Yay, it is Friday once again, which can only mean one thing – Fandango’s Friday Flashback. Fandango uses these posts to reblog one of his posts from this day in a previous year, just to let his current readers see what he was up to back then. I feel like I am on a path of recovery, so the idea is useful for me too because it indicates how I’m progressing along that path.
Actually, the post I have chosen today, it’s difficult to see any link to a path, except for….wtf was I thinking, allowing my daughter to come here for Christmas so early???? I’d never make that mistake today – this year, it’s two days and she’ll be long gone by Christmas! But I am going to stay consistent with Fandango’s theme – he’s talking today about his dog. I can’t really talk about dogs, but on cats, I can speak volumes!
In my re-post, my daughter had just got a new kitten, which in common with all new kittens was just the cutest of cute. She was so tiny, she had only just left her mother.
In the post itself, I talk about this tiny kitten stalking down our much-bigger chickens, and this is what I mean:
My daughter has come to stay and has brought her new kitten. It’s funny – I can’t really remember any cat we owned being that small! But when we went to bed last night, we left her by the fire in the lounge, and she obviously wanted our company because she followed us through to the bedroom. Spent the night on the bed, for a part of it she was happily under the duvet snuggled into my tummy, and another part of it lying on my wife’s neck. Unfortunately, when she decided 5am was time to wake up, it was too much.
So far today she has destroyed my china chicken mug, and is now attacking my hand as I type! She’s eying up the chickens as if they’re prey, except they are, like, ten times her size! She’ll sleep like a baby later.
Fandango today asked a question along his provocative question theme. Today he asks about the good life. What is it? And, are we living it? I have a two-pronged answer. One part is about living for myself, the other about living in conjunction with other people. I’d argue that the good life involves both.
For myself, the answer is simple. To have everything I want, to be able to do everything I want. Straight away you see the word I. So this is subjective. What I want might not be the same as what you want. So, straight away, what the good life means to you will be different to what it means to me.
But I have to recognise that I share this planet with 7½ bn other people, plus there will be generations yet to come, so I have to temper what I want. I don’t want to consciously screw with these people, although we in the west probably do a lot of unconscious screwing. In terms of giving versus taking, I’d be happy to work out about even.
It most certainly isn’t a case of taking as much as I can out of life, although I realise that having been born in an advanced western nation (I shan’t use the word democracy, because we’re not!), I’ve been given a lot before I evem start. I’ve had medical care throughout my life, and had a decent education. All of this has been afforded to me without even thinking about it. That I am white, that I am male – much as I’d like racism and sexism not to exist, that they do exist has probably made life an easier ride for me.
There. That was easy, wasn’t it? But Fandango also goes on to ask whether we ourselves live the good life. In answering that, I’d have to look at the criteria I just spelled out.
Do I have everything I want?
Well, yeah, pretty much. It’d be nice to be in a working environment again. I’d prefer to be in the company of other people all day. That bit of cash coming in would be handy too, if only because I have learned that I am uncomfortable spending money on anything, while there’s none coming in. A car would be nice, although it’d probably cost some to get it adapted for me. More money.
I’ve also found that having the stroke has made me somewhat toxic. Racism? Fact Sexism? Fact. Hard to find work after a stroke? Fact.
Can I do everything I want?
Actually, a lot of the answer to this is yes.
There are some notable exceptions, though. I used to cycle – anything up to 100 miles – but have not cycled since the stroke. A lot of aspects I have, or at least know, a solution. I was a bike mechanic immediately before the stroke, so I have a fair idea what is possible – mostly just being able to control everything with one hand. However there is a more fundamental issue that I can’t really balance well enough on two wheels. I guess a trike might be an option, but that throws up other issues like storage. Any form of good life would, for me, definitely include two wheels.
Another big no-no is travelling. I’ve already mentioned my attitude to no money coming in. So that puts things like vacations way down the list at the moment.
Without a shadow of doubt, though, the biggest aspect is the environment. In particular, CO2 emissions. Because of it, I don’t fly. And I enjoy meat, but don’t eat much – I think there was some paella at the weekend. Again, because I would sooner we grew crops for humans than for animals. Especially in developed countries, I’d like to see some rewilding. Extreme? Well, maybe too extreme for you, but there are lots of people like me, and the number is increasing. So from this perspective alone, I don’t feel that I can behave as I choose.
And with CO2 emissions, it’s not just whether I am conscious of the predicament, but also whether other people are. Some people are. Some people comfortably put my efforts to shame. But what about Exxon? BP? The people whose very ethos is to produce CO2? And then there is Trump. And Bolsonaro. Whatever I do personally, these guys will cancel it out many times over. But I have to just do what I can, and I recognise I’m not is a position to change others. Especially now. Indeed, it is a very good question whether it is appropriate for organisations like Extinction Rebellion to disrupt people – people like you or I -in order to pressure governments into changing tack. Not only whether it is appropriate to target indiviluals, but also whether it is effective in changing policy. Maybe Fandango will ask that one next time around?
That last paragraph is interesting, because it does open up a wider question. If we’re putting a priority on future generations, how can any of us claim to be living “the good life”?
Yay, it is Friday once again, which can only mean one thing – Fandango’s Friday Flashback. Fandango uses these posts to reblog one of his posts from this day in a year gone by, just to let his current readers see what he was up to back then. I feel like I am on a path of recovery, so the idea is useful for me too because it indicates how I’m progressing along that path.
Two years ago I tended to focus a lot more on my health experiences, where now (I think) I have taken on more varied interests.
Certainly in the UK, our Health experience is very personal. Nobody else knows your health story, not even your partner, if that’s your choice.
Which is exactly as it should be. But the flip-side of this is that we end up living in silos, not necessarily appreciating what other people have gone (are going) through, and making it difficult in particular to spot flaws in the system itself. We will base our judgement on our own experience of the system, whether it is good or bad.
One place where I specifically did encounter other peoples experiences was in the peer support group I used to attend, and this is the subject of my flashback, a post from two years ago today.
My post highlights how the system does not always work as it should. It is variable. In some cases, it varies because human beings are fallible, although other variations (in the UK) are entirely deliberate, depending on whereabouts somebody lives. I argue that there should be a single, consistent standard across the country.
Indeed, taking this argument a step further, I think this issue highlights one of the areas where central planning is absolutely appropriate.
Incidentally, I briefly mention the stroke charity in the post, which I still volunteer for. I must admit that this is one of my pet peeves with them, which has only grown over the years. When I finally decide to stop volunteering, it’ll probably be for this very reason.
I know what happened to me, and I’m quite happy to talk about it. When I talk about my personal experience, which admittedly was four years ago, I am often contradicted by the charity – oh, it is better than that now.
And I look around me, and I see four more years of austerity everywhere. I catch a bus, just into the local city, and if I miss it, I have to wait an hour and a half for the next. So I just think, yeah, right. The Health environment certainly hasn’t improved, so to suggest that our Health Service has suddenly had a brainwave to improve the way it operates, just in these last four years, well….it stretches my belief a little bit too far. Or, maybe I’m just becoming more out of touch?
I was having some coffee with my stroke buddies today. Someone started talking about one of the standard stroke tests. “That’s funny,”, pipes up someone else, “I never had that test.”
It’s funny, because we all had different stroke experiences, but a common theme was that we all felt let-down in some way due to a gap between theory and practise. I’ve said repeatedly to the Stroke Association that, as far as strategy goes, the first thing we should aim for is a consistent experience across the country, from Shetland to Cornwall and everywhere in between, including London. Initially, it really doesn’t matter how good or bad the standard is – it is what it is. The next thing, of course, is all-round improvement.
The Stroke Association, by the way, are every bit as inaccurate as the NHS, in terms of saying “when such-and-such happens, then such-and-such happens in response”…
It is Friday once again, and time for Fandango’s Friday Flashback, where he highlights a post from this date in some previous year, which his current readers may not have seen.
I quite like the idea, so I join in to. What I normally do is to find the original post, and hit its reblog button. Without entering any commentary, I confirm the reblog, and the repost is live. I then look at my list of posts, find the one I just reblogged, and switch it back to draft. This then allows me to work on a short commentary at my leisure, and to put the thing live again when I’m ready. I suspect, though, that it also sends out loads of notifications about a post I’m just about to turn back into Draft.
So, today, something a little different. I’m typing in this piddly little “reblog” box, and am just gonna put the repost live, and be done with it. It doesn’t really need a commentary in any case. So, I hope by the time you read it, I’ll have linked to Fandango’s post and fixed all my typos!
As part of my job search, I signed up to a site called reed.co.uk, and set up a search. I asked for all jobs within a 10-mile radius. I know from other job search engines that this search yields 20-25 jobs per day, many of which are at the local hospital. So, imagine my surprise when their search email told me that, in the course of just 24 hours, there were more than 350 jobs!
I saw straight away that their search contained jobs that were not 10 miles from Salisbury, but 50! I mean, what is the use in that? If I’d wanted to see jobs that were 50 miles away, that’s how I’d have set up the search. Someone has obviously decided that it is better for their site to send out great swathes of information, even though it is irrelevant, than to send a smaller amount…
It is Wednesday, and time once again for Fandango’s Provocative Question. I’m going to paraphrase, but this week he asks, would you go back? If you had your time over again, would you start over?
Actually, I’m gonna take a step back (did you see what I did there 🙂). His exact wording is:
Would you be willing to give up everything you have if you could go back and start your life all over again? Why or why not?
Give up everything? Well, everything is an awful lot, but let’s just split it into a few different parts.
First and foremost, there is my health. Sure, I’d love to go back to before the stroke, but strokes are generally a slow burn, some kind of cumulative thing. Usually, a stroke isn’t caused by a one-off trauma. Certainly mine wasn’t, as best I can say. So, who’s to say that the same thing wouldn’t happen over again, aged 48? How much would I have to change to make the stroke not happen? Whatever I changed, whenever I changed it, could I make the stroke not happen? None of this is clear.
On the same subject, when I think back to the stroke, it was totally painless. Things just stopped working, but it didn’t hurt. We all have to go somehow so if I ended up having another…well, it could be worse.
Next, there is the material wealth that I accumulated. In that respect, I didn’t do badly. I might have done better, but by and large I loved my work. Still do. In fact, I know for a fact that I turned down better money to stay in an environment that I liked. So, what price happiness? If things had been different, would they necessarily have been better? Would I be happier?
Next, there is my knowledge, my intellect. I’m quite happy with how that turned out. Maybe we all think our values are the right ones? I juess so, I certainly do. I’m glad that I try to help other people with the charity work I do, I’m sad that more of us don’t. And I look in the mirror, I see a life that’s beeen lived, that has gotten wiser as I’ve gotten older. Experience, life skills, are everything – they’re what make us who we are. Some of the best life skills are developed by the knocks we take. I can see the benefit now, but I’d rather not go through those knocks again.
Then, there are relationships. I’m happily married, I wouldn’t want to change that. My daughter and I are chalk and cheese, so my child-rearing experience could have gone better, but I always wanted children so I’d have probably ended up going through something similar again.
You can probably tell, by now, where this is going. No, in general I wouldn’t want to change things. But that’s not quite it. There are specifics I’d change. Of course, I’d like to be sitting here able-bodied. I’d love not to have had the stroke. But because of the stroke I have met people I never would have met, not just met them but mixed with them. I’ve seen how the Health system, the Benefits system, don’t work very well. A lot of people of my age are yet to find this out – people think there is something concrete behind all the taxes they pay, I’ll bet they’ll be disappointed when they find out..
There are more relationship things, from before my wife. Maybe if I had or hadn’t said such-and-such, the relationship wouldn’t have ended? Ha ha, yeah, right! Looking back, I got off lightly! Failed relationships are a rite of passage. And, I can’t complain with how it has turned out. And, of course the issue of sex – it has to come up. Maybe if I had or hadn’t said that thing, I’d have laid that woman I always fancied? But I do know that sex is a lot less important at fifty-something than it was at twenty-something! Maybe these are all just the little learnng processes we have to go through in order to become better people? And it’s not just the stroke, or my diabetes, talking. My wife says exactly the same. Maybe all that parenting just knocked it out of us?
Those are basically my thoughts, but I’m aware that when I first read Fandango’s post, I commented about the UK film About Time. When I made the comment, I thought I might bring it into my response, although as it turns out, I haven’t. Furthermore, I’ve since seen Fandango’s response that he hasn’t yet seen the film, so there will be no spoilers from me. I shall say no more on the subject other than to highly commend it it to you, it is well worth the watch, and it does offer another answer to Fandango’s question.
Fandango’s Friday Flashback. I follow suit, a chance just to reblog an old post, just to make readers aware of what didn’t go on in my head, in years gone by! I had to scrape around this week to find a post, but just about foud one from the same week, at least.
Today, I reblog a something-and-nothing post. It is only short, but it does, at least, highlight a success story. In this post, I moan about not being able to get any meds online. Okay, I am an easy-going guy 🙄, I try not to moan, but basically, a moan!
I start off by talking about online doctors appointments. You know, you log on to a web site, put in your card details, and get video-linked through to a doctor who’ll talk to you for a few minutes. I mean, it has been years since I stripped off for my webcam, and that story is probably best saved for a slow day 😀. Web doctors must’ve gained sufficient popularity to have come onto the radar of national radio, but have become no more common than they were two years ago. But I was more concerned just about getting hold of the meds that I take every day, week in, week out, without having to walk all the way to the doctor’s surgery to pick up my chit.
I should probably explain that my doctor’s surgery is about half a mile away, and only a few months before this post, I was struggling to walk ten or twenty yards! So, not having to walk there to collect my chit was a big deal.
There was a scheme a few years ago – and it was only a few years ago, I was happily buying from Amazon in the nineties, but our NHS is something else! – to get every surgery in the UK online, but our surgery was one of the last to jump on board. In fact, it did not get on board until way after the original cut-off date, which the government allowed to slip. So, until a short while ago, placing any order across the internet was impossible.
Eventually, though, they did get on board, and I started using one of these internet-based services (Superdrug, if you’re in the UK). I could make a request via their site, from the comfort of my sofa, and from that point, I would be hands-off. They would, in turn, make a request to the doctor, and ultimately post my meds out to me. But it wasn’t smooth. My insulin needs to be refrigerated, so they wouldn’t send that through the post. Fair enough, I’d sooner they didn’t send it, than it arrived warm. So, I had to get my insulin separately, from a bricks-and-mortar pharmacy. But more worrying, this process, which should take a few days, took up to three weeks! I remember clearly this surreal conversation with their support team:
Me: What is the lead time supposed to be? Support 7-10 days. Me: I have been waiting for more than 20 days. Support: The lead time is 7-10 days.
With that kind of stoneewalling, it was never a match made in heaven.
Fortunately, I kicked these guys into touch when when my wife started working at the local surgery, she got to meet the resident pharmacist, who had much more of an idea what options were available to me. So I changed, and have been extremely happy since. The local surgery bought into a portal. It is rubbish, but it does at least allow me to order my meds. Once my request gets approved, it is sent to a pharmacy in the next village, who will issue the meds, and will also deliver locally. A guy comes over in a car, and knocks on my door. Insulin goes straight into the refrigerator. Not a problem since then, and just a few days turnaround, to boot!
Ha, ha, they are talking on the radio about one of these apps, where you have a video link to a doctor, and the doctor diagnoses your ailment.
It all sounds great, but I’d settle not for a diagnosis, but simply to be able to order my repeat prescriptions. I haven’t actually seen my doctor since I had my stroke, and furthermore, because I test my own sugars and blood pressure, I don’t really feel I need to see them. But fvery time I need some more meds – a couple of times per month – I am forced to take two trips to the doctor’s surgery. I’d be happy to use some secure login to a web site so as to avoid these trips. There is the notion of electronic prescriptions within the NHS, where I can order my repeat meds online and pick them up straight from the…
I see on the news, and read on here regularly, about people’s elected representatives coming out with a line of utter nonsense. For example, a recurring theme on WP is the very serious subject of gun control. And yet, these people, wherever they may be, are elected. So, I’m left wondering, are people just dumb?
Funnily enough, as it is Wednesday, Fandango has just published this week’s provocative question. There are a few frills this week, but he is basically asking the question: do you believe in ghosts? And he notes that according to a YouGov poll, 45% of Americans believe in ghosts. 45% also believe in demons, while 46% believe in other supernatural beings.
Funny, that first paragraph came to me in a blinding flash, and I cannot now think of the link between it, and Fandango’s question 🙄.
But I shall pay the guy the courtesy of answering his question. If you hadn’t already guessed, no, I don’t believe in ghosts. I’m afraid I couldn’t even tell you the difference between a ghost and a demon. As for other supernatural beings, I’m gonna have to dig out my copy of Ghostbusters, to even be able to name what they are.
What I do think, however, is that there are things out there that we don’t understand. In fact, there is a kind of pathway along our understanding of things, and we’re barely a step along it.
Plenty of examples. Think back to medieval times. We might gasp in awe at that spooky green flame, but today,as every schoolchild knows (should know 🙂) that there’s just some copper in there. Or (and I remember the line from Highlander, so it must be true) whether stars were just pin-pricks in the curtain of night.
Indeed, cosmology is a good example. Compare what we once thought with what we now think, as we chip away at the big problems bit-by-bit. Or, that only a hundred years ago, we learned to fly aeroplanes. Now we have space rockets. Heavier than air, be damned!
So, we can celebrate our achievements. But, at the same time, there’s plenty of things we don’t know. Medicine is an easy example. I don’t want to get too heavy, but when I started asking questions after the stroke, it was not long at all before I started getting the we don’t know answers. How can they not know? When so many people have experienced a stroke? It’s not as if it is rare. But look inside the brain, we don’t have a clue.
I’m not going to write a long post here. People believe in ghosts, in demons, in gods, for that matter, because they don’t understand things. I don’t mind if they don’t understand – I probably don’t, either – it is just their conclusions which make me wonder, are people just dumb?
PS – You have no idea how long it took to find an image which did not look like a klansman!