Thursday, 26 February 2009

Scandals, Sadness and Zach's Thirtieth

Yesterday 'Zach' was 30. Unbelievable. I remember it all so well. Some things never leave you. You forget the pain but you don't forget the months while your body no longer belongs to you and a strange morphology takes over. Growing a child. How bizarre. Anyway, he's well and we all went out, with new girlfriend, and had a jolly evening. He didn't think that he would make it past 27, so this is all good.

Tomorrow I'm on BBC Radio Humberside. I was meant to be on it two weeks ago but for some reason - age, idiocy - I put the wrong date in the diary and completely missed it! What a chump... So I'm off to Western House tomorrow morning. I keep pinching myself. 'Don't forget to go to the BBC on...', just so's I don't forget.

Every day seems to bring another scandal and sadness. The sadness is David Cameron losing his poor boy. Parents aren't supposed to lose their children. Children are supposed to outlast us. I believe that the Camerons would have reconciled themselves to losing Ivan because he was so terribly ill but the time is never right.

The scandal is the president of Sudan. There he was in Egypt, seeking help so that he isn't issued with a warrant for his arrest in 'suppressing the Darfur rebellion,' ie actively participating in a real genocide. You know, one where over 300,000 people have lost their lives. Will he succeed? Most likely. The UN Court of Human Rights have issued 80% of their declarations against Israel. Not one over the Sudan. Now the new Pres. (POTUS as I see is the nomenclature) is giving almost $1 billion to Hamas, while the USA is on a downward spiral financially. Does this make any sense? What did they do with the other billions?

Scandals. All too heavy for some.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The Maudsley, schizophrenia and the £400,000 shortfall

There's a new advert that highlights the dangers of cannabis and mental health problems. Over the last week there's been an absolute plethora of articles in the newspapers about families with children who have mental health problems; a boy on a secure ward at the age of 16 and a piece in The Guardian about families who live with their children and/or siblings who suffer a range of mental illnesses.

Today I read that The Maudsley, one of the most renowned psychiatric hospitals in the UK, is cutting beds in order to save £400,000 from their costs. They're going to send even more schizophrenics and Bipolar patients into 'care in the community', as if it had worked before.

£400,000 is a paltry amount when one considers the sums each individual health area commands. The boss of The Royal Free in Hampstead last week complained that their new computer system was costing them an extra £10 million! Maybe The Maudsley should ask for funding from The Big Lottery.

I see that Friends, Familes and Travellers, Brighton [gipsy and travellers' rights group] have been awarded £414,017; Race on the Agenda, London [think-tank focusing on issues that affect ethnic communities], £483,824. Indeed, if you add another two: Friends of Birzeit University, London [supports Palestinian students at the West Bank university] £241,621 and the Greenwich Action Committee against Racist Attacks £269,795, then you'd have enough to replenish the shortfall.

Isn't it absolutely absurd? Why is it that mental health funding is treated so absymally in this country? If the government is running a campaign to promote the link between the increase of mental health problems because of the exponential use of cannabis and the implication that these will lead to more hospital stays, then why isn't there more funding available?

If it is the case that there is not enough money in the government's coffers (it's all presumably going to shore up the banks), then maybe The National Lottery should get involved. It's prepared to waste enough resources on specious PC groups. Why should the Bosnia Hercogovina Community Advice Centre, Brent, North London be awarded £438,117?

I'm appalled to think that people will be excluded from a hospital bed because The Maudsley is either unable to balance the books or because there simply isn't sufficient cash to maintain care for the most vulnerable patients in the country. It's a disgrace and there should be questions in Parliament about it.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Florence Nightingale, Bipolar disorder and Ketamine

Gosh, what a week - or two. I dunno. This country is in some kind of turmoil. Every day another scandal. Maybe it's all being done so that we don't actually consider what's happening to our economy. But then of course we now have some kind of 'hearings' where the recalcitrant bankers are hanging their heads 'in shame' and saying 'sorry.' As if they were. Seen any flying pigs recently? No? Neither have I. 'Yes, we earned far too much...' they now say. What a surprise. I could never understand how 28 year olds could be earning £150,000 bonuses. It didn't make sense to me. If it didn't make sense to ME who has the numerical understanding of a six year old, one would have thought that there would have been even more whistleblowers out there making the point that, hey, there's something wrong here...

Then we had silly Carole Thatcher and her 'gollywog' disgrace. I didn't have a gollywog when I was a kid. I was deprived. I had a bald teddy (handed down) and a panda with one eye. I loved them both. If I had been given a gollywog, I'm sure that I would have loved it too. Weren't there gollywogs in Enid Blyton? There were gollywog brooches that I collected from Robertson's (Robinson's?) jam. Very proud of those I was. It certainly didn't make me think anything sinister about black people. I don't think that I even made the connection between the two.

This week the ultra-silly Professor Nutt(?) posited the view in his review of whether to make Ecstasy a Class B drug that taking Es was no more dangerous than horse riding. Tell that to the millions of 20 year olds who now have long-term short term memory loss. And the others who suffer from mental illness because of their over use of same drug. I read a report yesterday that there's another view that LSD should be downclassed. What next?

This leads me on to a piece I saw yesterday. A teenager killed his friend in a row about the fare in the back of a taxi. Both high on Ketamine, Louis Chambers (18) killed Dylan Bates-Fox (21). As I have said on so many occasions - and especially so in the context of my book - Ketamine is toxic, lethal and far more dangerous than it is given credence for. Of all the drugs that Zach used, it was the one that posed the greatest danger to his mental health. Whenever we brought it up with 'Dr. Goode' the foolish doctor fobbed us off. How many more kids are going to be completely 'fried' as a consequence of sniffing Ketamine?

Oh, and before I forget, a new report suggests that Florence Nightingale was Bipolar. This I had never heard of before. I guess that she must have been on somewhat of a 'high' all the time that she was in the Crimea. How else could she have worked those hours in those conditions? The sad thing is that if she were around today and having to notify her employers that she suffered a severe mental health condition, would she have been allowed to set foot in Turkey with her blue lamp?

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

It's February. London snow and nasty conflict

Wow, it's February and I have a new computer. Still can't work out how to use Word. Don't think it has it. Will have to try some new fandangled way of writing on it. Chris will have to show me...

A lot has happened and I've not really had much of a head for writing. My irritation and frustration has meant that I've been writing to comments pages and newspapers and being more irritated by other responses that I've found on them. Is this being opaque? Only to those who don't know...

Last week I travelled up to Grimsby. I've never been there before. Two lovely trains. One very cold. It wasn't heated and I wrapped my coat around me, trying to keep out the draughts. Still, by comparison to the snow we've just had, at least I had a train to keep me going.

Once outside of London, travelling along the countryside, watching the cows in the fields and the triffidous electricity pilons stacking the distance, it meant for a relaxation. I took books and newspapers but was happy to look out of the windows, into the distance.

The reason that I travelled to Grimsby was that I had been invited to give the 'key note' address to Workwise Women, an organisation started by the effervescent Lindsay and the more calming Sarah. It's a networking group of women in business, law, writing, the media and designers. I really enjoyed it. Don't think that my address was really the best but I read the first chapter of my book and sold a good many copies. Fifty ladies who sat silent and still while I read to them.

Otherwise all that's been newsworthy is the snow that has crippled London and the rest of the country. I'm baffled by our authorities here. They don't grit the pavements and the paths, so that we're all at liberty to break our necks but close the parks and playgrounds, on health and safety reasons, so that the kids can't throw snowballs at each other. The buses stopped - so that the drivers could also throw snowballs at one another - and the trains didn't budge out of their sidings, presumably because they might get wet! Was it the wrong snow, for a change? No, just too much of it! They only knew about if for a good week beforehand. This country is slowly, silently, going down the loo.

Zach took the dog for a walk this afternoon. They both came back with icy feet. Zach's still good. He has his first gig with his new band this week. I'll keep you posted.

UNWRA finally admitted today that Israel didn't attack the school in Gaza where they said that forty-three children died.

Hamas has executed over 150 Fatah members for 'collaboration.'

750 of the so-called 'civilians' were Hamas members. Children as young as twelve with missiles and RPGs strapped to their backs.

Women wearing 'suicide' belts who ran at soldiers.

Children armed with detonators.

Old people mined to bombs.

Just thought that I would keep you up to scratch.