Wednesday, 30 April 2008

"Think" - I Think Not

This post is not about my thought processes. It's not even about me. The cryptic title refers to my views of the book, "Think," by Michael LeGault. [More reviews are available here.]

I bought this book on Sunday in Waterstones having flicked through a few pages. The subject matter: Critical Thinking appealed to me. Part of the cover blurb stated: "Legault mourns the lost art of sharp, incisive thinking in all areas of American life - and challenges us to reverse the downward spiral of poor decision making that costs time, money, jobs, and lives in the twenty-first century." This was all very promising but unfortunately LeGault fails his own challenge. He makes assertions with no supporting evidence and no analysis: not the best approach in a book about critical thinking.

Quoting another author, LeGault says this of critical thinking, "[It] .... is the examination and test of propositions of any kind which are offered for acceptance, in order to find out whether they correspond to reality or not .... It is our only guarantee against delusion, deception, superstition, misapprehension of ourselves and our earthly circumstances."

But then LeGault makes the following statement, "Since 9/11 and the start of the war in Iraq, a fresh wave of anti-American hysteria has swept the world. Even in Canada, a country dependent on trade with the United States for 50 percent of its gross domestic product, over two-thirds of the people say the United States is a negative influence in the world. Two-thirds! This is the same nation that has a love affair with Cuba, a country that has not held a democratic election in fifty years. The opinion of Canadians is not based on critical thoinking or research, but on myth and balderdash dished out by the country's legions of left-leaning scholars and pundits, as well as, ironically, by Hollywood and the U.S. media."

No evidence, no examination: simply a tirade. This is inexcusable even if his view were correct.His whole case blasted apart. Not a scrap of critical thinking here. As a proponent of critical thinking Legault has failed: his book demonstrating the hypocrisy we have come to expect in much of public life.

Do not buy this book.

Use more critical thinking than I did last Sunday. I should have read more and checked reviews rather than buying on impulse.

How disappointing to realise that I am not quite perfect .... yet!

Monday, 28 April 2008

Belated Birthday: Worthy of Celebration?

I noticed today that I have missed a birthday. This blog has been running (on and off) for exactly two months over 1 year.

Should I celebrate - belatedly? Should anyone celebrate?


There is nothing to celebrate but there are insights and lessons for me.

Had I realised what the last 14 months would bring forward I would never have started blogging. Blogging would have been an irrelevance but, having started, blogging has assumed an important role in my life. This might surprise many given the number of times I have considered killing the blog but let me explain.

Blogging has become my main form of communication with the world and an outlet for my frustrations, anger and fears but I've always had an uneasy relationship with blogging: wanting to write; wanting to kill the blog; frustration at my inability to make the blog more popular. I've never been able to get my head around the importance I attach to visitor numbers and comments but, today, all is clear.

I am incredibly lonely, not just because of our troubles, and have been for a very long time. Other than a brother and an aunt no-one ever phones, emails or visits. I'm in contact with no-one from school, no-one from uni, no-one from work. "Loneliness" is my middle name. I am long accustomed to living with loneliness; I accept it and I do nothing about it. It is in this context that I have found, and continue to find, my relative lack of blog visitors hard.

Here is the one area in which I am making myself visible, albeit
under a pseudonym, and yet I remain relatively blog lonely with some very honourable exceptions. I'm not making this point so that some will comment that they're sure I will have many more visitors than my stats show nor am I hoping that, out of sympathy, more may become regular visitors. I mention this only because I can now understand why, occasionally, I have a feeling of desperation about my stats: my overall loneliness. This is comforting to a degree because I guess we all have a need to feel a part of "something" whereas I generally feel apart from most things.

My route forward is clear. I'm doing the right thing by blogging: I'm going to meet other electronic pseudonyms. It's the rest of my life that's all wrong. That's where I need to become visible. Real contacts, real people, real friends, that's what I need.

What is also clear is why I have never been able to kill this blog. Kill the blog and I lose my ethereal contacts. Kill the blog and I kill part of me. With a much fuller and much more fulfilling real life blogging could become an enjoyment rather than a need.

I hadn't intended to write along these lines but rather, I was going to decribe how my blog had changed over the last 14 months but, as often happens to / with me, I became diverted into an more interesting area.

Will I see my second birthday? I wouldn't bet against it but, hopefully, I'll have changed significantly.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

What a Difference !!

When I started this blog I wrote nothing which was personal but now that seems to be all that I can do and there's more today.

Sitting in front of pc, head in hands, head splitting, children screaming, high-pitched squealing, Calum impotent - well, that's another story! - powerless to effect change. Welcome to the hell-hole called "Home".

Not always as bad as this but ........

My mind slips back a couple of weeks. On two consecutive weekends I took children away for an overnight stay to Argyll. Was helping relations with too small a car go on week's holiday. We took some of their "stuff" to, and back from, the holiday cottage in an area I know well from my childhood holidays.

What a difference!!

Kids out enjoying themselves, adult (different) conversation, relaxation, magnificent scenery, hills, sea, sun, a world away from today, enjoyment, smiling, stress only a word in a dictionary and not a compressing and depressing reality.

But then ...... back to this and stress leaps of the page and grabs me in a vice-like embrace.

Shouldn't complain too much: it's a long time since I had an embrace as long as this one!!! Guess I can't be too bad if I can laugh at myself like this.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Have We Reached The End With The NHS?

I hope this isn't so because I'm sure Mrs Carr can be helped if only she can gain access to the appropriate practitioners but such has been her treatment (or "mal-" or "lack of") at the hands of various clinicians that she has decided she wants nothing more to do with the NHS.

I understand how and why she has come to this decision and, although I would wish her to continue, I shall not try to change her mind. She is only now beginning to trust her judgment and I shall do nothing to undermine her. Also because I'm not suffering directly - she is - our perspectives are inevitably different.

How have we reached this position now?

Mrs Carr's treatment - such as it was - at the eating disorder centre finished about a month ago and her therapist said that nothing she (Mrs Carr) said would extend her sessions there. This seems to be a clear statement that there was to be no more treatment there although Mrs Carr was still gripped by anorexia and bulimia. The therapist said also that a referral which was made to another discipline within the hospital had nothing to do with anything which Mrs Carr had said or done during her sessions
but was due entirely to a letter I had written asking for a referral for assessment to a specialist centre in London. I should say here that I had already spoken to a consultant at this London centre who said that Mrs Carr seemed like the type of patient they would expect to see and who offered to speak to Mrs Carr's GP and psychologist.

Mrs Carr was given an appointment for late last week - in Lothian and not London - and she came away feeling as though she had been abused - psychologically. She came away having been abused.

At this latest appointment, the consultant - another one - asked, as his first question, "What's this about then?". There's nothing like being specific! "THIS"!!

The session continued in this vein with Mrs Carr's answers being picked apart. The following may give a flavour:

"This is difficult"

"Perhaps you're making it difficult"

No, I'm doing my best to answer"

"Perhaps part of you is trying to make it difficult"

Imagine being healthy and facing this. How can one respond other than saying, "I can see that theoretically there might be a part of me which is wanting to make it difficult but I don't think this is the case and I'm not aware of this."?

There was even a debate about what the "start" was.

Nothing was straightforward.
It felt as though the consultant was speaking in riddles.
There was no help.
There was no understanding.
There was no empathy.
There was no compasssion.
There was no humanity.
There was only abuse of a vulnerable person who was struggling to tell her story to another who had apparently not read her notes because "they can get in the way" but from his comments he had clearly read them.

To escape this traumatic situation Mrs Carr dissociated. This is not some strange science fiction occurrence but is a well-known psychological defence to take the sufferer to a safe place. Dissociation is found often in those who were abused as children.

When I went in to speak to the consultant I saw immediately that Mrs Carr was in a dissociated state but the consultant said that, unfortunately, Mrs Carr had fallen asleep. Asleep! A professional can easily tell the difference between sleep and dissociation and so this consultant is either an incompetent or he chose not to acknowledge Mrs Carr's dissociation.

My brief discussion with the consultant was unsatisfactory: there was confusion about this consultant's role. He believed he was reporting back to the eating disorder centre from which Mrs Carr believed she had been dishonourably discharged.

I'm sorry if this is over-long and unclear but I'm doing my best to tell the story. I would have found it impossible to write this if I felt under pressure from a person who questioned my every word.

Only one practitioner - very early on and now way out of the loop - has treated Mrs Carr with understanding and compassion. I have seen this lack in others. Mrs Carr can take no more. Previously she would have left her appointment feeling suicidal because she would have felt that she was responsible for the difficulties whereas at this latest appointment she has seen that the problems lie with practitioners not worthy of the name. I know that Mrs Carr finds it difficult to tell the story of anything and so in an appointment , ill as she is, she needs help and encouragement and if practitioners can't see this or are unwilling to offer this then they are culpable. She can take no more.

Perhaps the NHS has beaten her down. Rather I hope that, despite her illness, she has found her inner strength.

I pray she has found inner stength and that, with this, she can start to recover.

My direct role with Mrs Carr's care will cease in a few weeks when she moves into her own flat but always my heart will beat a loving and hopeful message as she strides out into her new life.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

An L of a Life

Yesterday in a comment to my Limerick post jmb suggested a six word memoir meme to describe my life. I've gone a stage further and used 6 words each beginning with "L". How you group, if you group, the words is entirely up to you.







It's sad to see that my blog is reduced to simplistic posts like this - so far from where I want to be - but I guess this, at least, keeps my blog going and keeps my visibility just above zero. Sometime ...........


Swearing Mother has initiated a limerick meme - Your Life in a Limerick.

My true, but pathetic, attempt is:

A family so incredibly tired
Of the life in which they are mired
Say, "Go to the press"
"Slag off the NHS"
"Just give us the treatment desired"

UPDATE: A few hours sleep brought a much more appropriate final word. This now leaves the limerick as:

A family so incredibly tired
Of the life in which they are mired
Say, "Go to the press"
"Slag off the NHS"
"Just give us the treatment required"

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Links Market Revisited

This afternoon I visited the Links Market: 50 years after my first visit and 40 years after my last. Unsurprisingly much was unchanged but much was very different.

But I am getting ahead of myself: most of you won't know what or where is this market. Their own website describes it thus: "The Links Market is reputedly the longest street fair in Europe, running almost one mile in length along the Esplanade, Kirkcaldy, Fife. It runs for one week, around Easter, and marks the start of Scotland's season of travelling fairs.

A few years ago the Links Market celebrated its 700th anniversary. The University of Sheffield says this: "Kirkcaldy remains the premier funfair in Scotland, evolving from a charter granted by Edward I in 1304. The original charter allowed the staging of a trading fair in Easter week for the duration of 3 days.

The modern fair now extends to 6 days, and is key event for both the showmen and the locals to Fife. The amusements associated with the fair extend the full length of the Esplanade and into the famous 'basin' - the rides and shows creating an avenue either side of the Esplanade, rather than facing out to the open sea. The Esplanade was built into its current form around 1923, existing before as a single track with little to offer in terms of enjoyment. Developments in 1956 saw the demolition of many of the old buildings facing the sea, and the construction of the new flats.

The story of the fairground at Kirkcaldy is the story of the Scottish fairground, with the prominent families of the time occupying key positions in the fair. New rides were given priority at the fair, and this continues to the modern era with showmen such as M. and D. Taylor often premiering their big thrill rides at the Links Market.

Early years around the turn of the Century saw the ornate rides of showmen such as the Wilmot and Evans families - steam driven Gallopers and Switchback rides. The years after the First World War saw the advent of exciting electric-driven rides with the huge Scenic Railways being prominent. Scottish manufacturing company Maxwells (based at Musselburgh) defined the atmosphere of the fairground from the 1950s onwards. Maxwells pioneered the famous Waltzer rides and had an eye for incredible flash and lighting. Scottish showmen soon became renowned for their Waltzer and Speedway rides and provided the 'party in motion' for the fair-going masses - a tradition maintained to the current day. The later decades of the 20th Century saw a predominance of rides from the Codona and White families, who flanked the Esplanade with immaculately turned out and lettered transport.

Recent years has seen increasingly thrilling rides being presented by showmen such as the Horne family and the partnership of Matt and Douglas Taylor. The advent of portable Roller Coasters, huge tower rides and giant travelling wheels has meant that the shoreline of Kirkcaldy is transformed into a powerful beacon of bright light and intense activity for a long week of every year.

Some "rides" were unchanged from 40 years ago - dodgems, waltzers, helter-skelter, centrifugal wall (Wall of Death) and some of the simple slot machines - but the big thrill rides are new.

Unfortunately, I can't even manage the young kids' waltzers without feeling sick. If I were to try a big thrill ride my arse - and everything in-between - would be out my mouth within seconds! I restricted myself to one shot as a pasenger on the dodgems.

More importantly, the kids enjoyed themselves - even if their first ride had them needing a sit-down - and my bank balance survived..... just. Cost, that's another massive change but if I say any more there'll be comments about Scots being tight.

I had intended to include a few photos but none can do justice to the scale and colour of the Links Market.

I'll not wait another 40 years before returning. Next year I'll be back ....... for another shot on the dodgems!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Coming Apart at the Seams

I'm a wreck!

I'm crumbling!

My infected elbow has improved and continues to improve slowly. I'm well into my third week of antibiotics but progress is so slow I can see that I'll go into a fourth week of treatment.

But there's more!

A few days ago I sneezed - not an uncommon occurrence - but this time I pulled a muscle in my stomach or so the GP thinks. She's confident that I haven't broken a rib and certainly the pain feels muscular.

A minor niggle no more than that. How wrong I was!

Since then I've coughed and sneezed four times and each feels as though I've been hit by a sledgehammer. I'm frightened to cough properly because I know the pain that will follow. If this continues for another couple of days I think I'll be off to A&E. It's quite amusing writing about this but it's bloody murder to suffer.

I hope there isn't a third problem to come because with the direction these problems are going - right elbow to right side of stomach - the third could be in a very small, but hugely personal, area.

Please no third problem!

Thursday, 10 April 2008


Don't do it, Gordon!!

You WILL be good at something!!!!!

Copyright 2008

Monday, 7 April 2008

Revenge on the NHS

For background to this post see Got the Elbow.

The Office of His Royal Highness The Prince Calum of Swelling upon The Arm issued the following statement at 13.00 GMT:

"This morning HRH The Prince Calum was examined by his new Personal Physician who extended and increased his treatment. From next Monday, 14 April 2008, HRH The Prince Calum will be known as
His Royal Highness The Prince Calum of No Swelling upon The Arm.

At noon, this day, 7 April 2008, HRH The Prince Calum's previous Personal Physician was hanged until dead for failing to maintain the health of HRH The Prince Calum. This fate will also befall his new
Personal Physician should HRH The Prince Calum be unable to change his name on Monday 14 April 2008"

Revenge is so SWEET !!!!

Friday, 4 April 2008

Calling "The Scotsman"

This morning I've had 3 visits from "" which is the address for The Scotsman Publications in Edinburgh, publisher of The Scotsman daily newspaper - each visit viewing 3 pages some of which, at least, concerned Mrs Carr's troubles. As far as I can recall these are the first visits from this newspaper.

The rest of this post is addressed to my visitor(s) from The Scotsman.

Mrs Carr and I had decided a few weeks ago that I should contact The Scotsman in the hope that by your publicising Mrs Carr's case, the NHS might be shamed into giving her the assessments and treatments she desperately needs now but needed 12 months ago. I believe that there is sufficient in our troubles to be very newsworthy.

With Easter holidays, house purchase and ... whatever I've not made contact. Mrs Carr mentioned only this morning, before I knew about the visits to the blog, that I should phone The Scotsman next week. Imagine my surprise to find repeated visits from you!

Perhaps you, my visitor(s) from The Scotsman, are the person(s) to help or perhaps you know who can. You have read a few of my posts. If you can help or if you think our troubles are worthy of publication I would appreciate your emailing me at the address at the bottom of the green sidebar.

If you wish not to contact me then thanks for visiting.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

How Could I Have Been So Silly?

A short extract from NHS Lothian's reply (dated 25 March 2008) to Mrs Carr's MSP.

"I refer to your letter of 21 September 2007, on behalf of your constituent Mrs Carr, in relation to our response of 8 August 2007 and our interim update of 22 February 2008. I apologise for the delay in responding to your correspondence, which was a result of an administrative error within our Complaints Office which has since been rectified."

There was I thinking that NHS Lothian had deliberately delayed replying to our MSP's letter for 6 months and all along the problem was an administrative error.

How could I have been so silly?

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Got the Elbow!!

No! Not more about the Carr family's problems with the NHS.

I've been under the weather for a couple of days now with a badly infected and swollen elbow (septic bursitis, I think) and the infection is wending its way around the rest of my body.

I'm doping myself with nurofen, paracetamol and a high dose of antibiotic but feel very ropy.

Hopefully be back to normal in a couple more days.

Good night.