Unreliable and possibly off-topic


Monday, October 29, 2007

The Gift

Where did that week go? Like a flash. Then again the years do the same disappearing act, as my birthday this weekend proved. What- another one? Celebrating it with friends softened the blow- a wonderful Chinese banquet with champagne and some great presents. I'm now the proud owner of a beautifully balanced Global knife, a fine soup-pot and a huge illustrated book of gardens of the world.

These I will enjoy, but the best present was from the Boys, Alex and David. David, who happens to be a Conservative, presented me with a letter confirming my gift of a year's membership of the Scottish Conservatives, with thanks for joining, help us support the capitalist economy, hang the lefties, up the Empire, British and family values. I am extremely fond of David, and moreover well brought-up, so was trying to muster gracious thanks while my brain was screaming- oh fuck, now I'm on a register, they'll be inviting me to wine and cheese parties all the time and every ounce of my principles are shot. Then I started to see Alex snigger out of the corner of my eye and realised that once again I had been a victim of another hoax by these seasoned practical jokers. They do it all the time and yet I still fall for it! At least I'm not jaded, but I'm clearly not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Thanks, A & D, for my best laugh this month.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pet Wars

Since well before Jake the bad dog came on the scene, Nelson the neighbour cat has ruled the territory in front of my folks’ house. He used to enrage the dear departed Sheba with his lazy draping of the wall across the street, envoking much yapping and sharp barks from behind the sitting-room window.

Since Shebs’ demise, Nelson continues to inspect, control and patrol the small one-block street on which he lives with ever-increasing vigour. The bad dog Jake has pulled my daughter into the road while lungeing for Nelson, and indoors sits in his chair at street level, monitoring comings and goings on the street. Most of his phantom barking fits are provoked by Nelson’s fuck-you insouciant appearances through the window.

I’ve been driving over more frequently lately to pick up mum for hospital visits, and notice that Nelson’s previously substantial ego has now assumed Imperial proportions. On a visit last week, not only did He strut up to the car to inspect my papers when I parked, but he slipped in through the driver’s door, entered the back seat, made bread on the upholstery, circled three times and settled down for a snooze. He’s got some attitude, that cat.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

That Dad

That Dad had a second round of neurosurgery today, since he'd bounced back so resiliently from the first excavation last Thursday. I reckon he had so many operative braincells beforehand that he can afford to lose a few, and all signs have backed me up so far. I'm resisting googling, but understand that the cancer cell-type is relatively responsive.

Anyway, he's eating fruit this afternoon and asking for mum, which has to be a good sign; eating, talking and mentating. Now he'll have a matching shaved area on the right side of his pre-frontal cranium, to re-symmetrise the other side.

I clocked 56 hrs at work last week, and am working up to the same this week, so have been thankfully distracted. Yesterday was 8am to 4.30 pm, 8 pm to 10 pm and today 7.30 am to 1 pm. Tell me this will stop soon, please... All I do is work, visit hospital and sleep, and order takeaways if I have kiddos to feed. Today I have the luxury of 32 hrs off at a stretch, which will be savoured.

When I clocked off at 1 pm, I took the bad dog Jake for a long walk down the Braidburn. I could've posted pics but my new phone's full and yet to be downloaded. The sky was clear with slanting autumn sunlight and extreme cold. What could be better?


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dad update

They (the neurosurgeons) did what they had to in his posterior fossa this morning, and by evening he was conscious, alert, oriented, articulate, finely co-ordinated and as bossy as ever. I watched him eating a pot of yoghurt while he got slightly tetchy, with much satisfaction.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007


My poor dad's in there with a drain exiting his cranium, and he's still not had a chest or abdominal CT, nevermind a head MRI. The neuro-docs still want to operate tomorrow to take out his cranial hotspots, without knowing where they came from and in complete ignorance of what's going on below below the neck.

Let's say he had an invasive, primary lung neoplasm, just for argument. That might be likely to kill him long before the secondary in his brain. If so, wouldn't you want to know? Were this the case, I'd want to know comparative odds of impairment and prognosis following each procedure.


Dearie me

It's been quiet here. Lots of work, of course, but now my dad's in hospital. Again. As if the man's not had enough hospitals in the last decade. First they took away his kidneys, then his adrenals, then his thyroid and his parathyroids. Granted, they gave him back someone else's kidney but he takes about 30 pills a day to replace all the bits that have been removed.

But that recent headache got worse and worse, and when a scan was done it showed curious 'lumps' that shouldn't be there in his brain. They've made the headache go away with a small neurosurgical procedure, but the lumps are still there. They're doing more scans so they can decide what to do next, but unfortunately the brain is not an organ that can be whisked away and replaced by a pill.

There may be light posting here in the meantime for obvious reasons, but then again I may choose to broadcast recent events such as when I drunkenly cut my hair myself, or the slug student who interviewed us for a placement, or the wee wan's new hamster.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Marches and marches

Just call me Ms. Crabbit today. I've been working too hard to properly watch the mainstream media, but it recently came to my attention that the Stop the War Coalition march planned for tomorrow has been banned by the Metropolitan Police, who say that any protest taking place within a mile of Parliament is illegal. I don't know if this based on the ridiculous Brian Haw case and our increasingly swingeing Prevention of Terrorism Acts, but Liberty has declared the police ruling illegal.

Meanwhile another march took place yesterday right outside Parliament- that by supporters of the Burmese freedom cause. Here's the photographic evidence. I entirely support the right of peaceful protest in the interest of democracy and freedom of speech undertaken by these protesters against repression in Myanmar/Burma.

I simply wish the same right to be extended to other protesters also battling against war and repression. This double standard, to the point which the Buddhist march leaders were invited into Downing St for photo-ops with El Gordo, is sticking in my craw.



I still have little voice, but now I'm properly poorly. I slept about 18 hrs yesterday despite no nightshifts, so my body is telling me something. Plus I am getting headfuck at work.

It's a small sluglab with few staff, but our directors took on a major slug study without examining staffing. The staffing is me and another to cover weekends, early mornings, full days and late nights. Pointing this out to the directors results in them shouting. Asking them to enhance our salary or make ex-gratia payments results in shouting. Negotiations so far have resulted in shouting and asking us to work up to 10 days in a row at all hours for no enhancements, and just straight time-in-lieu for the out-of-hours and weekend work. Yes, we can take some time-in-lieu as we go along, but only if the lab continues to be staffed during the 5 day working week. Yes, we might get enhanced time-in-lieu or a payment at the end of the study, but no promise of this- just a maybe. The big stick is that there's no money to pay extra staff, and that the lab may shut if income from the slug study isn't made. So, if we don't do the study we could lose our jobs. The carrot is that if we do the study, we might keep our jobs.

My 20 years of contributions to my former trade union turned out to be a complete waste of money when I left that post last year. But I'm joining Amicus trade union on Monday, and will be studying up on the European working time directive.

That is all.

Joined Amicus online for <£10 pm. Checked European working directives, which define 11 hrs between shifts as the minimum, and 48 hrs pw maximum. Minimum weekly rest period of 35 hrs (e.g. weekend).


Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Back from a trip Daan Souf, where I seem to have picked up a kennel cough from too many late nights. When I try to speak, currently all that comes out of my larynx is a whisper/croak, though I feel fine apart from that. I met up with some internet friends in central London (who know who they are), and with whom I had a lovely time. The sun found us last stragglers drinking coffee outside Smithfield Market on Sunday morning, and I managed to miss my flight home to Edinburgh that evening through absolutely no fault of my own.

I've been really lucky with taxi-drivers lately. The stereotype is of a Little Englander nazi raving about nationalism and immigrants, but I have been blessed. A few months ago, when feeling down, my taxi driver in Colchester engaged me in an uplifting discussion on religion and philosophy of self, and gave me a Khalil Gibran book because he thought I'd appreciate it. When I asked him his name, he laughed and told me he was John Doe. I think of him still, and am looking for the next person in the chain to whom I should pass the book. It will be a complete stranger, to whom I will introduce myself as Jane Doe.

My taxi-driver on Sunday was also a breath of fresh air. He drove me from the City (I think) to Tottenham, picking up my luggage on the way to the airport. We talked about the enhancements that immigrants bring to England, the commons and utopian socialism. I don't remember his name now, but it was probably John Doe. John- you're a star!