Monday, August 27, 2007

Cwm on down

How do you get two whales in a mini?
Down the M6 and turn right at Chester.
I'm on holliday this week. Guess where? We're going to have a llovelly time savouring the ddellights of Gwynnedd, Snowdonia, and Ivor the Engine country around Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Don't worry, I'll be back before you can say Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
Just sayin'.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Blue is the colour

Apropos of my recent picture on this blog, Kim was wondering what the blue epaulettes signify. She guessed rightly that they indicated that I was a staff nurse. It got me thinking about how patients in hospital work out who's what, so I thought I'd present to you:

Deacon Barry's Nurse Recognition Guide
Student Nurse. Two Species. (named after the colleges where they were hatched)
a) Napier. Plumage - blue-grey trousers, white tunic with blue piping. No epaulettes.
b) Queen Margaret. Plumage - as Napier, only burgundy.
Clinical Support Worker (CSW) Plumage - Similar trousers as Napier. No piping on tunic. Brown epaulettes. This species is rapidly supplanting the now rare:
Auxiliary. Plumage - yellow A-line dress.
Staff Nurse. Junior and senior have identical plumage. Dark trousers, white tunic, with blue epaulettes. Some females also seen in white dress with epaulettes.
Junior Sister/Charge Nurse. Epaulettes are burgundy.
Sister/Charge Nurse. Blue dress. No epaulettes. Existence of males rumoured, but not confirmed. Their epaulettes possibly black.
Higher ranks of nurses camouflaged in civilian clothing.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

One order of Phoenix - with fries

Spoiler alert (though if you're a Potter fan you've already read the book, and if you're not, then you won't care anyway)
Yesterday, finding ourselves in the Ocean Terminal in Leith, with time to spare, we went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I enjoyed the film. I appreciate that the scriptwriters had to do an awful lot of compromisin' to turn a thick hardback into a two hour film. There's a lot more in the book that didn't make it to the screen. The main miss was the extent of the revolution at Hogwarts. The Weasley brothers pyrotechnics are the culmination of a long simmering trail of sedition against Umbridge and her minions. This is the great irony of this particular book, JK Rowling has managed to get children to read about how to foment rebellion in a school, with their parents' blessing. But they did show Harry teaching Defence against the Dark Arts, which was one of my favourite bits of the story.
The good thing about the film is that it shows that fascism is not about jackboots, but that it can insinuate its way into society with a smiling face. Imelda Staunton as Umbridge enters the hall of great movie villianesses, in my opinion.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Job for the boy

The Civil Service union FDA are complaining about Jack McConnell's appointment as UK High Commissioner to Malawi. They say he was chosen on the basis of cronyism rather than open competition, which would be their preferred option. Their philosophy is sound, but in this case they've hit the wrong target. Whichever way you choose, the result would be the same. Jack is the right man for the job. Jack is the one responsible for forging close links between Scotland and Malawi. He knows the country. The Malawi Government know him. If he was being offered the post in Kiribati or Martinique, I might wonder what qualified him for those places, but Malawi? No argument there.
He's also a statesman-level politician. You can't get more senior than running a country. This job will allow him to continue the work he started as First Minister, and also to concentrate on it. It's a job he's obviously going to enjoy doing.
Can you think of anyone more qualified?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The game's afoot

My wife has just finished the Sherlock Holmes Collection. Of the fifty-six stories that appeared in Strand Magazine, fifty-three of them had someone being offered a glass of brandy. One was offered a glass of wine. In one story, and one story only was there no scene of someone being offered brandy (maybe Conan Doyle had a hangover?). This is made up for in the fifty-sixth story, where a character drains a whole bottle of the stuff!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Alimentary, my dear Watson

My wife is currently reading the complete Sherlock Holmes, as published in Strand Magazine. She has noticed a peculiar thing. All the stories she has read so far, bar one, has had a scene where a character is given a glass of brandy to revive them, after a shock, or in the case of the ladies, a swoon. The one story where there is an exception, it's a glass of wine. My wife is now expecting a brandy offering in every story she reads in this collection. Last night, she even dreamed that Sherlock Holmes was offering her a glass of brandy.
Obviously this is a dramatic device used by Conan Doyle to further the plot. Readers of the Strand would have these fifty six tales spread out over a few years and perhaps might not notice this repetition of, for them a mundane act of aid. Of course, now it would be unusual to offer alcohol to someone who felt faint, or shocked. We'd be more likely to lay them down, wrap them in a blanket, and offer them a cup of tea.
I'll find out from my wife, once she has finished the book, if this pattern of medicinal brandy tendering continues to the end.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Litter Kwitter

Here's another one from the same catalogue that brought you the towel holder and pencil sharpener - the Litter Kwitter, which will train your cat to use the toilet! Just think, no more having to pour pongy litter into a plastic bag for disposal, just let your feline companion have free run of the bathroom. All you need to do is put the above contraption on the rim of your toilet.
You know what's going to happen, don't you? It'll be three o' clock in the morning, and you'll wake up, needing to go. You'll wander through, half asleep, and plonk yourself down on the ... $&%£!! That's when you'll remember about it, as you slip to the floor with the Litter Kwitter and contents about your ears!

Your cat will use next door's rose bush as he always does.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The triple crown

I am now officially an undisputed world champion poet. I've just won my third competition as set by JanieBelle. It was called the Watcher in the Window, and followed on from the previous two competitions. The prize, as always, is a guest post on her blog.
Keep an eye open for the next one, and get your entry in. I have now retired from the fray, and will not be entering, (though it'll probably kill me to stay aloof from the proceedings) There's some good poetry out there, and the more that can be produced through competitions like this, the better. I would love to see a revival of poetry as a major art form.
To read my chilling entry, click on the link above.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

For cat lovers everywhere

Both of these are genuine offers from the Cat Gallery 2007 catalogue. Hat tip to Angela for bringing it to my attention.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Hellooooooo nurse!

Remember that birthday party I was at two months ago? Well from the money we collected for her present, Miss Edinburgh bought herself a rather nifty digital camera, and she's been taking pictures of the ward staff. I've been meaning for some time to show you a picture of myself, just to let you put a face to my writings. So here I am. I told you my hair was curly.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Missionary position

This one's for Ragamuffin. In the comments to a previous post she expressed concern that my atheism was based on a superficial and erroneous interpretation of the bible. I feel a response deserves a post to itself rather than a continuation in the comments. So here goes.
I am an atheist. I consider the universe and all within it to be wholly natural, adhering to fundamental laws, some of which may be as yet undiscovered. I see no place in this universe for the supernatural.
Being British, I grew up in the religion of my family. I was baptised in a Methodist church, and when we moved to Scotland, attended a congregationalist church in Leith. I attended Sunday School from the ages of four to fourteen, and I enjoyed it. But when I was too old for Sunday School, I wasn't that interested in sitting through a whole service, so I just stopped going.
I knew from an early age that Genesis was a creation myth. There wasn't really a Garden of Eden or a Great Flood, and later I found out that the Tower of Babel was a ziggurat. I found out when I was nine that the earth was four and a half billion years old, and dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. I found that no-one was really bothered about this, and my concept of God was similar to most people round me, which was a nebulous something that was behind everything, but didn't interfere much in the world.
Of course, when I was in my teens and early twenties, I read everything - books on Astrology, the Tarot, Ceremonial Magic, and Celtic Ritual. But I also read books by Isaac Asimov, Patrick Moore, Stephen Gould and Richard Dawkins. I watched Carl Sagan's Cosmos, Horizon, Connections, and I slowly moved from mild agnosticism towards atheism.
Once I got on the internet a couple of years back, and discovered blogs such as Pharyngula, God is for Suckers, and JanieBelle's favourite - the Bad Astronomer, then I finally felt I was coming home.
Now although I am an atheist, it is my philosophy that all people should make their own spiritual journey, just as I have. I am happy to debate religion on this blog, but I'm not looking to convert anybody.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Happy Birthdays

The other Saturday I managed to attend four birthday parties in one day. If that seems a little excessive, I will mention that three of the birthdays were at the same address. It was my nephew's and his aunt's and uncle's birthday, so my brother was having a barbecue. Plenty of sausage in buns there.
By an amazing coincidence, my friend Howard's party was only ten minutes drive away, so as the first party was winding down, I was able to nip over to the beginning of his party, where I stayed until one o' clock.
Boy was I full.