Swiss sterility.

Pretty full day for me yesterday, outing to pub for rugby and then to Kate and Tim’s for cream tea. Mike kindly came with me to the pub, acting as dog minder, there were 2 dogs there but both well behaved. And England won, so that was nice. Then at Kate and Tim’s, their 2 dogs are very well behaved and friendly so I feel better disposed to the woofers. When we left one of the dogs was lying on his back with his legs all held up straight, looked very funny.

Kate went for walk with Sally, they had a good time and it pleased me greatly for Kate.

Eating feeling very weird; I want to eat but am finding it hard to actually do so as I know it will either have no taste or taste weird, not as the food should. Same with drink. Swallowing is painful so this also affects the process.

So Switzerland, what to make of it. The gnomes of Zurich, home to FIFA,  neutral, Federer and referendums. They’ve had 4 major referendums this year alone, most recently on immigration restrictions which narrowly won. Means that they will be renegotiating with the EU and there will be tougher immigration rules. What caught my attention was a photo of a pro-immigration supporter holding a placard with ‘sterile’ on it. Many years ago Martin and I were in Switzerland and one of my abiding feelings about the place was that it was too clean, neat, tidy and ordered and this fueled my rebellious streak  (in truth never really far from the surface). I am normally very conscientious about rubbish, but found myself deliberately dropping litter on the Swiss streets and even stole a burger (from a Burgher), both things I never do any time elsewhere. There is something in this and I firmly believe we need bits of grit in life to learn, progress, develop and find the true pearls of life.

Neat link coming: I recently wrote about my concerns with regard to London and poorer people not being able to afford to live there. This will lead to London becoming more sterile. Figures in the paper today show that more younger people are leaving London, going to more affordable places, even Birmingham. This is good, these places will probably benefit and develop culturally, artistically, economically and socially. London will become like a Swiss canton. I actually think this a shame as I had many great years living in the metropolis and still get a buzz going there, I don’t want to go and feel I have to be a litterbug.

Manifesto 33:

  •  full and open debate about human population growth, what is happening, accurate predictions of numbers and consequences and, hopefully through consensus, a reduction in the rate of increase and a more sustainable and better future for the planet, it’s flora and fauna and our children.

Well, I finally ordered some bags for growing mushrooms yesterday along with a variety of spawn. I’m planning to set up a mushroom business. Will begin with some home based trials and have plans to expand, just need money, various resources, bit of land, customers, business plan, accountant, offshore account, remuneration committee to rubber stamp my outrageous pay and perks, including of course a very large and extremely necessary fixed allowance.

Further to my cognitive dissonance stuff the following is, I think, a brilliant example and takes irony to a new level. It is a comment by George Dale Wilkinson in response to a piece by Mehdi Hassan about immigration in the New Statesman, read it and weep:

“This is ridiculous from Medhi “Trotsky” Hassan, I moved to Spain ten years ago because I could not deal with the Open Doors that Blair opened to Immigration, I now would have a comfortable life here in Spain were it not for the often disruptive Spanish deliberately acting as if they cannot speak English when it has been taught in schools here since the 1940s, I have worked hard all my life to spend a retirement here and sometimes look back at the UK and wonder what has happened, if we are not careful we will let the (German born) Ed Miliband in through the back door, this will be a disaster for the country, I am glad I got out when I could, we need a real Tory government not the almost-Socialist shambles that is Cameron in bed with the Lib Dems, wake up!”

So, after yesterday’s ‘The Nazi Test’ title i got my first viewing from …………….Germany.

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.


The nazi test.

Felt pretty down yesterday. After hospital Kate and I went to Waitrose, I fancied a bacon butty so bought some expensive bacon and white rolls. Also picked up a few other treats I like the taste of such as a mature Comte and a range of ice creams. Back at home I made the butties and eagerly bit into them – nothing, I could barely taste anything. It may as well have been cardboard or a Big Mac. I felt very sad, I keep picking at different foods but there is now very little taste. When I tell people this there are broadly two responses; one group say “you’ll get it back”, “it won’t be for long”, the other say “I can’t imagine that” or “how awful”. I prefer the latter response. I know it will come back, although for a very few people it doesn’t, but for me now it is very depressing. It feels worse than losing my hair.

The ‘not so side, more full-frontal effects’ of treatment appear to be affecting me more psychologically than physically: physical  pains can be managed and pass the psychological pains are harder to manage.

Have resolved to get a load of the nutrition feeds, or whatever they’re called, when I see nutritionist on Monday and pour them down my gullet for as long as I can swallow. Also told Kate that I will have to stop torturing myself going to Waitrose, looking at all the food and drink, especially with the Christmas buildup, is ………………..stop your pathetic middle class whinging, enough already.

So have any of you watched the PPE microfilm? If so I’m keen to know what you thought.

David’s idea of a spoof Iain Duncan Smith blog is coming off the back burner and I’m hoping we’ll get it started in a week or two. Have working title of ‘The real Iain Duncan Smith by the real Duncan Smith’.

Come on Martin try and defend the fucker.

Already read most of the Guardian and not much has inspired me to write or rant, wonder what that’s about? Is it a boring edition or am I just looking for stuff that reinforces my prejudices? Maybe I’ll have a shooftie  at the Mail website.

So I have and there’s a piece about my local hospital with headlines of ‘NHS advises parents to feed their children junk food’.  Well, it is true and the Mail trot out predictable comments by nutrition experts condemning this. What of course is not explored is that this advice is only given to a very few mothers who have children who are having problems moving on from liquid to solid foods and that such junk foods might help the process, whilst of course supporting parents with further moves towards healthy eating. How easily the Mail presents a distorted image. They prey on encouraging people to make quick judgments which reinforce their predisposing prejudices, bit like me reading the Guardian earlier.

This Mail stuff links with a piece by Deborah Orr that caught my fevered imagination when she discussed reactionary populism, good term eh? She thinks it the “most influential force in contemporary English politics”. Further that it is an oxymoron and makes no sense: “a reactionary wants to return to class certainties” and a populist “claims to defend the people against elites”. Now who might be the key player of this reactionary populism, this oxymoronic senselessness, this cognitive dissonance, this pandering to xenophobia? The grinning gargoyle of course.

Good one from The Huffington Post as dear old Tebbit has updated his cricket test to checking UK migrants which side their grandparents fought on in the war. He could start with the mail in the 30’s and the Tory appeasers at the start of the war and the various MPs and royals who have a prediliction for wearing nazi uniforms, the various right wing groups already in this country who support nazi ideals, coca cola, Lord Darlington, Allianz, IBM, Chase Bank, Ford, Nestle, King Edward VIII, many American and some British companies and businessmen did very well during the war working with the nazis. So Norm, shall we start by naming all these people and companies and then throwing them out of the country? You ignorant old thug.

Manifesto 32:

  • educate people about reactionary populism and increase self awareness and understanding, throwing off the chains of ignorance and put Tebbit in the stocks.

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan

Not the PPE Party

So, an urging to begin, an urging of you lovely readers to urgently log on to and search for PPE and watch the microplay about politics. It is very different, extremely powerful and I was in tears at the end, it will only take you 5 minutes. You’ll then understand this blog’s title, how’s that for an urging on the madness that is ‘black friday’.

Had a new experience yesterday which was a little weird. Lying on the table at the radio saloon I could for the first time see my reflection on the glass fronted bit of the machine immediately above me. I saw the mask in full in all it’s holey mauviness, despite the many holes could see nothing of myself. Cris-crossing it were a number of luminous green laser lines, all quite weirdly futuristic.

We took in, at Kate’s suggestion, a box of shortbread to leave for other patients, I took one as we left as I love shortbread. The first bite was OK but the rest bland and couldn’t even taste the sugar. This losiing/changing taste is making me very sad as I am unashamedly epicurist. i told the nurse and she said it will soon return, I don’t want to lose it in the first place and am angry as well as sad.

There are still many things that gladden my heart, most especially my beautiful wife and family. Also thank you so much Julie and Jim, the flowers and thoughts really appreciated. And Tish, who I’ve only met once at Gillian and Mark’s wedding last year, and yet has sent me a series of thoughtful cards filled with enriching words.

So I assume from the relative dearth of comments from the majority of you gorgeous readers of this arrogant blog that you all agree with all my rants?

Can you spot when I’m steroidal?

Hey, I made a comment this morning online about the PPE microfilm, I was number 4, never been so high up in the order, of course there is every chance I’ll also be the last!

So another aspect of our crazy ubercapitalist world is that too many of us are working ridiculously long hours and it’s seen as some sort of virtue. Gaby Hinsliff writes about it and it’s something I’ve long been aware of and I’m in the ‘we need idleness as well camp’. She writes about Harriet Green, the recently removed boss of Thomas Cook who has 4 hours sleep, has a day filled with all sorts of executive style work practices and activities and reminds me of Thatcher. This supports their narrative of ‘if you want to succeed then you have to work hard and long hours’. Many also work long hours because they are paid so poorly and have next to no chance of being paid anything like the likes of all the kleptos.

Unfortunately for the advocates of this way of existence there is increasing evidence that it doesn’t work effectively and is detrimental to health and well being. Longer working can lead to heart attacks, strokes and diabetes and lack of proper sleep and rest to obesity and early death. It can all also lead to poorer performance. So seems obvious to me, share the workload and rewards out more equitably. Just have to get rid of all the privately educated and private schools first!

Manifesto 31:

  • a limit on working hours that people are paid for ( they are free to do whatever they want in their own time of course). Any attempts by the kleptos and co. to continue to encourage their mad working practices to be rewarded by an intensively relaxed education programme to help them see the error of their ways. Education and training in idleness to include contemplation of romanesco broccoli and other fractal stuff.

I wrote earlier in the week about my feeling vulnerable, especially when in the pub. I’ve spoken to some women since about this and they say how they feel that way when they go to pubs such that they either won’t go or will only go with others. Kate said how when she was younger she fought this and would go on her own into a pub and sit to read the paper, she would then get lots of unwarranted male attention. We were watching a programme on telly the other night about TV in the 70’s, it was very different, primarily in it’s overt sexism and racism. There was stuff that we are now appalled about, but, of course, we are still surrounded by sexism, misogyny and female objectification. What did cause me to reflect was when watching a young Austin Mitchell (now veteran labour MP) report on a woman trying to break the world record for swinging her tassled boobs around right in front of his face. Reminded me of when I was 18 and up from the sticks and at college on the King’s Road, London going into a pub and there being strippers. At the time a common thing. Initially caused me some titillation, but as I grew up, and I mean way beyond any tumescent penile growing up, I felt increasingly uncomfortable with this. It must have not only aroused men but reinforced the idea that women are just sexual objects to be used and abused at men’s convenience. Perhaps this continues to play a big part in women feeling vulnerable when they go to pubs. Bring back the women only snugs.

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.

Egg faced

Sat in the chemo bar with 3 fellow female imbibers and all female nurses. Woke up this morning with a very dry mouth, so it’s changed already from producing lots of mucus to very little, seems like the one salivary gland has already been put out of action. Throat also very sore, must get into the habit of taking painkillers, it is something that doesn’t come easily, I’m sure this is quite common.

Had the steroids already.

Still feel a little queasy, nothing to do with the 2 big cream cakes I had yesterday.

Drive to hospital absolutely stunning again, bright sunshine, still, crisp and lots of moody mist. Also an incredible cloud formation: it stretched for many miles,was uniform in height and looked like a cliff face.

I might have to stop listening to the Today programme in the mornings, not good for my blood pressure. This morning it was some reactionary economics/business presenter interviewing a union man about the awarding of the East Coast rail franchise to Stagecoach cowboys and Beardy carpetbagger. This person was playing devil’s advocate to an excessive degree, was patronising to his interviewee and may have been better described as a spokesperson for government/big business. For example he started by saying it’s good news for everyone with the announcement, that it will be good for government finances and any criticism of cowboys and beardy slapped down by the BBC apologist saying they weren’t there to defend themselves. The union bloke was excellent, put toady in his place, pointed out some salient facts instead of the lickspittle’s propaganda, called beardy a tax exile and more.

Is there some irony in that beardy’s company is called Virgin yet has fucked us all over?

Sorry, I tried to write a more upbeat, ‘positive’ blog and here I go again ranting about something or other.

According to a letter in today’s Mail, no not really, it’s in the Guardian: JM Keynes said in 1929 that he was in favour of banksters being paid a lot as he’d noted their somewhat psychopathic behaviour and this money prevented them drifting off into their normal habitat of organised crime.

Just one observation about Jack Monroe and her having a go at condom Cameron for using his disabled son in speeches etc: Gordon Brown never used the death of his son in such a manner.

I am acutely aware that I bang on about politics, inequality and the totally ‘Inadequate Despicable Stool’,  know that I’m easily caricatured as a grumpy old man, but I have for as long as I can remember been this way and until I achieve enlightenment will remain this way.

Just been speaking to Karen, my key nurse, spoke about a wide range of things including the more psychological effects of having cancer and undergoing very invasive, aggressive  and bodily altering treatments. Whilst no major enlightenment occurred it helped to talk and she left saying keep on doing what you’re doing, sort of reinforces the keep on keeping on.

Boris de Pfeffel twatface’s sister Rachel tweeted: ‘David Cameron why are you such an egg faced cunt?’ She claims to have been hacked but it’s still very funny. And why is Cameron such an egg faced cunt?

A pie chart: time had a pie chart in this blog, it’s one of my favourite diagrams. This one was created by Richard Murphy (it’s from Huffington Post : ‘The Personal Tax Statement George Osborne Doesn’t Want You to See’). Bondage George’s recent pie chart about our tax spend attempted to show how much was being spent on welfare and was extremely disingenuous. Mr Murphy’s tries to show a truer picture, and if it’s a true representation makes interesting ‘reading’: bank subsidies 4.21% (about £40 billion), unemployment benefit 0.67%. But the picture painted by Cameron and co and their friends in the media is that we’re spending much larger amounts on unemployment benefit. In fact, it would seem that more than 6 times as much susidises the banksters. This is just one bit of the pie chart, if you can be arsed find others for yourselves. Would be useful countering the grinning gargoyle as well. Much ado to-do about the confusion egg face and co promulgate. Pick the bones out of that sentence!

Ooh Tim, 2 images in 1 blog.

Manifesto 30:

  • Beardy Branson, the carpetbagging tax exile, to be banned from any business that involves public money. Then see how he manages to make any money without any public subsidies.

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.

Creaming education

So more adult colouring books are being sold in France than cookery books. Reminded me that Nico had given me an adult colouring book so I’ll be getting on with it and surfing the zeitgeist.

Swallowing getting increasingly painful but I’m determined to keep eating and drinking as long as I can. Just had a visit from Angie and John so we had afternoon tea (again) and we’d bought some big, thick cream cakes and mine was delicious.

My 12th visit to the radio saloon had me having a coughing fit at the end of treatment, not overly pleasant while constrained by ‘mask’. I now have a veritable pharmacopeia, know it’s not quite the right word but it is a very lovely word, of pharmaceuticals at home and need a pharmacist to dispense them as I’m getting too befuddled.

So Tristram ‘posh boy’ Hunt is promoting a new labour policy of private schools having to earn their tax breaks by helping state school pupils. Whilst it’s good to highlight inequality fostered and perpetuated through private schools there is much that is wrong with the latest proposals. Already we get right wing whinging from The Mailevolents and Torygraph with the usual class envy bollocks, but there are dubious aspects to the proposals:

  • the implicit prejudice that private education is ‘better’ and state education inferior.
  • that private teachers can benefit state youngsters with their expertise. A few years Dr Seldon, head of Wellington College, who has some good educational ideas, was spreading his expertise at a local state school when he lost his temper at an assembly. Maybe private school teachers could learn a thing or two from state school teachers.
  • Hunt doesn’t mention once one of the main, if not the main, difference between private and state schools, namely class size. Also, of course, the almost unbelievable contrast in resources and facilities.
  • it doesn’t touch private school’s charitable status; it’s incredible that these bastions of privilege are considered charities, no hold on, silly me as we do have socialism for the rich in so many ways.
  • private schools as well as charitable status get many other huge state subsidies, yep, the welfare state in action.

Essentially Hunt’s proposals are miniscule in relation to the overall true state of affairs and will do very little to change our class ridden and rotten education system.

A little anecdote: many years ago I was a PE teacher at Woolwich Polytechnic boys school, an inner city London comprehensive. The school had a basic old gym, an asphalt playground and it was a coach journey to the communal playing fields. There was an international standard athlete on our staff, Paul Williams, and he arranged an inter-school athletics meeting. It was held at Dulwich College (the grinning gargoyle’s alma mater). I can still vividly remember the look on all our students faces as they saw and realised what facilities the Dulwich boys had: state of the art running track, sports halls, dozens of grass sports pitches, astroturf pitches, and much more, all on site It is still the same nowadays, if not worse. Why do we tolerate this inequality and injustice?

Perhaps we are simply overwhelmed by the massive amount presented to us daily. Just take today:

  • current director at Tesco who 2 years ago was head of the Food Standards Authority and is now lobbying to prevent naming and shaming supermarkets who sell infected chicken that kills 100 people/year.
  • intensely arrogant and obnoxious Mellor in back of cab
  • staff at Save the Children objecting to Blair’s award
  • Iain Duncan Smith
  • Mark Donner, managing principal of London Office of Westbrook partners, owners of the New Era estate in Hoxton, London, and overseeing probable eviction of lower paid tenants has just bought £3.9m country mansion
  • new boss of BG (formerly part of British Gas) has £25m pay deal, even the Institute of Directors think this excessive.
  • new drug to lessen desire to drink alcohol (nalmefene).

Oh the unremitting negativity of this blog, but want to briefly return to education with this quote from a letter to the Guardian a few years ago from an ex-private school person: “As an escapee from one such institution,” he wrote, “my experience is that the ethos … instilled largely consists of overweening arrogance, a total inability to admit errors and a feeling of innate superiority to the rest of the population, leading to such joyous public-school-led adventures as the Iraq war and the banking crisis.”

Manifesto 29:

  • all cream buns to be like the ones we bought today: crammed with as much cream as possible without losing shape/falling apart.

There are still 2 cream cakes in our fridge,

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.

The risk of taking no risk.

Feel a little guilty as yesterday’s blog was the shortest and flimsiest yet, but I did feel particularly crap. It wasn’t just fatigue but also the reality of what is happening to me, the fact I have cancer and the not so much ‘side as full frontal effects of treatment’. There is such a difference between hearing, reading and talking about what might happen, frightening though that can be, and the actualite of pain and  discomfort and it’s miserable allies fear, vulnerability and weakness. This is what I think really hit me yesterday. Being in this crabby state, separated from my previous ‘normality’, intensifies the scary vulnerability.

In my previous life I considered myself more than averagely aware and sensitive (arrogant fuck that I was), I’m now rapidly learning that I didn’t know nothing. Being male, white, lower middle class, educated, healthy and fit, is an undeservedly privileged position to be in.

11 treatments gone, 1/3, 33%, but who’s counting?

Nurse asked me today if I was using aqueous cream on my neck, I said no and that I was putting on aloe vera, raw and virgin coconut oil, niaouli oil and if skin gets bad honey. She looked at me with some alarm, told her I’d discussed this with my consultant and he’d said OK. Her colleague smiled at me and suggested I was a guinea pig, I laughed and said I’d keep them updated. This nicely highlights some of the themes I’ve been attempting to develop in this blog, namely the one on einstellung and risk related stuff.

Aware of the possibility of boringly repeating myself I graduated last year with an MPhil; my question was ‘What Does Risk Look Like?’. Dear little naive me, not knowing what an unbelievably gargantuan monster risk has become in recent times, some argue it’s the biggest business in the world. My wee foray was partly premised on such concepts as increasing risk aversion, a misunderstanding of the nature of risk and the whole risk business (particularly ridiculous risk assessments) distorting our behaviour and understanding and actually hindering progress. I think my research did confirm this but I felt overwhelmed as the juggernaut that is risk takes people along like some unthinking tsunami.

And yet…………..

The first of this year’s Reith lectures gave me heart. Dr Atul Gawande (who I’ve mentioned before) is doing them and if you haven’t, check him and them out. He began with a story about a young medic who having observed putting tubes in horses veins for treatment thought the same could be done in humans, he was ridiculed so did it to himself sticking a tube in one of his veins and feeding it through to his heart and took some x-rays. It is now a standard procedure of course and he was given a Nobel prize. Imagine the risk assessment on that nowadays? All bleedin’ risk assessments do is stifle proper risk taking and progress, all they do is provide assurance and insurance. They’re shit.

Much of his theme was taken up with experience and ‘standard practice’ in medicine being a hindrance and sometimes very dangerous (looking for the ignorance beyond). He gave one example in relation to ebola and quarantine procedures. These are obvious and simple he said: isolate those infected and wear protective stuff. What wasn’t considered was how to take the protective clothing off to avoid contamination. There is evidence that much infection has been caused by health workers in such ways!

So the Mirror has UKIP goggles for sale so that when you wear them your world is filtered to “reflect the imagined world-view of a die-hard Ukip supporter”, for those scared by “sandwich makers”, “facts” and are “tired of modern Britain”.

So Jack Monroe has upset people with her tweet calling out Cameron for using his dead son in speeches and debates about the health service. Such emotive tactics do tend to close down proper debate and Cameron has used it deliberately and calculatingly. Then all the Mail fuckers and the like are up in arms about someone pointing out Cameron’s behaviour, they are pathetically sanctimonious and yet more evidence of cogniitive dissonance if they can’t or won’t see what Cameron and the Tories are about.

So Blair gets an award from Save the Children, surprisingly this has upset quite a few people, I really don’t know why as the nice Mr Tony does so much for the middle east and is earning a fortune from it.

Manifesto 28:

  • A full and total reappraisal of risk, to include creating proper risk assessments that include what progress and gains might be made, not just the hazards and dangers. All to be done on 1 side of A4 paper at most.

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.

Feeling crap

Lovely, crisp, cold and sunny day. Really enjoy drive to and from hospital as the autumnal colours are stunning, especially on such a day. Lifts the spirits which need lifting at the moment, two thirds through treatment and feels like it’s been endless. Now waking at night with dry and sore mouth as the x-rays really begin their collateral damage. Still eating and drinking OK. Consultant says to keep eating, drinking and talking as much as possible. So a day of action by NHS workers today. The union bully boys and girls daring to strike for an outrageous 1% pay rise. MPs getting 11%, RBS executives their £400,000 annual fix, how long does the average health worker have to work before getting that amount? Say 15 years, and that’s just for a little fixed perk for those oh so valuable and important masters of the universe wankers. So, thinking about the state of housing in this increasingly benighted country of ours, especially in the metropolis. All very well for the kleptos and co but of course it is increasingly difficult for the majority of workers: house prices and rentals rocketing, landlords increasing rents and poor tenant protection, housing estates being ‘financialised’, continuing council house sales and very little being built. All of which means that there will be an increasing dearth of working people in the city to do all the important work that keeps any community going. Or have Boris and chums got plans in place to create workhouses and the like for the poor and immigrants? Maybe some sort of kafala system? Jo writes in her latest comment of how in France there is much greater tenant protection, subsidised public transport and help with season tickets for workers who have to commute. So much more civilised than our tawdry, mean and reactionary government and acolytes in the media, business world and the like. Anyone listen to Today this morning and Humphries interview with the Polish ambassador. He really showed up Humphries for the shallow and reactionary interviewer and presenter that he’s become, have a listen on iplayer or whatever, it was rather refreshing. Sadly feeling very tired and lacking inspiration to write today, so brief manifesto 27

  • put John Humphries out to grass.

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.