Friday, November 30, 2007

The End

Well, it has taken me about 12 years but I have finally finished the Cerebus saga. Now, to be fair, this isn't quite as bad as it sounds. In that it hasn't taken so long because it is difficult to read, rather it has taken so long because it is a graphic novel (OK comic) and has been slowly released in book form over this time. It hasn't always been easy to get the next volume.

Cerebus started as a parody of "Conan the Barbarian" (he even gets to marry Red Sophia). And for a while that is where it stayed. A three foot tall bipedal aardvark who never quite fitted in with the world around him. Guest appearances from other characters began to appear, some real and some not so real, including Groucho Marx and Oscar Wilde. And then it started to evolve. It became a reflection on politics, then on the church. From parody to satire. The Rolling Stones appeared for a while. And then it got weird. Dave Sim, the author, probably does have a screw loose, in all honesty. And as you read the latter books you can understand why feminists hate him. And also religious fanatics. He becomes a fanatic himself and seems, by the end, to think that god has given him guidance that the rest of us have missed.

All the same, allowing for the weirdness, for the appearences of F Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemmingway, the Three Stooges and others, he does make good points. I don't say I beleive them, but I think they deserve consideration.
Cerebus is not a lovable character. Selfish, callous, amoral (rather than immoral), and a drunk with a temper. But he is also a character who can absorb you, sometimes the story line moves at lightening speed, sometimes like a glacier. But always, just always, wanting to know what will happen next.

The Chances Of Anything Coming From Mars.......

I have just watched "War of the Worlds". The modern version. With Tom Cruise. And my god it was dire. Take a classic and turn it into a nightmare. Didn't even have the good songs in it. Tom Cruise less than convincing. In fact the whole story less than convincing. I am tempted to describe it in detail so that it spoils it for you if you haven't seen it, then you won't have to sit through it. Now you could say that it is sci-fi so the story will be far fetched, but the point of good sci-fi is that it has an air of credibility. Which the original did (I am sure you know what happened, when it was first broadcast on radio it caused a nationwide panic becuase listeneers thought it was real). But right from the outset the premise was wrong in this version. poor, very poor, and a waste of 2 hours.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Out With The Old

I can't say what I have been up to recently at work. But it has been intense. Very intense, for the last few weeks. Effectively the project ended yesterday. I left home this morning not sure what I was going to do. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty to do. But I had to refocus. So today was spent re-organising my office. Took everything out, moved the furniture around. Threw out a lot of things I had been hoarding but not used in 5 years. Basically a cathartic experience.

I'm H.A.P.P.Y.

Shock news this morning was that people are realising that if the NHS pays for Herceptin then they have less money for anything else.

I am ready to be flamed for the following but it is a debate that is needed.

I understand why an individual would fight to be treated with Herceptin. Of course anyone who thought it would help them or a member of their family would do everything they could to get hold of it. But the NHS has a limited resource. For once I am not being political, whoever is in power there will always be limited amount of money that can be spent. And, as a group, we need to see that the more that can be treated the better. Hard choices have to be made. It seems easy to say "if you don't let me have access to the drug I will die", but the relaisty is that if one person has access to Herceptin then in fact many more die because there is no money for the other therapies.

The problem is that what we hear is individual storries. And every individual deserves to be listened to. But someone, somewhere, has to make the hard choice. Do we treat 75 people with Herceptin (with a 10% success rate) or do we treat 355 people with radiotherapy? Radiotherapy does have a lower success rate. herceptin is certainly a wonder drug. But the increase in numbers of people you can treat mean that even with a lower success rate the total number of people who survive increases. If we look at individuals then every single one should have Herceptin because they have a better chance, but if we look at the "herd" then we do better using the cheaper therapy.

It is a harsh reality. I wish that the NHS had enough money to do everything. But it is a bottomless pit, and there will always be a newer more expensive drug. The money has to be used rationally, and that means choosing what is best for us all.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


You may be given to wonder about some retailers. In a DVD catalogue just received, under the category of "Westerns" - "All Quiet On The Western Front"

Bring Diddly Um Pom Bring

Time was when mobile phones were unusual. Only the richest had them, and then they were cumbersome and more novelty than useful. Things have changed. Despite Dom Jolys best efforts they are more ubiquitous than ever. There are now 13% of households in the UK that have mobiles but don't have landlines. Isn't that amazing. But the UK is behind the times. Other countries are well in advance of that. In one Eastern European country there are now 127 mobile phones for every 100 people. Which seems weird. Who is using those extra 27 phones?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Santa Claus A'comin

When can you tell Christmas is on it's way? (As an aside, can you believe that a pub we went to today for lunch was actually advertising Burns night and Valentines!) The neighbours have put up their Christmas lights. Almost crashed the car in surprise and overshot my drive. It isn't even December. Now, to be fair, we do plan on putting up our lights this weekend, but at least we will be in the right month. One advantage of them having put theirs up is that I now know what I need to beat. Bit of shopping in the offin methinks. But no, the real way to know Christmas is here is that I just saw the Coca-Cola santa ad, definite proof.


It was quite a masonic weekend. My parents came up at the end of last week so this meant my father and I could go out to a Chapter meeting on Thursday (my weekend starts early). I am the Janitor at the moment - rather weird that the first real officer role in Chapter and I get thrown out so I can't see the ceremony. Weirder that I have lines to give, so I have to yell through the door when it is open. Actually it is a nice office to hold, you get to talk to the new (hopeful) member and try to put him at his ease. Anyway it was enjoyable, and also very nice to have an evening out with my father.

Then the LOI dinner mentioned earlier. A chance for those who regularly turn up to rehearsals (LOIs) to have a meal together with their other halves. And a lot of talk about a lot of things non-masonic. Simply a nice relaxing evening with friends. And we were lucky because the wedding at the hotel had an amazing firework display so we got to watch that as well.

Monday, November 26, 2007


It was a busy weekend. So some stories, if blogged at all will be out of order. Anyway, on Saturday we went to an LOI dinner (Lodge of Instruction, I will explain another time). It was at St Mellons Country Club (Charity Ball there next year in May, let me know if you are interested in coming). We were standing around chatting, having some drinks with our friends. This guy comes up to us and starts chatting. Rapidly realise he is a magician. not bad (although not particularly good). And I couldn't get a word in edgeways, because there was something I thought I should tell him. After twenty minutes he finally says "so do you know Emily or Trevor?" To which the honest answer, and what I had wanted to tell him, was "neither, the wedding party is in the room next door!"

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Deep within
Deeper than my soul
A scream
Growing bigger
Stretching the confines
Of the vault I built
And the groaning
Of the locks
Under the constant pressure
Are as nothing
To the hurricane
On its release


Every time you hurt me
Wound me
Drag the burning knife
Across my soul
With a word
A picture
A simple look,
Every time, again
I raise a wall
A shield
To fortify my world

Until now
I look around
My small cocoon


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Physician Heal Thyself

Yesterday it was reported in the news that the UK has the worst survival rates after serious trauma of any developed country. In fact our survival rates are as low as 16% whereas in America, a country oft slated for its health care, the rates are up to 43% (although this may be partly because they have more experience with serious trauma). So to hear the government patting themselves on the back this morning because the health service has £2 billion surplus this year does not seem quite right. There is only one way that a service can go from a massive deficit one year to a surplus the next and that is to be cutting that service to the bone. I don't want to hear that the NHS has a surplus, I want to know that every penny has been spent so that we can get the best from our taxes. Both deficit and surplus represent inappropriate spend and misuse of our money. Good use of a budget requires understanding what is available and spending correctly, investing in the correct areas. Missing budget, either positively or negatively, shows a failure in budgetary management (at best setting the budget incorrectly so that you can look good by coming under it, at worst fiscal incompetance).

Useless Information

For quite a few years I have been wondering why a car manufacturer would call its 4x4 "Touareg". I finally found out (thank you Radio 4). The touareg are a nomadic tribe who wander around the deserts.

Sometimes you find something you can't help but wish you'd written.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Down and Out

I am not a football fan. Rugby yes. Cricket yes. Ice hockey yes. Football no. Never have been. but watching the England Croatia match this evening was like watching a train crash in slow motion. It was rubber necking. It was impossible to tear away from even though I didn't understand the rules. I could understand enough to know that a score of 2-3 to Croatia was not good.

Pushing Daisies

You know, I kind of hoped it would be more

$4365.00The Cadaver Calculator - Find out how much your body is worth.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Tokyo is now officially the place to go for food. It has overtaken Paris (sorry ratatooiee) as the city with the most Michelin stars. This is the sample menu from one of the three starred restaurants:

Funazushi Crucian carp pickled in salt for a month, washed, pickled again with cooked rice and matured for at least six months Takoyaki Octopus dumplings with chopped onions, cabbage and pickled ginger topped with Aonori seaweed or dried tuna
Koyadofu Tofu “freeze-dried” by a traditional method. Courses cost 25,000 yen (£111) each. Up to 11 may be taken

The carp sounds especially appetising! The Michelin man looks very happy in the picture but should probably be careful not to end up as sushi.

Fagins Rules

OK, I think I may start to keep a running log of exactly how many disasters and cock-ups can be achieved under the Brown reign. This one defies belief. What on earth were the Revenue doing putting all that data on to discs, something that the law prohibits them from doing, and then, even worse, sending it in the normal internal mail (actually there seems to be some confusion on exactly how it was sent, but obviously not by a secure route). Then keeping the loss quiet and not investigating until almost a month later. Apparently the Revenue service have managed to lose 41 laptops this year as well! The systems at Revenue seem to be waterlogged rather than water-tight, maybe a left over from the floods earlier this year.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Oops Upside Your Head

"I also love the way you say "society needs to learn how to work for the individual" - I would phrase it entirely the other way round - though I think that's what makes us so different politically...". This comment from my previous blog deserves a blog of its own. I love the fact that my friends will challenge my beliefs. Anyway, I think this is an interesting philosophy.

The two statements do reflect opposite ends of a spectrum. I believe that society, that is the "we", should be working towards getting the best from every individual and the way to do that is to recognise that each is an individual, with different things to offer. By "getting the best" I mean realising their potential, as I believe that is how people can feel valued and respect themselves. Turn that on it's head, to the individual working for society, and we move towards trying to make everyone and everything equal, and therefore moving towards the lowest common denominator, providing for people does not give them value and a position it just makes them think that they are owed something and the world is unfair.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Further and Higher

This post carries on from the last but is separate because I want to get a bit more philosophical.

I believe a lot of the problems arise from making the simple mistake of confusing "rights" with "should". We all have a right to further education but that doesn't mean we should all receive further education.

As a society we are failing when we think that attendance at university makes better people. Universities serve a purpose, which is one of education, and it should be aimed at results rather than simply assumed to be something that is good to do. Not everyone is cut out to be a vet or a doctor. That doesn't make them any better or worse. Actually those that do go to university can get very confused over this important detail, and then they can end up believing that they are better than those who don't attend (this is so drummed into them at an early stage, "you are in the top 0.5% of the countries intellence" etc that it isn't exactly their fault that the world becomes somewhat distorted).

Society needs to learn how to work for the individual and to recognise that each and every one of us is different. "I am not a number" is true in so many ways. To value what each of us can provide and not to rate each other based on what we do. To find ways to encourage peole and make them feel successful based on their needs and their desires, not to make them feel failures because they don't conform. Respect for our fellows shouldn't be based on their education.

So, yes, everyone should have the right to further education, but that doesn't mean that we should set a target and push people towards something that is not going to help them in the future (and may also end them in more debt, but that's a different blog). Give people the right to go, give them the freedom to decline.

Time To Leave

It isn't often that I am going to be agreeing with a Labour MP. So make the most of it. Frank Field, however, is a very intelligent man. At a time when labour seem to be pushing everyone to stay at school until 18, Frank Fields is putting forward the idea that we should let them leave at 14. He puts in a caveat that they must achieve a certain standard before they can leave, which makes a good deal of sense, but recognises that forcing people to stay at school not only doesn't help them but also disrupts those who do want to learn. This comes soon after I made some similar comments in my blog.
We already have problems with truancy. It is associated with those who are performing badly and find school heightens a feeling of failure rather than inspiring them for the furture. Will extra years at school help with this? No, of course not. We need to find ways to work with individuals, not simply to stamp a "standard" on the whole. We need to recognise that, for some, staying at school could be more damagng rather than of benefit.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


I have been known to use this blog to diss bad service. So it is only fair that I should give praise where due.

Last night I was at an event called "Music on the Menu". It was joint hosted between the Radisson Edwardian Heathrow and Prestige Promotions. Radisson provided the dinner, drinks, accomodation while Prestige provided the entertainment. Prestige have the motto "making an event an occasion" and they live up to it. The idea was that in between each course of the dinner we had entertainment using some of the acts that Prestige can call on. This included "Shoo Shoo Baby", "Barwizards" and "Stringfever". These were all very entertaining but top scores go to "Damon Scott and Bubbles" and "Cover Up". While Damon Scotts act sounds simple enough - he is a puppeteer - I swear that almost everyone at the dinner (and there were about 500 guests) had tears of laughter. "Cover Up" (sadly I can't find a link) played a mix of cover songs and had most of us up dancing despite the rather tight space.

I was there by myself, "J" wasn't able to come, but the Prestige team looked after me and everyone had such a great time that there was no problem finding people to chat with. I stayed up until 0315 hrs but then decided it was time to retire to bed as I had to drive home in the morning.

The following clip doesn't show just how good Damon Scott is, but it is still worth watching:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Your hand
Reaching out
Fingers open
And we touch
An accident
Leading to a laugh
And knowing
It can lead to more
For once
An empty room
An empty night
Can at least
Be banished
For a few hours
Of warmth

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Didn't Dodge

I failed to see Squeaks warnings in time. Phone rang. I answered. It's the vicar. Can I pretend to be an answer machine? No, probably too late for that. But he said it would be quite a while before he could arrange something, that's not fair, I wasn't ready for it. So he's coming around next Monday evening!

Sunday, November 11, 2007


We don't go to church very often. Not as often as we should. But we do try to go to the 30 minute service that is held once a month. It is a special service for families with young children and it is very relaxed. No worries if your child makes a lot of noise or is disruptive (not that "A" is). "A" encourages us to go. Slightly worried today when we walk in and are asked to help distribute some leaflets before the ceremony. Obviously getting known now. More worried afterwards when the vicar asks if it is OK if he calls around some time. What can you say. "Yes, lovely to see you", while wondering what we will get roped into. (Especially concerned as they are just establishing a "mens group" to meet at the local pub every week!)

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Calling me
To plunge
To surrender
My all
Awake senses
In a burst
To experience
In a spark
Before drowning
In your body.

Bad Words

I am considering sueing for slander. 11 days ago I woke up with a swollen elbow. Well, woke up, I didn't really sleep much because my elbow was so painful during the night. I went into work and made a joke that I had golfers elbow from playing Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2008 (and that is obviously not Tiger Woods in the picture to the right) on the Wii. As the day progressed my elbow became more swollen. Next morning swelling slightly reduced (only three times bigger than it should be) so I went in to work but came home early because it was very painful. Now, I say came home early, but I came home and worked, it was simply more comfortable to use the laptop at home. After that I was not going to be in work (as in "in the office") for the rest of the week or this week anyway as I was working off-site. Note I WAS WORKING. Every single email I have received between then and now, every single phone call, has been answered. I repeat, I WAS WORKING.

Anyway, as to the elbow, I could use it, bend it, generally wave it around as normal, even play golf shots, but it was the back of my elbow that was three times bigger than it should be, burning hot and thickened, not the joint capsule but the soft tissue. I had an infection, cellulitis to be exact (advantage of being a vet, I can self-diagnose). By Friday I deceided it wasn't going to improve on its own and went to the doctor for antibiotics, who happily obliged and wondered why I hadn't come in earlier. So the Wii was vindicated, it wasn't an injury but infection.

Now back to what is happening at work while I am away. Rumours start. By the end of this week it turns out that everyone is saying I am off work sick because of playing on the Wii. I am fairly sure I know who the culprits are, one of whom is actually telling people I have a urinary infection (if you know how to pronounce Wii then you will understand). And I intend to sue for defamation of character. Can anyone point me to a good lawyer?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Eye On You

The other night I took some vets out for a meal. We went to a chinese restaurant. They were very proud of it, I think it was a highlight of the town. Although there was a menu you could just say "cook us a meal" and they would go off and devise something suitable. A six course meal in fact. Which included lobster. I have had lobster before. I like lobster. However I have never had lobster brought out and left in the middle of the table for ten minutes still alive. It was really a bit disconcerting. Trying to hold a conversation with someone while these lobster are in the corner of your eye, feelers nodding in agreement and expecting them to add to the discussion any minute. Now it didn't put me off, I think it is important that we accept where our food comes from, but it definitely went into the weird category of life.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Flying High

Go here to watch flight patterns which are stunning to watch (although possibly not recommended if you are going to be flying in the near future).

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Credit Where Credit Is Due

*Kiss on the Forehead ----"Forever you will be mine"
*Kiss on the Ear ---"I'm horny"
*Kiss on the Cheek ---"We're friends"
*Kiss on the Hand ---"I adore you"
*Kiss on the Neck ---"We belong together"
*Kiss on the Shoulder ---"I want you"
*Kiss on the Lips ---"I love you" OR "I want you"
*Kiss on the belly-----"lets have sex"

*Holding Hands ---"We can learn to love each other"
*A wink ---"Let's get it on"
*Slap on the Butt ---"That's mine"
*Playing with the Ear ---"I can't live without you"
*Holding on tight ---"Don't let go"
*Looking into each other's Eyes ---"Don't let go"
*Playing with Hair on Head ---"Tell me you love me"
*Arms around the Waist ---"I love you too much to let go"
*Laughing while Kissing ---"I am completely comfortable with you"

--Advice--*Don't ask for a kiss, take one.
*If you were thinking about someone while reading this,you're definitely in Love (or strong like).

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Load of (Ed)

So a few days ago I posted the question about what are our children learning at school. Is this response by the government to raise the leaving age the real answer? Compulsory education to the age of 18. But if they aren't studying anything of value then is there any real point. And, as they say, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. So you force our young adults to stay at school where they don't want to be. Are they really going to be learning, or are they just going to be a disruptive influence on those who want to learn?

I think a decent apprenticeship system would be much more beneficial. Let those who want to leave, leave. But give them something of value to do, help them to learn a trade (which at the moment seems to pay better than a lot of professions anyway). It isn't the leaving age that is the problem, it is the fact that people feels worthless.

Shakin Stevens

Well, not so much stevens as Gordon. I would imagine that Cameron is going to really start looking forward to Prime Ministers Questions. Brown is so easy to rile. And when he does get riled it shows so visibly. During the Queen's Speech today Gordon Browns hand could be seen shaking on the lectern. From his face you could see that he was struggling and immensely uncomfortable up there. This may have been something that he wanted for a long time but, as the saying goes, be careful what you wish for.

Monday, November 05, 2007

My Spirit Animal

What is your spirit animal?

Hawk Spirit
Hawk Spirit
Your spirit animal is the Hawk.
Perceptive, pragmatic and judgmental.
With the spirit of the hawk, one is capable of great knowledge, though they may fall by neglecting the views of others.
How do you compare?
Take this test! | Tests from Testriffic


Children at school are not learning languages. But for years we have been told they aren't studying the sciences. So what are they doing? If you aren't taking lessons in any of the key subjects then what is left? Are we producing school leavers who are able to pass citizenship and media studies because these are the easy subjects while we don't have those who can go ahead to be the future professions. Something isn't right in our schools (and it isn't the teachers).

Another Whisky

Early morning,
Hours ago
Bodies drifted
To each others arms,
Lights turning down,
One by one,
Washing glasses
With a look,
It's time to go,
But how to leave,
When all that's waiting
Is the cold
Night air,
And emptiness

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Whizz Bang

Once again thanks to Zippie and "D" for organising the Support Bonfire Night. Hard to believe that a year has gone since the last. In fact that means I have been blogging for a year (734 entries in 12 months, maybe quantity is outweighing quality).

Anyway, a great night last night. As ever good to sit around watching fireworks, cracking jokes and generally relaxing. With "A" insisting on going around offering people sweets (we tell children not to accept sweets from strangers but it seems to be OK for her to offer sweets to strangers). A lot of innuendo, something about the amount of whoosh leading up to a big bang but I didn't understand any of it. And there is a story of someones attempts to get to the party following directions of someone who obviously didn't get their orienteering badge as a cub, but you need to go here as I won't steal the thunder.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Listen To The Children

You can never be sure how a conversation with a five year old will go, sometimes pearls of wisdom fall. I want "A" to grow up believing she can do anything, and especially that there is nothing boys can do that girls can't. In one of those reaffirming moments following a comment she had made I said "there is nothing that you cannot do". She replied "nothing without a kiss".

Which I think is very true, with someone who loves us behind us and supporting us then the world can never hold a challenge too great.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Hot or Not

At the risk of appearing shallow, this really worries me, I mean, where am I going to get my sauce from?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Tally Ho

Today is the first day of the hunting season. Which may seem strange since hunting has been banned. However the hunts still go out as the law has left them with opportunities to ride.

I want to make it clear that although I was brought up in the country and although I used to have a horse myself, I have never taken part in a hunt and I am completely ambivalent about it. I think the time spent on the bill against hunting was a disgrace because there are more important things that need sorting, not because I support hunting as such.
That said, I can now continue. So Anne Widdecombe is leading a vanguard to get hunt monitors. But she is proposing using those who are already out filming hunts and taking part in anti-hunt activities. I am afraid that this would just be a means of legalising vigilantes and seems to be very much the wrong way to go. The hunt may not be whiter than white, but neither are those on the other side. By calling them "monitors" it makes them sound like they are in charge of giving out milk, but these people are often violent and abusive.

Anne also said that flouting the law gave the wrong signals to society. Which seems a difficult thing to claim when two politicians, those trying to win the leadership of the Liberals, have just gone on record that they would do exactly that over identity cards.