Tuesday, 27 November 2007


This blog was always intended to amuse rather than to attempt any sort of profundity, but the response from so many of you regarding Tom's operation has been so remarkable and moving that I feel I owe you an update.

Tom's improving slowly following an operation that turned out to be significantly less straightforward than expected. Put baldly, it looked as if we were going to lose him.

We didn't.

Following the repeated delays of the NHS, the decision was taken to follow the route of private treatment. My unbelievable brother made this possible and, as a result, almost certainly saved Tom's life. The operation was scheduled for Sunday morning under Professor Garth Cruickshank. He discovered an abnormal blood supply to the tumour and made immediate arrangements for transfer to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.

Attempts to embolise the tumour were only partially successful, but Prof C's judgement was that it had to be removed, at the risk of a fatal bleed, as leaving it in place was a significantly greater risk. Tom left for surgery at 9.00am. At 9.30pm a visibly exhausted Professor explained that the operation was complete, the tumour excised, and that the next 24 hours would be critical.

We're past that now; Tom's stable and no longer critical. He's still unconscious at the moment, but we're assured that this is normal. In the next few days we should see him back.

I'm sorry about the length of this post, and the fact that it hasn't made you laugh. But the messages of goodwill, healing and prayer that have been coming in from you guys has been unbelievable.

We apologise for the temporary fault in our sense of humour. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Thank you all.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007


It's not often I'm left not knowing to say. Today's blog won't be particularly coherent and it may become uncomfortably sentimental, so be warned...

You know that horrible old cliché: "A stranger is just a friend I haven't met yet". It's trite, it's banal,

And it's true.

Caroline, Robyn, Maranta, and so many others of you who've sent your thoughts to Tom, you've finally succeeded in taking my words away. If ever we needed confirmation that the Internet is more than just an information resource for paedophiles, an insult forum for brain-donors on YouTube and a route to market for V1agr@ and C1al1s, it's staring us in the face.

The world isn't going to hell in a handcart after all. There are good people all around the world with the energy, the compassion and the power to pull us all back from the brink. People who are your friends even though you may never meet.

Thank you guys. You give me hope for our stupid little species.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Thank You Robyn

I've just received a response from Robyn (alias Zimble) to my anger at NHS waste and callous administrative cuts. It made me cry.

Take a look at her blog on http://beattiebabble.blogspot.com/ and look for Sunday, 18 November 2007. Robyn's eloquence and literacy always make her comments worth reading, but it's her honesty and openness that make it so moving.

Robyn, thank you from the other side of the world. Never doubt what you do.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Health & Safety Costs Lives

If this wasn't criminal it would be funny
As I write this my youngest son's in hospital awaiting surgery for a brain tumour. This follows weeks of bullying doctors to agree that unsupportable, disabling head pain merits something more effective than paracetamol. But our beleagured National Health Service can't afford to use its MRI scanners to save patients' lives.
Fortunately though there's plenty of money to pay consultants to create the ludicrous, pointless crap in the poster above. We can't afford to treat patients, but we can afford to educate them in the difference between an accidental fall, an anticipated physiological fall and an unanticipated physiological fall. Click on the image and read the text. I promise you this is real.
Money - your money if you live in the UK - is being spent on "Desk Awareness Training" to make sure that the NHS's overmanned administration departments don't get backache, while trained, dedicated and outnumbered nurses work in unforgiveable conditions for insulting wages.

All the signs indicate that Tom will make a full recovery, and I thank God for that. But the people we pay to keep us safe have failed in their duty and endangered my son's life. And for that they have to be exposed.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

The (Relatively) Sensible Face of Blogging

Bearing in mind that I'm supposed to be earning a living somewhere in all these rambles I've decided to start a new Blog to run alongside this one.

The new one, Marketing Mutters, will centre on my somewhat distorted view of how marketing works. Don't worry, it won't be too serious. I don't believe you should ever take marketing too seriously.

If that puts prospective clients off working with me it's undoubtedly for the best - you probably wouldn't have liked the way I do things anyway. One great bonus of what I do is that I get to work with people I like. It's what keeps me as near sane as I ever want to be.

See what you think.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Looking up at the Ground

Just got this picture e-mailed from my Dad. Couldn't resist posting it up here. It depicts me preparing to commit aviation in Paul Bennett's Stearman. Edited out for effect is the ever-lovely Bruce Monk who was pilot in command for a great trip over Norfolk.

Bruce flies my Brother's Stearman (now back in action at last) for air displays, so he's more than reasonably familiar with the old brutes. We were drinking Old Buckenham coffee when Bruce mentioned that he needed to take Paul's plane back to Priory Farm, so did Dad fancy a breath of (very) fresh air? Dad's 85 going on 17, so he was strapped in and impatient before the rest of us had reached the tannin stains at the bottom of our mugs.

He's actually older than the aeroplane, but in even better condition

Martin and I drove to the farm, with me trying to act pleased that I was making the trip on four wheels. But on arrival, Mr Bennett (may his tribe increase) suggested that Bruce and I might fancy a further aerial jaunt. Oooooh yesss.
Once aloft, Bruce handed over to me so that I could make a total arse of myself trying to fly the thing. The Stearman uses 220hp to achieve almost exactly the same performance that a Tiger Moth produces from 95. So you expect it to be big, numb and American. What it actually is, is amazingly delicate and responsive, asking none of the stick-waving needed to persuade the venerable deHavilland to change direction. To an experienced pilot this is a delight. To someone with the airborne prowess of a dog-whelk it's like trying to adjust the temperature in a TraveLodge shower. After 15 minutes the aeroplane feels sick. Oh but I had such a lovely time.

Paul's Stearman is unique. The intercom works. So on handing back to the man who can, I hear Bruce's voice asking me if I fancy a loop.
OK, it's time to fess up. I've never done that. My feeling about flying is that if God had meant us to go inverted he'd have given us some sort of system to keep us from falling out. Oh, these straps? I see.

You can hear it can't you?

Let's do it.

We're into a steep dive. This big Boeing needs plenty of velocity to coax it over the top, and the only way to get that is with plenty of downhill vectorage. Up to 120mph and a big pull back. I get shorter, which I can't really afford to do. As we come fully inverted I feel all that weight come off. Looking directly up I can see Norfolk spread from horizon to horizon. There's a strong feeling that, but for this harness, I'd be spread to a similar extent.

A few pops and farts from the noisy bit at the front registers the Stearman's protest; it doesn't have an inverted fuel system, so everything stops working for a bit.

Back right-side up we do a few lazy wing-overs and stall turns and then into another loop. He knows what he's doing does our Bruce.

So that's another long-standing fear dead and buried. Until now I've felt that flying should be carried out, as far as possible, straight and level. The idea of doing anything the wrong way up filled me with abject terror.

But you feel very safe with a flying Monk.