Disclaimer

BEFORE YOU START: Please note that although I currently volunteer for both the Stroke Association and Age UK, the views expressed in this blog are strictly my own. I am not a spokesperson for either (or, indeed, for any) organisation, and I accept complete responsibility for the views expressed herein. I've tried to use the Glossary to explain any ambiguous terms, but if you think there is anything I've missed, please message me.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Failings

My eyes have let me down a couple of times recently. As you will know from other posts in this blog, my eyesight has suffered as a result of diabetes and/or the stroke. I mean, generally, these days, I live ok with my eyes. Whilst I don't think they've got any better, I certainly don't think they've got any worse.

Yesterday, I was reading something online, which led me off to a newspaper article. I read the article, then made a comment. The only problem I had was that I misread the article - I thought I had read it properly, but I hadn't. It was quite a serious post in quite a serious forum, and whilst it is interesting to discover other views, and share your own, it's generally not a very forgiving place - somebody can be relied upon to pick up on something pretty quickly. True to form, somebody did spot the mistake. Fortunately, they managed to tell me without also adding that I was an idiot, that I was brainless etc. which is often the case on the internet, and really is unnecessary - I often think that when people choose just to insult other people, they're exposing their own limitations. At least, if he did tell me, I didn't see it.

I, of course, deleted my post and apologised. I don't think he made capital out of it, but of course he could easily have said something like "make sure you read things properly next time before commenting", which would have been fair enough. The problem was, I thought I  had read the thing properly.

So as a consequence, as I say, I removed my comment and didn't replace it, although, of course, I still had a view. But I thought I'd forfeited the right to express that view by my error. I might well have left the group as a result, if I can't rely 100% on my eyes, but, as I say, I find some of it interesting. I mean, it probable takes me much more effort than it does the average, able-eyed person to work my way through a post, but that's my problem. The great thing about the internet is that nobody knows how long it takes me to read and write stuff.

The second incident (don't worry, there are only two) was that I had to renew my PIP benefit. I posted about this just last time out. I've had the form a week or so, and when it first arrived, I'd obviously read enough of it to know what they wanted me to do, but I'd missed the deadline, which was a just a couple of days later. We just had a bank holiday in the UK, so there was no postal service, and my form couldn't possibly get back there in time. I mean, I have to rely on my wife to scribe these forms (really annoying, but for another post), and she works four days a week, plus she was away last weekend and part of this, not to mention having her own things to do rather than just being around to fill forms out for me, so it was always going to be tight. I didn't realise just how tight.

So my renewal application will arrive a couple of days late, and god knows what they'll do in response to that. Worst case, I suppose, they might turn around and say that, because I didn't renew in time, that they'd assumed I didn't want to renew and have therefore scrapped my case. But that would be a pyrrhic victory. It'd take me extra time to re-apply, it'd take them extra time to sift through a "first-time" application. If they take that route, I could just appeal I suppose, but it'd have the same result in terms of taking us all more time. I suppose the fallback, as far as I'm concerned, is that I'm certainly not trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes - I'm far stronger at walking, but my wrist, hand, ankle and foot are still paralysed, so it's a no-brainer for me to pursue it to the end. With any luck, the DWP will be sufficiently tardy in opening their mail, that they won't notice anything was late. They must deal with many thousands of these applications so I very much doubt that someone is sitting there waiting for mine.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

PIP

I've been told I need to renew my PIP. One of the questions, I believe, is whether I can make a cup of tea.

Under normal circumstances, yes, I can easily make a cup of tea. But take this morning:

From my seat in the lounge, I decided that it was time to get my morning cuppa. So I got up and, because I try my best to tidy up after myself, took a bag full of rubbish to the bin, which is also in the kitchen.

Problem #1 - the kitchen bin was full. So I needed to tie the binbag up and take it out to the household bin. Bear in mind that I'm tying this thing one-handed, which is an art even to start with. And, in taking it outside, bear in mind again that I'm one-handed, so actions like carrying the bin bag, opening the front door into the porch, opening the porch door onto the driveway, opening the bin - these actions all have to be performed serially, I can't do them all at once.

I get the bag into the main bin and come back into the kitchen, the next task is a fresh bin bag. Again, I'd remind you that I'm one-handed (did you get that yet?), but I'll leave it to your imaginations to work out how exactly I got the new bag into the bin!

On to my tea. Problem #2 - the kettle's empty. A doddle, just fill it up again. Put on hold the thought that I should have checked this first, so that the water could have been boiling while I sorted the bin. I forgive myself these little things these days.

Problem #3 - the sink is full of dirty dishes, I can't get to the tap. So, I have to wash the dishes before I can fill the kettle.

Problem #4 - the draining board is also full, so there's no point washing anything just yet, because there's nowhere for it to dry. Fortunately, this task, I'm able to complete. I put the dishes away. I wash the other dishes.

Unfortunately, at this point, I have to take a break and go sit down. So I could reasonably say that on this occasion, no, I was not able to make a cup of tea! In fact I had to wait another half-hour, at least then everything was in-situ and I could just get on with it.

You might argue, with very good reason, that I didn't have to empty the bin, that I didn't have to wash the dishes. And you'd be right, but you'd be missing my point. My point is that my stroke has messed with my head such that I do have to. Does that seem anal to you? The trouble is, when the bin is full, the correct response is to take it out. When the sink is full, my correct response is to do the dishes, and so on. I'm not as good these days at making a decision which I know to be incorrect. And, does it surprise you that I treat such trivial matters as significant enough to mention in my blog? Welcome to my new life.

Malta

Lots of things I hear about the EU leave me thinking, "that's not very good", here's one of those things:

In France, today, the population is 66.9 Million [Google]. This boils into an electorate of around 47.3M [ElectionGuide.org]. France currently has 74 seats in the European Parliament [Google]. The European Parliament is important, since it's the only thing we European citizens cast our votes for. This institution should be the source for every power European, at least in my mind, and should itself be comprised fairly. So, let's summarise:

France
Population 66.9M
Electorate 47,293,103
Number of seats in the European Parliament 74
Number of people per seat 904,054.05
Number of electors per seat 639,095.99

Those two last rows are simple divisions of the numbers, I haven't introduced any new numbers. This is all fair enough, France's number of delegates is in line (using either population or electorate) with somebody like the UK, which has a slightly smaller population/electorate than France, and 73 seats.

But let's look at Malta. Here's that same table:

Malta
Population 436,947
Electorate 341,856
Number of seats in the European Parliament 6
Number of people per seat 72,824.50
Number of electors per seat 56,976.00

My sources here are Google and Wikipedia. You should be able to see it from comparing the two tables, but I'll just state it for clarity:

Seats per person (Malta) vs. Seats per Person (France) 12.41
Seats per elector (Malta) vs. Seats per elector (France) 11.22

So, again just to be explicit, a Maltese person's voice is more than ten times as loud as a French person's. I have to say I'm in no way being critical of Malta here - it's really up to negotiators to secure the best deal they can, so good on them. My only criticism might be that they could have pointed out that they have a disproportionate number of MEPs, but why would someone put fairness above their self-interest? And that's my problem, or one of them. To be explicit for the last time, I expect the ratio to be somewhat nearer to one. Okay, I can live with some small variation, because France is a comparatively large country, and Malta a very small country, but a ratio of 10 is not fair. All countries should have about the same number of representatives, per capita.

Then you get to the method used by each of the countries to elect their MEPs, where again, my support is qualified. You'll pick up from other posts the need to be careful to design a fair PR system, and certainly until John Prescott changed the UK system, our first-past-the-post was less fair still. But all of this might be the subject of another post.

I don't particularly wish to make further capital out of this, really it's down to you to digest these numbers and decide whether they're fair or not, but be aware that these numbers are one of the reasons why I'm happy to walk away from the EU. I have a lot of sympathy with my continental friends, who will readily say that the EU might be imperfect, but there's no way they can contemplate living without it, but I'm less forgiving. I'm quite happy to live without it.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Severance

I must admit that a while ago (it was probably pre-Brexit-referendum) I was looking for facts about the European Parliament. I know that for this body, the UK votes proportionally, but only really based on a "list" system.

I think with this system, the devil is in the detail. Imagine if the proportion of votes cast elected 5 of your delegates - you'd be pretty upset if you were Delegate #6 on the list. So I think how you build your list in the first place is pretty crucial. Historically, the largest parties are no good, because their list is passed down from their party hierarchy. So, basically, if you're a safe pair of hands, well-in with the leader, then you're going to be seen far more favourably than a rabble-rouser.

I thought the Greens might be different (another reason to vote for them). So I posed the question via an email. This was to their central greenparty.org.uk email address, so presumamly went to someone at head office. I waited, and eventually got a response. "It varies by region", they said, and helpfully gave me a contact email for the south-west region. So I tried again, but this time didn't get a response. Strange, I was even in the Party at the time, so if that's how important your supporters are....

Anyway, I let it go. What else could I do?

Then, again, a month or so ago, I found the local branch of my Green Party on Facebook. Last week, somebody posted one of these "party political broadcasts" to the group. It was a poster which reflected how Green activists had been involved in thwarting fracking - I think members were supposed to nod approval, and carry on. For me, though, the issue is interesting because the government have obviously given their permission to go ahead, and yet local people (I assume it's local people) have tried to use direct action to stop them. So for me, it raises the bigger question of when we'd find it permissible for local protesters to defy the government. So I asked that question. Several days later, I'd had just one response to the question, despite it being seen by around 20 people. That disappointed me. I might have offended people in the way I asked the question, although I tried not to. You can judge for yourselves, by reading some of my posts, whether you think this might be the case. Or (worse), people didn't think we should be asking questions. But I think that's perfectly acceptable - how else does a child learn? Or (worse still) maybe none of the viewers knew an answer? A lot of people interested in politics behave like sheep, I think, but I'd always thought the Greens to be more thoughtful than that. Perhaps we just naturally think of "our" party as better than the others, but that's just perception? Maybe everyone who read the post just agreed with the respondent? Possibly, but there were no visible signs of that. I'll have never met any of these people, as I'm not able to get a bus at night, so maybe they don't want to engage with a stranger? But I'm happy to, and I'm the guy who doesn't communicate as well as I used to, I'm the guy who had the stroke.

It's already been 18 months since I paid any subscription to the Green Party, I guess I need to consider my links severed.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Irish Eighth Amendment

I kind-of get the feeling that there can't be many people with this view, but I'll write it and you can shoot me down in flames....

The background is that the Irish constitution was amended so as to recognise that a pregnant woman is effectively two lives, and to give them equal status under the law. This amendment effectively banned abortion in the state of Ireland. There are exceptions here, but I'm talking generally. The referendum, tomorrow, is on whether to repeal this amendment to the constitution.

The reason I am interested in this question is largely just because I take a keen interest in Irish affairs, although I live in the UK myself. So I might well have an interest, but I won't be voting tomorrow.

So my view on this matter is that Irish women are, today, able to hop onto a plane and fly somewhere (nominally, to the UK) to get an abortion. So the current law is simply a matter of geography - an Irish woman in Ireland is bound by the law, but an Irish woman outside of Ireland isn't. So I think the current law effectively says "if you wish to stay here, then you must keep your baby, but if you're able to travel....". So I'd argue that the law currently discriminates against people who aren't able to travel. This could be for many reasons, including the obvious one of somebody's ability to afford the cost of a flight and a private abortion. In that sense, we could see it as economic discrimination.

And even though someone might be able to travel, that's far more onerous than going to a clinic in the next street, plus, of course, it doesn't remove any soul-searching from the process. I've only ever experienced one pregnancy myself, and the baby was healthy and very much wanted, but I can imagine that other parts of the process must be far harder than getting on a plane. But I don't see this issue as particularly critical to the debate. I'm more concerned that, under the current law, the Irish medical profession needs to be careful about "promoting" certain avenues over others - I know from my own situation that I'd expect full disclosure, so as to be able to come to the best decision. But today, resources such as the internet undermine this argument too.

Having decided that the current law is discriminatory, I would get rid of it - the issue becomes a no-brainer for me. It doesn't really really matter what the content of that law might be, I think that we as a society need to use laws to make a level playing field, and not say to some women that they can have an abortion, and to other women that they can't. I'd maybe be happy for there to be a further discussion, and maybe we'd discuss not just whether we'd prevent abortions, but how we'd prevent them without prejudice - if you say abortions are banned, then how do you stop somebody jumping on a plane and having one anyway? Is it reasonable, these days, for the state to even have a view? But this referendum is about repealing the Eighth.

Etiquette

I think when you post a view on social media, there are always two things that go on:

  1. what you say, and
  2. how you present it.
The former just represents your point of view and might be perfectly rational or not.
The latter is the key to your point of view being accessible. It might be inaccessible for several reasons, even something as innocuous as the language you're using. I think there's a pre-requisite that you can convey your meaning in the chosen language. It raises an interesting point with regard to stroke survivors, some of whom have difficulty with the nuts and bolts, although their thought process is intact.

But I think you can cross a line by choice also by your choice of words. Insulting, patronising, swearing, in some cases. I find even just bringing emotion into things can be a turn-off. I followed a post in a political forum this morning (which describes itself as for political anoraks, so judge for yourselves what that makes me!) in which a chap called somebody a **** (they used real letters, but I'm afraid you'll have to guess as it's not something I'm comfortable repeating). The effect of this was that whatever view this guy was propagating, it didn't go any further with me. So it was ineffective in trying to convert an open-minded reader to their cause.

I do think that the goal of social media posts is not to win an argument - people, especially as they get older, have pretty fixed views and aren't going to change them because of something you say - but to convince a third-party reader that your view is a reasonable one. Often, if you happen to be disagreeing with someone, they'll provide that "reason" for you, often by the way they present their argument - being rude or unreasonable or something. I think if you're going to have a view on politics, then a part of that view is understanding other people's position, understanding where there is agreement and where there might be disagreement. And, I think there's generally more agreement than we might first think.

Plus, of course, the other important thing in debating is knowing when you've made your point, then stopping. People can always re-read it if they wish.

Addendum:

Do you see what I mean? I turn off when I see the word "Ayatollah", and any remaining point is lost. I have seen one already about Rees-Mogg, which claimed (incorrectly) that his own constituency (North East Somerset) had voted to remain in the EU. I duspect anybody who follows current affairs would know that, so a fairly obvious lie.



Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Happy Lunch

I had a lovely experience when I visited to Salisbury today. The local bus service is sufficiently infrequent that I frequently end up with having time on my hands before meeting people. Today, I was meeting my stroke buddies for coffee, and had time to eat some lunch beforehand.

So I was sitting there by the side of the river eating my sandwich in the spring/summer sun, and heard both French and Flemish being spoken by passers-by. I mean, fine, I live near a city which is renowned for visitors, but just to be able to sit there and hear other languages was brilliant. It does upset me a little that some of my countrymen don't share this view.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

The Monarchy

Inevitably in the UK, with this royal wedding, there have been discussions around the role of the monarchy.

With regard to the wedding itself, I must admit I'm not a big fan of weddings in general (I think I'm going back to childhood to think of the last wedding I attended, apart from my own). But I know how hard it is to make a marriage work, so I wish them the very best of luck. Just as if it were your wedding, I'd wish you the best of luck.

So you could take from that, that I certainly think the royals have a right to exist. I think there are big question marks surrounding inherited wealth, but that's a different matter. You can have a similar argument about the UK's benefit from something like slavery. None of us alive today, have had anything to do with slavery, and yet we live quite happily with the benefits that were accrues during that time. For me, these questions summarise why I think the concept of a state is something more than just the individuals who comprise it. It's one of the areas where I think the state has a responsibility to involve itself.

Returning to the monarchy, where I'd draw my line is the involvement of the monarch (I'm being careful not to mention the queen here, since I don't think this is about a person) in the machinery of state, for want of a better term. In things like lawmaking, in terms of royal prerogative, for example - the amount of power a prime minister can wield as a proxy of the monarch. We should be clear that these items benefit the state, not the monarch. When parliament debates and passes a new law, for example, the final act of royal assent is purely ceremonial. And, of course, we have people (Sinn Fein MPs) who have been duly elected, and who refuse to take up their seats because they won't swear allegiance to a monarch. That seems a silly reason to me, and I think we need to be clear whether these people have been elected to serve the voters or the monarch. My own view is that the voters have priority, every time. So if you have a conflict, then the monarch gives way. And it might be fine for the prime minister to have special powers (again, an argument for another day) but we should be clear that these powers are because they are themselves the de facto head of state, rather than the monarch's proxy.So I think we need to look at public service, and ask whether the service is provided on behalf of the monarch, or of the state.

So great news for the royal family about the wedding, but I think we also need to think of their context in our lives. God sabe our gracious state, anyone?


Fallen Ken

I like to keep up with the news. I'm careful to look at other sources too, but one of the sites I use most is the good old BBC. Last night, it ran the story:

Ken Livingstone to quit Labour amid anti-Semitism row

There's been a lot about this one recently, not least because of his subsequent suspension from the Labour Party, and the whole row involving Labour and semitism. I suspect Livingstone has done them a favour by jumping before he was pushed. Having been an MP, and of course, the mayor, it was difficult to imagine him holding further public office anyway.

But in the mass media, this whole story has always been reported with a degree of furore which (I thought) obscured the basic source for contention, so I looked back at the detail on the web. In an interview (i.e. publicly), Livingstone stated that Hitler was a Zionist at one point. Whilst in later years Hitler obviously decided that his best answer to his "Jewish problem" was his Final Solution, he did, in 1933, adopt a policy of repatriation of Jews to Palestine. This is known in histoory as the Haavara Agreement.

There were strings attached to this policy, for example that people would be allowed to take a portion of their assets with them, and to take supplies bought from German vendors - Hitler obviously had one eye on his economy here - and there are further details in the Wikipedia article. Plus, of course, you can decide for yourself if allowing Jewish people to leave your state constitutes Zionism, as Livingstone claimed. Even taking into account the intimidatory atmosphere of Germany at that time, my own opinion is that Hitler's manoeuvrings fell some way short of Zionism. I think his interests began and ended with getting the Jews out of Germany, whereas I think Zionism includes at east a degree of positivity about having a Jewish state. Actually, I think the ideal situation is to have a state which tolerates all religions, but that was clearly not the case in the 1930s/1940s.

Whatever your view on the actual history, I think simply trying to summarise this policy into a few words was erroneous. Brevity is good, but not at the cost of clarity. To claim that "Hitler was a Zionist" makes us judge for ourselves, "well, what exactly is a Zionist? Did Hitler fulfil those criteria?" So, whatever your answer to these questions, there is a need for the reader to apply some processing, so Livingstone was hardly unambiguous in his comment. Even if he meant it with the most decent of intentions, he relied heavily on his own interpretation.

It never fails to amaze me how senior politicians - not just this guy - trip themselves up with the words they use. I mean, even for me, writing a blog, it's like walking a tightrope, but at least here I'm not looking for a soundbite and can (hopefully) talk about things fully.

Even now, it remains unclear exactly what Livingstone's views are, as there have been a couple of other instances where he has allegedly been....less than generous, shall we say.....toward Jewish people. I'm not even sure if the Labour Party was intending analysing these or not.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Sudoku

I got quite stressed yesterday, I was playing a bit of Sudoku and made a few silly mistakes. Admittedly, the tv was putting me off, to say nothing of the cat, but even so, I was angry with myself.

I play these days on "easy" level, it takes me that much longer to read the line. All the online Sudoku games I've found don't allow you to write your working-out, so I find myself having to do mental arithmetic on the same row/column repeatedly. As a result, I normally solve the puzzles, but slowly. One of the sites I visit submits your time, it always comes back and says things like "97% of people are faster than you". I can't help it these days - I used to just see a row/column of the grid in a split-second, then process what the numbers are just by recognising the different shapes. It was all so natural, but now these steps are more deliberate.

It doesn't help that sometimes I will click on a square to undo something I've mistyped, but I must hit the touchpad so lightly that the computer doesn't realise I've clicked on a square, so that when I subsequently hit the backspace key, instead of clearing the entry, it clears the whole grid. But I have the same trouble with other programs, I've had lots of other laptops which have behaved better, so I can quite happily put a lot of this onto things other than my stroke. Also, I am forever right-clicking on everything, when my intention is to left-click, which is purely the dodgy design of this laptop. Finally, I tend to be quite harsh on myself, in that I expect to complete these boards flawlessly, so if I make a mistake (I can highlight where I've gone wrong, often just a typo), I tend to abandon the whole board, rather than just correcting the individual mistake. I am far more prone to typos these days, in Sudoku just as in my blog (you may well see typos here, although I do use a spellchecker and manually review my posts in an attempt to minimise them).

But I need to keep going with these programs, just because they challenge my brain. I spend most of my days on a sofa at the moment, and it would be so easy just to shutdown if I'm not careful.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Smarties

A while ago, there was an advert on TV which claimed "Only Smarties have the answer". For me, Crocs appear to be the answer. Those plastic shoes. Let me explain.

Since the stroke I've had no movement in my left ankle or toes, which appears to be here to stay. Immediately after the stroke, too, I always felt cold. Even now, I don't sweat, just get like a furnace inside. I can be wearing my winter coat on a hot summer's day, no problem.

In the context of these things, the slippers I wear has become a problem. The ones I had before the stroke, I stopped wearing because they left my feet cold. So I got myself some lovely, cosy, sheepskin ankle boots. The trouble is, with no movement in my foot, the bloomin' thing kept falling off. This was great, for example, when I was walking across the garden, and could expect my foot to be covered in chicken poo as a result.

They lasted about six months. One day, I got so frustrated that this thing kept falling off, that I gripped it with my teeth and managed to pull it apart. I think that wasabout £60 wasted.

There then followed some more sheepskin slippers at about £50 - an expensive business. They used to drop off just the same, although this time I had a bit more restraint.

Last christmas, in the January sales, my wife suggested I try some crocs. I got some on-sale, insulated ones (whilst I no longer feel cold all the time, it was the middle of winter!), and, so far so good. I can wear them independently, and can put the strap down to on my bad foot hold them onto the foot. No more slipping off! They're a boring colour but hey, it was a sale.

Little things.

Diabetes Statistics

I've been using Excel again this morning, basically I exported all the dat from my glucometers. On its own, none of it is compatible with each other. Compatibility, which working in software was always my top criterion, seems to have passed the medical industry by. There is a saving grace, however, that most of them seem to export to Microsoft Excel, with varying degrees of easiness.

Lots of huffing, lots of shouting at the screen as Excel selected unintended cells, lots of shouting at the screen just because of the way Excel produces charts, but I finally have a graph of every glucometer reading since the stroke. I should be thankful, I suppose, because the last time I used the software I got so frustrated that I punched the laptop's screen and broke it. Two-handed, life was far easier. In those days, Excel did exactly what I wanted.

Anyway, since I finally have a graph, I thought I might share it:


I don't have much success exporting Excel graphs - possibly another area where you're required to be more dextrous than me? - but hopefully this is readable, at least when you blow it up. The GIF files I tried last time left me distinctly unimpressed, so this one is a PNG.

On the numbers themselves, the high ones are, of course, the ones I remember. but the graph shows that even the measures of 15+ are quite few in number. In fact, I think I calculated that my average over all dates was 12 point something. You have to be careful with that number, because I've also taken different doses of insulin over this time, which isn't shown. I'm encouraged by the very recent results, though, which seem to show single-digit values, despite taking generally less insulin. I started taking a med called empagliflozin on quite recently, on 30/04/18 (just 10mg so far), and my average since then has dropped to around 10.

Hypo or not?

Yesterday, my sugar when I first got up was 7 mmol/l. For me, that's quite low - I'll start having a hypo if it gets down to 5½. I suppose my body is used to that higher level of sugar, so when it gets lower than usual, I start having withdrawal symptoms (i.e. hypos).

Anyway, on the face of it, this is a great value. 7 is almost normal - far better than the 15s I was measuring a few months ago. Other than thinking "that's good", I didn't take any further action. I ate my breakfast as normal, took my insulin as normal, felt absolutely normal.

Yesterday was a slow day so I faffed around on the computer and watched tv all morning, and eventually had a bath around midday. At the end of my bath I normally haul myself up, stand under the shower, wash my hair and have a shave. At this point yesterday, things started going wrong, when I stood up, I felt light-headed, so rather than completing my wash, I sat down for five minutes. Also, my wife had left a pile of clothes in the bathroom which covered the bath mats, and, rather than just moving them, I made do without, which made the bathroom floor quite slippery - something which made me grouchy.

By the time I did get myself sorted, I decided I'd better eat some lunch. Fortunately there was some ready-made mince left over from nachos the night before. No tortillas unfortunately, just the topping. So I quickly reheated this, but by the time it was hot enough I was quite desperate to eat, wolfing some down without the grated cheese and sour cream which would have made it more complete - this was just mincemeat, seasoning, a pepper and an onion, which had all been cooked up together.

This all helped a bit, but I was still not 100%. I wondered if my sugar had gone low? I know what regular hypos feel like now, having had three or four, but this didn't feel anywhere near as extreme. Although, that might explain the grumpiness, plus there weren't really any carbs in my lunch. So I tried feeding myself one of my hypo "meds" - a packet of Skittles. And felt better for the rest of the day. Everything else was normal.

The reason for posting this is because my sugar was 7 again - even lower than yesterday by a fraction. So I think I need to reduce today's insulin by a little.

I mean, I need to get myself stable, priority #1, but I can't lose sight of the fact that the less insulin I take, the better.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Proportional Representation

I think we have to be very careful with proportional representation. Depending on the system used, there are circumstances under which the system is no better than first-past-the-post.

The Labour government changed the voting system for EUElections to a PR-based system, until the UK decided to leave the EU altogether. Instead of voting for a candidate, people voted for a party and then totted up regionally. A vote of x% would lead to y number of seats. I'm fine so far. The problem comes when you assign bodies to these seats. The parties use a "list" system - people at the top of the list were more likely to be chosen, people near the bottom less likely. So the important thing is how this list is compiled. Some parties are democratic, in terms of electing their delegates, but equally other parties rely on the list being defined centrally. You can't help thinking that someone who disagreed with the party hierarchy over something might not rank too highly on the list! So, whilst the headline might say "proportional", the devil is in the detail.

Expanding things to look at the EU, the Council of Ministers has a great deal of power, and this comprises representatives elected by a variety of national systems. So, before you're confident of the Council of Ministers, you have to have confidence in how each of the national mechanisms which come into play. For example, the UK's contingent is selected off the back of the UK's parliament, so if you don't like the way the UK parliament is elected....

As I understand it, the system of the single transferable vote is practised in Australia. I mean, that sounds like a fairer way of electing people, but of course once somebody is elected, you've lost that range of views, and the representative will vote in a contrary manner to at least some of their electorate. So, much like the UK's system, I think this could be improved, too. For the French system too, the purpose is to elect a single winner, so I think that's flawed too.

I suppose there is a danger that, in trying for a fairer system, you make the system too complicated for voters to understand. That's why I like the system I mentioned a couple of weeks ago - in that system, the complexity happens (mostly) after you get to parliament. With such a small user base, anything should be possible.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Cycling

I wanted to use this post to pay homage to cycling. Before my stroke I was a keen amateur cyclist. I never even tried to do anything professionally because I was already nearly 40 when I got into it.

I was overweight and worked in London which meant long hours. It was difficult to see how I could fit exercise into my life. I started off riding a Boris Bike instead of taking the tube. The journey from my station (Waterloo) to my clients was only a couple of miles, but I did this for several years, really skinnied out, and got bitten by the bug. I didn't use Boris Bikes for long before I started leaving my own bike in London. My own bike had only cost £100 ten years earlier, and had mostly gathered dust in my garage, but it handled far better than a Boris Bike. I used to ride from Monday to Friday, and on Fridays I would park the bike up and not see it again until Monday. This was way before I did any cycling whatever at home, but I began to miss my weekday rides and saved up for a bike to speed around the New Forest.

I shelled out for the first bike, and of course, with that came the lycra and the gadgets. i got one of those GPS bike computers, which meant I could spend hours looking at maps on my laptop, then upload my route to this device. It also recorded my position, speed etc. too. That was probably a bit anal, given that my ability was so limited, but whilst I could never "feel" improvements from ride-to-ride, I could certainly see them by looking at one ride, compared to, say, that same ride the year before. Over this period of time I also progressed from rides of a few miles, to rides of tens and even hundreds of miles.

Plus, as kind-of knock-ons from my cycling, I used to go to watch professional races, and when the money from my parents' estate allowed me to take a career break, I even trained to be a bike mechanic.

But yeah, I think one of the best times I had was when I got the ferry over to France, and then cycled along the French coast, touring along the way, to one of the other ferry ports to come home. Alone, just me and the bike. All told, I cycled in lots of western Europe - France, of course, but also Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and even down in Spain. And in terms of watching, I visited several Tour de France stages, ranging from Brittany to the Pyrenees, and watching the climax on the Champs Elysees in between, and was a regular attendee of the Gent Six Days event (track cycling) over in Flanders. I really felt like I was going home, to watch that one, even learned some Flemish!

With the stroke, I'm no longer able to ride (yet) and don't have the same level of interest in the professionals - it's not as good when you can't do it yourself. But actually, stroke life has several parallels with cycling life. In cycling, if you're climbing a hill, you push yourself to keep going, until you reach the top, you can have a rest at the summit. You feel the lactic acid building up, and your muscles leave you in agony. But you have to keep going - you can stop, of course, but then the hill has defeated you - plus when you get some energy back, you just have to climb the rest of the hill then. So you try and discipline yourself to keep going. Stroke is much the same - you walk (doesn't need to be a hill any more 😊), and you get tired and the lactic acid builds up in your legs. But you have to keep going, for all those same reasons. You grit your teeth and push yourself forward. You can stop in a moment - fifty more paces, then, if you can manage it, maybe fifty paces more? The secret is to make yourself run on empty, just like with cycling. And you're that much slower and more laboured, but you get to places in the end. And whilst I don't capture metrics to the same degree nowadays, I know I can walk a route and, over time, I get quicker - just looking at my wristwatch tells me as much. I mean, I suppose it must be the same with any sport that someone takes seriously - you build an attitude that says you will do something, despite your body (at least initially) tells you that it's not possible. But you push yourself; you keep going.

That's stroke.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Further observations on charities

I really admire the cancer charities. I think they're brilliant at raising people's awareness of cancer. National breakfast TV has just devoted airtime to a kind-of "nuancey"-type issue, and it makes me think it is brilliant if they can get that level of detail aired in mainstream media. They must be very slick operators.

Of course my own primary interest is with stroke. The Stroke Association charity does well, but there's not the same level of awareness about stroke. Features about stroke are few and far between. In fairness, a lot of programmes have had one-off articles about stroke - I pay attention to this stuff now - but it's not something which is sufficiently well known to be on the news, certainly.

I mean, I suspect that if you took a straw poll, and asked people what the biggest killer was, cancer would be right up there. Heart attacks are well-known too, I think, but strokes less-so.

If you look at the numbers, it's unclear because of course there are many types of cancer, as indeed there are many types of stroke, or at least, many different results. The Stroke Association says that twice as many women die from stroke than from breast cancer. As I've said, though, breast cancer is just one form of cancer. Conversely only 1/8 of people, about 2/3, who have a stroke will die as a result - most people (there are over a million of us in the UK) will be left like me, but will get well enough to survive their initial hospital stay. I suspect it must be like comparing apples and oranges though, even if you have the raw data in front of your. I know from my own experience that strokes don't necessarily have an obvious presentation, for all I know, cancers might be the same. I mean, qualitatively, you can say that both are biggies, at least. And yet cancer charities have raised awareness so much that it makes the news.

I must remember this when my coffee group next worries about how few of us turn up each time.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

House of Commons (2)

As an addendum to yesterday's post, I wanted to deal with the issue of three elected candidates not representing everybody's viewpoint, I do have ideas on this but they are a little "fiddly", so I wanted to keep it separate from the main post. I'd like to use my own constituency of Salisbury as an example in this case.

Its results at the 2017 General Election were as follows:

Party Vote Percent
Conservative 30,952 58.1
Labour 13,619 25.5
Liberal Democrat 5,982 11.2
UKIP 1,191 2.2
Green 1,152 2.2
Independent 415 0.8

(I've left out people's names for brevity, and I just lifted these numbers from the BBC's web site. I've given the percentages a cursory check.) This, as a pie chart, looks as follows:


An immediate observation is that the winner of the election received only 60% of the vote, so there is a whopping 40% of people who voted who are entitled to feel unrepresented. Whilst I'm sure the winning candidate would represent in the sense of helping the constituent with a particular problem, that person would nevertheless go into the debating chamber, and probably vote contrary to what 40% of his/her electorate might think.

My view would see the top three candidates elected. Just looking at Salisbury, you can say that the number goes up from 60% to 95%. OK, still not everybody is represented, but it's a lot closer than before. As a broad Green Party supporter myself, though, I can say that many of my views are the same as those held by other left-of-centre parties, at least approximately. I mean, I only agree with the Greens approximately, in any case. So I could live with this fault. I mean, ultimately you have a trade-off - the more MPs you have per constituency, the more people's views are represented, but the bigger your parliament becomes. Some would say that at 650, it is pretty unwieldy already! Bear in mind that even now, a far larger country, such as the USA, has a smaller lower chamber than the UK.

So, I have my three MPs. How is their vote split once they get to the House of Commons? Well, I think you need to do a little bit of maths at this point. First, you say that these three candidates are elected, period. You then discount all the failed candidates and re-calculate the proportions. So you have the following:

Party Vote Percent of vote from the total electorate Percent of vote, compared to other "top three" candidates
Conservative 30,952 58.1 61.23
Labour 13,619 25.5 26.94
Liberal Democrat 5,982 11.2 11.83
everyone else 2,758 5.2 0

Note I've added another column, which just compares the "top three" to each other. Lo and behold, (61.23 + 26.94 + 11.83) equals 100. And this last column becomes the proportion of the vote assigned to each of the winning candidates - the Tory guy has a vote of 61.23%, or 0.6123, the Labour guy has a vote of 0.2694, and the LibDem a vote of 0.1183. Again I'll put that table as a pie chart, just because some people interpret graphics better than text.


Note finally that the only thing which would need to know these numbers would be the voting system used in parliament, although of course they should also be released to the public, for transparency's sake. But your MP would basically have something which says, "I am X", and parliament's system would say, "X has 0.6123 (say) votes". The MP would not need to remember the number.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

House of Commons

I posted a few weeks ago about how I'd reform the House of Lords, and I've mentioned a few times that I think electoral reform is my biggest subject, so it should come as no surprise that I have ideas about the House of Commons, too.

At the outset, a lot of people already believe that the UK's "first-past-the-post" system is a good one, and many people assert that our parliament is already democratic. This is particularly highlighted at the moment in the Brexit debate, with people readily talking about the "sovereignty of parliament" in relation to the final deal. So I think you're looking at tweaking the existing setup rather than completely rewriting it. In response to the assertion that we are already democratic, I'd say that parliament doesn't represent me, so there is a problem. Here are my ideas on improve things.

At the moment, we have a bunch of constituencies which each elect their MP. I mean, a party-based structures exist behind this level, but broadly, every individual constituency exists in its own bubble, and it is only when you aggregate the results from all the constituencies that you begin to form a picture of what a government would look like.

I'm kind-of still in favour of this, except my first step would be to say that, instead of the top one candidate becoming an MP, then the top three candidates would all become MPs. (It could be a different number to this, but I'd suggest that 3 is a minimum.) Straight away, this gives you a problem - you have three times as many MPs, at a time when even the current numbers are an issue.

So I think you need to tinker with the number of constituencies we have nationally. Make each constituency three times bigger, so you end up with only a third as many constituencies, and the same number of MPs as today. I mean, you could make your constituencies even bigger, if you want to reduce the number of MPs from 650.

This in itself would pose another problem. Today, in an area of three constituencies, you have three guys who are earning a very comfortable living out of the UK electoral system. It's not atypical that each guy could be the same colour, too. And so, you're basically saying that two of them are out of a job! So this is a big stumbling block. I'm not really sure how you get past this one, except by asking people to put the national interest above their own self-interest. Or, keep the constituency sizes the same and have 2000 MPs! Or, possibly, pay them off - "here's a bunch of cash, so you'll never have to work again, now go away". But getting them to support any parliamentary reform is likely to be tricky.

You'll note at this point, though, that there's not really much difference, from the electorate's point of view, and this is entirely deliberate. You're still voting for (or against) a person rather than a party. The only difference is that you're electing three people, not one.

When you get to the House of Commons itself, that's when you bring technology in. At the moment, each MP has a single vote. Counting votes is as easy as counting bodies. Going forward, you now have three people representing a constituency. I still think you say "one vote per constituency", but you split that vote between the three delegates. And you make the split proportional to the number of votes received. So, for example, if one guy (in a constituency) gets 10,000 votes, and the other two guys get 5,000 votes each, then you split the vote 2:1:1. And you make this work using smart-cards. You're talking about only a few hundred users, so this should be a trivial nut to crack.

So at the end of this, you have a debate in the House of Commons, then you have a vote and people disappear into one or other of the lobbies. You keep all of that the same, except this time, you swipe your card past a reader. And the software will say, "ah, Delegate X just swiped their card, so there's half a vote for/against the motion. Motions themselves then either succeed or fail by a straightforward count, just as they do today. I mean, you could even do away with cards altogether, and use fingerprints!

As part of this, you can use the software in introduce various checks, for example that someone's vote is only counted once.

The reason I like the system of this "weighted vote" is basically because each MP has a vote which is proportional to the number of votes they received. In that way, I think you have a House of Commons in which votes are more reflective of the public's views. A guy who comes third, with just 1,000 votes, still gets elected, but will have a proportionately smaller vote once they get into parliament.

Of course, there may be an anomaly because the three people elected didn't, between them, claim 100% of the public vote (which would be the case if you had 10 candidates, for example) but I think you can work through that. It's not insurmountable.

There's also the practical issue that an MP does more than just vote, for example helping with their constituents' problems. This job becomes so much harder if you say, "your constituency is now three times as big". Although, of course, there are now three people to represent that larger area, so you'd hope that workloads could average out. In many ways, it's no different to today, where somebody is elected and takes a punt that they will be willing/able to tackle constituents' problems. It would also give people the opportunity to speak to somebody who might be more sympathetic to their particular plight. Plus, of course, even today a newly-elected MP has no idea how much this workload will be.

Of course, critics will quickly say that this system would likely prevent one party from having an absolute majority, as we usually do today. So, in theory, you'll have less decisive governments of coalitions. But I suspect this is something we just wouldn't agree on - to me, the current system might well give you a "strong" government, but it is at the expense of being unrepresentative. For me, something which is representative is the holy grail, so I'm quite happy to respond by saying, "well, surely government should be like that?" I mean, in real life humans need to collaborate with each other, working with people who have different interests, so I see the removal of partisan-ship as a plus, not a minus. An individual motion stands or falls on its merits, not by whether one group of people happens to support it or not. By comparison, the current system seems to take small differences in the public vote, then exaggerate them so as to install a government driven by ideology. Surely one which relies on co-operation is better?

Anyway, there we have it. It's unpolished, in that this is the first time I have committed these thoughts to paper. Bits would need smoothing out, but I don't think there are any showstoppers. But maybe you think differently?


Thursday, 10 May 2018

Positive Discrimination

A few months ago, I happened to be reading a post about some internal elections by a group called DIEM25. They are. broadly speaking, a left-of-centre pressure group with a particular focus on the democracy in Europe. This is a subject very close to my own heart, except I'm happy just to walk away, so a group I used to follow. The subject of their post was positive discrimination.

Their post talked about some internal elections, which would then be subject to a positive discrimination rule so as to ensure a 50:50 gender split. I couldn't resist commenting that I'd hate to be one of the people who was elected, but who then lost my place because of this rule. I mean, that's what I believe anyway, but I hadn't really intended my comment to be anything other than a throwaway remark. But it unleashed a rather aggressive response, including "Welcome to the world of women".

Now, at this point I will break off and say that, yes, society has been biased against women in the past, but the "fair" approach is to have a totally flat playing field, not to install a system which is equally biased towards men. I mean, you could maybe justify this approach based on a "yes, but society is so bad", but I think that this argument also has to come with some kind of desire to fix society, plus the word "temporary". I heard no such argument from DIEM25.

Anyway, I decided to continue, asking whether two wrongs make a right. I mean, this is my fundamental argument - that they don't. And as part of the resulting conversation, I was told I was a sexist for believing that the opportunity to stand in an election should be unbiased. I have to say, I was very unimpressed with the person/people behind the group's internet profile - it seemed very "brownshirt-ish", by which I mean nothing to do with the Nazis, but somebody with sufficient intellect only to obey orders, and to bully people into submission.

I must admit, I know nothing about the Labour Party, but I hear similar stories about Momentum's infiltration. I have no idea how true these stories are in this case, but I certainly know that it can happen.

So anyway, I ended the conversation with this guy a lot less sympathetic than when I started it. It's particularly disappointing when this guy's beliefs were probably 80% the same as my own. But I felt such hostility from them that I decided it would probably be better not to follow the group any more. I had a similar experience with some people who claimed to be Labour Party supporters about Europe. The intolerance was remarkable, let alone that I was echoing the same arguments that were made by Labour stalwarts like Michael Foot and Tony Benn. I wonder if these people would have been so quick to condemn me had I been one or other of them?

Allegiances

A couple of posts ago, I posted about how we could reform the House of Lords. I suggested that people, including ex-politicians, could "qualify" for membership. The reason I suggested this is because it removes the party-political aspect which we'd have with elections, plus it avoids the patronage aspect, whereby someone (or someone's ancestor) curries favour with some Prime Minister. But exactly how would one qualify?

Well, I think you'd want to have a mechanism which didn't work along party lines. So, for example, an ex-Leader of the Opposition would have as much right to be there as an ex-Prime Minister. Nominally, I'd suggest that anybody who was a Privy Counsellor might qualify, except that Privy Counsellors have to swear an oath to the queen.

In this day and age, I think it is perfectly reasonable for somebody to be a supporter of the monarchy, just as I think it's perfectly reasonable for somebody to be a republican. So personally, I wouldn't get too hung up on whether somebody swears allegiance to the monarch or not - it shouldn't be a pre-requisite. If anything, for anybody intending working for the state, then perhaps they should be swearing allegiance to the state?

So whilst I think elevating e.g. a privy counsellor isn't a bad starting point, I do think that this oath of allegiance to the monarch is something which needs to be sorted first. In much the same way, by the way, I think it is ridiculous that Sinn Fein MPs refuse to take their seats in the Commons - when somebody is elected by their constituents, there really shouldn't be any pre-conditions to them taking their seat.

I mean, I'm all for the existence of a monarch, but to ask people to swear allegiance to them - aren't we a bit old for that?

Monday, 7 May 2018

Experiment

A week ago I started a new tablet, empagliflozin. The plan was to introduce the new drug and to take less insulin as a result.
Well, the plan has worked very well. I noticed that my blood sugar was lower almost immediately, and even had a hypo one night last week. So I've reduced my insulin by 10%, from 44 units per dose, to 40. Even now, my sugar has been quite reasonable. I had intended just to look at the average numbers after a couple of months (since I measure myself daily), and reduce my dose accordingly. But I really don't want to be having hypos in the night, so wanted to act more quickly.
So I'm optimistic that this drug will be useful, not least because I'm currently on a low dose, so can go higher. Plus, a side effect is meant to be a reduction in blood pressure, although I haven't tried measuring that yet. The dose I'm taking at the moment is certainly not making me feel faint, which it would if my BP were to go too low. Anyway, hypotension would be a novelty for me -I could just stop taking one of the multitude of meds I'm already taking.

Update: (I'd normally just add a comment, but this addendum might require aditional formatting, which comments don't allow.) On 10 May, I took a series of BP measurements, which were as follows:

Date Time Sys Dia Pulse
10/05/2018 08:18:30 132 75 51
10/05/2018 08:21:11 134 80 45
10/05/2018 08:23:50 134 81 45

which compares to readings like 131/81 on 28th December. So, not much change there then. In the process of doing this, I have also discovered that Omron's blood pressure management software is a pile of dog doo - after setting up the machine with the wrong date, the software wouldn't even allow me to edit the data to give it the correct date! I do think I lucked out with the software when I used to use a Beurer monitor (in fact I still use that software with my glucometer, pus it allows me to add/edit/delete all my data points), although since I now use an Omron BP monitor, it won't import directly into the software. But it might be worth the small hassle of adding stuff manually, to keep using it.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Pushing Myself

When I started this blog, I wanted to make it more than just a diary. Not just what I did, but who I am. But for this post, I'm just going to tell of yesterday's events.

In the morning I headed out to Salisbury, for some food shopping. So I was on the 10:40am bus - even at that time of the day it was clearly going to be a lovely day. This is was earlier than my normal "going out" time, when I go out at all. So I found myself in Salisbury for just after 11am. A quick trip to Tesco's for some shopping, then on to the next stage in my plan - I got the bus back up to the hospital - this was just the bus which runs regularly from the city-centre to the hospital, and no further. My own bus also runs from the city centre to the hospital, but carries on out to my village, and also runs a lot less frequently. My intention was to drop off some leaflets onto the stroke ward, then to catch "my" bus back home.

All went to plan. I got up to the hospital, dropped my leaflets off and was back home for 1:30pm. Bear in mind I have a hefty walk to/from the bus stop, so even by that time, I was fit to drop. I had to sit down for half an hour before I could even make my lunch, and after lunch I had to go for a lie-down.

But I wasn't finished for the day. After my nap, I managed to get the mower out and gave the front lawn its first trim of the year.I do find mowing really difficult - I don't have much strength in me any more and even though I've mastered getting the thing started, actually pushing it is a major effort - this thing weighs several tens of kilograms anyway and even trivial things like twigs under the wheels can be an obstacle for me. Of course, with this being the first cut of the year, there were lots of twigs on the lawn too, winter debris. The narrower twigs, the mower would just pulverise, but the wider twigs would stop me in my tracks - I didn't have the strength to push past them, so I'd have to totally stop and clear them by hand.

So, on the plus side, the lawn now looks a lot neater, even though, being the first cut of the year, I left the grass quite long. I just about had the energy to get my supper then was in bed, knackered, by 8:30pm. Didn't even have the energy to put the hens to bed - and they repaid me by loudly clucking outside my bedroom at 6 o'clock this morning.

Welcome to my life! I know that the only way out of this is to continue to push myself physically, but today I'm going to stay on the sofa.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

House of Lords

Since I'm a fan of electoral reform, it should come as no surprise that this also includes reforming the composition of the House of Lords.

I dislike the current system because somebody enters the House of Lords through the Prime Minister's patronage. In my book, any patronage is bad - your progression in life should be dependent on your ability, not on your relationship with someone, even if that someone is the Prime Minister. And I'm not at all a fan of anything hereditary - as I have already mentioned, I think you should progress based on your ability, not your ancestors'.

I also disagree with having an elected House of Lords, but to understand why, we need to explore its role. I think the role of a second chamber is to take a look at the decisions of the first chamber, sometimes raising an eyebrow and saying "are you sure?". I have absolutely no problem with a second chamber amending things as if to say, "here is an approach that we think would be better", I think that's more helpful than just saying "don't like it". Ultimately, the decision should go back to the first chamber, to decide whether to accept the second chamber's advice.

The big point here is that the role of the two chambers is different, the.lower chamber is more responsive, and the upper chamber is more reflective. Plus, of course, I think that because of this, you're also looking at a second chamber which is less party-political - I do think you're looking for thoughtfulness over fervour. Because the lower chamber is elected based on party politics, I think you'd have great difficulty introducing an election for an upper chamber which is based on other criteria. Especially difficult if the two elections are held at the same time. So really, these two drawbacks put me off the idea of elections.

On balance, I think I'd support an upper chamber for which somebody qualifies. I'm quite open to exactly what kind of criteria would allow somebody to qualify. I'd suggest things like:

  • when somebody becomes one of the major bishops or archbishops,
  • when somebody becomes sufficiently senior in the armed forces,
  • when somebody becomes a sufficiently senior judge,
  • when somebody becomes sufficiently senior in politics.
for example. You'll notice that there is lots of wriggle-room here.

Many of these categories, of course, sit in the Lords already, although of course there is scope to tweak the rules. The politicians are interesting. I'd be tempted to suggest something like existing privy counsellors, although one important difference is that, if there was to be an oath of allegiance, it should be to the state rather than to the sovereign. It's perfectly reasonable these days for people to be either monarchist or republican, so I think we need to look past that. This goes for all public servants, by the way, for me. Certainly, at the end of this, I'm looking to tap into a pool of resource which has had experience of dealing with matters of state in some capacity. Which might easily include opposition politicians.

I'm quite open again on whether these people serve a fixed term, or whether they serve for life. If fixed term, maybe 10 years or so? I think I'd want to look at the numbers before I thought about that - I think you need to bear in mind the size of the nation, having a second chamber comprised of thousands of people seems a bit silly. The thing I would be against is any notion of hereditary-ness. And, I think there should be a mechanism for removing people from the second chamber if they don't perform/attend. I don't think you want to get to a point which we have done with Andrew Lloyd-Webber, say, where this guy has turned up a handful of times out of thousands of possible occasions to vote. I'm not sure "musician", or even "entrepreneur" are particularly valid qualifications in any case.

Anyway, some food for thought. These are just ideas and could be polished further, but they're thoughts that I've had for many years. 


Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Death

There was an excellent article on Channel 4 News last night. They've put it on their web site here. I hope this link is permanent - they do put some stuff onto Youtube, which is a far more reliable place for videos, but unfortunately not this story.

Anyway, the article is about a secure web site where you can record your preferences when something happens. Do you resuscitate etc. I think it is ever such a good idea. I certainly don't follow the "keep someone alive at all costs" philosophy, and I think that, when the time comes, the most important thing is dignity.

I feel that a stroke is quite a near-death experience, and so I feel qualified to comment on this one. Whilst it is true that I get some value from life, I think that if my disability were worse, I could well come to a different conclusion. Even now, I think if I were to die tomorrow (I hope not - I have plans 😊), I don't think I'd be saying, "that's a shame, there was so much he didn't get to do". I'm lucky in the places I've been, and very privileged to have met the people I've met along the way. And certainly one of my sadder memories of hospital life was not just because of the stroke itself, but because some things happened which robbed me of my dignity. I don't want to go into that but I do think that sooner or later, we get to a place where we just want to "call time". You know, as time passes the detailed memories fade, but the overall impression doesn't.

I get the feeling that this post is a little incoherent, and for that I apologise. I hope, at least, that I have managed to convey my sentiment.