Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Sick to my stomach: Poor Akmal Shaikh

For the first time I agree with a foreign office minister of this government. Ivan Lewis described his feelings of revulsion with the Chinese authorities. He was, he said 'sick to my stomach.' How I know how he feels. When I heard that the Chinese had executed - or, rather, killed in cold blood - a man with severe mental health issues, my heart dipped downwards. I felt quite coldly sick. This is the twenty-first century. Haven't we learned anything? How can we tolerate a country that murders the vulnerable like this?

The worst, though, is reading the comments at the various media outlets. I would say that 99% of them utterly agree that the Chinese have done the right thing! Would these people concur that the Chinese would have had the moral authority to execute a 53 year old man who, although he had smuggled heroin, had cancer or MS or Parksinsons' Disease? Would there have been a huge outcry if he had been a white Englishman?

The sheer callousness and ignorance of the posters is astounding. I agree, no one should smuggle heroin. Heroin is simply disgusting. God knows what it's done to Zach. Or, rather, what Zach has allowed heroin to do to him. However, there but for the grace of God goes Zach. He says that even in his most psychotic moodswing he would never have involved himself with drug smuggling but having seen him at his worst, when he is unable to determine who he is, then is this likely?

Chinese human rights? An oxymoron if there ever was one. A thirty minute trial? A man, who for two years on death row, was refused psychiatric help for his Bipolar disorder? This is a country that the UK and everywhere else in the world wants to do business with? A juggernaut that rides roughshod over everything. China that sits on the UN Security Council while executing the sick and the vulnerable.

I'm sickened. It doesn't matter how often Bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses are discussed in the media, no one seems to want to understand it. I looked at the photo of Akmal Shaikh in the paper today and it's heartbreaking. Maybe being as ill as he was he was unaware of what was happening to him. Maybe his life was so awful that it's better that he's no longer alive and suffering in the way he was. It didn't sound as though there was a great deal of happiness there. His behaviour was just too manic and his decisions too extreme. Maybe if he'd received treatment here in the UK and was taking the right medication, then none of this would have happened. Who knows? Although from my experience here, it's more than likely that he fell under the radar of the NHS or slipped through whatever basic 'treatment' that is available to the mentally ill. Let's just spend the millions on more beaurocracy and backhanders.


Tuesday, 22 December 2009

The grounding of Britain and no to Chinese human rights

Isn't this country quite insane? 2" of snow and the whole place has ground to a complete halt. Why is it that every time that we have 'extreme' weather here, nothing works? The trains stop. The buses collect together into little groups and refuse to budge. Cars are abandoned at the roadside (and are dealt the ignomy of parking tickets) and airports and ferries hunker down. It's bizarre. We must be the laughingstock of the world. In the 'States, where they have this weather every year, homeowners are bound by law to clear the paths in front of their homes and gritters work 24/7 in order that people can get to work and school, hospital appointments or to do their shopping. Here, shoppers had to spend last night in John Lewis in the bed department because they couldn't get home. Local authorities didn't have the presence of mind to grit the roads to major malls and hospitals.

It's a national disgrace. When I walked the dog on the Heath yesterday morning, slipping and sliding along the paths, I saw two men in green uniforms coming towards me. They were walking on the snowy, leafy bit (just as slippery though). Workers, with their Westminster badges highlighted on their anoraks. Ah ha, I thought. Just the men! 'Why don't you grit the paths?' I asked. 'They're lethal. I've almost fallen over three times!' The older one laughed. 'Yeah,' he answered, 'We've also been sliding all over the place.' 'Then why can't it be gritted?' I reiterated. 'Health and Safety,' was his response. Eh, what? 'We can't grit because of Health and Safety..'

I have now heard it all. I guess this just reflects the malaise at the heart of our society. The staff melted away on the Eurostar, afraid to take any decisions on their own so that off-duty police had to man the tannoys. No one was available the whole weekend to inform the public what was happening on the channel tunnel. No one took responsibility. And here the excuse, any excuse it would appear these days, is effing Health and Safety. It's an effing oxymoron (excuse the pun).

As an aside, it looks as if the English/Indian guy arrested in China for drugs smuggling will be executed, even though he has mental health problems. Human Rights in China, you see, don't exist. Where are the demonstrations? I hope and pray that Zach doesn't make it that far east. He's still insisting on travelling yet again. Yes, I know but what can I do? Unless we go to court, he's entitled to his passport and in his present state would convince a judge that he is compos mentis. Irrespective of his Health and Safety!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Global chill, Copenhagen hubris and sanity

It's a quiet time of year. Thankfully. No histrionics. No tantrums or mood swings. It's like being with a human being. Let's hope it continues along this line. We take it on a day to day basis. 'Did you speak to Zach today?' 'Yes,' 'How was he?' 'He was fine. No different to yesterday...'

Christmas is upon us again. It actually feels slightly Christmassy too. It's bloody freezing! Yesterday it snowed. Great, big, fluffy, white globules that descended upon us from the skies above. It settled on the cars in the street and on the garden gnomes and the trees, making everything appear as if It's a Wonderful Life was about to reign supreme over our reality. I think, in some ways, that Copenhagen must be Pottersville. Full, it is of anarchy and hubris, hysteria and hypocrisy. All those do-gooders flying there in their Golfstreams; Chavez being applauded every time he opened his mouth and Mugabe denigrating the west. 'Cos of course these guys are just the epitome of goodness. Now we await the delights of Ahmadinejhad. Yummy. What can he possibly say that anyone can applaud?

It was -28C in Winnipeg the other night. The high in Moscow today is -24C. We are expecting winds from Siberia and snow of up to 8" overnight. I hope that I can get to my hairdresser in the morning. It's the firm's Christmas shindig and I can't possibly go with yucky hair! Will London be able to deal with the white stuff? What will the buses do? Will they make their ways out of the terminus (terminii?)? Will we have a repetition of last March when the whole of London ground to a standstill because, even though the meteorologists had (for once) rightly predicted snow, nothing was done about it?

I'll keep you posted. Meanwhile I'm going to put the heating on.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Climate change, courses and Zach

It's extraordinary how time flies. I can't believe that it will be Christmas in two weeks. Where does it go? Of course, it doesn't feel too much like Christmas because it is so mild this week. We've had mild Decembers before, of course. I don't buy into 'Climate Change.' The climate changes. That's life. A bit less pollution. A few less forests in the Amazon chopped down. Less building along low slung beaches in the Far East could help but it's all such hypocrisy for these thousands of 'enviornmentalists' to fly over to Copenhagen, rent copious amounts of limosines, eat and drink and make merry and spend OUR money doing it, and then piously tell us mere mortals what to do and how to lead our lives. And as for recycling our slops - do me a favour! Rant over. Two minutes. Is this a record?

I see that the UK is still lagging behind in the heart and cancer leagues. Not surprising when so much of the NHS budget is wasted. The graft that goes on is in a league of its own. All very well being proactive in screening but what do we do when we have a patient with symptoms? I think that there are so many well meaning people in the NHS who would love to do a good job but their hands are tied by managerial tampering. It's jobs for the boys. Oh dear, another rant...

An update on Zach: He's still good. Says that he's still taking his meds. Looks fine. Has put on weight. He's applied for a course and hopes to hear back this week to see whether he's got on it. Hope so. Will open all sorts of doors for him and it will be good for him to have something to do on a daily basis that will involve his intellect.

I also participated in a course yesterday. Now I know more about cancers than I really wanted to know and their treatments. It's fascinating but frightening but the knowledge that there are cures is a bonus. Maybe I should pursue it more proactively. Could I manage yet another degree course? Medical ethics sounds interesting... We'll see.