Thursday, November 30, 2006

I'm back

Oh dear oh dear, it has been such a long time since I last wrote. Please forgive my absence but this is due to the rigours of acedemic life I'm afraid. I have nearly two hours of lectures to take a week you know and it soon takes it toll, I can assure you. Anyway, today I had lunch with a very good friend of mine who is what is known as a human rights lawyer. It's been ages since I saw her last. back then she was deeply depressed at the IRA ceasfire and told me that unless some people were blown up soon she might have to sell the villa in Tuscany that she bought on the proceeds of the Enniskillen rememberence service. However that bearded chap who everybody seems to be after nowadays came to her rescue and blew up some people in London and she told me about how that night last July she and her chums drank the Ivy dry of champagne in celebration. If that sounds quite cruel she said she checked the victims' photos first and most of them looked like conservatives so it was alright to celebrate. I was so pleased she hasn't to worry about there being no more bombs for a while. As a psychiatrist I see so many sad and unhappy people it was delightful to see my friend so full of the joy of life. The only little niggle she has is that these suicide bomber chaps inevitably don't need defending in court so she's written to Osama reminding him to consider his reponsibilities to the legal profession in planning his missions. Those terrorist people really can be so damn thoughtless sometimes but at least we can thank the labour government for helping my friend back to work. It's these good news stories that get forgotten in all the criticism from the right of our policies because it suits their purposes so we labour people must sing out the successes there have been!
There's been so much happening. Poor old Gordon's attempt to have a genetically abnormal baby by shagging that odd civil servant woman, at least I think she's a woman, has rather backfired because I don't think he really quite wanted totally incurable, just something serious enough to garner sympathy. he should have learnt from when his old chum Robin Cook tried to get back in everyone's good books by running up that hill in order to cause a minor heart attack that would bring Tony to his bedside with a bunch of flowers and a cabinet job. Somes things you just can't control and I know this as a medical professional. Still, never mind, he's killed so many children in his career in the noble cause of liberating Iraq from the Iraqis he must have come to know they're as expendable by now and you can always produce a new one without too much fuss. He'll probably just give young Fraser a cluster bomb for christmas and get it all over with quickly. He's such a good father you know and obviously in his position well equiped t o make these 'cruel to be kind' decisions.
Anyway, must dash, cocktails at the college this evening so tootle pip and see you soon.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

amish and dangerous

Well aware as I am of our american cousins different customs even I was shocked by the terrible shootings in pennsylvania yesterday. This kind of thing would never happen in England of course because only the police are entrusted to shoot innocent people in the head at point blank range and that's as it should be. Apparently this young chap had some bad experience about 20 years ago which caused him to take this rather unreasonable action. I can only think that this was about the time that awful Harrison Ford movie came out. It is almost certain that the shock of going to see the Han Solo actor's latest film and finding instead of spaceships, lasers and talking gorilla type things there was simply a town with no violence, no electricity and which was full of stout six foot movie actresses trying to look meak and submissive by wearing 19th century headgear in the mid 1980's caused some repressed rage that could be controlled no longer when he saw a trailor for a rerun on the local cable channel. It's tragic that America seems to become more and more like South London all the time. it's tragic too that the gentlemen who perpetrated these acts killed himself because there would certainly have been a book in it for the psychiatrist into whose care he would have been placed. These events represent a terrible waste all round.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

he's infallible, not perfect

When I was a medical student it was customary for future psychiatrists to spend some time in Austria to learn at first hand about the fathers of our profession Freud and Jung and to aquire the foreign accent deemed necessary to confer that certain authority on the doctor and therapist. I remember sitting in the little Vienna tearoom that became my regular haunt when a young fellow came in. My table had the only free place in the establishment so he sat opposite me and we got talking over a glass of blue nun, which was quite appropriate when you consider who the young chap turned out to be in later life. It seemed he was actually german and was taking a little time out to travel untill the american post war authorities in Germany stopped looking for him. He had found work as a stunt double for Orson Wells in a dark little movie that was being filmed in the City at that time. We talked and talked and drank and drank and one thing led to another and that is why I can with a certain and perhaps unique authority defend that thoughtful young man or Ratzi as I knew him, in his current hour of need, and I think we all know who I'm talking about don't we. Ok, I don't feel great about it but I was young and he did do wonders for my german.
Well, I can hardly reconcile the object of such hostility from the islamic world today to that young man riding around Vienna ferris wheels with his zither all those years ago. I do understand of course that our muslim friends feel strongly when the name of their prophet, peace be upon him, is in their view taken in vain but I know the holy father did not mean to upset anyone. I mean just because he quoted something doesn't mean he himself believes it. The Archbishop of Canterbury quotes from the bible all the time but nobody seriously thinks anyone in the Church of England believes a word of it. I think this is actually the point his holiness was making ironically, that the hellenic tradition has reason inform religion and vice versa, whereas for others, their religion is hardwired and therefore they come from a very different cultural standpoint and can't be blamed for their actions because they haven't the ability to make a free decision. I hope the muslims haven't burned all the copies of the speech and still retain one or two to read when they've calmed down a bit. I also think the mayor of London should organise some way for the muslims down there to let off steam, a jolly good public stoning is always a good stress reliever and ice breaker. Islam is a peaceful religion apart from one or two minor indescretions involving airliners and trains which I am sure are entirely forgiveable. I'm sure that all this fuss will blow away with the same wind that carries off the smoke from the burning effigies and torched churches.
I only hope that the infallible holy father's new found willingness to admit he is is only human is kept in check because the last thing one wants to hear from St Peter's balcony is Vell, I vas vong about using ze quotation from ze 14th zentury, zo zat brings me on to ze virgin birth. I hope too that these events, finding as they do our pope on the ropes so to speak, are not exploited by cynics and non-believers seeking to portray these two fine faiths in a negative manner.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

au revoir, we need your house for a reservoir

Thames water are to submerge a number of people's homes and a large amount of countryside the other side of Abingdon to try and catch some of the water that leaks from their pipes. It seems ironic that whilst water companies are seeking to flood people out of their homes because they claim there is a water shortage the Environment Agency is building levees and drains to prevent just the same thing happening to other people because there is too much water. It does seem a shame too that so much of our lovely county has to disappear under water. I don't know why they can't build this thing up north where nobody would be effected, except a few northerners and a sheep or two, or in East Anglia which is all going to be underwater soon anyway. The other alternative of course, which would kill two birds with one stone by getting rid of lots of poor housing, and with any luck the poor people that live in it, is to flood Blackbird Leys. It would be much handier for Oxford people who would like to go for a nice walk or jump in a respectable depth of water at the end of term and in hot summers would provide some romantic ruins on the dry lake bed which could be visited by the former residents, wistfully searching for the foundations of their council house or kebab shop. I shall compose a letter putting my suggestions to the powers that be so watch this space for developments.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Road to wig-on peer

I watch little television of late , having grown tired of 'reality' programs featuring Anne Widdecombe and her ilk however I did alas catch one of the honourable member for Maidstone's broadcasting efforts in what I had thought was to be an in depth investigation into another branch of medicine, cosmetic surgery or psychology with a knife as one surgeon put it. Alas, it was just a rant of the type that can be heard in any pub in the city without paying for a TV licence. Anne Widdecombe arguing against facelifts is a bit like Princess Diana arguing against seatbelts. She's surely going to end up wishing she'd had one sooner or later. It ill becomes a politician to rail against the popularity of botox, a treatment most well known for rendering the face incapable of expressing the normal range of human emotion when that side effect seems far less grave than one's being intellectually injected with botox administered by the presenters of the TV reality shows and pseudo-documentries featuring fading celebrities and politicians such as Miss Widdecombe, the effect of which is to render one incapable of experiencing the normal range of thoughts and emotions in the first place, never mind being able to crease one's forehead or raise one's lips to a smile to visibly express them. In fact this is just the kind of thing that Miss Widdecombe seemed so exercised about. Isn't it ironic, don't you think, as that fine botox ( intellectual and facial ) free young lady Miss Morrisette might put it. I should think it also ironic that undoubtedly the sight of our presenter in a dressing gown should see bookings for procedures soar as people realise what they may end up like if they take her advice and eschew the surgeon's knife. I have already had several calls to my office this morning from people suffering nightmares. I don't know why these people can't just fade away quietly as they await their elevation to the Lords. She's already got the wig and the opinions about matters she doesn't understand so it can't be long to wait for the ermine to finish off the process. As it looks, however, as if I shall pick up some work from viewers of the programme I shan't be too critical as I might put people off watching the repeat.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Mum's gone to Iceland

The British Fertility Society has advised women in their 30s to freeze their eggs so that when they've finally finished going out every night without having to arrange a babysitter they can have a baby in their middle age effectively produced by their younger self. Dr Gillian Lockwood's advice has everything to do with her concern for women's reproductive health and nothing whatsoever to do with making money from the use of her own clinic's facilties for this procedure. I must say I'm all for this idea being supplied free of charge because I'd much rather the NHS deal with some nice professional middle class people for a change rather than the ungrateful and demanding riff-raff we have to put up with most of the time at present. The later one has children of course, the shorter the time one has to put up with them and the sooner one pops one's clogs and passes the responsibilty for their upbringing onto someone else so I envisage a great many women thinking seriously about this suggestion by Dr Lockwood. This scheme could be expensive but we can always take the funds from some obscure male cancer that nobody's heard of to pay for it like we do for boob jobs and IVF. Women don't even need to source their own sperm because there is always plenty of that knocking around hospitals. A woman doesn't need to wait for Mr Right anymore. If a girl can't marry a doctor they just need to catch him on a break and buy him a coffee and a cream cake and he'll give her what she needs. Best not to ask a medical student though because they may not qualify as a doctor in the end and then you're left with the child of a physiotherapist, and frankly the average student's sperm is probably exhausted from the stakanovite efforts they put into producing the stuff on those long nights alone with their Grey's.
Obviously there can be psychological consequences to the patient of such as course of action as I have found only too often in my own work. One woman was distraught after her husband used her frozen eggs to reduce the bruising on a rugby injury because they'd finished off the oven chips the night before. In another case a young lady whose partner had frozen his sperm before going into hospital to have his tonsils out and who risked a hospital aquired infection that, if it hadn't rendered him infertile could have made him look bad enough that she wouldn't have wanted to sleep with him again, was traumatised when he tried to impregnate her with the sample which, unsure of the microwave defrost setting to use, he had decided to use on her straight from frozen. Lord save us from men who've only ever learned to cook a supermarket pizza and who think IVF is a Northern Ireland paramilitary group.
Well, naturally I can only touch on the ethics of this whole issue but I hope I have given my readers some concept of the complexity of the matter.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Germaine is germane on Steve Irwin

Germaine Greer, who in my view is Barry Humphreys' best character has written an article about the demise of her fellow australian Steve Irwin. Here she is giving her reaction to the news. She has essentially described the stingray attack that killed him as justifiable homicide and her general point is along the lines of 'what do you call a man at the bottom of the ocean with a sting ray tail stuck in his heart? a good start. The penetration by the phallic stingray barb represents the seeds of destruction sown in the patriachal society by it's own contradictions. Crikey, but how right she is too, and isn't that what all we feminists are thinking. Steve Iwrin's treatment of snakes and spiders, often female and unable to defend themselves apart from with the deadly nerve venom they possess, more poisonous even than a Guardian article by the learned doctor herself constituted an attempt to impose the human patriachy on the animal kingdom, which already has it's fair share of gender inequality issues to deal with, being called the animal kingdom for a start.
I'm sure we can all understand Dr Greer's reaction very well because with the way Mr Irwin treated the old crocs that crossed his path, she must be very relieved indeed to hear of his passing to the great outback in the sky. Germaine Greer obviously loves animals and is opposed to zoos and circuses but who needs to go to the circus when she's around. Although she'll deny it I think she had a little feeling for the poor chap though, because she did make a point of mentioning how tight his shorts were so it wasn't just his bulging ego she was paying atttention to. Better not make that point to the good doctor though, and don't poke her with a stick or try to pick her up either, she's a little bit Cranky. Keep up the good work for the sisterhood Germy. I would ask you to put another shrimp on the barbie, but shrimps need their space, eh, me old cobber. I must apologise if any australianisms might appear to have crept in to my discourse but this may have occurred from speaking to my neice who has begun to sound like kath or Kim, I'm not sure which, as a result of the company she has been keeping on her cultural visit to south east Asia. I'm sure that when she returns and it's beaten out of her then my normal intonation will be resumed. Please bear with me in the meantime.