Wednesday, 14 May 2014

My 15 minutes of fame

EVERYONE, according to Andy Warhol, gets 15 minutes of fame… but fame comes at a price.

My recent major operation for cancer created a storm because of the poor aftercare I received at Wexham Park Hospital in Slough, so I wasn’t too surprised when Wexham was recently put on “special measures” and the BBC did a major news piece on it including an interview with myself as a former patient there.

But if you are thinking Lights! Camera! Action! you can forget it, because all the filming was done by a simple link via the computer camera in my dining room!

Interestingly all the curtains had to be drawn and all the doors shut to block out daylight, I had to take my glasses off to avoid screen reflection and I had to angle my face away from the camera in order for the filming to be effective.

Everything went well apart from the room being so dark I stumbled over a cable and the interview duly went out over the airwaves for the London area where it was watched by millions of people including friends of mine who live just a few miles from Wexham Park.

I later had to explain that the strange bearded man they saw for five seconds was actually me without my glasses, but they didn’t seem convinced. There was never this problem with recognition for the staff of Casualty!

Lights cause yet more hold ups

IT has been said that down the years Bank Holiday periods have left an indelible mark on the fabric of Weymouth… and didn’t we know it the other day.

Motorists driving along Dorchester Road or trying to enter Weymouth from Dorchester found themselves grinding to a halt because temporary three-way traffic lights had been introduced near Morrisons supermarket.

Queues swiftly built up right back and along the relief road, right back beyond the Spa on Dorchester Road towards Lodmoor and even along the far side of Dorchester Road towards Upwey.

I got caught up in this chaos on my first journey through the area and wisely dodged it by going down Spa Road on my second. And what was the cause of this gridlock?

Somehow a motorist collided with and knocked out the permanent traffic lights near Morrisons and temporary ones had to be brought in until they could be repaired. Bet they don’t put up a blue plaque for that!

PC gone mad

WHEN I first started out as a journalist in 1975 people knew that when I mentioned a spade in my articles it was linked to gardening, that when I talked about tools it was not a sexual reference and that any story about cows was not a slight on womanhood. Not so now.

The era of being politically correct has unfortunately been with us now for some time but I was – until recently – unaware just how much it had impacted on professions other than my own.

For instance, take the world of medicine, a veritable minefield if you believe half of what nursing staff have told me. A chance conversation in hospital revealed just how careful staff now have to be. In this modern world of almost instant litigation they really do have to watch almost everything they say.

The procedure I was told about, that of giving a person an injection, has been with us for several hundred years, yet only recently the reassuring words which went with that procedure had to be scrapped because of political correctness.

Apparently warning a patient just before their injection that they were about to receive “a little prick” was suddenly deemed potentially offensive! Believe it or not, nursing staff now have to warn the patient that they are about to get “a sharp scratch” or “jab” in order that they don’t take offence.

Good God! If I was about to have an injection I would be focussed on the needle not whether the poor soul administering it had chosen legally acceptable words to tell me! So, when you can, strike a blow for common sense and resist ludicrous political correctness.

Fond memories of school dinners!

PORTLANDERS recently held a school dinner at the Community 2000 hall and I wonder how many revolting memories were dredged up by this sold-out hugely popular fundraising event.

For me – even now – I can still remember my gorge rising when we were served “drainpipes”, our name for a watery mince concoction riddled with little one-inch sections of hollow spaghetti, hence its nickname.

By and large, the rest of what I had at school was pretty good, the only other dish to be viewed with grave suspicion being school custard, so thick you could stand a spoon up in it.

The spoon was there because you needed it on good occasions to ladle out enough to help make that day’s desert palatable, but on bad days even the spoon was no use. You could safely upend the large jug and the custard inside didn’t even make the skin bend far less break.

It perhaps has some psychotic significance that the school bullies all loved drainpipes and doted on the custard, always taking more than their fair share of both. I for one was not going to tell them that they were doing me a favour!

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