Diet: Standard (Bulk)

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While I hold residence here at Charing Cross hospitals, I am officially on Diet: Standard (Bulk).

That’s what the printout states, and I think it is a fair description of what is being offered and served.

What goes as salad consist of a small handful of shredded Iceberg lettuce, half a industrial tomato (red but hard and flavourless), a spoon full of the main ingredient (caned tuna, shredded chicken, etc) and two packs of salad cream. I spotted a sweet corn on one occasion, but maybe that was a case of cross-contamination from a different dish. A ploughman’s salad didn’t come with bread, but a side order of a mayonnaise-rich potato salad was available. The omelette, documented in the printout on the left, didn’t come with most of the requested side orders. The omelette itself was dreadful, dry and cooked to death. You would think they’d make an omelette fluffy and nice by stretching the egg with milk, but no.

At the time of this writing I am on nil by mouth. Not the worst thing to happen, I think.

Time To Go Home

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While I work on my under the covers report from inside the Charing Cross hospitals, Google Now keeps showing helpful card with the time to go home.

32 minutes to home, it says, with normal traffic on the A4.

Ah, that’s good to know.

In truth, home is at least 32 hours away, and I won’t be fussy about the A4 traffic when it comes to going home.

Are You Alright?

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I am undertaking a bit of investigative journalism for you and selflessly submitted myself to the NHS (national health service) and to Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals in particular for solid under cover research.

All in all the experience is a lot better than what media makes us believe. That must be said.

I didn’t experience prolonged waiting for treatment or ambulances, no standing around in cold hallways or wards in disarray. All staff is friendly and helpful, even though some nurses need prompting at times. Don’t you think the dressing needs changing? Don’t you think you could give me some water give that you insist I drink lots of it? Things like that, but all in all good.

The food, however, is everything the media makes us believe. A healthy and balanced nutritious diet seems hard to come by, even if they manage to deliver a whole meal complete and as requested. More often than not, parts are missing. Maybe it is better that way.

It Happened Today

DSC_0565Today is the first day of this year which I even start out in shorts and T-shirt. Long pants are pants, at least as long as this warm weather lasts!

All fruit trees in bloom while the tulips are still going strong. I can almost see the newly sown peas emerging from my window. I can definitely see the radishes emerging, and those Swiss Chard plants which overwintered in the bed are already in full production by mid April.

Makes me think that summer can’t be too far away, no? Certainly feels like it.

My Painting Hero

DSC_0509.JPGFor once we managed to view the John Singer Sargent exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London before the last day, and I am very glad that we did. Even though, or maybe because we had to book a ticket for timed entry (we chose 14:00), there was no queuing and a very relaxed atmosphere.

And every one of his paintings well worth a good look, and another one.

I like his loose stroke for the out-of-focus parts, the background and the frilly bits of the sitters clothes, and I adore his confidence with tonal painting. Just superb.

Go and see the Singer Sargent exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery if you are in London.

A Word Of Advice

DSC_0097Here’s a word of advice: make sure to keep a record of all your travels across your home country’s borders. All of them. For ever. Record the date of departure and date of return, destination countries, possibly add additional comments regarding the purpose of the trip.

The trouble is that, one day, you might want to apply for something where the application form requests that you list all such travels over the past five years – for example, an application for British citizenship. Or how about ten years (Russian business visa)?

Madness, and probably almost never entirely correctly filled out. I wonder what’s the point of this, but I certainly wish someone gave us that advise ten or more years ago, especially when you consider a busy international travel schedule like the good wife’s.

Public Service Logic

DSC_0692Here’s a question which bothers us as often as once a day. Like, for example, when we read news of Sodexo Justice Services, a private company running a good portion of the UK’s privatised probation service, announcing 30% job cuts (at least 700 posts).

How on earth would anyone in his or her full mental capacity examine a public service such as the probation service, and conclude that a profit-oriented private business can provide that service at lower cost and higher quality than a not-for-profit government organization?

I have no doubt that government organizations, much like large companies, suffer from inefficiencies, incompetence and similar maladies. Surely, these need addressing, as much as the mental health of those who make those ludicrous privatization decisions.

Happy Easter

DSC_0319A celebration requires a toast, so here’s an old favourite:

Here’s to a long life and a happy one,
A quick death and an easy one,
A good girl and a honest one,
A cold pint and another one!

Oh, this one is also nice. Concise:

Here’s to staying positive and testing negative!

Happy Easter, Everyone!

Important To Us, Important To Us

DSC_0337How is it possible that I send an email comment or inquiry to a company or government department and receive an almost instant acknowledgement of receipt with the reassurance that my message is very important and that they promise, hands down, to come up with an answer within 21 working days.

Some challenge themselves and aim at ten days, but very few manage within 24 hours.

How, I ask you, how is this possible?

Maybe the person who normally deals with those things is taken ill or retired a few days ago. Given the regularity of this effect, I can’t quite believe it.

Maybe Mondays, or the start of a month, provoke a much higher influx of inquiries than the rest of the week (or month), so that this is the peak of an oscillating pattern of inquiry demands? Also not very likely in my opinion.

Maybe they deliberately slow down their response because they’d prefer that I subscribe to their paid premium service with guaranteed four hour response time. I suppose that is possible, but not the case for several recent cases that I encountered.

Maybe my inquiry is of such a complicated nature that it takes five days (ten, 21, etc) to graft a response? No, certainly not.

This leaves only one explanation: they continuously have a backlog of five (ten, 21) days. You’d think the temporary reassignment of workforce and a little push of an effort would clear the backlog, thus remove the delays, making the overall service much more responsive and useful. Somehow, this never seems to happen.

What other explanation am I missing?

Falling Sea Levels

DSC_0017Do you remember the good old days?

The good old days back some 5.3 million years ago, when the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea were separated?

When the rock of Gibraltar crumbled away, the strait of Gibraltar formed and the Zanclean Flood occurred, a lot of water rushed in from the Atlantic.

The word on the street is that sea levels within the Mediterranean rose by as much as 10 metre a day, for months. Just picture that. Incredible, isn’t it?

I wonder how much the ocean’s sea levels outside the Mediterranean dropped during that period.

Praise The Nylons

DSC_0873Someone told me a long time ago that the inventor of pipe cleaners got rich from it. I don’t know if that’s true, but I surely know that the inventor of the standard nylon cable tie deserves a fair amount of wealth and our deep gratitude for this versatile invention.

The police use them, church choirs and theatres use them, kidnappers, car repair men and persons enjoying a kinky lifestyle might use them. They can hold things in place, bundle things together, mark a location.

They can fix a rattling mudguard on your bike, secure portions of a temporary performance stage, tie a criminal’s hands, and they do a pretty good job at tying off cables.

Duck tape and WD40 usually tops the list of the most essential repair things on the planet. I think it is time for these two to officially move aside and make room for the nylon cable tie.

[Edit: As much as I am in praise of the nylon cable tie, one did snap in last night’s concert, and very nearly caused a bad accident. Just goes to show that assumptions made by the crew about the use of certain guard rails may not match the actual forces in use during the concert. Glad nobody was injured.]

Have Faith In Me

DSC_0729I wonder when the world in general and online forms in particular will learn to have faith in me and begin to trust in my ability to enter my email address correctly.

I don’t have to enter my mobile phone number twice either, or my street address, or my name or vehicle registration number. Email has been around for a while, and my email address changes as much, or even less, than any of the other details the form asks for.

Don’t you think it is time to stop that nonsense?