The treatment has started

Right, end of my first week of radiotherapy and just getting into the rhythm of getting to bus stop, wait for bus, travel to Leicester, get off (eventually) at the station, cross the road walk to the Royal, prepare for treatment, ten or fifteen minutes later reverse the above. So for less than15 minutes of actual treatment, I take between 3 and 3½ hours in travel. It seems the hospital have taken pity on me (apart from my condition) and arranged for a hospital volunteer transport starting tomorrow.

This is lucky, as all though I’ve felt OK last week, the effects have started to kick in today and I’m not confident I could do the bus journey tomorrow anyway. On top of that my blood pressure dropped like a stone overnight and taking it easy is the order of the day.

In case you actually were interested, the treatment is quit interesting. They put you on a very hard bed and the machinery tip toes up behind you and you get raised up to meet it – almost. Then the staff, move you and the bed to line up with the marks done at verification and with the words ‘don’t move’ they disappear. The machine rumbles into life and goes clockwise around you for 180º before going 360º anticlockwise – repeat as required. I’ve spotted that with me, the first one was two trips round, then two days of one trip, then 1½ on Friday – although I may be wrong. Then the machine goes back and a little face appears to say you are done, the bed lowers, get dressed and rush to catch bus home at the station. This bit varies on the time of day, if the bus actually runs and goes where you expect, but it looks like that challenge should be in the past.

I went to the local County and Borough councillor surgery on Saturday (as I was all right then) to see if the bus journey could be improved and they had no idea the ‘hospital hopper’ that travels round all the park and rides together with some local shopping areas, to the three hospitals, missed out the Birstall park and ride and shopping area. I got the usual excuses about bus services being private companies and have to make a profit, but I pointed out they were subsidised by the local authority who should have some say our money is spent so they will see why our area is missed out, although looking at the route and timings, it takes about an hour from end to end and with a 30 minute service, adding anything would involve at least two extra buses and they already include the 54A route into the hopper itinerary. Such is life!

I hope to back soon(ish).

Andrew Marr has had one, you could be next!

Well, I’ve been for my verification scan and got lots of dates and times between Tuesday and mid March for my radiotherapy, so this ‘thing’ may be a little erratic for a while, but in the meantime, Andrew Marr has a program soon on BBC2 about his battle to recover from his stroke. I admit mine isn’t as bad as his, but the problems are the same with the NHS taking the view that as you are still breathing and not falling over or in a wheelchair then that’s it. He had the same promises and lack of help from the ‘professionals’ as strokes result in ‘victims’ rather than patients who need care and support.

Do watch out for the program as you may be a ‘victim’ and at least you might know what not to expect from those who are in a position to do something and think yourself lucky that that we still have the NHS and the new President of America seems to have shelved the equivalent proposed by the outgoing President due to the cost. That may have had something to do with the idea of Insurance companies running it with the prospect of unlimited cost passed onto the patient. Perhaps the Conservatives could learn a thing or two as the current rush to ‘outsourcing’ NHS services in the interests of economy still misses the point that private companies would only be interested as long as they could make money without being accountable unlike a public provider has the electorate (patients) as watchdog. Even the railways have the same problem as only frequently, it’s overseas governments making the return on any investment (aka profit) to prop up their own infrastructure – you need to think about that scenario if you ever wonder where the income actually ends up.

In case the above has you a little confused, I had a stroke at the end of June 2016 and not long after, a test result led to more investigations and lo and behold, I, diagnosed with cancer. You hay have seen then news reports last week about improved diagnosis way for prostrate cancer, well, I had all those new and old tests so maybe they were to check the accuracy of each one but I’m not complaining yet!

This waiting around is worse than waiting to leave USE

As some know, I’m involved with the Gade Training Club in Kings Langley mainly as we have dogs who started doing obedience and have added agility to their activities. To be honest, it’s the main reason we moved as we got fed up trundling 100+ miles most weekends between Easter and autumn with caravan in tow to be in a field in the middle of nowhere surrounded by another 100 caravans each with 3 or 4 dogs each. Now it’s just 50+ miles! Anyway, I used to try and maintain their website after being provided with minimal information mainly because of something called ‘social media’. It seems than our move stirred the committee into trying to do it themselves, but as it’s all supposed to be up and running on the 17th, I just cannot find it, so I suspect it is deceased.

I’m supposed to be going for a bit of hormone therapy on Friday and then shoot along to the Royal for a verification scan for my radiotherapy treatment, then it’s the dentist next week followed closely by our bathroom being refitted. As I had little to do this week, the outside ‘economy’ floodlight outside finally got on my wick by staying on longer than it was supposed to, so up the ladder I went and it’s now looking sad and lonely in a box on the floor whilst I decide what sort of talking to I give it. It’s worked so far with the moles, so there’s hope yet.

As I think I only have a week or so before my treatment starts, I thought I might find something else to do that needs sorting. I’ve managed to transfer most of my cassettes and VHS tapes onto ‘shaving mirrors’ (you know exactly what I mean!!), so it looks like a new floor in the loft so I can shift some of the boxes out of assorted cupboards into the loft pending being sorted out over the next year or so depending on the outcome of my treatment. Glutton for punishment, that’s me! At least I got the garage sorted so I could get my car in. I’ve never had a garage to hide it in so we are making progress.

The recent damp weather enabled us to discover what a water meadow does in the rain. Apparently the river rises about 18 inches above it’s normal level and the meadow turns into an assortment of grass, puddles and small lakes covered by mainly geese and other water species although the swans have obviously found somewhere better apart from one pair who had their cygnets later than most of the others so they tend to have the lakes to themselves currently. Walking the dogs can be an interesting experience, I can tell you as they are not great water lovers apart from drinking out of the smaller puddles and the spring (we have everything up here).

The news is still full of threats from both sides with the USE President (from Malta) saying we can’t end up better out than we were/are in and Mrs may saying that we will walk away if we don’t get a good deal and to crown it all, Barclays and one of the American banking institutions are again threatening to move a lot of their operations to Paris – again. Mind you even the IMF are saying that all the doom and gloom has evaporated but did stop short of getting rid of all the so called experts who predicted exactly the opposite of what actually happened. It’s not what you know, but who, it seems.

Cameras and submarines (it’s been a funny day!)

So, Nottingham has bitten the bullet and going to do something about the disabled children being taken to school from their homes just a short walk away. This was one of the items I brought up a few years ago with our chief Constable and the standard answer was that they have to police by consent, so don’t like to make waves. Now, I admit it was around 20 years ago and down south, but it’s a national problem that no-one seems to want to incur the wrath of either mothers or motorists face to face. Combine the two and even the most hardened traffic warden or policeman would be attacked by hordes of sympathisers before help could arrive (don’t laugh, it was tried just once in my old area of peaceful, law abiding citizens).

It won’t take long for this mobile camera unit able to identify vehicle owners and allow the issuing of fines for breaking the law without involving physical violence (rather than straightforward motorist mugging). The problem I feel is that it’s black and white with no allowance for discretion. As an example, outside the Cedar Academy around Christmas a Renault car arrived on the pavement blocking the shared cycle/pedestrian pavement. A month later, it’s still there, although has been known to move and the owner obviously knows there is a problem following his/her wing mirrors being ‘folded’ back as school children/cyclists and other users try to pass. This week both sides have been folded back even though the hint has yet to be taken. As a cyclist pointed out it was difficult enough for him without thinking about pushchairs etc. or the kids all going to and from school.

This morning, Mrs May came out with the blindingly obvious regarding leaving USE. Apparently having no deal was better than one which was worse than out existing situation. Shortly afterwards I was watching the local news where they went to Birmingham (slight majority wanting to remain rather than leave) where they found just on person who thought remaining was the way forward and the Prime Minister should consider the referendum result as guidance rather than the will of the people. That is exactly the problem, as I expect if he wanted the country to leave and they voted to remain, his attitude would be the same – not binding, but guidance. It was made clear that whatever the outcome, the government would respect the wishes of the people and in this country, we have always had the first past the post system (unless it expected vote might be marginal) and Mr Cameron had been advised that the country would vote to remain by his experts and advisors. So much for experts and advisors!!. Even the Bank of England is begrudgingly admitting they got it wrong (apart from the pound value) along with the pollsters, the city, the economists and most of the politicians. What does it take to convince these people that Great Britain (aka the UK) is one of the best places on earth to live, has managed on it’s own for many a year and has influence across the world far beyond just allowing them to speak English!!

Sorry, but I’m afraid if they don’t like it here, there are many places elsewhere which are more perfect than us, but on balance, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. We just have to get the city and it’s cronies along with the government to accept this and work towards correcting some of our small defects, generally caused by outsiders trying to change us.

All together now -’We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine’ (repeat several times before joining UKIP!!) you all know the tune, so don’t dispair.

Moles and snow

What is it about moles? They dig away along Wanlip Lane from the Cedars to the corner then they must burrow their way through a few gardens towards Watermead and Wanlip Meadows and obviously come up for air in our (and next doors) garden. I give them a good talking too, smash the soil back into the grass, given them some water and within 30 minutes pop up to thank me – even to the stage that the new mound is visibly shaking with excitement on hearing my approach. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so kind? Or shall I send the dogs after him? If he’s not careful, the cat will bring him in as a present for me and promptly devour him. Not adverse to diet supplements our Fred!

Still waiting for the blizzard as I write, but the current debate is us where does the south end and the north begin. That’s the trouble with the Midlands. It’s in the middle, but the University of Sheffield has drawn a map roughly from the mouth of the Severn up to the wash but importantly going between Loughborough and Nottingham which suggests Birmingham and Coventry are in the North. Strange people these academics as I’m sure most of the work is done by the students without any reference to the real world. We had the same problem in the 90’s when the DOT let loose assorted teams on town planning with the proviso that funding would be available to correct any mistakes. Naturally out of 6 towns, the first got all the money to reverse the resulting disaster leaving the other 5 to just get on with it. I have every expectation that the projects were trumpeted as success’ and I know several of the ideas have been incorporated in town planning projects since, so now you know where some of these strange ideas come from. Such is life!!

Life goes on

Following an exciting rummaging around the loft (not even a foot through the ceiling) I found yet another leak in the flat roof of our garage – not that the two events are actually connected – the suspect weather forecast is possibly snow in the next day or two due to cold weather hitting some warm rain somewhere between the Channel and the Shetlands however the good news is that the manufacturers of my 2 year old car which has had a problem caused by the way I drive, and not anything to do with the vehicle, have refunded the money for a part I was fairly sure was the problem even though at least two franchised garages said there was nothing wrong with my car. Now it’s a case of waiting for some snow to see if it fairs as well as around the hills from whence we came from around the comparative flatlands here, although I admit they have been salting our road during the chilly weather even though it’s not currently a bus route but just a school bus route.

I see the NHS is in the firing line again and still cannot see how having private companies provide NHS services (needing profits for their shareholders) can be more cost effective than actually employing staf to do the work directly. The same problem occurs with most ‘nationalised’ public services and yet the penny has yet to drop that that money would be better invested in improving services rather than shareholders (often overseas In this day and age – remember our railways are largely owned by overseas governments), funny system ain’t it?

Mr Corbyn is doing a wonderful job of changing his mind from day to day and coupled with the indecision of Mrs May someone is going to have to bite the bullet sooner rather than later. Did I really see the suggestion of building pre-fabs to solve the housing difficulty? What a really good idea, I wonder who thought that one up. They will be allowing local councils to build homes to rent next to get the waiting list down. Oh, they already do, so why the delay? Or is it Conservative dogma getting in the way where everyone has to stand on their own two feet and fend for themselves?

Bit like putting employment in one place and expecting employees to travel for an hour or two to work every day. I can remember when they built the first new towns around London after the war, they moved the employment to industrial estates and provided homes – simply a development of the old system of an employer building homes to attract workers. Think of Cadburys, London Brick Company, Coopers, John Dickinson along with many others in steel making and cotton. We could learn a lot from our past heritage and updating it but that might be a little simple!

You’ll all be pleased to hear that I’m still waiting for a date to start my treatment but with the difficulties being reported concerning the Royal Infirmary here in Leicester in the A&E even though it’s an outpatient event, there has to be a ripple down effect as I know one of my scans was delayed whilst they transferred records onto a new system but we live in hope that the promised course will be completed by the end of February as promised (that allowed for some slippage anyway).

Depending on the weather I expect I’ll be back as we now have fibre!, so there!!

Our teasmaid broke! an other woes.

The wildlife has returned to the lakes but still only a couple of swans sheltering in a little corner of ‘our’ lake. The geese and ducks are back as it became a little warmer, but the forecast may put paid to that. I sometimes wish I had a machine gun as they all suddenly take off, making sure everyone knows what they are up to with the leader in front of a large V shape formation.

I’ve been having a go at installing some security devices to help the wandering 4 legged ones currently in operation, but naturally, the half day suddenly turns into two or three one I’ve uncovered more ‘modifications’ made by the previous owner and the strange way that builders work up here compared with down south. Gurgling drains are difficult to resolve and the sound of a water tank filling when you have no water tank can be slightly off putting. To add to our woes, the teasmaid clock stopped the other day so I had to switch to manual operation. Another job on my list! What do you mean, you have no teasmaid. Ours is only 30 years old, having replaced one of a similar age.

I forgot to mention the other day that the steam train was in fine voice over the New Year holiday and where else can you go to the National Space Centre, take a trip on a steam train and then visit a Country Park with the Grand Union Canal passing through it, all within half a mile? Yes, I know it’s nowhere near London so you can just dream on for the time being and let us newcomers enjoy it while it lasts as now we have fibre broadband everyone will want to come!

Meanwhile on the political front, the government are really getting themselves in a pickle and unable to get a real grip on any of the difficulties that seem to be overtaking it. Fire brigade solutions spring to mind currently which is no way to run a government with decision taking being put off as long as possible. Could it be that the current prime minister never really wanted the job but only got involved as no-one else could bind the conservative party together long enough to stand a chance of wining an election in 2020? There was talk of a ‘snap’ election following the nasty shock of the referendum result in June, but political opinion was that the Conservatives would lose, the Labour Party was/is in a shambles and could mean either the Lib-Dems or more likely, UKIP, actually forming some form of minority coalition government and they didn’t like the previous one. Party before country will always be at the top of the political agenda and look where it has got us! I’m not convinced this government will last until 2020 unless someone starts making decisions (good or bad). This limbo is doing no-one any favours particularly with the ‘experts, actually admitting they got it wrong and unable to just either leave it alone and walk away or change their attitude if they insist on keeping their jobs no matter what.

Now, for a small fee……………………..

Diplomats and politicians are as bad as each other

Let’s be honest, it’s about time the government was jolted out of it’s sand pit following June 23rd as very little has happened in the meantime even though the indecision is playing havoc with business and future planning. The little ray of light is the markets are also bewildered and marked down the value of the pound to protect themselves with the result that although imported goods were slightly more costly, many items have come down in price in the strange world of economics, but not in the real world suggesting that uncertainty has more effect than biting the bullet and making a decision. Any decision would do, honest.

The EU ambassador did make a slight error which was leaked and he should really have known better, but if ministers can show the press secret documents when around Downing Street, then not being used to the pressure he has suddenly been subjected to as a result of government inaction in his capacity as a civil servant then a good talking to, might be more appropriate given his expertise in negotiating at high level (which is in short supply at the moment), remembering that any final decisions will be made (hopefully) by politicians wedded to the idea of carrying out the wishes of the public and leaving USE.

I actually drove round Leicester yesterday without getting lost and quiet proud of myself although I was helped by light traffic so I could see the markings on the road as well as spotting the various road signs pointing me in the direction of the A6 (which would get be into known territory – getting to know a completely new area is difficult at the best of times but I’ve been ill!, so not able to get out as much as I would have liked. I saw the Royal A&E, Leicester Tigers ground and John Lewis along with seeing B&Q, Halfords and Kwik-Fit coming from an unfamiliar direction so making progress.

Off to a funeral tomorrow in Solihull, so another location to be discovered!

VHS tape, Scottish confusion and Agility

Trying to empty some boxes, I found a box of VHS tapes and a few DVD discs, so I’m going through what I might have recorded over the years and transferring anything interesting to DVD. Apart from a number of TV shows we never got round to watching, I’ve transferred the Demo Team practice and show in Gadebridge Park in 2002 in case anyone cares and I found a tape of my good self doing a presentation whilst on a course as Councillor with the Dacorum Borough Council in 1995 – I even had some hair then, but it does show how councils do their best to help new councillors help both to represent their electors and the Council to others. I wonder if similar things go on at Charnwood. Sadly, similar facilities are unlikely at Parish Council level which is a shame really as a lot of good people do not get involved locally because they get concerned on how to present themselves and their really isn’t the money at Parish/Town level even though they know more about what is needed locally.

Looking at another disc I sorted out pre-move proved to be Hi8 video from 1998/9 with a holiday at Golden Cap and that area around Dorset followed by our first two spaniels in our garden actually ignoring our cat, playing with each other before the time the Agility bug bit my wife. Watford Agility Club have a lot to answer for as they encouraged a little Cavalier King Charles to actually shout her way around agility courses which continued until she retire a few years later. A number of competitors still remember her as she was so keen and vocal – sadly no longer with us.

Changing the subject completely, it seems the Scots want their cake and eat it. This Brexit(??) saga continues apace. First the Prime Minister faces questions from the select committee and apart from confirming we will actually leave USE, said very little else that was helpful. Still not understanding why the government simply tells USE that we are leaving (as she confirmed) and then get on with it as everyone accepts they need us as much as we need them. Even the Australians want it sorted and can do little until notice is given. The Scots seem to want to remain within the USE group on the basis that the majority voted to remain which doesn’t apply to the majority who voted to remain part of the UK.

I do wish they would make their minds up!!

Welcome to 2017 and lets activate article 50 without delay

I know it’s the first day of a new year, but was 2016 as bad as everyone keeps telling me?

As far as we were concerned, we moved and then found out that our buyer didn’t want to live in our old home, but flog it off as a building plot for more than twice he paid us for it. Then I had a stroke and within weeks diagnosed with cancer. The previous owner of our new property thought he was a DIY expert, but I’m still looking for whatever he did that I haven’t either got to replace, repair or rip out. The bus stop opposite has been removed due to lack of buses actually going anywhere near the hamlet (village would be too grand!).

Like I say, why does everyone think 2016 was a bad year. We had a new Prime Minister without a new government, a referendum that the result is being disputed by anyone who didn’t agree with the result. The middle east is still a shambles and spread to mainland USE. It also seems that our decision to leave USE has stirred up several other member states to question exactly what benefits there are in remaining as part of USE, leading, I suspect, to the apparent pressure on the UK to give up the idea of leaving so the others will change their minds. The one thing they forget is that the threats of the UK falling to bits if we voted to leave has been proved wrong more than 6 months after the demise of our economy and financial turmoil. In fact, the value of the pound has dropped due mainly to the apparent indecision of the government (and disbelief about the result) to make any move to activate the result of the referendum. The economy is actually improving with the FT index closing the year at a record high, but still the ‘remainers’ will not accept that the UK has managed reasonably well for many years and the rest of the world still has confidence (particularly so called refugees who want to come here rather than anywhere else in USE – which must mean something!!)

So, come on you lot, don’t let the buggers get you down and pressure your local MP to push Mrs May to pull her finger out or simply join UKIP (www.ukip.org) and do your bite to drag the UK out of USE and into 2017 asap.