Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Here Endeth


CalumCarr on .... Whatever


None should be surprised. 

In truth, this blog has been dying slowly for more than a year.  There have been mini-recoveries but the path continued downward. 

Many have said kind and complimentary words about the blog but, welcome as these words are, and they are very welcome indeed - thank you, they do not pay life's bills.

Blogging is a luxury way beyond my meagre means and I must concentrate my depleted, and depleting, resources on the children and me.  This blog is only a shadow of my intentions but even the shadow is too heavy on, and disruptive of, key aspects of my life.  That is why I must divorce myself totally from the virtual world of blogging and use productively the time and strength released for my family rather than selfishly in writing and publishing to the ether.


None should be sad. 

My decision is not born out of negativity or depression but of a determination to improve life for my family.

I leave my blog and blogging with no regrets.


Thank you and goodbye.



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.

Sunday, 28 December 2008


Where lies hope, my friend, in this tangled mess
Of life's many twists and turns knotted tight?

Can hope be, my friend, in this tortured soul
Battered by life's storms and drowning alone?

What is hope, my friend, to the losing of will?
A meaningless word, a concept so trite.

Hope, my friend, is no friend to those such as I.
A teaser, no more. No support in the void.

No hope, my friend, no hope.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

A Message of Christmas Spirit Depleted

Christmas is behind us now – well behind me – and we return to normality, if my life, our lives, can ever be described as normal.  Our normal is not normal for most but is hugely abnormal. 

Christmas happiness is a fleeting occurrence lasting only as long as presents are opened and appreciated.  Soon, all to soon, the drabness, the drudgery, the difficulties of everyday life recover their poise and rule our lives like the vicious tyrants they are.

A birthday soon to be lifts no corner of gloom, brings no brightness.  So sad but true.  Another year of my allotted span gone without trace, without lightness, without hope and without change.

With no change, despair, loneliness and poverty await in 2009 but where is there hope of a changed, or even changing, life away from the tyrants?  Far distant, receding as each hour passes, hope’s light dims until …… not even the most powerful telescope would find.


“Hope springs eternal”, they say. 


Well, I bloody need that to be true …….  soon!

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.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Bog Off David, You Are A Pain In The Ass.



Feathers  - thank you - alerted me to this blog post, from 20 months ago, about the appalling way in which a patient was treated by our National Health Service.  Today I append the entire post. 

What's so special about this story?

Nothing, unfortunately.

There is nothing special about the story but, this time, the criticism comes from a GP (Dr John Crippen of NHS Blog Doctor - scroll down to 19th April) not a mere patient who can be demeaned and ignored.  His comments shouldn't carry more weight than a patient's but they do and I thank him here for his honesty.


"Thursday 19th April

A desperately frustrating morning trying to get some help for David and Mary, his long-suffering partner. David is a Welshman. He works, when he does work, as a bricklayer and thus can earn good money. He is a keen snooker player and, in a different life when he was in Wales, had ambitions to play professionally. It did not work out.

His marriage broke down. He moved to England several years ago and now lives with Mary, who is a hotel receptionist. They have no children, but David has a ten year old son in Wales, whom he sees occasionally.

David suffers from anxiety and depression. To allay the anxiety, he drinks. To bury the depression, he drinks. The drinking makes the anxiety and depression worse, so he drinks more. You can argue about the definition of “alcoholic”. David qualifies on any definition you care to advance. He drinks gargantuan amounts. Sober he is delightful. Drunk he is foul tempered and frightening. He has never hit anyone. He never gets violent. He does not smash things. But who knows what will happen tomorrow.

The psychiatric services are playing pass the parcel with him. He has been under the care of the CMHT for over a year. They tell him not to drink. He is under the care of the alcohol team and they tell him that he drinks so much it would be dangerous to stop abruptly. They have suggested he changes from vodka to beer. They have offered him group therapy, but he cannot manage that. He is too anxious to do “groups”. He was about to have a ten week out patient supervised “de-tox” course, but when he turned up for the first session, they breathalysed him. He had not had anything that day, but the previous day’s intake was still showing. You have to turn up to “de-tox” sober so they would not let him in. He had breached his contract.

David wants and needs in-patient de-tox. There is no NHS facility that provides that in my area. Because David always smells of booze, the medical doctors are not interested. The psychiatrists are not interested either. David has never seen a psychiatrist, even though he is has been under the care of the CMHT for a year or more.

Two weeks ago, he took another overdose. We are not talking the teenage girl’s three paracetamol and an Alcopop. We are talking forty to fifty 40mg Citalopram tablets and seventy 50mg Campral tablets, all washed down with two litres (yes, two litres) of vodka.

He was taken to hospital by Mary and a mutual friend. He was not seen by a consultant psychiatrist. He was not seen by any of the psychiatrists. He had a “risk assessment” done by a nurse.

Take a look at it. Apologies for the quality of the scanning

[CC  Scanned images omitted here.] 

[A partial extract only is transcribed : Colours: original letter;  Dr Crippen's comments]

What can one say?

Mood : low. (really?)

Regrets his actions and believes he would not repeat od/self-harm. (Really? Why should he stop now? How many tablets does he have to take for someone to respond to his cry for help?)


Discharge ( ? plan)
Refer to CMHT for early appointment. (He is already under the CMHT)


I have printed the letter in case you did not believe it.

The NHS is free at the point of entry. I heard that somewhere. Can’t remember where. Maybe I read it on the back of a match-box. David cannot find the door.

David needs psychiatric help and in-patient treatment and de-toxification. He needs help with his anxiety and depression. He is not going to get it unless he goes privately. He is not even going to see a psychiatrist unless he goes privately.

Make no mistake, David is a difficult patient. I spoke to someone about him today. They said, “Oh God, he is impossible; he will not co-operate; he won’t stop drinking”.

So, bog off David, you are a pain in the ass.





I've heard similar stories where patients have been unable to access treatment but here we have a GP, not a patient, tearing his hair out at the system.  I bet the  medical establishment don't listen to him either because he is telling them what they don not want to hear.


Madness!  The system is mad! 

The system must be changed!


But only we can change it!

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!

100 Opportunities to Not Tell the Truth

or "The 100 Question Meme" courtesy of Damon Lord   via Cherry Pie.

Some answers are true but can you find those which aren't?



Ever been given an engagement ring?
No but have given twice.


Longest relationship?

7 years.


Last gift you received?



Ever dropped a mobile phone?

No, surprisingly


When's the last time you worked out?

14 months ago


Thing(s) you spend a lot of money on?



Last food you ate?



First thing you notice about the opposite sex?

Breasts if I’m passing by in street, personality if meeting


One favourite song?

Whiter Shade of Pale


Where do you live? Athens (otN)


High school you attended? DHS


Mobile provider? Orange


Favourite shop? None.  I hate shops


Longest job you had? 13 years.  One company man.


Do you own a pair of dice? No


Do you prank call people? No, never!


Last wedding you attended? My second.


First friend you'd call if you won the lottery? My family


Last time you saw your best friend(s)? Need friends first


Favourite fast food restaurant? None


Biggest lie you ever heard?

Blair and Bush  Take your pick from thousands.  They breathe therefore they lie


Blondes or brunettes? Irrelevant


What is the one number you call most? Mrs Carr


What was your first job? Perm:  lab scientist
Temp: farm worker


What were you doing before you filled out this survey? Enjoying myself


If you could get plastic surgery what would it be?

Too much needs to be changed.  Therefore, none.


Why did you fill out this survey? Thought it would be an easy post.  It was until I decided to put it in a table.


What do you get complimented about most? "Compliment" with an "i"?  I only know it with an "e".


What would you do if alcohol became illegal? Unaffected


How many kids do you want? I'd better say 2 since I have 2.


Do you wish on stars? No but I do wish.


Do you like your handwriting? No


When did you lose your virginity? I haven’t.  The kids?  Either the postman or immaculate.  Neither looks like the postman, therefore, immaculate.


If you were another person, would you be friends with you? Oh yes.  I'd love me!


Do looks matter? In a car, yes.
In people, no.


How do you release anger? I throw plasticine balls at a flipchart  easel and shout 


Where is your second home Pc chair


Do you trust others easily? Yes


Do you use sarcasm? Sometimes.  Much less than I once did.


Have you ever been in mosh pit? No


What are your nicknames? Only had one but I might be identifiable by it – sorry.


What's your favourite ice-cream flavour? Vanilla but I love most flavours


How may wisdom teeth do you have? Two


Can you cook? Yes


What car do you drive? Prius


Best date you've ever been on ? I’m so old my memory has failed me here!!!


Last time you cried? Three weeks ago


Most disliked foods Bananas


Longest shift you have worked at a job? 5pm to 9am


Favourite movie(s) Cinema Paradiso


Can you sing? Yes ... but badly


Last fight Never


One thing you never leave the house without? Keys


Favourite item Don't have one


Laptop or desktop? Desktop


Do you smoke? No! Never!


Sleep with or without clothes? With but whose?


Who sleeps with you every night? Loneliness


Do long-distance relationships work? For a trucker, yes.


How many times have you been pulled over by the police? Once


Do you like coffee? Do I like coffee?  Is the Pope a catholic?


How do you like your eggs? Fried, scrambled, hard-boiled


Do you believe in astrology? No but I do believe the stars control our lives!


Last person on your missed call list? Daughter


What was the last text message you received? "Walking home, I think"


Number of pillows? One


What are you wearing right now? Shirt, trousers, microfleece


Can you play pool? Yes?!


Do like maps? Yes, love them.


What is your favourite season? Winter


What time did you wake up this morning? 6.15am


Best thing about winter? Crisp mornings


When was the last time a copper gave you a ticket?


Do you think pirates are cool or over-rated? In the Caribbean: Definitely. Grossly over-rated


What are you doing this weekend? Surviving


What do you want to be? Me


What's your biggest regret? Failed relationships


Have you ever been in love? Oh, yes!


Are you smiling? Yes


Do you prefer to smile with a toothy grin or a closed mouth? Neither.  I’m weird!


Do you miss someone right now? No


If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be? Anywhere


Do you have a high sex-drive? Obviously not?


Do you have a crush? Only when I try to squeeze through small gaps


Night or day? Both


Play an instrument? Not a musical one!


Did you go on vacation last month? No


Do you have sisters/brothers? Yes


Have you ever been to jail? No and don't intend to


Do you wish you could see anyone in particular right now? Yes


Favourite sport? Football


Your hair colour? Grey


Your eye colour? I can’t remember.  Could never remember.


Do you wear glasses? Yes


Do you like sushi? No


The last thing you watched? Football


Favourite day of the year? Any day with a B or C or G or J or K or L or P or Q or V or X or Z


Are you too shy to ask someone out? No but Calum and relationships are a toxic mix


Strangest place had sex? In my head!


What are you going to do after you finish this survey? Lie down in a dark place