - how the Christmas Holly they gathered (free) back then never had any berries. All the while he sits in his rich, old mans house, enjoying his Holly with glorious berries and thinking back to when he was young.

I think you would probably have had to have gathered your own berryless Holly to understand that!

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Getting slapped down by St. Peter's Hospital, Chertsey, Accident and Emergency.


Now I've heard it all - and it takes a lot for me to quote a story from 'The Sun', which is a newspaper I don't have much respect for.

However, this story is too good (bad) to leave out - it relates how a medic at the Accident and Emergency department at St. Peter's Hospital slapped a patient.

If this allegation is correct it's a new low for the Accident and Emergency Department.

As the victim correctly points out, if he'd hit a medic he would have gone straight to jail. We'll see what, if anything, happens now.

You can watch a video of it here;

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2182292/shocking-moment-a-st-peters-hospital-nhs-medic-attacked-patient-he-was-treating-in-ae/

Here's the article if the link doesn't work;

HOSPITAL 'ASSAULT' Shocking moment a St Peter’s hospital NHS medic ‘attacked
patient he was treating in A&E’


The medic 'took his patient hostage', refusing to take the needle out of his arm
until he deleted the video

 By BRITTANY VONOW 

15th November 2016, 8:03 am


Adam Clark was slapped over the head by a doctor at St Peter's Hospital, Surrey
HOSPITAL ASSAULT

THIS is the shocking moment a NHS medic attacked a patient while carrying out a blood test at a London hospital.

Adam Clark, 38, was filming the blood test when the St Peter’s Hospital staff member aggressively slapped him over the head, grabbing his phone out of his hands.

Sun Exclusive

Adam Clark was having a blood test and recording the procedure when the medic at St Peter’s Hospital slapped him


The shocked bricklayer says he was then “held hostage” by the man, who held the needle in his arm and refused to take it out until the video was deleted.

Mr Clark recounted the attack to The Sun Online, reliving the moment he was assaulted by the man charged with the task of helping him.
He said: “The doctor was taking blood out of my arm at the time, and I started to film it".

Mr Clark, 38, reported the incident to Surrey Police, saying the confrontation was unacceptable. The medic’s slap left the patient feeling shocked and vulnerable

Adam Clark decided to speak out after the Friday night attack

“He snatched the phone out of my hand and then slapped me round the face.

The Shepperton local said he had been filming the blood test to show his boss – to prove he had gone to the hospital after complaining of feeling ill for a number of weeks – but the tests at A&E descended into chaos in a matter of moments.

Mr Clark said: “He ripped the phone out of my hand and he had a hold of the needle and was squeezing it, saying delete it, delete the video.
“I said to him ‘let go’ but he kept squeezing until I deleted it.”
It is understood the staff member was a healthcare assistant but Mr Clark confirmed to the Sun Online that the hospital told him that the man involved was a doctor.

Mr Clark spoke out of his discomfort during the confrontation on Friday night, saying: “I felt really vulnerable in that situation.
“It was horrible.”
He said the medic then told him that it was not permitted to film during a blood test.

Mr Clark said: “If he had of said – ‘you can’t do that’, I would have said ‘OK’ and stopped.
“But it was such an aggressive attack.
“When you’re in a situation where you feel a bit vulnerable anyway, it’s such a shock.”

In the video, the professional can be heard stating “you’re recording” before slapping the patient. Mr Clark deleted the video but later found it in his deleted items folder on his phone.

The medic took issue with the patient recording – but instead of speaking to him about it, he chose to slap him over the head.

 
Adam Clark has now reported the confrontation to Surrey Police, who are investigating Mr Clark said he was going to let the attack go but then thought twice.

He told The Sun Online: “I thought to myself, if I had of slapped him around the face, I would be in the police station. “I don’t see why he should get away with it.”

He said after the confrontation unfolded, he had spoken with nurses, with the St Peter’s Hospital staff member taken off the hospital premises.

He added that a manager of St Peter’s Hospital had come to speak with him, telling the 38-year-old the hospital was not taking the confrontation lightly.He also rang police, making an official report.

A Surrey Police spokesperson said: “Surrey Police is investigating following a report that a man was assaulted at St Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey on Friday, November 11 at 7.30pm.“Enquiries are on-going.”

A spokesperson for the Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust told The Sun Online: “We are aware that an incident between a patient and a Health Care Assistant, which occurred in our A&E department on Friday 11th November, has been reported to Surrey Police.

“We always take concerns and allegations raised by our patients extremely seriously and have already begun our own internal investigation. At the same time we will, of course, cooperate fully with Surrey Police.

“Until these investigations are completed, we are unable to comment further.”

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

All I want for Christmas is you.

We went to John Lewis, the department store, and it stressed me out - as usual.

The only reason I ever went there before was for my Mum, usually having to take a precious day off work to do it, searching for one of the many things she wanted that 'they don't make any more'.

Back in the 2000's John Lewis usually had those kind of things, today they are a bit more modern.

On one occasion we had a coffee in the restaurant, which was full of the 'Ladies who Lunch', which meant that you couldn't hear yourself think for the noise.

There was a problem at the counter and after a very long wait my Mum got a coffee that was so weak there was virtually no coffee in it at all while mine was so strong I was still hyper at midnight.

We go to the High Wycombe store because you can park free. It's a town with some problems and some poor people but in a 30 or 50 mile radius you have some of the richest people in the country.

And it shows at John Lewis; I hate the store. The only reason we were there was because Robyn has wedding presents to spend, for which I am very grateful. The problem is that I don't want Robyn to saddle herself with a lot of sad memory baggage when I'm gone, while Robyn sees it differently to  me.

So for a variety of reasons I was stressed out and on the way there I actually lost my temper with myself in the car for forgetting my camera. The air turned blue.

When we arrived I found I'd had it with me all the time.

As I drove into the car park I was reminded of my most acutely painful visit to the store. My Mum had been trying to find a very small table for the kitchen - so small no one made them at that time. I hunted high and low and in the end we went to John Lewis and found one.

She also wanted a 'Butcher's Block' trolley and this was also at a time when you couldn't find them....now they are everywhere.

We found the table and they delivered it for nothing. It was even more surprising because it arrived in two separate pieces and I could have easily got it into my tiny car myself.

I bought the Butcher's Block too - which was good quality and reasonably priced but, because it wasn't in 'furniture' like the table but in 'kitchenware', you had to pay for delivery.

That would have been another £75 on top - a fortune and over a third of the price of the F&$£ing thing.

I did my research and found that because the catalogue specifically stated that the wheels were not attached, I could slide it into the back of my small car.....just.

In fact, the package was so big I had to go to the collection area to get it. At which point I realised that the whole thing boxed up was actually bigger than my car.

At which point I lost it completely. Unsure what to do, I wheeled it on the trolley back to my car to have a think.

I should now explain that at that time I was quite stressed at work, overworked and exploited and as a result I'd been absentmindedly locking my car keys in the car.

So to prevent this I had taken to having my car keys attached to my belt by a short chain. I got into the car to unlock the back door, got out again and forgot that I was still attached to the car, which meant that I rather neatly bent my ignition key to a 45 degree angle in the lock.

Now I lost it 'BIGTIME'!

I had a butcher's block that was bigger than my car and I couldn't use my car because I'd bent my key.

After a while I calmed down, and found I could ease it out of the lock. I hunted around and found a half a brick in the car park. I then got down on my knees by a kerbstone hitting my ignition key with the brick to straighten it out, watched by a growing number of middle class ladies heading for their afternoon tea and a nice chat.

I may have been a bit red in the face during all this- it was summer.

I then undid the packaging around the butcher's block to take it out and slide it into my car. At which point I found that contrary to what the catalogue said, they had now taken to screwing the wheels on the trolley which made it several inches too big in most directions.

I lost it again.

After a great deal more huffing and puffing (to the consternation of the posh passers by) I actually managed to get it into the car on my own as well as a good proportion of the packaging too.

I then drove back, very sedately along the motorway, unable to see behind me. Then I had to get it all out again.

Nice day off that was.

And as I drove past the collection point all these memories came flooding back to me.

So John Lewis is not my favourite shop.

I did like this - a design classic from the 1980's;



It's an extreme juice squeezer, designed by Phillipe Starck, to look like an alien. I imagine it isn't totally practical but if I'd had a neater life and a better ordered kitchen, I would have liked one of these, once.

We didn't actually buy anything we were looking for but, after having gasped at the prices, I have agreed to return.

Grrrrrh!

The Christmas area was nice;


Lots of glittery things and some happy sales assistants still unpacking and setting up for Christmas.


Lots of Golds and Reds and Greens and a bauble which said "All I want for Christmas is you".



Aw!

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com