Thursday, June 19, 2008

today : bon vacances

My blog has decided to take a spontaneous vacation, booking itself on a flight to foreign climes for a refreshing and well-earned break.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

today : Medicine Man

I am a great believer in medicine. I guess I have to be, given that I rely on them so much. I take an awful lot of painkillers to relieve chronic pain.

I love Strawberries and Strawberry Jam. My sister and brother cannot abide it. It all goes back to when they were given pills as children. The pills were always concealed in a blob of strawberry jam. Why I was never given jam with my pills, I don't know. But I don't possess that negative association.

Like food, medicines and treatments should taste and feel correct. Let me give you another example. I always take my co-
codamols in soluble form. The act of drinking the bitter dissolved pills is part of a ritual. The taste of them on my tongue is the first stage of pain relief. Taking them in dry tablet form is just not the same.There is a psychological effect in the way they are administered, which feels like it aids the actual chemical effect of them.

Inhaling Vick's does little to actually dispel the symptoms of a cold. But the smell of it conjures priceless memories of being cared for as a child and therefore the smell of Vick's is one of care and of getting better.

The medicine cabinet is full of memories.

A quick off-the-top-of-my-head list of evocative medicinal smells and tastes would include:
Tincture of Myrrh
Buttercup Syrup
Covonia Cough Mixture
Elliman's Rub (it smells like concentrated wood-shavings)

But the palliative effect of medicinal treatments also takes in actual feelings. The beauty of Whitfield's ointment is that it stings like hell for a few moments. Putting it in
between your toes to treat athlete's foot is marvellous. The sting makes me feel like it is actually attacking the fungus. Okay, it stings. But a sting isn't proper pain - it's the extreme cousin of the itch family of sensations.

Al this a prelude to a complaint. I needed some anti-septic ointment due to the fact that I was cruelly
attacked by rose bush whilst dabbling in the garden. Several thorny lacerations ensued. A visit to the chemist initially was disappointing. The only Germolene (my preferred brand due to it's wonderful aroma) available was some new-fangled odourless type. I simply don't understand the idea of odourless anti-septic cream. It's like making non-acidic vinegar or soda flavoured Whisky. I was about to leave empty handed when I spotted TCP ointment. I asked the chemist if the TCP ointment smelled like TCP and he assured me it did. So I bought it.

But when I got home I found that there was something wrong. It did
smell a little like TCP, but not really. The makers of the ointment had decided that adding menthol would somehow help with the odour. It's a bit like that flavouring that in one concentration is used as almond flavour, but is actually nothing like almonds, then in another concentration is supposed to be black cherry, but is actually nothing like black cherry. This TCP had elements of the TCP smell but just wasn't TCP-y enough. The makers had been caught out by their laziness. Not only had they betrayed the aesthetic of their brand by adding menthol to the mix. But they had made their ointment less effective by taking away the reservoir of positive psychological side-effects associated with each user's personal history of TCP.

As a protest, next time I'm getting

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

today : Maybe this time

When we first saw Barack Obama at the 2004 Democratic convention, it was clear that he was a gifted orator. This is just one of the reasons why I want him to be the leader of the free world. I though to myself - now wouldn't it be nice if THAT GUY was running for Prez. His 'victory speech' this week was truly great. I know he had a partisan crowd in a party mood but he blew the doors off the place. It's rare to witness that surge of emotion that goes through a crowd as the speech huilds to a climax. It reminded me of the surge of noise that accompanied the great UK earthquake earlier in 2008.

But even though it is splendid to have a potential leader who can not only string a sentence together but can use language and rhetoric to inspire there is the question of substance.
And do my ears decieve me? Obama seems to be a man who is not scared of portraying the issues as complex, and describing them as complex. His speech on race was the first time I really wondered if he could be a serious contender. Most leaders ignore subtlety like Bush ignored New Orleans; the best they do is circle above it looking bemusedly out of the window.

Obviously, I am not American. But I guess I'm not alone. Already, just the fact that he is as close as he is has sent a huge message to the world. Previously, we were pretty pissed off with America's arrogant isolationism and tub-thumping dunderheaded Neocon blundering. Now we are thinking : maybe it was the government and not the people. Maybe the people are okay after all, and the idiot cabal does not represent them.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

today : three! word! chant!

Of course, now the race is on there is one crucial thing we must focus on. Which candidate has the best three word chant? We need something like 'Where's the Beef?'.

Of course Obama has the early advantage because he has a three syllable surname, which helps. I guess McCain, not having a three syllable surname is on the ropes already. Maybe people can chant Sen-a-tor!, or failing that Ov-en Chips!

Why Americans don't do spontaneous community singing like us more cultured Europeans I don't know. I guess some of them probably even struggle with the three word chant.

today : I hold my own fuel protest

In a world so full of things to complain about I have chosen to focus on one thing. Not for me the woman who abused me for being a cripple, when I didn't move out of her way fast enough in the entrance to the supermarket, and then went into full-on Jerry Springer guest verbal abuse mode when I chided her for being so impolite. Not for me the guy, whom so keen to push to the front of the queue in a shop, failed to leave me time to actually put my sticks back to the floor and barged me out of the way, knocking me to the ground. Not for me either the person whom, when parked in a disabled space without accreditation, also verbally abused me (in front of his small children, who were sitting in the back)when he saw me simply looking at his windscreen as if I might be looking for his blue badge. I was, because I saw him pull into the space as his wife jumped out and ran into the shop, but until he began his shouting and threats I'd actually made the decision not to verbally challenge him.

Instead I am beginning my own fuel protest. Like lots of people I am not happy with the silly increases in fuel for my car. However, unlike lots of truckers I am not thinking of blockading the motorway (like they don't do that every day anyway). My protest is more specific.

At certain petrol stations, I sometimes cannot even get fuel into my tank.

What happens is that I follow the protocol : disabled drivers honk their car horns and flash their lights to get the attention of the station staff. The idea is that someone comes out and helps you put the fuel in, a little like a full-service fill up in the USA or how it used to be in England 40 years ago. It saves the immobile from having to get out of the car and walk to pay.

Except someone doesn't come out because they are either stuck running the station on their own due the oil companies cutting costs, or they have no idea what to do because they are blockheads or haven't been trained due to the oil companies cutting costs, or they cannot be bothered because they don't get paid enough to care due to the oil companies cutting costs. If someone does come to help, then it means an annoying and humiliating relegation. The disabled driver is often less important than restocking the drinks cabinet, sweeping the forecourt or straightening the newspaper display.

That's 2.3 million drivers on the road who simply have to sit and wait until someone decides they might be in as much of a hurry as everyone else.

My suggestion is that all disabled drivers should just pull up to the pump and wait until someone helps them. The oil companies might start training their staff if they realise that their pumps are blocked all day by angry crips, refusing to move or unable to move due to their empty tanks.