Fixing a life

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I’ll pin this to the top if I can work out how to do it. New posts will appear below.

The blog is likely to be a little intermittent for a few months. I have a messy life and I have to deal with matters I should have dealt with a long time ago, instead of ignoring them and just getting drunk.

It also means I’ll be pretty lax answering comments but I know you lot are capable of chatting amongst yourselves anyway. You don’t need me supervising you.

I have to deal with these things myself. They’re not all my fault but I’ve let them drag on far too long. I’ll tell the story, starting sometime around August or September. It’s a long and not too happy story and it’s not over yet but I think it will finally have a happy ending.

I’m not closing the blog or abandoning it, in fact I’ll be expanding blogs. I have just woken Dume and will soon wake Crowe. I’m going to need those past incarnations soon. They were stages on the way here and I have to find the way back.

You think my stories are on the dark side? Wait until you read my life! I’d make it into a novel but…

…it’s just too damn weird.

One week of silence

Well, nearly silence.

I am not here. This one’s on a timer. If all has gone well I am now on a plane heading for Copenhagen.

From now until about 8 pm next Friday, I am very unlikely to respond to anything at all. Comments, maybe. New blog posts, perhaps, although they will most likely be joint efforts with Broken Girl if they appear at all. She will have direct access to this blog by the simple expedient of nudging me out of the way, or distracting me with bacon and/or cakes.

DMs on Twitter, really, don’t bother. We don’t want gooseberries or third wheels popping in at inopportune moments, or indeed at all. You are not likely to get a friendly response and if it’s a seriously inopportune moment you might get a very nasty one. Don’t make us slightly miffed. You won’t like us when we’re slightly miffed.

I am determined there will be some photos this time. She will veto them but it’s a whole week so I’m sure I’ll get a few through. I will use my biggest, saddest, wettest puppy-dog eyes. Maybe the trembly lip too, as a last resort. I’m sure I can get at least one through, even if it’s only a picture of me being bitten by a hedgehog. Yes, that is quite likely to happen. Oh… don’t ask. It’s the sort of thing that happens all the time.

Can I stay silent on the blog for a week? It’s quite a challenge but I’ve met harder ones. Last time we met was in a hotel with an NHS health-advice conference and I was restrained, gentlemanly and well behaved throughout. Even when some of the delegates were outside smoking. When there’s enough at stake I can meet any challenge.

There might be a post this week, there might not. I might not even think about the blog or Twitter or Farcebok or even the internet. Emails are unlikely to be answered because I won’t have easy access to email where I am. I’ll only have the little computers with me and they don’t have email set up on them. I could log in to the Google mail accounts but probably won’t.

I’ll be home next Friday night and will probably act as if nothing happened at all, to your eternal frustration.

Hey, it’s only our second date. We might get as far as holding hands this time ;)

Pregnant women are supposed to be slim

Anti-obesity strategies aren’t considering the size of pregnant women, apparently. Oh, and babies are obese before they are born which really must hurt like hell. Giving birth to nineteen pounds of blubber can’t be pleasant.

It comes from the NHS so obviously it’s just a load of control freak bollocks.

Obesity strategies fail for the same reason all the other strategies fail. Because they are based on made-up shite from a bunch otf utter twats who are getting well paid to make up shite. It always fails and when it does, they get paid again to make up more shite to excuse the shite they made up before.

It will only end when we have 650 MPs in Wastemonster with one whole brain between them, and that isn’t going to happen any time soon. People vote for dickheads and then complain that we are run by dickheads, same as it ever was.

The NHS anti-obesity crap has had no effect so what do they do? Pull out the ‘cheeldren’ card. Ah but they played that one already so now it’s the ‘foetus’ card. The unborn are spiritually fat and must be Saved by the Righteous.

When are these people going to just fuck off? When are we going to be allowed to just smack them with a brick? When can we stop paying for our own tortures?

When people stop voting the same dickheads into power, that’s when. It’s not the dickheads who are to blame here.

It’s that face in the mirror.

Dietary effects on heart health… there aren’t any.

For years it has been claimed that Nordic diets high in fish and other generally-regarded-as-good foods would save you from death by making your heart beat forever. A study in Sweden has now debunked this.

From the information I have been passed so far, it appears that the Danish diet is largely composed of pork, bacon and cakes. I think I’ll go with that one. I like fish but, y’know, bacon…

But I digress, as always. Back to the Swedish study

The study, published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, analysed data from the Swedish Women’s Lifestyle and Health cohort study, which included 43,310 middle-aged women who completed a food frequency survey in 1991-92 with follow-up until the end of 2012.

A sample set of over 43,000 and a study over 20 years. Sounds pretty comprehensive. They must have been disappointed by the result.

Nearly 8,400 of the women developed heart disease during the follow-up period – but the researchers found no association between a healthy Nordic food index and heart disease risk, despite previous studies to the contrary.

Nope, no link between diet and heart disease. Eat whatever you like, just not too much of it, and you might or might not get heart disease because of something else.

What’s the ‘something else’? Oh, have a guess…

The researchers also aimed to determine if the effect of a healthy Nordic diet was modified by smoking, drinking, BMI or age, and found that smoking was the only statistically significant factor –

Yep. The only significant factor, Ah, but…

– but only among former smokers, who were found to have a lower heart disease risk than current smokers or those who had never smoked.

The only statistically significant result from this huge study was that ex-smokers have a lower risk of heart disease than smokers or never-smokers. Since there is no mention of a difference between smokers and never-smokers, I think it’s safe to assume there isn’t one.

This is explained away as ‘oh, but those ex-smokers would have changed to a healthy diet when they stopped smoking’ but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence to back this up. The possibility that it’s the smoking and then stopping that causes the effect cannot even be considered. That would be heresy.

Well, science seems no nearer to pinning down the cause of heart disease – apart from genetics and that unmentionable thing these days, getting old. There are likely to be multiple causes but one of them isn’t diet.

Another of them isn’t smoking. If there had been a significant effect of smoking in this study, you can bet it would have been shouted out loud. There was no such effect. Only a beneficial effect of stopping smoking.

One day I might consider it. But not today.

Preparations

Tomorrow I have to find the best place to get Danish money. If anyone says ‘Denmark’ I’ll poke them in the eye.

Then I have to get something so strange I won’t even say what it is – it might spoil a surprise. It will add to the contents of a suitcase I already shake my head at in disbelief. If anyone had told me, even a few months ago, what I’d be packing now I’d have laughed. I’m not laughing now, but smiling quite a lot. Which is, in itself, a hell of a change.

If this case gets searched on the way over I will have to come up with some of the fastest talking I have ever done in my life. It’s not just the things, it’s the combination… the last dregs of street cred lie in bubble wrap in a suitcase here. Is it all worth it? Yes, it is.

It’s not just a trip I’m preparing for. It’s what Dr. Who fans would call a regeneration. The entire destruction of a previous life and its replacement with something completely new. I did it once before although that was unintentional, and I didn’t obliterate the old life entirely. This time there will be carry-overs too – such as this blog. But a lot of things are going forever. One in particular, but that’s a story for a later day.

I’ll sell a lot of it, even the irreplaceable stuff. The 1/24th Opel fire truck I converted to RHD. The kit no longer exists. The black DAF box-van with the dragons, also converted to RHD. There never was such a kit.

Most of the train stuff (but not the 9Fs, I won’t part with those). I already had to part with irreplaceable stuff to pay bills in the lean times before the Local Shop job – some will remember because I know some of you bought a few of them. Thanks. I had no help at this end, it was good to know there was help out there.

I have a carved Naga staff, a Hellraiser box, a replica of Conan’s sword, a battle axe and mace and Ninja darts and knives – more than enough to scare a drone to death. So much accumulated stuff and now I realise I don’t need any of it. The important material stuff, the stuff that I do need, is small and easily replaceable. For the rest, well, I did it once so there is no real need to do it again. It’s enough to know that I can – or could.

I have to apologise to regular readers for the current state of this blog. It is not what you have come to expect but then this year was not what I expected either. A year of massive change with huge complications built in. It’s going to be chaos. It’s going to be stranger than anything even I have experienced before, and it will have difficult, even painful parts.

But it will be worth it. Every dart that landed in me, every stab in the chest, every cigarette burn will be worth it. It will be intense and nasty and hard but I’m going to do it anyway.

And you know what? I’m actually looking forward to it.

Sit down, Boss, it just got weird.

They don’t know much about me in Local Shop even though I’ve been there since October 2012. I don’t go to works parties and I never meet any of them outside work. Except Nemo, who I found on a drinking night out one night recently. He’s an ex-storeman and now knows more about me and my immediate-future plans than anyone in Local Shop. Or indeed, anyone in this town. And he doesn’t know much.

I don’t think he’ll leak any info, in fact I doubt he’ll remember anything. He was pretty damn pissed at the time. It’s getting so close now that it doesn’t really matter anyway.

Today, on a smoke break, Big Nads asked me if I smoked dope. She was sure I was a dope-head from the day she started. I don’t take any drugs, not even aspirin. I’m just like this all the time and my life is so damn weird I can do without anything to make it weirder!

Later I offered to help her move the tables in the cafe so I could get the floor machine in – ‘I can’t just leave you to do it alone, I know you’re only a woman’ – and managed to get clear before she realised what I’d said. When she did, the shouting started. Ah, normality is restored.

But back to Boss. She’s used to hearing about little chairs for knitted rats from Thailand, driving a truck blindfold, drinking with a lobster in Frankfurt, curry for breakfast, whisky to excess, seeing tiny skulls with lit cigarettes, 1 cm high telephone boxes made of brass, hearing wildly exaggerated accounts of violence and death threats from the staff and she still says breaking an apple in half with one hand is the weirdest thing she’s ever seen me do. Oh there is so much more to come! It’s all true, too.

I once phoned her from hospital to say I might need a couple of days off – and she really has pulled out the stops to make sure I get that week off at the end of this month. She knows it’s really important to me but I haven’t told her why.

I will have to tell her. All of it. It is going to affect work in the coming months. She’ll have to be sitting down for this one and when I tell you lot, I’ll put a ‘sit down first’ note at the top. I’ve been pretty good at hiding in plain sight so far but it’s time to come out of the shadows.

I think I’ll start that conversation with ‘I can’t go to Denmark without Toblerone, caramel fudge and a knitting book’. Then wait for the closed eyes, the deep sigh and the ‘Okay. Why?’

I’d better put a cushion on the table before her jaw hits it.

Timing will be difficult because she’s training Mopzilla this week (I thought it was a better name than ‘Lurch’) but if necessary I’ll visit the shop one morning to do this. It will be necessary to reassure her that I will really be coming back to work and not vanishing forever, tempting though that thought might be.

I’ll give her the abridged version because there really is a hell of a lot of it and I’ve never told anyone any of it before this year. Some of those out there know bits, one knows more than most but there is still much more to come.

In all these years of blogging I have met three people from the internet and spoken to one other on the phone. One of those I met doesn’t even know me as Legiron, only as Dume. I only met those people once.

Next week, one of them becomes the first person I’ll have met twice ;)

Better brace yourselves. Things are likely to get a little bit strange around here.

Joanna Lumley

I remember her from the New Avengers for her, ah, quite natty dress sense.

Anyway, now she is a supporter of a lot of things I agree with (all Gurkhas were on our side and all should be welcome here) including her derision at antismokers. A long quote…

Does she still smoke?

‘Plenty! I put a whole packet in my mouth and light 20 at a time. No, I don’t, darling. I just smoke. I haven’t had one today, for instance. That reminds me, I ought to smoke. I try to smoke. I’d very easily give it up. It just slips away from you and I think: “Damn, I ought to be smoking!” I do like it — and you’ve got to die of something.

‘Also, personally, through my taxes on cigarettes I’ve built three hospitals single-handedly. I never stop giving — it’s a vegetarian habit,’ she laughs.

‘Oh dear, people will say I’m encouraging their children. But people smoke, it’s not a big deal. People drink, people eat meat. All these things kill you.’

All these things kill you. Do none of them and die anyway. Get used to the idea that life is finite and really quite limited and get as much out of it as you can, while you can.

Or you can take the option of lying in a hospital bed one day, dying of nothing and feeling rather silly. Thinking about the chances you could have taken and the risks that might have come good.

Joanna Lumley pushed the government into letting those war hero Gurkhas live in the country they fought so hard to defend. She grabbed the chance and took the risks and she won.

Sometimes you take the chance and lose. That’s okay, losing is just a thing that tells you to do better next time. There is no shame in losing.

Only in not trying.

 

All about that bug

Campylobacter is a nasty little bug and a very common cause of the old ‘hubble bubble, toilet trouble’ as spoken of in the Scottish play. Mostly it’s three days of total emptiness but it can last much longer. You’ll feel like you must have really, really annoyed a professional drain cleaner at some point. Occasionally it can lead to paralysis or death.

It’s more dangerous than Salmonella because Salmonella is on the inner and outer surfaces of the chicken and easily killed by cooking. Campylobacter is also easily killed by cooking but it’s invasive. It’s inside the meat. Just taking the surface above 80 deg C will render a chicken Salmonella-free but to be sure of getting rid of Campylobacter, every cubic centimetre of that meat must exceed 80 deg C right through the whole thing.

And yet… and yet the supermarkets do not put it in chickens. The Food Standards Agency seem to think they do, that supermarkets are responsible for contaminating chickens with this beastly little bacterium. Trust me on this: at no point in the processing or supply chain is anyone adding a pinch of bacteria to those chickens.

The truth about Campylobacter is… nobody is really sure how it gets into chickens and chicken-farms are putting a lot of effort into stopping it.

All chicks hatch out Campylobacter-free. It first appears in them at around three weeks of age. There are theories as to why, but no certainty of where it comes from. Chicken farms already use a vaccine against Salmonella, delivered through drinking water, but no such vaccine yet exists for Campylobacter.

It’s in the chickens as they grow and so far, there is not a damn thing anyone can do about it. Many people are trying though, and trying very hard.

That ‘name and shame’ is a farce. It’s a snapshot. There will be considerable variability in the chicken supplied to every shop and sometimes, someone will get a more heavily infected batch.

Shops cannot test every single bird. Would you accept a chicken with a hole in it where the test sample was cut out? Even then it’s just a sample. Not the whole bird. The contaminant is not necessarily evenly spread.

The Food Standards Agency should know and understand all this,. It’s simple, basic microbiology. That they evidently understand none of it is a damning indictment indeed.

Not on supermarkets. On the parlous state of modern science.