Posts tagged with Miscellaneous


Humph Flumphs Again

The Today programme’s resident grumpy old bull, John Humphrys, took a charge at Prime Minister David Cameron this morning, and ended up with his horns stuck in wood, and his tail between his legs. Cameron, in excellent patroniser-in-chief form, ordered Humph back to school. Humph, unable to extract his horns from the wood, acceded. “I will go back to school,” he said, adding petulantly as only Humph could, “and I will choose my teacher”.

Dr No has for some time been bemused by the media coverage of the Alternative Vote (AV) referendum, and, less bemusingly, by the public’s apparent lack of grasp of what is, all said and done, not a difficult a concept to grasp. Certainly, the jargon does nothing to help: ‘First Past the Post’ is nothing of the sort – there is no post, just a brutish my-pile-of-votes-is-bigger-than-yours battle, while the ‘Alternative Vote’ is a first past the post race – the post being 50% of cast votes; but the procedure, serial elimination of the candidate with the least votes, and allocation of those voters’ successive choices until one candidate passes the 50% post, is comprehensible. Or at least should be comprehensible – unless, that is, one is, as Cameron described Humph this morning, the BBC’s ‘lead broadcaster’, a remark which on paper gains the added thrill of plumbic insult.

Hard Working Politicians

The election manifestos have been delivered, like tickets from a parking machine, along with their announcement speeches. Perhaps Dr No has a forgotten cotton wool bud stuck in each ear, but it seems to him that the tones and voices of the three main party leaders are doing a sort of verbal regression to the mean, and are becoming increasingly difficult to tell apart. Sometimes the content provides distinction, sometimes it doesn’t. The smaller parties, as they are politely known, on the other hand, tend to have distinctive voices. We all know who has taken the Hay Rood, and who is behind all that farfing and barfing. Mostly lacking any realistic prospect, the smaller parties can indulge their creative sides, and entertain us with curious pledges, like the one to nationalise bluebell woods, or reverse the smoking ban in schools, the better to turn nippers into Kippers.

Windmills of the Mind

In the second part of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity, Louis Theroux went a whiter shade of pale. In Part One, the patients had been linear: given time, though the content was often horrific, sometimes bizarre, they talked straight. Louis wandered, but remained grounded. In Part Two, everything, including Louis, was up in the air. Windmills of the mind rolled aimlessly, milling nothing. A toxic runt of a shrink made it his job to finger the malingerers. He did this by raising an eyebrow and curling his lip. When patients-experts in madness faked symptoms of madness, he just knew the shirkers were doing it to dodge their day in court, but they were tough nuts to crack. Weary Dr Lip Curl sure had a hard hoe to row. Here was the proverbial patients running the asylum in action: the nuts had cracked the shrinks. Every day, one flew over the cuckoo’s nest. Dr Curl was damned if he knew what to do about it. It was enough to make anyone’s lip curl. He ratcheted up the curl another notch, to no avail. At some point, Dr Curl will need surgery, to put his lip back where it should be. He may even need anti-psychotics, to calm the delusion that all the inmates have got one over him. All the while, Louis gazed on, his mind as focused as a windmill in the sky. Everything was going nowhere, and nothing was going everywhere. Windmills of the mind, turning slowly in the sky.

A Short Life and A Sorry One

Stilton, the Chief Pongo at the General Medical Council, is pleased. In 2010, his Gestapo took on more cases, and spiked more doctors than ever before. His network of field spies, the Herr Medical Directors soon to be mantled Responsible Officers, are reporting ever greater numbers of medical dissidents to GMC-HQ. Only two years ago, a mass spiking event took place, with the introduction of medical licences to practice. But that mass spike will pale into trivial insignificance next year, when the greatest spike-fest of them all starts. Revalidation is, as they say in managerial and political circles, due to be rolled out, in 2012. Those doctors who manage to escape acute spiking will be rolled over repeatedly by the heavy steam-roller of revalidation. Doctors, once real life and 3D, will find themselves flattened two dimensional cartoon characters, with not even a shadow of their former selves left to relieve the barren new landscape of 360 degree multi-source blowback. Small wonder, then, that Stilton is so pleased.

The Fly-Away Election

There’s no doubt that, in no particular order, the BBC, the SNP and the Tories won the election, just as, in no particular order, Labour, the Lib Dems and the Kippers lost the election. If any one moment defined election night, it was Mouldy Auld Sporran asking a craggy slit-eyed Pantsdown shortly after ten pm about the BBC’s newly announced exit poll which predicted a Tory win. Pants piled on more crags, tightened the slits and went Hatsdown: if the poll was right, Pants cragged, he’d eat his hat. At least one viewer was left wondering for a moment whether Pants’ appearance was the consequence of a life spent digesting hats. Mouldy declined to offer to eat his sporran if the exit poll was wrong. Pants appeared to nod off, his eyes the natal clefts of two hippos reclining back to back. In the bowels of the building, a prop hand searched for a digestible hat.

The Doctor and Dr No

Sometimes Dr No has wacky ideas. One of his favourites is that all of time has already happened. Like a film in a can, it is all there, beginning to end; and, like a film, we see it sequentially, frame after frame, and that is what gives us the illusion of movement, and of the arrow of time. Sometimes he goes a little further; and, seeing the film strips lying in coils side by side on the reel, wonders whether we might, just might, if the conditions were right, be able to read the film not sequentially on the strip, but radially, on the axis of a spoke, and so be able to see, perhaps even move, backwards and forwards in time.

Coales Hits the Fans

No smoke without a fire, they say, and Hot Burning Coales appears to be doing her best to hot things up, not to mention generate much smoke. Her posts and tweets continue to appear and disappear faster than a Swiss clock cuckoo – a post posted earlier today has already gone - but when in view they tell a story that suggests the Royal College of Caring and Sharing isn’t perhaps quite as caring and sharing as its senior members want us to believe. A report earlier this year in the Telegraph, linked to by HBC, tells how College employees repeatedly taunted another hapless member of staff with xenophobic jests and sexual jibes. She suggests, though Dr No has not been able to find supporting evidence, that the College has upset College candidates and members arriving on the other bus by cosying up to the Sultan of Brunei, who rules over a country infamous for locking up fudge packers (but not, for some reason, crack snackers). She has even all but charged the College with institutional racism, alleging that the lower Clinical Skills Assessment pass rate for international medical graduates stems not from a lower quality of candidates but from a systemic bias by College examiners against our overseas colleagues. And last, but by no means least, she accuses the College of constructive dismissal, insofar as it made her life as a Council member so intolerable that she was forced to resign.

The Shit Hits the Farm

Lady Bracknell would have known exactly what to say. “To lose one case, Mr McCracken, may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose two looks like carelessness.”

The Poppy and the Patient

Today is Remembrance Day. At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we remember those who shall grow not old, those who age shall not weary, for they died in the service of their country.

Today we also learned of yet more health service failings, of suffering and death; of lessons unlearnt, and lamentable failures, among older patients undergoing surgery; older patients, a few of whom no doubt fought in Flanders and other fields, and lived, only to be deserted in their late hour of need by the country they had served.