Saturday, 13 July 2019

Saturday Morning

In Ian McEwan's seminal deconstruction of the so-called-science of 'Brain surgery' the antihero, Mr Jonathan Surgeon, comes down stairs one Saturday, makes himself a cup of tea and, an hour later, has a fight with the next door neighbour about a lawn mower. An ordinary day in Godalming. But years spent at the operating table have not prepared Mr Surgeon for what comes next, and events rapidly spiral out of control.

If McEwan is saying one thing, I'm pretty sure it's "Things happen on a Saturday" - though it is, of course, entirely possible that what he's actually saying is "Things happen on a Saturday (in Godalming).

There is universal truth here. The first cup of tea of the day is the best bit of the day. And moreso on a Saturday.

Here I sit, spending the most precious commodity of time. (Technically there are a number of rare-earth metals, and also nuclear fuel mixes, which are, in fact, more precious commodities but I'd appreciate it if you skipped over that nuance, like a stile.)

I've had a lot of ideas banging around my head recently, but the idea of committing any of these to the screen, when I spend all my blasted hours committing things to a screen at work, wasn't all that appealing. Did I mention that my job appears to be to write, read and delete email? This is not very productive. On the plus side, I've spent significant chunks of the last 4 weeks interviewing people, and then processing the results of those interviews. As a result I will shortly have more people in my team. This is great as it means more email.

There simply isn't enough time to write, which is why being woken at 06:24 on a Saturday by an over-excited 6 year old does at least result in me blogging. (He's watching something unsuitable on TV now - this parenting lark is easy). Our 'study' has accumulated the 5 years of detritus and, about two months ago, I finally (with the help of Robin) moved the desk out, in order to free the room up for my oldest to have his own bedroom. Since then ... very little has changed. The detritus is ... a bit tidier. I'm actually going to have to take a day of leave just to tidy a room satisfactorily. Thank goodness I'm a Civil Servant and I get more leave than work.

So, yeah, I've got some ideas. An article about detritus. Another article, stimulated by a chance meeting on Twitter that led to a chance meeting at the pub, on climate complexity. A weekly blog covering all the pubs in Hackney.

It will all have to wait. They want breakfast.


And yes. They call themsleves Godalmingers.

Friday, 29 March 2019

We take a walk

A colleague and I walked from the office, across Parliament Sq and down Whitehall tonight. To see what all the fuss was about.

There were thousands, though not tens of thousands, of people milling about. Energy levels were pretty low as they'd, presumably, been there some hours at that point. There seemed to be lots of different groups. Most common was the slightly posh, slightly confused looking middle aged* person, some of whom were wearing union jack hats or carrying union flags.

There were handfuls of younger people. I may have been projecting but there seemed to be something slightly ... off ... about many of those. Something unusual in the eyes, perhaps.

There were quite a lot of 50 something men in bomber jackets or Harringtons, with short cropped hair. I wouldn't have felt comfortable walking here while carrying an EU flag but there wasn't any outward display of aggression. Or at least I didn't see any. Some Christadelphians were there. It is prophecy, you see. The Red Hand of Ulster was visible on one flag and there were some other flags I didn't recognise.

Many, though by no means most, were drinking. I imagine there will be some minor unrest later. This did not feel like a riot brewing.

On Whitehall, Tommy Robinson appeared on stage. He has a small, but vociferous group of supporters. He told them he loved them. They cheered, raucously. I don't imagine this shtick will go down particularly well with the broader public, but they seemed to like it. He didn't come across as a master of rhetoric. Perhaps he doesn't need to be.

I took the tube home from Embankment.

Kate asked me what I thought it all means. I paused. I don't know. There was a lot of passion there, but ill focused. As a coherent movement it felt like they could do a lot of damage, because they know what they are against. They didn't, however, seem at all coherent. I saw nothing positive. No sense in what they are for in terms of what the country might look like in future.

* anyone between my age, and my parents age, counts as "middle aged" 

Thursday, 21 March 2019


So, it's a thing (I'm told) to Google* '"Florida man" + you birthday'.

This is mine. It's a doozy.

* Don't try this with Bing

Monday, 18 March 2019

Cast off

I know there's been a lot of concern, some of it achingly heartfelt, about the state of my arm. So I just want to reassure everyone that, after two weeks of using the Microsoft 'Sticky Keys' function (which isn't what I originally thought it was, thankfully) I now have 1.5 working arms, and can type two handed.

I can't yet extend my elbow properly. My boss suggested I try throwing it into the air and I pointed out he was making what looked a lot like a Nazi salute in the office. So he stopped.

What have I learned from two weeks in plaster, riding the Tube during the day, and necking codeine at night? I've learned that Microsoft Speech Recognition software is really, really shit.

Thursday, 7 March 2019


Some say that engineering marvels such as the Millau Viaduct, the Large Hadron Collider or the bridge over the Colne in Colchester, which took so long to build my brother got to write a sarcastic letter to the Council, are the pinnacle of human endeavour. Others prefer to point to Mozart and Richard D James. Yet others consider the evolution of moral philosophy, and society itself, to be where it's at. Still more think of the incredible sacrifices and acts of bravery required in war-time, or during some natural disaster, asking people to go beyond what they could have imagined themselves capable of.

I say, "Balls!", to all that. Yesterday I stripped and remade Kate's bed entirely one-handed, and put the laundry on. I'm not going to beat that. I've peaked.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Operative post

As I lay on the operating table, listening to the orthopaedic surgeon make off-colour remarks about the entire profession of pathology I thought to myself, "Am I really one of the 0.0068% of patients who experience wakefulness during surgery, or am I making this all up to make the blog sound more interesting?"

After all, the story "I had a general anaesthetic and the next thing I knew I was in the recovery room waiting for a cup of tea" is hardly the most compelling story. Whereas describing how the surgeon opened up my elbow, like Theresa May eating a Cadbury's Cream Egg with a knife and fork, is far more graphic, and also completely untrue.

Most depressing of all is the music I'm going to claim was playing in the operating theatre as I clung to life by my, er, elbow. I wasn't Elbow. A chance missed. Not even Guy Garvey solo stuff. Julian Casablancas. My word, couldn't the surgery team of my imagination have come up with something more experimental? 

Time passed. It would have passed, anyway, but being awake as I was ever so gently wired back together and a compressive force, to counter the tension from the triceps tendon, just sounds more dramatic. Meanwhile my poor old brother was waiting outside, playing Tetris on his Gameboy, while I didn't experience an out-of-body-experience that few have experienced.

So. Here I am. In some discomfort, and unable to do anything useful with my left arm, other than flag down taxis, for at least the next two weeks. What with Kate due to have spinal surgery on Friday this could all have come at a better time. Can anyone help me change this t-shirt?

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Metal man

This comes to you one-handed. On Friday a pedestrian walked straight into my path as I cycled along the superhighway. This caused me to suffer an Olecranon fracture in my left arm. My x-ray looks very much like the one on Wikipedia.

I am due to have surgery, probably tomorrow. The elbow needs to be wired back together. The major complicating factor is that Kate, too, is having surgery this week. So timing not exactly ideal.