Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Going to a conference

I was at a medical conference today for student doctors and nurse and asked as a service user, to do an introduction. I thought I might include a rough transcript here:.

 I want to talk to you about power, because power is something we often pretend is not there but it's an important part of what we do. A patient walking into your clinic will be concerned about something in their life, something they may not understand about themselves. Therefore they hand you some power, some of their power and determination over their life. They trust to your expertise to help them thrive and survive.

 The medical profession has not always been as good as it could be in  dealing  with this.

 At this stage let me say I have no problems exercising power, every day as a foster carer I use the children's act or the education act or human rights act to get things done for the young people whose best interests I try to serve.

But at the back of my mind is another time where power got used on me. Here I want to express some sympathy for the coach driver who was involved in a fatal crash in France this weekend. I have been involved in something very similar, I know what will have happened to him once he got inside a French Police station, it won't have been pretty it won't have been nice. Our PACE will have figured not at all.

I arrived back in the UK in need of a bit of help so I went to find it. I had a pretty good idea what I needed too, the medic decided for me that what I thought I needed wasn't relevant, I needed Diazepan.

Now, let me say that was a good call, within a few hours I was pretty sure I was a donkey and that my name was Borris. Had I carried on I would probably have realised I was the mayor of London and made a better job of it too. As for driving a car in that state: it would have taken a lot of beer to make me that dangerous. Something no one thought to mention at the time.

Power is good and power is bad.

In 1949 Max Adorno did some research into how you get people to use power. He concluded it was all in Difference. All you need to do is create a Difference. When people think they are dealing with a different group to them, they will do anything you want them to to these "non me's" The end result of this "othering" was ordinary Germans sending Jews into gas chambers.

But of course Auschwitz was not where it started.

The first gas chambers were built in German hospitals where it wasn't jack booted storm troopers but medical staff who consigned idiots and imbeciles to oblivion.

 The first victims of the holocaust were the mentally ill and learning disabled.

No one screamed injustice then and precious few  voices speak for them now?

These were clinicians "doing their job". So, every day, when we go into work we need to understand power and use power.

There are no doctors, or nurses or patients or service users

There are only human beings and we invent divisions at our peril.


Sunday, 19 February 2012

Wild weekends

Every so often life starts dealing cards from the bottom of the pack.

As I previously mentioned our Citroen C5 expired in a cloud of steam, needing the head removed and skimmed. So that was one vehicle off the road.

Next Saxo came over all flakey, the clutch slipping and the brakes seized. Locals only till some  serious thinking was done, not a lot of MOT left, was it worth doing?

So we were pretty much left with the VW which, fair play has been as reliable as an anvil. So as she and I set off for a meeting, all was well in the world. Then it refused 5th gear.

Odd, so back into 4th, strange, wasn't having third either, or first, or reverse. This was starting to feel REALLY expensive. Anyway we limped home, investigations would be made in daylight.

Next morning a bit of fiddling, there seemed a hell of a lot of movement in the gear stick as the engine was revved. The truck was not jumping out of gear in 1st 3rd 5 th it was being pushed out by the movement of the engine. Strange....

But anyway it was Saxo time, limping over to the garage, put it on the pit and a very borderline call, for the cost of repair we could get another probably newer car, decisions decisions....

All academic we were still carless.

Limp home then limp back in the T4 - diagnosis of fault 30 seconds. Open bonnet and  there it was or rather there it wasn't. One of the bolts holding the gearbox to the chassis had decided to abandon ship so the engine and gearbox were crashing about under the bonnet. Of course the gearbox had also dropped so everything needed to be lined up before any bolt could be replaced. To give a little hint, VW recommend taking the other bolts off in order to remove the gearbox.

Jacking the gearbox up, with me stood on the body bouncing up and down we sort of got it lined up. And, with me dangling into the engine room with Wayne the mechanic getting to the other side of the bracket from underneath we got a nut and bolt on and tightened everything up.

Result then!!! No need for a full on recon gearbox.

So Next came the Saxo, I found a VTR with less miles and 5 years newer 50 miles away so this morning was devoted to a drive and haggle session. At the end of which we were the new owners of another Saxo VTR quite a nice one too it seems.

A brisk drive home...

Just as well, no one son had learnt the hard way why you should wear goggles when wearing the grinder. A lovely 4 hours in casualty to round off the day.

Thank goodness for relaxing weekends, they so set us up for the week ahead.




Monday, 13 February 2012

Long time offline

It has been a little while since I posted and things have been a happening here at Penole.

The weather turned again leaving us admiring the non water arriving through the tap. This was a proper pain as burying the pipes in definitive fashion had been suspended to allow me to get and fit some proper pipe heating tape. So there I was with no water waiting for the tape to arrive. As you can imagine I was pretty discgusted by this.

So off we went with a T4 full of water cans to go and blag some water off a neighbour. This was achieved by the division of labour method,she went inside and drank wine, I stood outside in the blistering wind and lugged jerry cans of water around. This is of course where it went really wrong. Forgetting I am now fifty not twenty I picked up two full cans at approx 50 kilos and tried to lug them into the van. This in turn  resulted in a twisted knee which prophetically i thought might generate an issue.

I was proved right and for most of last week I was hobbling around taking various medications I would prefer not to be taking. Things that make you sometimes suspect you are a Gerbil called Tony, not good things to be taking at all.

Add to this a scheduled trip to Brittany last weekend and you have a recipe for discomfort. In actuality it did not go too badly. A drive down to Portsmouth and a hop on the ferry, followed by a lovely meal in a totally overwhelmed restaurant. Then a run down to the house with the squawk box on the dash getting more and more agitated that I would not follow it's preferred route.

Lunch was simply fantastic, 4 courses 11 E. Then it was up to Roscoff and do some shopping in the Leclrec in St Pol de Leon before heading into town in search of food.  By mid afternoon I was in more pain than I was admitting to the student and popping pills meant I was convinced I was an elephant called Louie. This sort of thing was not the most conducive to driving!!

So anyway we went into Roscoff for food and were confronted by an icy blast that chilled you to the bone and restaurants that were not going to open for another hour. The prospect of early loading was too good to miss and add to that a rugby match on the telly and temptation was beyond bearing

On to the ship we went, found our cabin dumped our stuff and went to the bar.  A quick beer and , with fatigue mounting we decided an hours kip would be in order. We had reset the cabin thermostat to a soporific 25C. It was bloody great!!!

So anyway a couple of hours later we roused ourselves to go and see the rugby which was of course cancelled. So we went to eat instead before tasking an early night of lovely deep sleep.

Even then we arrived back here yesterday afternoon completely wiped out.

Managed to watch Wales and Scotland batter it out, could have gone either way but Wales proved the better team in the end.

By nine we were in bed and by ten we were asleep.

It's half term so the only one going anywhere this week is the student who went off at 7 for her lectures leaving her wallet behind. My did she laugh, I am told it was a happy snarling student who stomped through the door grabbed her wallet then stomped back out again.

Me? I am sitting here in front of the fire resting my knee. A tough job I know...


Sunday, 5 February 2012

water day

.Yesterday was a stagger up the mountain with terrible wind chill morning. Things were not looking good in a very frozen sort of way.

By lunch time though everything had miraculously unfrozen itself and the water was running - thank goodness for that.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Into auction

It's that day again, auction day. The student went off all keen, well rather I dropped her off all keen and picked her up a couple of hours later, her boat was unfloated by a pretty boring collection of objects.

So she came home early and retired to bed. I think she might be coming down with something.

The thaw has started but has yet to reach our cold water pipes, now the met office is promissing us snow!

Just what we wanted.

Thursday, 2 February 2012


Dear god and goodness me,

Today we went off to get a new double front seat for the T4.

We also dropped the C5 off at greasy garage and it looks like it's an engine of limited health - well for now.

The cylinder head has, as I suspected, popped big style.  

But anyway off we chugged in the VW to get a new front seat which is a double not a single meaning we can carry more in there safely  and. of course when we are camping we can use it as a bed for the bungie monster. 

Got there an hour early and got treated to a meal by she who has just hit the bank for a big remuneration on her payment protection insurance that they mis sold her 5 years ago.

Run back woooo hoo the T4 does a good impersonation of a rat up a drain pipe..

But of course life is complex and  we still don't have water and no immediate prospect down that line. Had a big organise outside today but it is still not happening. I cannot work out where it is frozen but by heck am i going to look at that this year.

Then to add to everything Serenity phoned, she wants a car, recently this has been OK as she has made her own, usually disaster choices. Now she wants me to get her a car through the trade, again   

Oh nooo


Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Drought zone

I can  feel for the south of England where water is in very short supply

We are in the same situation here. Our pipes have frozen somewhere but goodness knows where We have a heater giving it beans outside as I write but the pipes are pretty obstinate and solid.

We are in a water free zone.

Fortunately the rivers are running free so she who must be obeyed has gone out to fill some jerry cans so we are reasonably able to flush the loos. That's the main thing, many other things can go by default but you need to be able to pull the flush and have the water go.