Monday, 29 December 2008

Raised Up – A Little

After the desperate lowness of the last few days I’ve been lifted somewhat by the help of a wonderful friend.  I found this track and listened over and over.

Not the most powerful version, but must be one of the most beautiful, of “You Raise Me Up”.  Enjoy Celtic Woman.

You Raise Me Up

“When I am down, and oh my soul so weary
When troubles come, and my heart burdened be
Then I am still and wait here in the silence
Until you come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up so I can stand on mountains.
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas.
I am strong when I am on your shoulders.
You raise me up to more than I can be.”

Lyrics:  Brendan Graham

God, how I wish I had written these simple but magical words.

Friday, 19 December 2008

The Old Garden Seat

Too long grows the grass round the old garden seat
Once high and proud in the green field of man's power now gone
Wild grow the shrubs on pathways long lost
Rolling hills, valley wide, reflective river no more

Only the sky remains still blue, white or grey now pock-marked by slim birches' tips
Rich with life's vibrant colours, flyers and flowers abound
Safe in the haven within where balance surrounds
Life as nature intended. No hands fighting forces unseen.

Once more, once more ere life's breath fades away
Let me see  long ago's beauty through eyes of the young
My seat and my view from the power of my hands
And I give myself up happily to God's golden lands

Tuesday, 16 December 2008



Zip a dee doo-dah, zip a dee ay
All my snails have gone away.
I got broadband in today
Zip a dee doo-dah, zip a dee ay

All the slowness it has gone now
Music, video I'm here                   
Now I am right at the frontier                 

Zip a dee doo-dah, zip a dee ay
Wonderful feelin'.
Wonderful day.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Last Day in the Slow Lane?

No more, after tonight, should I have to twiddle my thumbs, make a cup of coffee, untwiddle and drink while waiting for blogs to load.

No more should I have to skip every youtube  posting. 

No more should I have to put off downloading software because it will take 5h.

Tuesday morning the cable-man comes to call and, soon thereafter, I should be whizzing around at "up to20Mb/s" or somewhere thereabouts.

Let's hope I'm not here tomorrow cursing that I'm still left on snail-paced dial-up.


We shall see.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Baby 'P' and Suicide

As the Baby 'P' case slips slowly from the headlines you may think it strange to raise it here linked to suicide but there is reason in my apparent madness.

Baby 'P' was a wee innocent baby whose life was snuffed out by his mother and her partner in an horrendous and obscene murder.  All must have been horrified at the pain and suffering inflicted on this little boy. 

How can there possibly be a link between a suicide victim and this innocent wee baby?

Much of the outrage, both public and political, felt at Baby P's death has moved from those directly responsible to those services  - police, NHS, social services - who knew of the family, who had suspicions but yet failed to save him. An inquiry has been held already, heads have rolled, and the government has parachuted in a new head of Haringey's Childrens Services.

In yesterday's mini-post I quoted two Liberal Democrats who were happy at the sacking of the head of Children's Services:

Councillor Robert Gorrie, leader of Haringey Liberal Democrat opposition, said: "This is the right decision. No one should be rewarded for failure in public service. .....  Those in top jobs in public service should be put on notice - there is no hiding place for incompetence and deceit for those charged with looking after the vulnerable children in our society."

Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, welcomed Shoesmith's departure. "I very much welcome her departure without a single penny. Hopefully it marks a break with the culture of secrecy, failure and deceit that failed Baby P."

The murder of one baby - however horrific - and the failure of the caring services, who were aware of the family, to protect the child has led to massive public interest, personnel changes in the Council department responsible and demands for changes in the way that such cases are handled.


What of a suicide victim?

A suicide doesn't normally generate much publicity.  There are those, and Mrs Carr is one, who are known to the NHS and other services as suffering from mental ill-health and as having attempted suicide, who receive minimal, if any, treatment for their mental health problems.

People struggle - often for years - self-harm, overdose, commit suicide because they are left helpless, distraught, despairing.  Suicide is not an irrational action but rather it is the rational outcome to a hopeless and intolerable life.

There is sympathy for those with terminal illnesses or severe paralysis who bring an end to their suffering by ending their life.  Unfortunately, such sympathy rarely extends to the mentally ill who can take no more.  They are seen as ill, irrational, weak, "it's their fault", "if only they would buck up their ideas", "we're well rid of them".  There is prejudice, stigma, stereotyping, ignorance, incompetence, neglect - yes, neglect! 

Lives become hopeless and intolerable because the caring services don't care, they neglect to look after these patients properly.  The ill are non-people.  If children were neglected by the services as are these adults there would be, justifiably, a massive outcry, questions raised in parliament, change would happen but for these unfortunate adults there is utter shameful neglect, left to live or die by an uncaring service. 

Many don't start out wanting to die but that is where they end up because the NHS either ignores them or offers inadequate treatment for their severe needs and social services unable to provide proper support. 

Why are the needy, the desperate left to cope with no, or totally inadequate, support?

Why can the so-called caring services not see the the real situation? Why do they not realise that massive support is required just to keep some functioning at the most basic level?  Christ, it's not rocket science!  Just proper diagnosis, no stigmatising labels, correct treatment, identify needs and supply care.

We've seen the outcry when a child is allowed to die of neglect but adults are allowed to die of neglect, not of their parents but of the state and there is shameful silence. 

Correctly we would never criticise a baby. Likewise those adults who commit suicide shouldn't be criticised. 

Their deaths are a flag to the uncaring services we have in this country.

Their deaths shame our politicians!

Their deaths shame the NHS!

Their deaths shame all of us!

Their deaths are a national scandal!

What are we as a society that we tolerate this?


I finish with Councillor Gorrie's quote with one word removed to make it more apposite for the care of potential suicide victims:

"No one should be rewarded for failure in public service. .....  Those in top jobs in public service should be put on notice - there is no hiding place for incompetence and deceit for those charged with looking after the vulnerable children in our society."

Most of us with direct and indirect experience of mental health services know that for far too long incompetence and deceit have gone unchallenged and that unnecessary deaths have gone unremarked and unmissed.



Monday, 8 December 2008

Prelude to "Baby 'P' and Suicide"


Tomorrow, hopefully, I'll publish a full post on "Baby 'P' and Suicide".  [UPDATE: Full post published here]

This mini-post acts as wee advert for that post.  Given that  recently I have posted only on the odd occasion advertising is necessary.


I noted that the Guardian website mentioned that Sharon Shoesmith, head of Children's Services at Haringey Council was sacked with immediate effect and without without compensation.

Two Liberal Democrats are quoted in the article:

Councillor Robert Gorrie, leader of Haringey Liberal Democrat opposition, said: "This is the right decision. No one should be rewarded for failure in public service. .....  Those in top jobs in public service should be put on notice - there is no hiding place for incompetence and deceit for those charged with looking after the vulnerable children in our society."

Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, welcomed Shoesmith's departure. "I very much welcome her departure without a single penny. Hopefully it marks a break with the culture of secrecy, failure and deceit that failed Baby P."

If only failure in public service, incompetence, deceit and secrecy among those charged with looking after vulnerable adults suffering from mental illness were treated in the same way.

More tomorrow ......

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Iain Dale and Calum

Yesterday's Guardian diary, by Hugh Muir, carried a snippet about Iain Dale which I append in its entirety:

"Why would Labour types be championing the prospects of Tory blogger extraordinaire Iain Dale, you might ask. Is it because of his ill-fated campaign in Norfolk North in 2005, when he lost by 10,500 votes, or his failure to win the nomination for Maidstone, when he didn't make it past the first interview? Or his stewardship of the unsuccessful David Davis leadership campaign? Or is it because his two-year stint as a columnist at the Daily Telegraph seems to have come to an end? It is all of them, and though it might be tempting fate, he is, they say, someone they would like to see at the heart of David Cameron's operation. They'll provide references and everything."

Mildly amusing was my initial thought, and it is, but then I realised that if one were daft enough to do the same about me it would be much much worse.  A version on me might appear as follows:

"Why would Conservative types be championing the prospects of left-wing mental health campaigner unextraordinaire Calum Carr, you might ask.  Is it because his 20 month stint as a pico-blogger has often appeared close to collapse?  Is it because.............. er, is it because ................... er?  Is there any more?    No, he really has had this little impact, and though it might be tempting fate, he is, they say, someone they would like to see at the heart of The Guardian's operation because he has achieved nothing and is even more useless than Gordon Brown. They'll provide the references and everything."

Even in apparent failure - the Guardian's view - Iain has achieved much more than I.  Sad but true and, I guess, I'll just have to live with that thought.!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Reader and Broadband

I am in the process of adding my blogrolls to Google Reader.  This will make it much easier for me to read blogs but might make my visits less visible although I'll do my best to leave a little mark.

Before Christmas we should have broadband installed - years late - but those blogs that currently don't load will be accessible.



Why on earth did I wait so long before using Reader?  Day in, day out I struggled with my dial-up connection waiting for blog after blog to load painfully slowly only to find that many had no new posts.  Hours I have wasted, probably days wasted, at this pointless exercise.  Now I can whizz through the posts.  It's brill.

Of course, as usual, I get little long term benefit because in about 10 days we'll have broadband.  I'm sure I'll keep using Reader because it is just so convenient.

I'm a plonker for waiting so long!

Friday, 28 November 2008

Babes: No. 1 in Indonesia and More

No. 2 in the UK

No. 2 in .com


If you are looking for "free-babes" then, according to Google I'm your man! 

Yes!  Search Google for that term and I'm No.1 in Indonesia, No. 2 in the UK and in .com.

Why me?  Well a few weeks ago I wrote  the following in response to another searcher for porn finding me - somehow.  

"This blog is a teens-free, babes-free, hottie-free and bikini-free zone."

If you want "free, babes" or "free babes" then you need to go elsewhere because my ranking is nowhere.




Thursday, 27 November 2008

Blog Open For Comments


After a couple of days of the blog being closed to ALL comments I am pleased to be able to open up the blog again.


I continue to ponder the blog's future (see previous post) but now I can do so without needing to have the comments facility closed.


Thanks for bearing with me.



Sunday, 23 November 2008

At It Again: More Destruction

A few months have passed since I told the tale of my destructive tendencies in a Youth Hostel but I was at it again today!
The entire Carr family travelled through to the West to visit the children's grandfather, my father-in-law.  We were only due to stay a couple of hours and the first 110 mins passed without incident.  This was not to last.
Just before we were leaving I went to the toilet and I noticed that the bathroom light didn't work. 
No!  I did not break the toilet seat.  I'm a man.  Well, I was the last time I could see past my belly.  I pee standing up.
No!  I did not pee on the floor.
I peed normally into the bowl and I went to flush the toilet and the button went down but no water appeared.  The button was stuck in the down position and could not be pulled back up.  I raised the cistern lid a little and the buttons returned to their correct position but again no flush.  I lifted the cistern lid off the cistern and replaced it - still no flush.
I went downstairs and told my father-in-law. "It worked for me," said Mrs Carr  and my father-in-law chimed in with, "You didn't lift the cistern lid off, did you?  It's very difficult to refit".
"Shit!"  I thought - fortunately - to myself.  "Oh, by the way, your upstairs lights don't work"
"I'll just have to reset the circuit-breakers" and as he flicked the reset switch there was a pop and a flash.  Clearly there was a major problem with one of the lights but which one? As we talked round the problem I mentioned that I had switched on the lights in his lounge.  "I never use that switch." 
God, how was I to know. All I wanted was to bring light to the room and I trip all the bloody lights.
We didn't stay.  We left with the house largely in darkness and with no flushing toilet. 

Will I be welcome back at my father-in-law's?
Will I be welcome anywhere?

Friday, 21 November 2008

Cast Out!






Shock horror!

How will I survive?

Will I survive?





Oh, yes I'll survive OK


'Twas only from another's blog.




No clue but ...........


Hey, there's a first time for everything.  I feel as though I've earned some blogging spurs.




Since I published this trivial and faux-surprised post, another has posted again making it appear that I  - although unnamed  - had made a terrible attack. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. 

I made a general comment which, admittedly putting a different view from the blogger, was even in tone and not disrespectful. 

I make this comment here only because I would hate readers to think that I had been disrespectful to another blogger far less launched an attack.

If any doubt this statement then I am happy for any to read my original comment of which I have a copy.

I hope I need say no more on this matter.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

BNP Membership List: Still Available

UPDATE: 19 Nov 16.45  I believe the list is still available but the site is overloaded.  Obviously lots have found the same source as I did and lots have found me.  I hadn't expected so many visitors.


Having read in the 'papers this morning about the leaking of this list on the web I was intrigued to see if I could find it.  I should stress that this was an intellectual exercise only: I have often wondered if I could find "banned" data on the web.

Would it still be there?

Originally the list had been posted on Blogger - - but this blog has been removed as has any cache of the blog.

From the post title clearly the list is available for download.  I found the list in less than 10 minutes but I cannot tell you how to find the list other than to say that, initially, what I knew is little except a key search done on time or really great differences over the unbiased knowledge.  

I imagine that once posted the list could never be effectively withdrawn.


Given that the law was probably broken in publishing these details, you must be responsible for your own actions should you choose to look and download the data.

I have visited the download site only.


My intellectual curiosity has been satisfied - totally.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Happy Song


I need to sing a happy song
Because I'm sad inside
Sad, sad and tearful
Tears I cannot cry
So wash away the hidden tears
With words so full of joy
That life is seen again as life
And not as pain and death



The circle is unbroken
The circle is a chain
To link my success or failure
To my rating as a man


To hell with manly rankings
Rather I'd be free
From ball and chain
From manacles
That crush and weaken me

The Scarlet Day


We seek it here

We seek it there

We seek tomorrow everywhere


Is there no end to plagiarism?

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Wordless Struggle


RIMG0091 beachvolleyball3

PostOfficeREX_468x310 iwelumomiss_516x387_10902a

 sing-like-expert .

images-miscellaneous-2006-eye-500x500 WillSmithPa_450x300

y_conisborough_01 toilet-aquarium

 large_king .


UPDATE:   Appears that these two sentences are too difficult to interpret.  Therefore, help is here.  Highlight area below.



Vital Spark        Puffer in Para Handy stories

Two                Concentrate on the fingers!!


Miss                Chris Iwelumo's miss Scotland vs Norway



Will                  Will Smith



King                 Martin Luther King

Vital Spark to post missing.  I will keep looking.

UPDATE:2  Seems as though more explanation is needed.  The vital spark I need to allow me to post is missing ==> "Vital spark to post missing".

I will keep looking for the vital spark ==> "I will keep looking"

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Resigned Blogpower


Yesterday I resigned from Blogpower.  This I should have done some months ago but now the deed is done.  I will  continue within Bloghounds.


I have deleted the banner and the blogroll but I'll switch many of you to another 'roll.  Please bear with me: I tend to very slow at making these housekeeping changes.

Poor Visiting


For the last week or so I've done little visiting -  too much on plate.

Apologies.   Hope to see more of you all soon.

Friday, 7 November 2008

What Did He Expect To Find?

Had to laugh.  Was just looking at my stats when I saw an American, or are least someone based in USA - High Point, North Carolina - had found me ..... but his Google search terms were odd:

"blog anything goes pic post" SafeSearch OFF

Goodness knows what else he found - I assume a he - but he came across my "What goes Up .... Picture Post"

This person then searched my blog 4 times with the following 4 search terms:





I'm shocked! 

What does he think I am? 

What kind of blog did he hope to find?

Obviously he didn't find anything of interest.  He didn't even leave a comment!  You'd think the least he'd do was leave a comment of disappointment but no.

But he has shown me a way I could increase my stats.  Mind you, I'd get shut down; I've got no interest and so no thank you.  Think I'll stay with my current hotchpotch of a blog and the teens and babes and hottie and bikinis can be shown elsewhere. 

This blog is a teens-free, babes-free, hottie-free and bikini-free zone.

USA Immigration


I have no idea what information the authorities in the UK gather from immigrants today but, from my genealogy studies, I know what the USA gathered in the late 1800s and early 1900s and it seems incredibly detailed, much more detailed than I had thought.

Below is a copy of the Master's Declaration made on entry to Ellis Island, New York.

Masters Declaration

For those with poor eyes or who can't be bothered to enlarge the picture I've made a transcript:

"Affidavit of the Master or Commanding Officer or First or Second Officer

"I, W. Baxter, of the CALEDONIA, from Glasgow, do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare that I have caused the surgeon of said vessel sailing therewith, or the surgeon employed by the owners thereof, to make a physical and oral examination of each and all of the aliens named in the foregoing Lists or manifest Sheets, ? in number, and that from the report of said surgeon and from my own investigation, I believe that no one of said aliens is an idiot, or imbecile, or a feeble-minded person, or insane person, or a pauper, or is likely to become a public charge, or is afflicted with tuberculosis or with a loathsome or dangerous contagious disease, or is a person who has been convicted of, or who admits having committed a felony or other crime or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, or is a polygamist or one admitting belief in the practice of polygamy, or an anarchist, or under promise or agreement, express or implied, to perform labor in the United States, or a prostitute, or a woman or girl coming to the United States for the purpose of prostitution, or for any other immoral purpose, and that also, according to the best of my knowledge and belief, the information in said Lists or manifests concerning each of said aliens named therein is correct and true in every respect."

More information than this was actually recorded.  The specific details changed from year to year but I have records where, in addition to the checks above, the following information was taken:

"Name in Full
Age (Years and Months)
Married or Single
Calling or Occupation
Able to Read and/or Write
Nationality (Country of which citizen or subject)
Race or people
Last Residence (last permanent residence, Country and City or town)
Final destination (State City or Town)
Whether having a ticket to such final destination
By whom passage paid?
Whether in possession of $50, and if less, how much?
Whether ever before in the United states and, if so, when and where
Whether going to join a relative or friend, and if so, what relative or friend, and his name and complete address
Condition of mental and Physical health
Deformed or crippled, nature, length of time, and cause
Height, complexion, hair colour, eye colour, marks of identification"

If the authorities were so careful about who entered the country where did crime and prostitution in the USA come from? 

Was this an early version of a  database which holds lots of useless information?  Mind you I bet the Americans never left this database on a train.


As you'll have guessed I was struggling for a post today.

Monday, 3 November 2008

What's in a Colour?

Not a lot for most of us but if the colour is green and the place is Larkhall - a small town to the south-east of Glasgow  - then a huge amount apparently.

Over the years I had heard or read snippets about Larkhall being an incredibly strong  protestant / Glasgow Rangers / Orange town but until an article in Saturday's Independent I hadn't considered posting.  A quick Google search unearthed two other articles both raising similar points (here and here): that the colour  "green is immediately associated with Catholicism, Irish republicanism and the football team Glasgow Celtic."   I have drawn points from these posts.

"Green is a colour noticeable by its absence in Larkhall, the small town with the big reputation as Scotland's most sectarian community. Ask the average person what the name of the Lanarkshire town conjures up and the most likely answer is tattoos, Rangers tops and Protestant marching bands."

"While Irish immigrants were able to mix successfully in towns such as Paisley, Greenock, Ayr and Kilmarnock, historians believe anti-Catholicism to have been greater in mining towns such as Larkhall, where Irish Catholics were used by pit owners to break strikes. So the fuel was as much economic fear as it was cultural dilution of Protestant stock, the idea which found support in sections of the Church of Scotland in the 1920s and 1930s.
Catholics, who account for just 2,000 out of the town's population of 15,000 are no longer feared as economic rivals. They have gathered to celebrate mass in community halls in Larkhall since 1872, but when there was enough support to fund the construction of a church in 1905, the local council insisted St Mary's be built on the outskirts of the town. 

Even with this background, some of the reported the happenings within Larkhall strike an outsider as strange.

"[T]the contempt with which the emerald tint is held in the town has prompted the sandwich chain Subway to change its traditional signage to black and the local pharmacies to switch their frontage to blue."

Photos are shown below:


        NORMAL                                  LARKHALL

Green Subway3 Black Subway3

Green Moss3 Blue Moss

I should point out that  I read on a forum that some Subway outlets actually use a black sign as normal.  I don't know which version is correct for Larkhall.

"[T]here have been reports that Telewest [cable]boxes - originally green - were vandalised and reappeared blue. Locals say that in Hamilton, a chain of Indian restaurants is green and white, while the Larkhall branch is blue and white."

Blue Gates2

"The most prominent example of the promotion of colours associated with unionism is the railings of Glenview Memorial Park. In the past they were red, white and blue. In the 1990s, the council painted them municipal green, an act which proved unpopular. In 2001, a resident painted a stretch red, white and blue, and  ......  the Queen's colours were then retained by the council."

There are reports that 205 green lights in traffic lights were smashed in 6 years and that these incidents occurred after Rangers' defeats.


There are those who believe the problems of Larkhall are not as bad as many make out.

"In the high seats by the window of the new Subway store, one local mother, who like many residents equates giving her name with "smashed windaes", said: "It's so embarrassing - imagine living in a town where people can't tolerate the colour green - you'll no see green wheelie bins. I had one and they set it alight." Like many people we spoke to, she believes sectarianism is ingrained, but at the same time is not as bad as many people might imagine. "You've got a minority of nutters who'll cause trouble, but that's about it."


"Today, the parish enjoys strong ecumenical relations with the town's other religious denominations. The local St Vincent de Paul group, a charitable organisation whose assistance is not restricted to Catholics, receives donations from the local Rangers Supporters Club, Orange Order and Masonic lodge.

The parish priest for the past 30 years, Canon Henry McGinn, 85, took umbrage at reports in the Catholic press that he was too fearful to walk the streets in a dog collar, which, in fact, he is rarely without. The attitude of the local Catholic community, which may surprise some people, is that the town has been unfairly treated."

" ..... a press officer with the Scottish Catholic Media Office, said: "Over decades, anti-Catholicism has been marginalised throughout Scotland. The majority of the decent people of Larkhall are no different to anywhere else in the country. Any disharmony is caused by the same antisocial tendencies you would find in other towns in Scotland and is therefore not peculiar to Larkhall."

Others too are fed up with the stigma attached to Larkhall.  The local SNP councillor said,

"The reputation Larkhall has got is simply not justified. Any problems it does have are shared by many other places in the west of Scotland. Yet there are urban myths about Larkhall that are continuing to be reported.

"I don't believe that the smashing of traffic lights has anything to do with sectarianism, and it has nothing to do with religion, but it has everything to do with vandalism.

"The vast majority of the people of Larkhall are pig-sick of being tarred with the same brush as a few idiots. It's quite simple. If you want to find people who will voice sectarian views, you will be able to do that, just as you are able to do that anywhere in Scotland, but the vast majority in the town want nothing to do with it."

A relatively independent assessment comes from an outsider from Edinburgh who travelled with his son's Under 17's football team to play the local Larkhall team.

"... I'm standing in a public park in loyal Larkhall, doing my best to stand up to the testicley challenging cold weather.  For the benefit of those not acquainted with the quaint traditions of Larkhall, this blight on the landscape is often described as Scotland's most sectarian town."

"Well, the signs were ominous. The home team took to the field in bright orange strips and at a rough guess about 90 per cent of the home team's supporters/parents/friends were adorned in Rangers-blue outfits. For God's sake, don't let them find out my son and a fair few of the Leith players and coaches are Hibees, I thought.

But of course, I exaggerate. Like all stereotypes Larkhall didn't quite measure up to its grotesque image. Sure, it was a hard fought match with some tough tackling, but it was played fairly and there was none of the vitriol that might have been expected. When you venture in to these fiercely proud former mining towns you expect a bit of aggro but even the supporters were surprisingly quiet, well behaved and non -confrontational." [despite the Larkhall team losing 2 - 0.]


What is the real Larkhall?  I'm sorry I haven't a clue!

Friday, 31 October 2008

Abuse Victims Punished

In July this year I published a post, "Family Courts and Injustice", which highlighted articles,  written by Camilla Cavendish, from The Times.  I have another article of hers from last week filed away ready to appear here but an article from today's Times jumps straight to the head of the queue.

Today, Camilla Cavendish describes the horrendous case of a mother who ......  Shit!  This is so bad that there's no point in my writing a precis.  Just read the entire article - sorry it's very long - and then scream at the injustice.


"First battered at home and then by the State

Women who manage to escape domestic violence then find themselves under suspicion and facing a wall of silence

When I first started campaigning for children who had been taken from their families by local authorities on what I felt were flimsy grounds, my editor told me to keep writing “until we're sick of it”. I apologise to readers who have reached that point. But a case has been raised with me by an MP who is being prevented from helping a constituent because the local council believes that it is obliged to withhold most of the relevant information. That is worrying.

Tim Yeo is concerned about the treatment of two constituents by social services. Ann - not her real name - was in an abusive marriage. The council advised her to move into temporary accommodation the next time her husband became aggressive. She did.

At this point Ann was a textbook victim. Her little boy had had an operation. She cared for him and took him to medical appointments. When she started living with another man, Bob, and got pregnant by him, her ex-husband sued for custody. He claimed that Ann suffered from a condition that used to be called Munchausen's syndrome by proxy and is now known as fabricated or induced illness (FII). This would have led her to pretend the child was ill.

Despite a surgeon explaining that he had made most of the medical referrals, social workers seem to have become convinced that Ann was a liar. When a teacher reported that the boy was scared of his dad, the idea was said to have been put into his head by Ann, because he used “adult words”. The father won custody. Ann's little boy now sees her for only three hours a week.

It is one thing for the system to decide that a boy is better off with his father than his mother. It is quite another to take a child from its parents into care. When Ann became pregnant, the council was concerned. She and Bob found its suspicion hard to bear. She tried to express this to a social worker by saying that Bob felt like killing them all if their baby was also taken away. It was a disastrous mistake. Police arrived. Bob was marched out of the house. A few days later, their baby was removed.

Mr Yeo has written to the council to ask what justification there was for removing a ten-week old baby from a couple who have never been charged with an offence. The council's previous replies to his requests for information are not encouraging. Ann and Bob want their MP to know all the facts of their case, however damaging it might prove to them. Mr Yeo would treat this in confidence. But the council says that it is bound by confidentiality. It cannot disclose information about families with which it works. So Mr Yeo is in the dark. He cannot advise his constituents without seeing the files.

What constitutes “confidentiality” for a ten-week old baby? Should her right to privacy trump her right to family life? If a council puts people under such pressure that one of them makes a silly remark and it then punishes them for that remark, is that not persecution? Not only is Ann a victim of domestic violence, but the State has made her a victim a second time. If she really is ill with FII, she needs help. Yet all she has received is punishment.

This story looks like an example of a Catch-22 that I have begun to notice. You could call it “once a victim, always a victim”. It is well known that if you have been in care yourself, the authorities are more likely to consider you a risk to your child, keep you under scrutiny and to put your child in care. But it appears that something similar holds true if you have suffered domestic violence. It is not illogical to keep tabs on women who have fallen for cruel, manipulative men who can harm them and their children. What is surprising is that allegations made by such men are given so much weight

In the past three months I have spoken to a surprising number of women who have escaped domestic violence only to find themselves accused. First, they are blamed for having exposed the children to violence. Then, when they get up the courage to leave, they are suspected of being too weak to cope alone. One woman told me that she was labelled as a “weak parent” because she rang the police whenever her ex, against whom she had a restraining order, prowled round her home at night. Many claim that their ex-partners started to accuse them of being mentally ill as soon as they departed or after they turned down a derisory divorce settlement. Thus the psychological abuse continues.

The coup de grâce seems to come when women who make the break, and manage it well, then find themselves accused of obstructing access to the children. The system is understandably keen to keep children in touch with fathers. But this can create a double bind.

I recently spoke to a manager of a refuge for battered women. She is furious that a family judge has revealed the address of this refuge, which is supposed to be secret, by insisting that the father be told where his children reside. The father is now sending threatening mail there, and arrives there for visits with the children. So a woman who had been urged to make a clean break is still being browbeaten. The refuge staff fear that this man may eventually get custody of the children, by arguing that their mother is depressed. The authorities will have made her so.

I do not know how widespread this phenomenon is. But too often, power seems to tip the wrong way. The abusive partner gets custody. The innocent new father loses his child. The MP - one of the only people that Bob is legally allowed to talk to - is kept in the dark. Mr Yeo believes that “a family is being split up because of decisions taken by unaccountable officials who are hiding behind the law”. Can a system that relies on circular logic really speak for the children?"

— Camilla Cavendish has been shortlisted for the 2008 Paul Foot Award for Campaigning Journalism for her family justice campaign


Why are some women abused by their partners and then abused by the very services who should be helping? 

Why are these vulnerable women not supported?

Why do Social Services turn from helpers to abusers?

How do the abusers manage to swing the system to support them?


Might it be that abused women are weakened by the abuse?

Do the women appear to be over-protective of their children?

Does the abuser come over as pleasant, rational and level-headed and the abused woman as fearful and frightened and over-protective?

Are Social Services blind to the effect that abuse has on women?

Do Social Services actually blame the women for being abused by their partners?  Their actions defy logic and then they claim confidentiality  - no doubt to protect a child - to prevent any appeal.


The injustices meted out to abused mothers is completely unacceptable.  We cannot stand by and let this continue.


Please support Camilla's campaign. 


There are links to several of Camilla's articles in my first post on family courts and injustice.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Not Laughing Now!

Not laughing now!

Furrowed brow

Head in pieces

Pain increases

Strength slipping

Needs outstripping

Skills of coping

Only hoping

Hurt adjourns

Peace returns

Some hope

What Goes Up ......... Picture Post!!!

There has been so much interest in my original "What Goes Up ........." post that I think it is appropriate - possibly, well probably not - to take this blog into new, uncharted and contentious territory.

The post title is the giveaway. I now have a photo which is associated with the original post!

I'm so worried about the photo that I'm going to give a link only.

If you are of a nervous disposition or easily upset please do not view this photo.

To see the photo click on this link at your risk only.

You have been warned! :-)

Monday, 27 October 2008

What Goes Up .........

Yesterday's Observer 'paper included a magazine with the title "Sex Uncovered". I know you'll not be interested in the content but there is one article to which I must refer.

A nurse - female - describes some of the scenes which appear in A&E. I guffawed at a few examples. You, however, being very prim and proper will probably utter a "tut tut".

"A vicar came in once with a potato stuck up his bum. He was mid-fifties, with grey hair and well spoken. He walked in and said: 'I've had an accident.' He explained to me, quite sincerely, that he had been hanging some curtains, naked, in the kitchen, when he fell backwards on to the kitchen table and on to a potato. It's not for me to question his story but it was a big potato. More baked potato size than Jersey. He had to undergo surgery to have it removed."

Lesson: Don't hang curtains when naked. If you must hang curtains when naked tie string to any potatoes lying about.

"A young lad came in, in his early twenties. He had a long jacket on, opened it, and there it was. He had got a carnation stuck in his willy. He said he's been doing it for pleasure. I've never seen that before and doubt I'll see it again. All the nurses came round for a look."

Lesson: Never do this with a rose! Please display flowers in a vase with water.

"A woman came in with a vibrator stuck up her. She had a large anatomy. She was a big woman, in every sense. The thing was, the vibrator was still on."

Lesson: Wait until the battery runs out before going to hospital. Why buy size 16 clothes when you are a size 8?

One case which didn't reach A&E was:

"One couple got suctioned together in the bath and had to call the paramedics to prise them apart."

Lesson: If you must have sex in the bath make sure you have a friend in the bathroom with you.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Thoughts on Suicide

Let me make clear right at the start of this piece that I am not, have not been, thinking about suicide nor has the post been sparked off by any family or friends thinking about suicide. The assisted suicide of the paralysed rugby player, Daniel James,  has made me think about the role of family or friends when a loved one is contemplating suicide. 

I am not concerned in this post about the legal position but only the moral position.  This is a subject on which a treatise could be written and probably has been but not by me.  In this short post I can only touch on the most simplistic arguments.

I can imagine that many will believe that one must actively work to prevent suicide of a loved one so as to prolong life but I don't buy into this any more.

If the state always worked to prolong life and prevent premature death then I might have more sympathy but the state doesn't always do so.  NICE guidelines prevent some patients from receiving treatment which would prolong life whilst allowing treatment for others.  Therefore, the state prolongs the life of some and hastens the death of others who want to live longer.  Those whose deaths are hastened by the state haven't made the decision to die sooner.  That decision has been made for them.  Why therefore, should a loved one not help to hasten the death of one who has chosen to die sooner?  

But just because the state hastens the death of some doesn't make the decision moral and nor does it for individuals. 


Therefore, how does one judge the moral issues?


I contend that IF it is moral for a person to commit suicide then it must be moral for another to assist that suicide but this does not mean that there is a moral duty on another to assist.  However, I believe that there is a moral duty on another not to prevent a suicide.  [More of this point later]


Let's consider the morality of a person who commits suicide.  Many will say that it is immoral to do so; some on religious grounds.  Who determines the morality of an action?  We can all have a view but only the person alone has the moral authority to decide to commit suicide.  If the moral authority does not reside with that person then who does decide.

The state?  How would the state decide?  Does the state own us?  No!

A religion or religious leaders?  How can a religion / religious leaders decide for those who are not believers?  They can't but what of believers?  I would contend that, even for believers, religion or religious leaders do not have the moral authority but if believers wish to give up their own authority to their religion then that is a matter for them.

If not the state and not religion what options remain. Where might the basic moral authority lie?  I can not see beyond the individual. 

I believe the individual has the moral authority to commit suicide and further that authority is not diminished even if the individual has a partner and children.The individual will, in all likelihood, take family into account in a decision but having family should not, cannot make suicide an immoral act.

Now having come to the conclusion than an individual has the moral authority to commit suicide then by extension it is moral for another to assist that suicide.


What happens if the other person finds suicide an immoral act.  What should this person do if a loved one  - or, in fact, anyone - wishes to commit suicide? 

Must this other person assist?  No?  One cannot be forced to participate in an act which one finds immoral.

Should the other person who considers suicide an immoral act do everything to prevent the suicide?  I imagine that this would be a very contentious area.  In this example there is a clash of moral authorities: the person who wants to commit suicide who, I contend, has the moral authority to carry out the suicide and the other who just as strongly believes the act is immoral and should be prevented.

Basically, there are three acts which the other person can take:

1   work to prevent the suicide and to prolong life

2   do nothing to prevent or assist the suicide

3   work to assist the suicide

To the potential suicide victim (victim is an interesting word given that suicide is an event of choice and not of chance) option 1 is unacceptable but to the other person 1 is the only acceptable choice. 

What to do? 

Whose moral choice takes precedence?


There are those who would say that in this situation the preservation of life must take precedence but those are likely to be the same people who believe suicide is an immoral act.  This is a circular argument: those saying suicide is an immoral act say life should be preserved because suicide is an immoral act. 

Something more is needed.

I can break this moral dilemma by saying simply that the person most affected by the act has moral precedence and that is the person who wishes to commit suicide. 

Ultimately the individual must have the moral authority to act on himself and another person should not intervene to prevent that act, that suicide.


In real life, however, I expect the situation to be quite different. 

If one comes across an attempted suicide one is unlikely to stop and think about the moral dilemmas involved.  Rather one is likely to "dive" in and attempt to save the "victim".  Last year I did.  I never stopped to think. I acted to preserve life.  Was it a moral act?  This post would say that it was not.


Another dilemma - morality versus the ingrained reaction to an emergency.


Another day perhaps I'll look at this too.

"Morality of Suicide" Post - Coming Soon

After my short break to sort out a non-family issue I'm almost ready to return with a short post about the morality of suicide and of assisting a person to commit suicide.  The post is 3/4 written and should appear later today or tomorrow.

The post was prompted by the assisted suicide of Daniel James, a 23 year old who was paralysed from the neck down after a rugby injury.

I was tempted to call the post "Thinking about Suicide" but, probably, that would have caused panic.  Mmmm, might still use that title to draw readers in!


I know it's difficult for you to hang on until my next proper post appears but that's the price of your being strongly attached to a very busy and brilliant blogger. 

Nothing like self-delusion, is there?

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Few Days Not Posting

I'll probably not post for a couple of days.  Non-family issue cropped up.

But will only be a short delay.


Also let me clear up any confusion about my last post, "Nothing Really Matters ...".   This was an absolutely straightforward post with no hidden messages about how I was feeling. 

I'm fine.  I'm busy although not as busy as I should.  No cause for concern - definitely.


Sorry if I was unclear.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Nothing Really Matters ....

"Nothing really matters, Anyone can see,
Nothing really matters,
Nothing really matters to me.

Any way the wind blows"


For some reason, a few minutes ago, these lyrics popped into my head.  A very rare occurrence this: swear words often float in but not lyrics.

But why these particular words?

What do they mean?

Need they mean anything?

Why now?


I don't know.  I really don't.

I do believe they have some direct relevance; that they didn't just appear randomly ...... but what?


The words don't reflect my reality: so much matters.

Perhaps I feel that too much matters to me and the words are a message to focus on less.

Perhaps I should forget all about the words and get on with what does matter.

But I am intrigued ....... which is always bad news because it means I will continue to think.

But I can't ever know and this is truly trivial.

Let it go, Calum.

OK .... but ....

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

New Medical Procedure Causes Havoc on Blog

It is with sadness that I must record a new, or so I assume, medical procedure which many of my readers have undergone, probably without their knowledge and consent.

What is this procedure? 

Partial or total humorectomy

What's my evidence?

Well, when I posted about apparently funny happenings in my life, readers found them funny to the point of my being asked for more.  However, when I post a fictional funny story the response at best is cool (e.g. Monday's post - Top Bank Role?).

I have used my massive brain power and I confirm that there are only two possible explanations: either the post is NOT funny or readers have had a humorectomy. 

We can rule out the first possibility because I find the post funny.  Therefore, readers must have undergone a humorectomy.  Sad but true. 

I assume that for most of you the procedure is only partial but even for that you have my sympathy but you do need to be aware of the effect this has had on me and my blog.  For a few microseconds I considered the possibility that I might be wrong and the post was not funny. 

Can you imagine how troubling that is.   The post might not be funny!  Stop the blog, I want to get off! Fortunately, I realised that I couldn't be wrong.  The post IS funny - I laughed after all.


You, my dear readers are not complete! 

You have been operated on!

Evil has visited you and left you with only a partial sense of humor. 

I feel really sad for you.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Summer's Passed and Present

With summer gone now and with no post in sight I'm left with a retrospective photo post: pics from this and previous summers.

                                          Garden 5-1                                        blue poppy










RIMG0058 P1000306-1


Caledonia returning to Oban from Mull   From Dunollie castle Sept 1986


Lismore ferry in Oban bay  Sept 1986



View from Dunollie Castle 2    Sept 1986


RIMG0026 RIMG0041

I don't think any commentary is needed other than for the last two photos.

Bonfire: heating needed at a barbecue!

Horned beast: Calum!!

If you hadn't guessed already I love boats.

[My "smart" title makes the grammar impossible to square]

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Human Experimentation on Indians


Today I bring you an appalling, an obscene story.  No! The story is not obscene.  The behaviour it describes is obscene!

".... a few years ago, Professor Nigel Heaton and his team at Kings College Hospital went to India and performed a procedure that was not even approved for the NHS at the time. His consenting procedure was flawed. No one had been informed of the grave risks to the donor. The BBC filmed the entire process but failed to feature the film when the procedure went wrong. Both patients - the one who needed the liver transplant and his healthy wife tragically died. Mr Heaton never responded to the family's concerns."

To read more about this story please visit here.  Rita Pal displays her normal thoroughness and she is to be congratulated for bringing the story to us.


Now we need to pick up and run with this.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Posts Deleted


Some of you may be confused.  I have deleted my two posts from earlier today:

Teaser: Find the Link - Update and Insight

Monochrome Monday - Lines: Unofficial

I thought I'd make things easy for myself with two simple posts.  On reflection this was a mistake; the posts were simple but they were also crap hence their deletion.


Perhaps, surprisingly, I have standards to uphold.  Ideally I catch the posts before publication but if not then .......


I apologise to those who had commented on either or both posts.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Childhood Reminiscences No 4 - Transport and Travel

In January I started a mini-series of reminiscences of my childhood in the 1950s and 1960s in urban Scotland which were times of immense change. Unfortunately the series has become very intermittent, this being only the fourth post. Links to the first 3 posts in the series are listed at the end of the post.

Certainly changes in transport and travel have been extraordinary!

Cars were relatively uncommon in our street. Rarely would our playing be interrupted by a car driving along the street far less a parked car causing an obstruction.

Certainly of those who lived around us we were quite early adopters buying our first car in November 1959 - a Morris Minor 1000 like this one although ours was grey.

Morris Minor 1000 1958

How basic cars were: no radio, no seatbelts, no safety equipment, purely functional only. The Minor 1000 didn't have indicators but had trafficators: one small orange arm (about 6inches long) on each side, between the front and back door windows, which flicked out horizontally. We thought they were much better than the new-fangled flashing indicators. Even in 1959 there were very few cars in our street.

Our second car - 1964 - was a dark green Morris 1100 (similar to the one below): the first model with hydrolastic suspension.


Even in these few years there had been quite an advance in design.

From the early 1960s cars lost their novelty value as more and more people could afford them and, as they became more common, they started to affect our street playing. On Friday last I drove along our old street and even at midday there was barely any pavement space available. Back then the whole street, pavement and road, was safely available to us.

This was the start of the car becoming the dominant mode of transport. However as the car became more and more important, famous makes and models started to disappear. Below is a small list, by no means comprehensive,

Baby Austin A30
Ford Prefect
Jowett Javelin
Ford Anglia
Sunbeam rapier
Singer gazelle
Hillman Minx

of names which were common but which were overtaken by time.

Before the car took over though, was the train - steam trains. When we went on holiday we went by train; we went on a Sunday school picnic by train, we went 4 miles to a football match on a football special.

Dr Beeching transformed the railways, unfortunately. Soon we had lost one of our two stations and the line going west. Dirty and grimy the steam trains were and they were on the way out but fortunately I caught the tail-end of steam. I also got the train-watching bug until steam was replaced by those incredibly boring DMUs - diesel multiple units. Trainspotting stopped dead.

Steam trains were alive in a way which no other form of transport is. The steam, smoke, whistle, hissing, spinning wheels and much more. These were the most powerful but wonderful creatures.

Prime time for spotting was 8.15ish and 13.15ish. In the morning the engine which had pulled the train from London to Edinburgh then went onto Perth with the return to Edinburgh passing us at lunchtime. This was our opportunity to see one of the stars - the A4, A3, A2 Pacifics - which didn't normally venture as far north.

The A4s - we called them "streaks" - were our favourites: so sleek, absolutely beautiful even if we only saw them dirty in their black paint-job.


This is the Union of South Africa (60009) after renovation. Gorgeous, absolutely fabulous!

As these wonderful engines were removed and replaced by purely functional diesel trains an era, a golden era ended. I must admit that my judgment that this was a golden era may not be accepted by many who travelled under steam but as a kid these were the most amazing machines and, for me, nothing will ever replace them.

Another bonus of train travel was going over the Forth Bridge. I always got a huge buzz trundling noisily over the Forth safely guarded by this magnificent bridge.

Forth Rail Bridge

Again as the car took over we travelled less and less often by train. Until the Forth Road Bridge opened in 1964 the normal way of crossing the Forth by car was by ferry. Four ferries criss-crossed the Forth from North Queensferry to South Queensferry.


How small the traffic levels must have been for four such ferries to cope. Then on the 4th September 1964 the Forth Road Bridge opened, the ferries were no more. If you look closely you'll see a steam train on the bridge.

Moving back to the road I still have to cover buses. Lorries I'm going to miss because they weren't important enough in my life. Before buses I must touch upon horse-drawn vehicles. I am far too young (yes, too young!) to remember horse-drawn carriages. Only horse and carts were around in my early days. The one I remember most clearly was a fruit and veg cart although milk too was delivered by horse and cart. This was truly the fag-end of horses being used in transport.

Most of our town buses were double-deckers and their most obvious feature was the open platform at the back. I believe these open platforms remained on London buses long after they had disappeared from our streets. We thought nothing of running after a moving bus and launching ourselves at the platform with one hand outstretched to grab the pole nor of jumping off the platform as the bus slowed down. Today's lawyers would see spinning £ signs at the sight of what went on.

I do wonder who designed some buses, though: the upper deck of one bus had rows of bench seats, each bench seating 4 people. The designer obviously never travelled by bus: getting in and out of these seats was horrendous!

The opening of the Forth Road Bridge gave bus travel a massive boost because now direct buses to Edinburgh were easy and quick and train passenger numbers fell some more.

I feel there is so much more I could have written but haven't found in my memory banks. Any additional thoughts I'll put down in a round-up post at the end of the series. At the current rate of writing that should appear around 2011!


Previous posts in this series

No1 - Household Appliances

No2 - Shops and Shopping
No3 - More Shops and Shopping

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Almost Back


Just a few miles to walk before my return tomorrow - not that I've ever been very far away.  How could I have been when I'm here posting now!  Soon will be the time to take my boots off, patch up my blisters and get myself psyched up for another full re-entry into the world of blogging.


While away I had a look at old photos and I came across this one.




Don't you just love the coat?

Think the photo was taken by a street photographer in Oban in the early 1950s.


Who could have known that this little boy would morph into Calum? 

What an unkind outcome!!!!!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

A Few More Days Walking ......


and then home.


I've been "walking" a week now with only a couple of stops to post and I know that, if I don't return soon, I'll be having a long break.  I may need a long break but I don't want that: I want to be back blogging.  Therefore, on Sunday, I hope to return to full blogging..


Nothing has changed so far during my short break and so I can only hope that I'll keep going from Sunday.


Please make a point of visiting on Sunday - best make it early evening UK time - and see the new, refreshed, raring-to-go same old, tired Calum.

Now isn't that a brill invitation?


Hope to see you on Sunday.

Monday, 29 September 2008

What Am I Doing?







Whilst I am away









I am doing a lot of









with a fair amount of   









and a little

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Gone Walking

Back sooner or later.

History says soon but who knows?

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Teaser: Find the Link

A virtually impossible teaser.


What links:

•   snowboarding (in garden)

•   mattress

•   circus workshop


Any thoughts can be left here. 

The answer will be revealed in due course but, certainly not today (24 September) or tomorrow

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Tragic Story of Chris Blagbrough

Probably you haven't heard of Chris Blagbrough.  I hadn't either until this afternoon when I stumbled across his story whilst carrying out a Google search on another topic. 

I stopped and read about Chris.  I hope you too will spend a few minutes finding out about him.

Chris died in 2001, almost seven years ago, but the story of his last three years leading up to his suicide is another condemnation of mental health provision in the UK.

An outline of his life is appended below (from The Yorkshire Post)

A 'Nightmare of Care' for Patient Who Died at 10th Suicide Attempt

Peter and Jeanette Blagbrough said they believed their son, Christopher, 22, was driven to kill himself after being forced to endure a "living nightmare" while a patient at St Luke's Hospital, Huddersfield.

Mr Blagbrough was found hanging from a window at the hospital's Castle Hill Unit, where he was being treated for mental illness after he launched a knife attack on his father.

Health bosses have since apologised to Mr and Mrs Blagbrough for the hospital's failings, which were uncovered in an inquiry carried out by Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust in the wake of the tragedy.

Three nursing staff have been disciplined and sacked for not following procedures on the night Christopher Blagbrough died.

Last night his father branded the hospital "a disgrace", and said he and his wife had received no written apology from the trust. "We don't feel as though we have got any closure, and we don't feel the hospital has done anything to admit to us they were in the wrong," he said. "We have never had a written apology, but we don't want one now." Mr Blagbrough, an apprentice engineer, began suffering from stress when his father had a near-fatal brain haemorrhage, leaving him unable to work. He took on the extra responsibility of winding up his father's company and developed a severe vitamin B12 deficiency, which led to depression and psychosis.

In December 1998, he attacked his father with a carving knife, stabbing him twice in the back, causing minor injuries. Mr Blagbrough recalled: "When Chris came at me, his eyes were wild, and I had to restrain him. But it wasn't him. He was deathly white and didn't know what he was doing. I rang for an ambulance, and by the time it came the strange look had gone.

"He was very agitated about going to jail, but I told him I was going to make sure he got the help he needed." Despite his father's insistence that he did not wish to press charges, Christopher Blagbrough was charged with attempted murder and sent to Doncaster Young Offenders' Institution.

"We were told by the police that they were charging him with the most serious offence they could in order to ensure Chris got the best possible care. In the end, that led to his death." His son appeared before Bradford Crown Court in January 2000, where he admitted unlawful wounding and was detained under the Mental Health Act at St Luke's Hospital. But his father was so concerned about his son's treatment in the unit that he absconded to Spain with him. When the pair returned a month later, Mr Blagbrough was banned from seeing his son and had not done so for eight months when the latter took his life in October 2001.

"We had been complaining about his care for months, and when we got back from Spain, the hospital wrote to me and said if Chris returned to the unit, they would look at our complaints in a different light.

"I thought they would review his detention, but the first thing they did was ban me from seeing him. In the eight months before his death I never saw him."

The inquiry found staff panicked when they discovered Mr Blagbrough's death, and failed to inform his parents of the incident for more than four hours.

Three years on, the Blagbroughs have finally achieved their aim for a jury inquest to be held into their son's death, and contributed £8,500 towards legal costs. West Yorkshire coroner Roger Whittaker said: "The jury were directed they could bring in a narrative finding. The jury concluded Christopher took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed. They also expressed the view that his death could have been prevented."

Mr Blagbrough's parents are still trying to come to terms with their loss. They said they hoped the inquiry's recommendations would be implemented in full, to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again. []


Trust Says Sorry for Catalogue of Failings

A catalogueof failings in the standard of mental health care at St Luke's Hospital were exposed following an inquiry into Christopher Blagbrough's suicide.

A panel of experts appointed by Calderdale and Kirklees NHS Trust concluded that health professionals at the hospital had struggled to diagnose Mr Blagbrough's condition, that care had been inappropriate and the overall risk assessment and management of it was inadequate.

The panel said he ought to have been placed in a medium-secure unit for a comprehensive risk assessment, and the observation policy was not sufficiently implemented.

Staff failed to ensure his safety and panicked when they discovered him hanging. It was more than four hours before his parents were informed of his death, the inquiry found.

But the seriousness of the offence which led to his arrest could not be minimised, given all the circumstances, and difficulties in resolving large numbers of complaints contributed to the paralysis of the clinical care for Mr Blagbrough.

Recommendations made by the panel included better staff training; collating information about untoward incidents to identify trends; ligature scissors to be available on all psychiatric wards; and improvements to psychological and occupational therapy.
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust and South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust apologised for the failings and issued a joint statement. Judith Young, chief executive of South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust, said: "We offer our sincere sympathies to the family of the patient who tragically died, and apologise unreservedly for the failings that have been identified. "Sadly, we cannot change the tragic events, but we can learn from them, and we have made many changes. Much progress has been made in the past three years. All the actions recommended by an external inquiry have been implemented, and improvements made to the physical environment of the unit.

"We have a comprehensive training process for all staff, as well as a structured training programme to support staff as they undertake their duties."


Chris' parents write a much fuller version of his life and the terrible failings in his care.  It is very much worth taking the time to read their story.  Be prepared to get very angry.

For once I make no criticisms of his care: the stories here do that well but at some point we must start to learn the lessons from the unnecessary and wasteful deaths of people like Chris Blagbrough.


How many more must die? 

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Life Would Be OK

James at Nourishing Obscurity said,

"To post on personal matters is a high-risk activity because there is this danger of coming across as woe-is-me and no one wants to read what I've previously described as "bleat". Most bloggers keep their private affairs to themselves, if only because there are those out there who do wish a person ill."

I left the following comment:

"Well, that's my blog fucked then.

90% personal matters.
90% woe is me.
90% "bleat"

Must be time to pack my bags unless .....

Well, this is my personal blog and I write what I want when I want. If potential readers are turned off then so be it. This is for me, no-one else. Yes, it's public but that's the beauty of blogs. I can shout or cry and the world goes on as before except I feel better because I have shouted (or cried).

I know I'm taking another big risk because in James' words I'm going to bleat and so it's possible that no-one will want to read this. Just in case a few don't fall into the "don't read bleat" category please do NOT comment on this post. I'm not looking for sympathy: simply having a good old rant in public. Now, to the post.


Life would be OK:

- if only .......

- if only .......

- if only .......

- if only .......

- if only .......

- if only .......

- if only .......

- if only .......

- if only .......

- if only .......

- if only .......

- if only .......

[Remember. Do NOT leave a comment here]