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Archive for October, 2011

A new fan

October 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Today, I had occasion to call NHS 24, a new experience for me. I’d no idea what to expect. I suppose it’s fair to say that I was a bit cynical about the idea of a health call centre. Not any more. The problem was dealt with very quickly and an appointment was made for us at our nearest out-patient centre, within 90 minutes. I’ve sat in our local surgery for almost as long as that waiting to be seen. We got there on time, and were diagnosed and treated within 15 minutes. It’s good to know the system works.

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Danger: farmer on road

October 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Back in Gullane, and as the wonderful Kim MacArthur is fond of saying, Happy to be Here. However . . .

Funny the things that tick one off: I was out in the car this morning en  route for Haddington. Approaching Ballencrieff I saw a permanent road sign warning me that there was mud on the road. There always is, when it’s remotely wet, as it always is, so I’m wondering why East Lothian Council, as well as installing their helpful sign, don’t take action to ensure that the farmer who makes a mess of the public highway, accepts responsibility for hosing the bloody mud off!

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Derek Stephen

October 31, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed Xavi’s ghosted autobiography. No way is the big geezer going to be lured back to Edinburgh, that’s for sure. However his mate Skinner has a place in Spain, which he’s been neglecting of late. It’s not impossible that the two of them will meet up over there

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The biter bit, chewed up, and spat out

October 28, 2011 2 comments

Just seen the greatest interview disaster of all time on BBC News channel, when Simon McCoy, the presenter, attempted to grill/Paxmanise, Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and head of the marketing giant WPP, as part of a highly slanted presentation that the Beeb is running today on directors’ remuneration. Sir Martin is one of the smartest men in the world, as poor old Simon found out when his ‘victim’ demolished his case with his first answer then took him to places he’d never been, and fired information at him that might have been part of his briefing but wasn’t. After several minutes of not getting a word in, Simon said, ‘I’m sorry but we have to go to the weather now. If I come back to you in five minutes will you still be there?’ Smile by Sir Martin; ‘Probably not.’ Wonderful.

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Dangerous inflammatory rubbish

October 26, 2011 4 comments

I was 1) surprised, 2) bewildered, 3) annoyed 4) blazing angry this morning when I read a BBC report that the NHS in England is to review the evidence for breast cancer screening, following the publication of a questionable analysis into its efficacy by the Danish-based independent Nordic Cochrane Research Centre, and the publicly announced refusal by an academic of screening, on the grounds that she is concerned about the effects of over-diagnosis. I can only assume that Professor Susan Bewley believes that under-diagnosis would be better. She heads the department of complex obstetrics at King’s College, London, but I don’t find anything complex about the issues involved, and can only wonder why she’s trying to start a bandwagon rolling.

I’m going to declare an interest here. A few years ago, my wife went for a routine screening mammogram. It showed an anomaly, and she was asked to go back for further investigation. This revealed the presence of a very small tumour. It was removed almost immediately, there were no metastases, and, happily there’s been no recurrence. The incident was dealt with so effectively that when I happened to mention the subject in another context a few days ago, it took her a few seconds to recall that she was a cancer survivor herself.

If the screening programme wasn’t in place, that tiny tumour wouldn’t have been detected until it was a large tumour, her surgery would have been much more radical, and she’d have undergone debilitating and  destructive follow-up therapy. I don’t like to consider what the outcome might have been. Hers is just one case among thousands of success stories for the breast screening programme. Like every woman, she had the right to decline her mammogram. Professor Susan Bewley had that right and exercised it. But in my opinion, she does not have the right to use her academic position to undermine public confidence in the programme, if by doing so she might deter even a single woman from going for screening and thus allowing a treatable tumour to go undetected until it’s too late.

As for the Nordic Cochrane Research Centre, the brief research I’ve done on it myself makes me wonder whether it might be to general medicine what the Church of Scientology is to the treatment of mental illness. It can play with numbers all it likes, but it can’t be allowed to play with lives. Any time spent by the NHS reviewing its allegations will be time wasted. Time is money. If that money is available, it should be invested in enhancing existing screening, not questioning it.

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Outrage

October 24, 2011 1 comment

My friends will tell you that I am a long way short of being a Christian fundamentalist. These days I’m only in churches for weddings and funerals. However, I believe that the right of worship is fundamental to all faiths and that it is intolerable that the right of access to any church, mosque, synagogue, etc,  should be blocked wilfully by any individual or group, whatever their cause.

That’s why I’m more than mildly appalled that St Paul’s Cathedral was closed to worshippers yesterday and remains closed today, because a crowd of  posh anarchists, sundry attention seekers,  and general toss-pots have chosen to mass around it in their silly little tents, for a reason which has nothing to do with God and is purely mammon-based. They seem to be trying to make their point by hi-jacking a symbolic building. But why St Paul’s? If they really want to draw attention to the focus of their campaign why aren’t they camped outside the equally iconic Bank of England, or better still Harrods?

The biggest ‘Why?’ of all of course is ‘Why are they still there?’ If they were parked outside the London Stock Exchange itself, just round the corner . . . and they do call their campaign ‘Occupy LSX’ . . . or outside one of those other institutions, they’d have been hosed off the street by now, you can be sure of that. So why are the Met treating them so leniently where they are? Do they think they have a right of sanctuary, or is the LSX more important than Jesus?

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Norah Rothwell

October 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Hi, Norah. I’m not surprised your memory is vague; that happened a long time back. The book you’re trying to recall is ‘Skinner’s Ordeal’. Your next Skinner fix will be next June, and the title to look out for is ‘Funeral Note‘.

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Martyn Snell

October 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Thanks friend. There are actually three Primavera (She doesn’t use the short form any more) books in the pipeline. The next will appear in January, title, ‘As Easy as Murder‘. It’s been so long since I delivered it, I have trouble remembering that.

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Ron Marsh

October 16, 2011 1 comment

Are there going to be any more Bob Skinner books? As many as I can write, mate.

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Kaye Gilmour

October 15, 2011 Leave a comment

No mobile signal in Humbie? Haven’t you seen the booster mast? It’s similar to the one in Dirleton.

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Sorry

October 15, 2011 1 comment

I know, I haven’t been posting on the blog for a while. Regular visitors will realise why; newcomers please understand it isn’t indifference but a sign that I’m up to my ears in a project. In this case, it’s Primavera Four. (No, don’t ask me what it’s called, as I still have to make a final decision on that.”)

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