• Delaying the inevitable

      I have a problem. I’m obsessed with naps. But that’s not all. They’re almost always at the wrong time.
      I’ll fall asleep in front of the TV, at the cinema, or after dinner, post a chilling-out session on the sofa. It can be 12pm or 12am, I’m not really fussy. And I guess it was never really an issue pre-marriage, because who really cared?
      But now I have a husband and he definitely cares when he has to tuck me up on the sofa as he goes to sleep alone, knowing that approximately 40 minutes later I’m going to disturb him as I stumble in the dark for my pyjamas, walk in and out countless times as I make my necessary bedtime preparations, and then switch on my side lamp to read.
      It sounds selfish. Of course it does. But whilst I can, in hindsight, appreciate as much and swear that I’ll change, when it actually happens I become completely unreceptive to my surroundings without any sense of real judgment.
      My poor husband tries to talk me out of it. “All you need to do is get up now and then you can go to sleep properly in a real bed”, he’ll justify. “You’re just delaying the inevitable”, he argues. “You’re gonna regret this”, he warns. But alas! To no avail. It unfortunately falls on subconscious ears.
      But is any kind of delay good, ever? Traffic jams, when you’re already late. A no smoking sign on your cigarette break (ok that one doesn’t work) – but you get my drift. The reason why delays are so dangerous is because they not only ensure that the thing you are delaying will definitely happen, but that it will happen with a bang. Yes, I manage to delay the getting-ready-for-bed preparations and jump to the end, but boy are those getting-ready-for-bed preparations that much harder when I’ve already tasted that sweet slumber. You wouldn’t believe how difficult getting changed can be when you’re already half asleep and the light in your bedroom is off. And that’s before you have to shower.
       Which is why I was absolutely shocked to read news out this week which revealed that surplus sex hormones are to be given to children who suffer from Gender Identity Disorder so as to delay the onset of puberty and give them ‘space.’ And the NHS has already paid for this. Six times over.
      Critics have argued that it could cause developmental problems and impact on teenager’s cognitive abilities and bone density, but there are much bigger concerns at hand.
      Because the wider implications of this – which seem to have gone unnoticed by critics – are staggering. Children as young as 11 are being given these controversial drugs.
      Starting secondary school is scary enough without knowing you are to remain pubescent as your peers develop around you, and it’s not as if bullying those who lag behind doesn’t already exist. And that’s before you even take into consideration the fact that these children will eventually be going through puberty – alone. No guidance from their friends or any concept of shared experience; these kids are to watch their bodies change and feelings expand with no real outlet or sense of comparison, because those around them have been there, done that, and got the curve-enhancing t-shirt. And if they are already prone to questioning their sex, having nothing real to compare it to is surely solidifying their fate, rather than attempting to understand it.  
      Here’s a thought. Perhaps, rather than delay what could very easily be seen as the inevitable, healthcare providers and family members looking for a ‘quick fix’ could both support and attempt to understand it earlier. After all, no child deserves to stumble alone in the dark.  

    • The Burger King that Costa a lot

      News yesterday revealed that a Burger King outlet in a hospital has been forced to shut down.
      The restaurant, which has sold high-fat meals to patients for 14 years, finally lost the battle against health campaigners. Except, it didn’t really. Because the local NHS trust had to pay a whopper £24,000 for the privilege of terminating the contract early.
      They accused the hospital of hypocrisy for taking money from the fast food chain at a time when Britain is undergoing an obesity crisis. But the whole operation is still riddled with hypocrisy when you take the context into account; namely being that we are currently amidst an economic crisis which is not being particularly kind to the NHS. According to one source, £24,000 is enough to cover the salary of a lower grade nurse for a whole year.
      The unhealthy vendor should never have been there in the first place. Fact. But surely it would have been better to wait for the contract to end? What’s an extra few months on top of 14 years? £24,000, and yet another job loss within the NHS, that’s what.
      But that’s not all. You see, the notoriously unhealthy food vendor has been replaced with a less notorious, but even unhealthier coffee shop, Costa. For according to their websites, whilst you can get a burger for 184 calories and a Cola for 168 calories at Burger King, a cappuccino and muffin at Costa can increase your fat intake by 187 calories and 547 calories respectively. And it’s also considerably more expensive, even for those who will never step foot into the hospital or buy anything from the coffee chain. Because, yes, you’ve guessed it - it’s being funded by the taxpayer.
      So what, exactly, has been achieved by the whole shoddy attempt as well as a loss of £24,000? Nothing more than false advertising. 
      The controversy reflects a wider problem that is currently facing the NHS – a mismanagement of money. It was only last week that we read that less than £5 is spent per hospital meal, and if that’s not an inconsistent message regarding hospital nutrition then I don’t know what is. Just think what that extra £24,000 could have done to the meals in that hospital. Maybe if the in-house food was better, patients wouldn’t have been scrambling to buy a double whopper and fries in the first place.
      Another fresh scandal also recently emerged in the revelation that hospitals are being paid thousands to hand out leaflets from ambulance-chasing law firms, encouraging patients to sue for compensation. It may be an obvious association to you and I, but don’t they realise they’re all part of the same body? They are, once again, cutting off their nose to spite their face, and the end result is deeply worrying. If it’s not bad enough that there’s not enough money, they’re also not spending the money they do have wisely.
      For £2,400 a qualified accountant probably would have told you that, for £240 a trainee one would have done, and for £2.40 I would have.


    • Never judge a politician by their cover

      Once upon a time, a handsome pauper lived. He was desperate to become king, so used his dashing looks to convince the villagers that he was the right man for the job – despite the fact that he was not the rightful heir to the throne.

      King Clegg now sits on his throne, ruling from atop the coalition. And unfortunately, The End is nowhere in sight.

      If the last election showed us anything, it should have been that the nation’s short-lived love affair with a good-looking ministerial candidate was nothing short of misguided teenage cognition. We set our sights on the prom king despite knowing very little about his personality. And look where it’s left us.

      I say should have been, because it would seem that 18 months on we are none the wiser when thinking about our future leaders. At least, if BBC Today’s John Humphrys is anything to go by, when he implied that Ed Miliband was “too ugly” to be this country’s leader.

      Now I might not think much of Ed Miliband’s politics, or his leadership qualities, but judging on his looks? Really?

      I get that a politician needs to have charisma. And a certain sense of style. But when an unfortunate and uncanny likeness to Wallace of Wallace and Gromit becomes the dominant factor in determining whether or not one is suitable to be leader, we know things are bad.

      Forgetting that this alleviates the faux pas he’s already made as Labour leader and focuses instead on the one thing he actually has no control over, it also doesn’t say much about our own politics or what we look for in a leader.

      A report out last week revealed that men worry more about their body shape and appearance than women do. The study, which involved 394 British men, found that respondents blame the media and celebrities for unhelpfully reinforcing unrealistic ideals of physical perfection.

      “These findings are worrying but not surprising”, professor of men's health at Leeds Metropolitan University, Alan White said. “There’s been a big increase in the numbers of British men having cosmetic procedures such as a nose job or removal of breast tissue; that's gone from almost nothing to quite a significant industry over the last 10 years. All this fuels the idea of the body beautiful and encourages a quick fix rather than appropriate diet and physical fitness levels.”  I don't know about you, but to my mind the only ‘quick fix’ the politicians of today need encouragement for is their politics.

      “We think John Humphrys should have been asking about energy prices and issues that affect ordinary people”, a senior Labour insider said. “But if he wants to ask about Ed’s looks that’s a matter for them.”

      Well, not really. If the quality of our politics is going to be based on looks, then I’d say it’s more a matter for us.

      “Imagine, for a moment, if Miliband were a woman and had been asked the same question”, an article in the Guardian said. “Outrage would have lasted all day.”

      And imagine if he was a politician. Oh, wait … 

    • Holiday from a holiday

      There are two ways that a car can die. Either it is used too much, or not at all. My car didn’t work yesterday morning because I had just returned from a holiday abroad, and had thus left my car dormant for 10 days. I also have a sneaky suspicion that I may have, possibly, left the car light on, consequently draining the battery.

      The car was stationery for close to two weeks. It did absolutely nothing but sit patiently, waiting for my return. But that little light, which isn’t all that powerful at the best of times, was left flickering.

      If reports are to be believed, 40,000 motorists were expected to call for roadside assistance yesterday because of drained batteries. Either they, too, left that little light on accidentally, or left their engines unused over the festive period. Or both. Either way, it caused their motor to die.

      It’s ironic, really, when you have a look at my last blog. Because although this is in direct contrast to computers which, unlike cars, die when you use them too much, and despite having used this analogy pre-Christmas to emphasize how important it is to have a holiday, I’m now using the reverse to do the same.

      I came back to work yesterday and felt as dead as my car. As drained as I did pre-holidays, and as unenthused as a boss about giving time-off. But I had just returned from a 10-day holiday abroad. Why?

      There are two types of holiday. Either you do nothing, or you do everything. In case you were interested, mine was the latter. I, too, like my car, had that little light switched on, and thus filled up my days with horse riding, chocolate making, and seeing friends and family. I was unable to switch off. Other people find it so hard to switch off that they continue to check their work emails and take calls even while on holiday.

      But it’s irrelevant, really. Because the other type of holiday, the one where you do nothing at all, can leave you even more drained afterwards than the former. Both end the same way, leaving you exhausted on returning to reality. Because doing ‘nothing’ after months of working is such a sudden extreme that on returning to reality once again you have no time to adjust.

      Both illustrate the point I always make: the western world, as a collective, has too much work and not enough play.

      Murdoch this week took to his new twitter page to announce that “maybe Brits have too many holidays for broke country.” Funny, I would say that maybe we don’t have enough. After all, we don’t all earn our living hacking away at others; some of us must be hacked at.



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