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post – op post :-)

Nicky (@4boysareplenty) came back to her room at 12.03, awake but not quite with it. She has got more with it as the day has gone on and has just managed half a shortbread and a cuppa through a straw.

The consultant has been to see her twice, he says the operation went well. The tumour was quite large and constrictive in the nerve canal, there was a nerve through the tumour.

She has to stay on her back for 48 hours but they also have her swapping sides at intervals. It will be Thursday before she is allowed to sit up and will then be assessed for physio. In the meantime she has some ankle rotating to perfect.

My wife is in hospital…

Nicky (@4boysareplenty) is having an operation today, an ‘upper lumber laminectomy for microscopic excision of intramural tumour’ to be precise. She has a benign tumour which has attached itself to (or grown from) a nerve within her spinal chord cavity. The tumour (neurofibroma) is about the size of a grape and will probably have been growing for about the last 10 years.

The symptoms of this have been sudden and intense sciatic type pain in her leg, usually at the worst possible times for her, ie while walking to school or maybe lifting George etc.

The operation is to cut into her spine to access the cavity and remove the tumour from the nerve.

We checked her into hospital at 6.45 this morning, I left her at 7.30 to come get the boys to school. She texted me at 8.30 to say the consultant had seen her and she’d be going to theatre shortly.

I got back to wait for her at 10.  There’s no bed, sure enough she’s in theatre.  She is likely going to have to lay down for the next 24 hours and will be in hospital until Friday we expect.

I will update further later on. Just to say also thank you to our friends who are rallying round to help Xx

What if:

We’ve been deciding what we’d do if we won any of the following denominations on the lottery.  We now have a plan for each instance.

£50, 000

Without giving away specific personal circumstances, what would your plans be?

She’s gone, let’s fix stuff…

The Thatcher dispatcher has done his bit, we all know Margaret Thatcher knocked the Great (that it seems Clement Attlee put there?) off Great Britain.  How do we become great again?

I don’t mean Great as in empire constructing, colony gathering etc, if that’s where ‘Great’ came from even. I mean great as in, caring, sharing and looking out for each other.  Looking after those who for some reason or another can’t do it for themselves.

How are we to redistribute wealth?  Where do we draw the line, speedboats?

Yes let us draw the line at speedboats.  Last night I watched The Syndicate, it’s a TV programme about normal people (I say normal, every one of them has a little criminal intent, acted on or otherwise, if not quite criminal then morally deviant), these normal people are in a lotto syndicate that wins £75m on the UK lottery.  One member of the syndicate is shown buying a luxury speedboat, because he can.

So, line drawn, speedboats.  No one is now allowed a speedboat as it’s a luxury expense too far when we need over £300bn to fund welfare including the NHS.  By my calculation, and by looking at the second hand Sunseeker Yacht market, that’s 75,000 of us who are going to have to give up our speedboats to fund this big spend.  Who’s with me?  Let’s brand this “Sunseekers for Jobseekers“.

Now we have a level playing field, no one has their boat anymore.  This isn’t enough, surely it isn’t fair that a shelf stacker may earn 9k while a CEO could be earning 100k.  Both people need the other position for the wheels of industry to turn therefore let them both have 50k.  Let’s throw the 9k difference into some sort of trust fund, not sure what for yet as we’ve already nearly created Perfect Britain.

Let us imagine for one minute that I’m Teal, the shelf stacker at your local Sainsbury’s and the above is my idea.  I now think that the above amazing idea (splitting the 100k) is worthy of reward above and beyond my 50k, but I’m not greedy so I’ll just take a one off 1k bonus, 8k can go in the trust fund.  If however I have another great idea next year then we’ll discuss this further as maybe I’m worth 51k per annum.

I’m now dreaming of how to use this extra money, it’s affecting my ability to continue drawing up this fair society.

Concentrate, level playing field, we all live in the same house now.  By the same house I mean same specification, not the SAME house that would be silly.  We can’t have things different otherwise the whole greed thing kicks in again.  We are all going to have the same magnolia box, 2.4 bedrooms, 1.9 children.  Clearly we need to kick Mr & Mrs Windsor out of Buckingham Palace for this to be fair.  Well not actually kick them out, there are 775 rooms that can be divided up between 155 families, maybe Liz and Phil get first choice for length of service?

What next then, what else do we need to do?  I’ve laid the foundation, it’s for you now to comment below, think long and hard about how to make society fair.  This model will be rolled out across the world when we’ve mastered it for although Margaret Thatcher invented ‘poor’ other likeminded people developed it for use in their countries worldwide.

Come together Perfect Britain, lets conquer the world, as a mutually agreeable collective…

Evidence of my training!



Looking still ‘chunky’ and mostly out of breath, this is me at yesterday’s 5k parkrun. 

The building in the background is where we got married in ’99. That day of course I was running towards the Hall…

What happened to banking…


While we shouldn’t blame front line bank staff for the banking cock-ups of the last decade, the truth is that the banks have put none sales people into sales roles.  Retail bankers with relevant experience in their traditional roles have had their numbers diluted by this practice.

These sales roles didn’t exist when bank staff consisted of professional bankers. The introduction of selling and sales targets to people who left school and chose to work in a safe respected industry brought about resentment and disillusionment among experienced staff.

Time served staff were hoisted out on the back of restructuring, mergers and takeovers. People who could sell we’re kept, new people who couldn’t sell were recruited en mass, low salaries, possibilities of high commission, high staff turnover.

This new breed of sales staff mis-sold loans, credit cards, insurances etc. They were badly trained sales people with no eye for the intricacies of the complex decisions required of long term, expensive financial choices.

It probably started with deregulation, when companies used to selling tangible manufactured items had the cash to set up banking divisions. Tesco, Sainsbury, Virgin et al, corporations that knew how to shift product.

Like everything that the human race has fucked up, it’s made some rich people very rich, a lot of people ill and will take many many years to correct and improve.


Well I’ve had a nice day…


Sundays normally take one of two forms, lazy day of chilling before the week’s return to work or busy trying to cram activity in, before the week’s return to work.

Today wasn’t really that different, Nicky and I woke before the boys, quite early for a Sunday, earlier than 9 I think.  After a while I could hear Matthew scuttling about.  Matthew is seven, a good age for celebration day scuttling.  On Christmas morning he moves about his room wondering whether it is too early to go wake mum and dad, or maybe his older brother.

Today Matthew was scuttling because it was Fathers’ Day.

I sat in bed, smiling, not because I was going to get spoilt, maybe, but at that boy’s excitement.  Nicky and I had eaten breakfast, I’d been served scrambled egg on toast, tea and fresh orange.  Mum went to get Matthew who in turn went for James  while Nicky carried George in.  That was my day made, wife and three kids on the bed.  My eldest, Tom (step-son) was fast asleep in his room, he works weekend evenings in a bar.  At 6 foot something there was no room on the bed for him to, though I’m sure we’d have squozed up for him.





Don’t panic Pike…


Cookies in Use
This morning I set off for work, a leisurely 48 mile drive over two motorways, my fuel light had come on, arriving home last night.  I knew I could get to work, I knew on reaching work the light would be flashing and I’d need to fill up for the return journey.

As is my usual pattern, this morning I intended calling at little Tesco to fill up, alas panic buying had started, the signs were up “No Petrol/No diesel/delivery later”. Undeterred I drove on to big Tesco.  There was a man at the entrance, I wanted diesel, he only had limited unleaded petrol.  Time for Plan B, Nicky had said I could take her car, albeit she had an appointment with George at wheelchair services first.

Plan B was for me to use the train, well three trains, an hour and a half trip and 20 minute walk.  I was already destined to be late if driving, after the trafficked foray to the filling station.  I’d be in for 10:30 and was already wondering what on earth time I’d get home tonight.

It hadn’t come as a huge shock that there would be panic buying, the government had suggested we fill up, now I’m struggling where to side, who’s at fault Cameron or the people panic buying?  I’m not going to poke fun at Francis Maude, he said ‘Jerry Can’ like the rest of us say ‘Hoover’, he wasn’t suggesting people break the law, it was just a comment, he clearly meant petrol can, but politicians are superhuman so don’t make errors.

What shocks me about people’s behavior is that they say the government talk crap then hang on every word and go and queue for petrol.  The real laugh of the situation is that, as was pointed out to me this morning, the drivers have to give seven days notice of a strike. I would need to fill up twice in a seven-day period normally, however today I couldn’t fill up as people had filled up to potter round town for the next month.

In fairness, as capitalist petrol-heads we all see our travel as essential,  some of the stories I heard of why people needed fuel seemed a bit petty as I stomped about but on thinking it through I didn’t really know other people’s situations, I’m sure in many cases people seriously thought they needed to buy.

So, off I set, walking to the station.  I entered the ticket office, the rail worker was sat in front of a side window.  I stopped halfway in, he watched as it dawned on me and I turned round to go outside and round to the outdoor serving position.

There was no outside window, he was just basking in the sunlight shining through the sealed unit frosted glass.  I re-entered the ticket office, the two rail workers clearly privately amused.  I asked if he was selling tickets.  ”That’s why I’m sat here was the sarcastic reply”, I half pointed at the ticket desk in front of me, about eight feet from him and did the exasperated Jim Halpert (The Office – US) look to camera.

“Where are you going”?, I told him, apparently I’d just missed the train and it would be an hour wait.  I turned on my heels and left the ticket office.

Thinking on ones feet, I knew Nicky would be driving past both me in the next five minutes and the main town station, this would allow me to make up my lost time, brilliant.  This was further enhancing my life motto: landus poop accent scentus rosé.

I phoned her, sure enough she picked me up en route.  In the car we decided it would actually be great if I went along with her and George to the appointment.  Then afterwards I could take the car that had fuel.  Two cars you say, well yes, but Nicky needs hers to ferry George to appointments, she walks the kids to school, will walk if working.  She wouldn’t be refueling until after easter, anyway you’ll remember my Plan B was to catch the train. But instead it would be Plan C, Zafira.

So guess what, I got to go to Georges appointment.

George in his current wheelchair and being measured for a big boy one.

George has for some time now been leaning over in his mini wheelchair to ‘self-propel’, he’s worked this out himself.

The professionals have decided he needs a bigger self-propelling chair.

He tried one as you see in the picture, oh what a clever boy. Took straight to it, at first with one hand, then on being shown with both hands.

He also gave us a ‘reverse’ demonstration.  The best bit among this proudfest? Well when he was clearly upset when we made him get back in the ‘baby’ one.  It’s just a matter of waiting for the chair to come now.

Back to the matter in hand, who cares, petrol schmetrol, I got to spend extra time with George and see what a star he is (I’m sure Nicky and I were grinning like eejits).  We dropped him off and off I toddled to work.  I got there for 11:30, not 9am but better than not at all.

As a foot note, I stopped at a BP near work, they had fuel, hypocrisy kicks in, I decide to top up, well I need it for my 500 miles a week.  There’s a notice on all the pumps, “Please during this time, limit your spend to £10“.  I wondered what would happen if I filled up, probably £25+, but I put my tenner in, and got it to a tenner for a change, bang on.

In front of me at the till, there was a woman who like me three hours earlier was exasperated.  I was very chilled now.  She was ranting on at the attendant that they should only sell fuel to people who need it for work.  The attendant, a quietly spoken Asian man for whom I’d think English was probably his second language, was trying to make herself heard above his ranting.  He was saying, “I missed you going past the £10, I should have stopped you”.

Yes, that’s right, in spite of notices everywhere asking for self-regulation, she’d put £68 in her chav-mobile, and was hiding this fact behind a rant, she left.  Was my blood about to boil again?  No, the cashier and I both gave each other a knowing look and smiled.

It’s a big world made up of ‘interesting’ people…

Footnote:  Naturally on hearing of a potential strike, I wanted to shout “Tanker drivers earn 45k tell the lazy fuckers to get working”, but it’s not just about the money, below I’ve cut and pasted from the Unite website:

Tanker drivers work in an increasingly fragmented and pressurised industry where corners are being cut on safety and training in a bid to squeeze profits and win contracts. Drivers face growing job insecurity as a result of the contract ‘merry-go-round’ and a ‘beat the clock’ culture has flourished with drivers forced to meet ever shorter delivery deadlines.

Final salary pension schemes have been swapped for inferior money purchase schemes, and some workers are now on their sixth pension in as many years, with 10 to 15 years left to go in the industry.

Commenting Diana Holland, Unite assistant general secretary, said: “These votes send a clear message throughout the industry and should prompt all the major companies to get around the table to establish minimum standards.

“This is not about pay – this is about ensuring that high safety and training standards are maintained, so that our communities are safe. It is about a simple measure, the creation of an industry-wide bargaining forum. It is about bringing fairness and stability back to an essential national industry.”

“No longer can it be acceptable that oil giants rake in profits, while shirking their responsibility for the stable supply of a national commodity. The measures we are proposing are reasonable, responsible and sensible. We urge them to act and listen.”

Joint Enterprise…


 “Joint enterprise” allows groups of people to be charged with murder, even if only one person delivered the fatal blow.

Wrong or right, it’s a murky divide.  The typical example given in support of joint enterprise is that of a gang attacking somebody, one person goes home to get a weapon, returns, the individual attacked and all the gang are at the scene when the victim dies.  The gang members are all found guilty of murder, degrees of involvement may mean that sentencing is harsher for a gang leader than say someone who holds the coat.

Of course we are all aware of miscarriages of justice or the fact that only one person may have actually killed the victim above, but my thoughts are that all in attendance ARE guilty of murder.  Maybe the definition of murder would need to be changed to stand up to my guilty charge but the fact is if you attack somebody there is always a chance of a death.

A blow to the head can cause a death, punching someone and knocking them to the floor can kill them if their head strikes the pavement.  With this in mind any intention to maim can run the risk of death, this fact is what can make the distinction between murder and manslaughter difficult.

One example of opposition to joint enterprise is the mother of Jordan Cunliffe.  Jordan was jailed for life along with Adam Swelling and Stephen Sorton for the murder of Garry Newlove outside his home in Warrington, Cheshire in 2007.  Cunliffe’s mother claims that although he was present he did not take part and, as he was virtually blind he could not have known what was happening.

I don’t know enough about the Garry Newlove case to have an informed opinion but whatever the degree of innocence the Cunliffe family think should be attributed to Jordon, he was involved with a bad lot.  Of course, having dodgy mates isn’t a crime in itself.

Capital punishment, an eye for an eye isn’t my bag.  Some people say if someone killed or hurt a member of their family, their children, they would hunt down and kill the attacker.  I can understand that emotion, but how do you explain to your children that violence is wrong while also presenting a manifesto of what will happen if anyone harms them.  This is without considering the earlier mentioned possibility miscarriages of justice.

Some people say you should write things down to help think things through, I remain dazed and confused.  My fundamental thought is that to kill is wrong.

This blog was inspired by the debate about the Joint Enterprise Law on Radio 4s Today program this morning and a subsequent debate I noticed on Twitter.