Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Fireworks & GPs

Sadiq Khan, London's Mayor, is not going ahead with the annual, New Year firework display for the 2nd year in a row, causing a lot of consternation among some sections of the population.

The hoi polloi is asking why he's allowing mass gatherings at football matches and Diwali celebrations and yet not allowing the firework display. The accusation is one of hypocrisy.

The simple answer is that he can't go against government policy, which is to allow mass gatherings, as he has no power, to my knowledge, over government policy. He does, however, have power over whether the annual firework display is held or not, as he holds the budget. If people choose to gather in Trafalgar Square on New Year's Eve or at Diwali gatherings, then he can't actually stop them, but he can give them fewer reasons to congregate on New Year's Eve by not holding the firework display - which is a sensible strategy in the current circumstances.

People seem not to know the limits of the Mayor's powers. Either that, or they just want to have a go at him, which is the case with the right wing press' coverage, which simply calls him a hypocrite and kill-joy without explaining his reasoning, or the limits on his powers. It's as if they're purposely stirring things up - which they frequently do.

Similarly, the government and the right wing press has launched a campaign to vilify GPs by demanding more face-to-face appointments at a time when the number of GPs is declining and they're under increasing pressure. 

GP's conducting telephone consultations can get through more appointments than they could if the appointments were all face-to-face. A telephone consultation determines whether a face-to-face consultation is even necessary. Increasing face-to-to face appointments would therefore logically result in fewer overall appointments, not more, and we must not forget that we are losing GPs in their droves, which puts even greater pressure on those who remain. 

It's no wonder the BMJ has told GPs to ignore Savid Javid's threat to name and shame those surgeries that don't obey his stupid, counterproductive and populist diktat. The right wing press has successfully and successively turned their readers against firemen, the police, the BBC, judges, the RNLI, the National Trust and it's now the turn of GPs to take the blame.

It seems lost on Javid that the telephone consultation process was brought in by his predecessor, on the advice of the NHS, specifically to increase the number of consultations, as well as reduce the potential for infection from Covid in surgeries, the level of which is now going through the roof again because we're all mixing more and not wearing masks - which, for some inexplicable reason, is current government policy - the more infections the greater the chance of breakthrough viruses. It's not as if wearing a mask is a great imposition on one's freedom.

Meanwhile, senior NHS staff are urging the government to implement the so-called Plan B immediately, but Boris' spokesperson says he has; "Absolutely no plan to implement Plan B." We keep being told that lessons have been learned, but it appears not. 

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Ski Sunday

The mono-ski arrived yesterday and even Hay is impressed with it (believe it or not, she occasionally has some slight reservations about the artefacts I buy on e-Bay). 

She's even talking of putting it into the AirBnB or even the house. It just needs a bit of sanding down and re-varnishing with worktop oil and then I have to decide whether to convert it into a light fitting with LED spots, or leave it alone and simply use it as wall art. I'm tempted to just leave it as it is, once tarted up, as it's just such a beautiful piece of wood.

Monday, 18 October 2021

Lacking in Front

We keep calling our kitchen door our back door, primarily because most kitchens are at the back; however, our kitchen isn't on the back of the house - it's at the side and forms one arm of a crucifix. To complicate matters, there's a porch on the back door with two exits - one to the back-back (or front) and one to the side back.

As a consequence, we refer to both the front and the back of the house as the back, leading to massive confusion. It doesn't help that we have one, large living room that goes from front to back, or back to front, or back to back, or indeed front to front.

The main access to the house should, I suppose, be called the front, but we refer to it as the back because of the back door being there, which is the main access. I guess the reason we call it the back is because we don't have a front door - or rather we do, but it's a French door, which we also have at the other end - the back (above).

It's all very confusing.

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Buy British

Of late I've been consciously trying to source items I buy on e-Bay from the UK, rather than China, but this is extremely difficult when a lot of Chinese suppliers and manufacturers register themselves as based in the UK, when they're obviously not when you look at their profiles. 

I do wish e-Bay would police this better. The times I've bought items believing it to come from Dunstable and will be delivered in 3 days, for example, only to find them stuck somewhere on a containership from Hong Kong and being delivered the next months, if I'm lucky, are legion.

The sad thing, however, is that either there are no UK manufacturers for many items due to them having been priced out of the market long ago, or some enterprising Brit has managed to secure a stockpile in the UK and is passing off Chinese goods as British made by sticking a huge Union flag on the advert.

My current search is for LED spotlights to insert into the surfboard and mono-ski light fittings I'm intending to make for the static caravan. It's almost impossible to find UK manufactured spot lights.

I don't mind paying more for British products in order to keep jobs here, but it seems many just want the cheapest on the market. Doubtless those who prefer the cheapest products will accuse me of virtue signalling, which seems to be the phrase of the year among those of little brain.

When you think about it most jobs hang by a thread, yet we think because we draw a salary that we're secure for life. Nothing could be further from the truth, as most SMEs and even some large businesses operate on very small margins with occasional, seasonal flurries of profitability that enable them to make a living and pay their staff.

Saturday, 16 October 2021

The Power of Personal

I was having a debate with someone the other day about the Insulate Britain protests (again) and was asked if I would be miffed if one of my parents, or children, died on the way to hospital through being delayed by the protests.

Obviously, I'd be very miffed, in the same manner I'd be miffed at someone killing a close relative of mine and him not being hung, drawn and quartered - because it's personal, and personal means a lot to me, personally. However, my opponent's argument displayed that, while he was concerned for the potential for just one death, he was oblivious to the actual 40,000 annual UK deaths from pollution. It could be argued that he was unaware of the 40,000 annual deaths, but he persisted in his anger at the protesters even after he became aware of the fact.

This concern (and unconcern) showed my opponent had an agenda and it had bugger all to do with either the potential for deaths or indeed actual deaths, but more to do with personal inconvenience. The only way to make his point was to make it personal, rather than impersonal; the personal of a potential and hypothetical relative and the impersonal of an anonymous, yet factual, 40,000.

Making something personal is very powerful from a psychological perspective. Conversely, people can do some really nasty things when interaction becomes impersonal - like pressing a button to kill several thousand people remotely with a drone, as opposed to being face-to-face with an opponent.

For some individuals, 135,000 Covid deaths are immaterial when it comes to keeping the economy going; however, those individuals would become more focussed on the 135,000 should one of them have been a close relative. 

How would my questioner feel if he were the father of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, who was proven to have died from pollution in South London in 2014 and had it listed on her death certificate - the first person to have this listed on a death certificate?

Objectivity is the key in such arguments. Subjectivity clouds the facts. If one hypothetical person is important, then the inescapable and logical conclusion is that 40,000 real people (and a planet) must be vastly more important. If not, then there's a logical inconsistency and an alternative agenda within your thinking.

When you're asked to put yourself out on behalf of others, it's simply too much for some. We live within the cult of the individual, which is antithetical to social harmony and civilization.

Analyse and discuss.

Friday, 15 October 2021

The Hat

With the nights drawing in and it not getting light till about 7am, running has become a bit of a hazard. Hay thought I should wear some kind of light attached to my head in the manner of a headband, but they're not that stable and would doubtless fall off while running. 

However, she came up with a bright idea, if you'll pardon the unintentional pun - a hat with a powerful, built-in LED light, as recommended by her favourite magazine - Campfire Magazine.

And it's brilliant - another unintended pun. I wore it on Saturday night when returning to our motorhome after a visit to a restaurant in Porlock in Somerset, where we went for the weekend. It lit the way back perfectly and will be eminently suitable for running on dark mornings.

I've not run since last Thursday, as I seem to have incurred an injury to my left foot. Not sure whether it's running induced or not, but I'm laying off the running for a few more days.

Hay was insistent on going for a long walk while we were away in Porlock at the weekend, but I took my e-bike along. Mud and water didn't defeat me, but I was nearly defeated by a bunch of kissing gates on some tracks marked, incredulously, as Permitted Cycle Paths. Kissing gates are impassable with a bike, unless you're fortunate enough to have either a carbon fibre bike that weighs as much as a feather, or some assistance from a 3rd party.

I was finally defeated by the shingle bank on the beach and had to leave the bike there while Hay went for a swim, collecting it on the way back.

Thursday, 14 October 2021

That Static Light Fitting

I'm having great difficulty finding a suitable canoe or kayak for conversion into a light fitting for hanging over the static caravan dining table. Firstly they're simply too long and secondly they're damned expensive.

I did think about buying something a bit tatty and giving it a wood-effect, vinyl wrap, but there's still the problem of unwieldy length. Ideally I don't want anything longer than about 6 feet.

However, I then thought about a water ski and found this one on e-Bay yesterday at a reasonable price and bought it. Delivery next week.

It's a vintage, wooden mono-ski and thus perfect in terms of size (1.72m) and composition, although the foot rubbers have been removed, which detracts from identifying it as a water ski. However, I believe they're easy to source.

I also found a cheap surfboard on Facebook Market in Bath yesterday for £50, which I will also do a conversion on after tidying it up and giving it a nice spray. I wondered what the hell the bottom of it was covered with but, of course, it's surfboard wax, which needs to be totally removed before I do any painting. A heat gun and scraper, followed by a wash down with hand sanitizer should do the trick. The theme of the static is terracotta and light grey and the surfboard would look rather swish in those shades with some 12v spotlights sunk into it.

I'm thinking of putting the mono-ski in the static's kitchen, over the dining table, and the surfboard in the living room ceiling rose. If the surfboard doesn't suit the living room as a ceiling light, I'll turn it into some wall art for somewhere else in the caravan, or even our house.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

The Wringer

Blood pressure medication, which I take on a daily basis, is essentially a diuretic and wrings water out of you - people with high blood pressure and taking medication are notorious for the number of times they need to pee. Essentially the medication fools the body into thinking it's carrying too much water and causes it to be excreted to reduce the blood volume and thus reduce its pressure. The result, however, is increased pressure on the bladder.

Due to a very busy weekend, I didn't take any meds on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Prior to Friday, I'd been measuring my weight on an almost daily basis to gauge the effect of my exercise regime and had been a steady 85kg for about 3 days. 

On Monday, after skipping 3 days of medication, I discovered I'd shot up by 3kg since Friday morning and the inescapable conclusion was that I'd retained 3kg of water over those 3 days, as there's no way I could have put on 3kg of fat, despite a Chinese meal on the Saturday evening. I did feel rather bloated and breathless while we were away and the water retention must have been responsible..

I took my meds on Monday and, surprise surprise, by Tuesday morning, I was weighing in at just a tad under 85kg again. I spent all day Monday running to the loo every half hour or so...

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

New Electricity Tariff

I got my new electricity tariff from British Gas, our new provider since People's Energy collapsed. It will go up 45% on the 21st October and my new annual bill will be around £3,200.

Now that will be offset to the tune of about £1,500 per annum by my feed-in tariff for the solar panels, but it's still a whopping increase. I just hope it's temporary, as we had the first ice of the season on the car roofs yesterday morning and there's a ground frost in the garden this morning.

Monday, 11 October 2021

DIY Light Fitting II

Apropos of yesterday's post on a canoe light fitting for the static caravan; I've had another couple of ideas - using a wooden surfboard would produce a short and sleek design, even if it's more seawater oriented than a canoe.

This part-complete, wooden surfboard on Facebook Market took my attention. There's just something about its unfinished quality it that I like.

Even driftwood has potential.

I've found a bloke in Chepstow, just across the Severn Bridge, who sells chunks of yew, which look suitable.

However, I think I prefer the surfboard to the driftwood - it's more stylish. Wooden surfboards aren't cheap, but now, with winter approaching, is the ideal time to buy one 2nd hand. Sinking a couple or three spotlights into one would not be difficult. Watch this space.