Oh Me Of Little Faith

August 21st, 2009

Football fans are a fickle breed, and that includes me. I’ve said a number of things about Liverpool’s prospects this season, mostly of a negative nature, and particularly so after the departure of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid. Things just seemed to get worse after it transpired that new signing Alberto Aquilani was injured and wouldn’t be available for several weeks after the start of the new season. Sunday’s poor game against Spurs just seemed to confirm my prognosis, although I did try and put some positive spin on it, vis:

  • one swallow does not a summer make
  • we need to improve by about three results this season to finish top
  • we had the same result at White Hart Lane last year
  • as long as we improve against the lower teams, it’s all good

but it was purely putting a brave face on it. I really couldn’t see us beating United and Chelsea to top spot, and in fact I was starting to worry about Arsenal.
Wednesday night’s demolition of Stoke and United’s loss to Burnley have turned things on their head. It’s one of the results we needed to improve – last year we drew 0-0 home and away with Stoke, and you could argue it cost us the title.
I must also confess that I was wrong about Glen Johnson. After watching him during England’s friendly with Holland last week, I was worried. He looked shaky defensively, and didn’t seem to offer enough going forward to compensate. He show some promise on Sunday, winning the penalty that briefly levelled the scores, but last night he was dynamite. To cap it with a spectacular scissor kick to open his account on home debut just about sums up how wrong I was. Even Lucas had a decent game, and if I find myself having to eat humble pie over my opinions of him then it will be a good season. Still worried about Arsenal though…

NHS waiting lists eliminated?

August 11th, 2009

So Andy Burnham claimed this morning that there are no more waiting lists in the NHS. My jaw dropped. I know the government is in trouble, but saying things like this is not the answer. I’m listening to Radio 5 and they are talking about this story – not surprising given that Burnham made the comments on 5 Live Breakfast this morning. He made them in the context of the launch of a new website, www.nhs.uk, which aims to give people information about their local hospital. This is a very welcome development, and starts to address the most obvious problem with Choose and Book – how on earth are we supposed to make informed choices about healthcare if we don’t know how the providers are performing? However Burnham’s claim has overshadowed this – someone has just released a stamement saying his words “weren’t meant to be taken literally”. Oh dear.
I’ll have to dust off the rest of the Choose and Book odyssey now – I will probably give it a page of its own. Bet you can’t wait…

To Comment Or Not To Comment

August 10th, 2009

OK, so that’s the hat-trick of Hamlet-related blog titles out of the way. This one is pretty cut and dried: apart from my Russian spammer friends (of whom I seem to have quite a few), the overwhelming consensus is not to comment. I read a rather dense post on someone else’s blog recently which has a few things to say about how to encourage discussion; sadly they are all rather tongue-in-cheek. I’d love to know what you think – answers on a postcard, or you could always leave a comment…

To Tweet Or Not To Tweet?

August 6th, 2009

I love Twitter. So, apparantly, does the BBC. Kirsty Wark interviewed Evan Williams, one of Twitter’s co-founders, on Newsnight yesterday as part of a feature on the microblogging site. I thought he was quite impressive, though not all Twitters agree. See what they’re saying here, then watch the interview and decide for yourself.
I was going to call this post “Who’s the twat now, Dave?” in reference to Cameron’s on-air “gaffe”. According to Evan Williams, London is now the city that Tweets the most. Still think it was a good gag, Dave?

To Blog Or Not To Blog…

August 6th, 2009

…that is the question. I thought long and hard about my last post – some people think you shouldn’t write about your children (as Julie Myerson discovered) but given that:

  • a) I’m not a broadsheet journalist
  • b) there are only a handful of you reading this (I love you all)
  • c) it is so clearly tongue-in-cheek

it seemed OK. Of course, the fact that Carla is already more popular than I am – her Youtube video has had more views already than all my blog hits put together – had nothing to do with it…

Should I be worried about Carla?

July 31st, 2009

Consider the evidence:

Carla with an (empty) wine bottle

Carla with an (empty) wine bottle

Carla snaffles a can of Fosters

We have a kitchen cupboard that has a child lock on, where we keep various things including a stash of Peroni. If Carla manages to get anywhere near that cupboard when it’s open, what’s the first thing she goes for? No, not the sweets. No, not the cereal. Yes, you guessed it – the beer.
It’s one thing going for an empty wine bottle – she could at least smell that and work out what it was. But the sealed cans / bottles of beer? How does she know? It’s not like I drink a lot, and I rarely drink in front of her. I thought I wouldn’t have to contend with this until she hit her teens!

Hello again

July 30th, 2009

So here I am in my lovely new home at mccormicksmith.com. Thanks again to Edward and Tom for hosting me, much kudos. Now all I need to do is write some stuff…I would also love it if the timestamp started displaying the way I wanted it to. Oddly enough this was a piece of cake on WordPress.com. but despite using exactly the same theme and doing ecactly the same edit, it hasn’t worked…

Useless statistics

July 26th, 2009

I’m sat in a queue of traffic waiting to get into the recycling centre. They have one of those scrolling matrix signs, and one of the messages is “Islington’s recycling rate is 28%”. 28% of what? What does it mean? I have no way of knowing if a recycling rate of 28% is good or bad. Grrrrr.

The Curse of Blog

July 14th, 2009

Lord Darzi has resigned. I think he must of heard about this blog and my devastating (if yet to be finished) attack on Choose and Book, and decided to go before I delivered it to him…
OK, so officially he’s going “to devote more time to his clinical role and academic research”. Fair enough, if it’s true.
UPDATE – Continuing the Private Eye theme: Lord Darzi – An Apology
Readers of this blog may have formed the impression that I hold Lord Darzi responsible for the calamity that is the NHS Choose and Book system. This is of course very far from the truth. Choose and Book (hereafter C & B) predated his investiture and appointment as a minister, so it can’t be his fault. Some digging reveals that it’s more likely to be Alan Milburn or John Reid, both of whom were Health Secretary in 2003 which seems to be when C & B got the green light as part of the disastrous NPfIT. So maybe I should be aiming my ire at Richard Granger (NPfIT architect) instead, or maybe some nameless policy wonk at the Department for Health, or the big boss at the time, T. Blair?
The reason I focussed on Darzi while experiencing the lunacy I did at the hands of C & B was that he was conducting his high profile review of the NHS as part of Gordon Brown’s ‘Goverment of all the talents’ (GOATs). I thought it might be a good idea to see what he had to say on C & B – but when I looked at his wikipedia page, the links to his reports weren’t working…The timing of the announcement was interesting, too – late yesterday (14th July 2009), and as of today it seems to have completely disappeared from the news agenda, despite the fact that he is the last but one of the GOATs to leave government. No mention of it today at PMQs, despite the chance to score some cheap points for the opposition.
Having read a couple of articles on the BBC, it looks like Darzi wisely avoided talking about C & B or the NPfIT, and that most of what he recommended makes sense. So sorry, Lord Darzi, you should never have been in my sights.
I found some real gems while poking around on the net for this post, including this wonderful survey from last year. OK, it’s a small sample, but it did conclude “In this study, patients did not experience the degree of choice that Choose and Book was designed to deliver”. I will try and find the time to read the rest of the report, which I’m sure will be hilarious; after all, they found that “32% [of C & B sample] reported not being given any choice of hospital”. Some choice.


July 9th, 2009

Fabulous though wordpress.com hosting is, there are a few things I’d like to be able to do on this blog that I can’t at the moment without paying for the privilege, and some that I can’t do at all…so I’m going to move over to some space provided by my sister’s partner – step forward for a bow, Edward, and thanks! Right now, I’m in the process of setting the new space up with Edward’s help, which means if you’re reading this you used the gilesmc.wordpress.com address – in future, you’ll be able to reach this blog at www.mccormicksmith.com/giles, though if you head over there now you won’t see very much…
The blog isn’t the only thing migating though – it looks like various family members will be leaving these shores in the not too distant future. Watch this space… (please! I need the traffic!!!)