Monday, July 26, 2010

Investors in People UK

As far as I can see, even the Grauniad has not yet found someone to mourn the abolition of Investors in People UK -- the quango for distributing meaningless awards. Is there a public building left in Britain that is not exhibiting one of their plaques? Might they become collector's items? If a few got sold at car boot sales at least IiP could be said to have contributed something to the economy.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Z, a free cat, not a clockwork soft toy.

This is Z and his friend. They are both outdoor cats who perform a useful role reducing the number of rodents around human settlement, as their ancestors have done for the last 4 thousand years They catch large numbers of house-mice and deer-mice. Deer-mice carry the deadly hantavirus which can be transmitted to humans.

Under Edmonton city bylaws any of my neighbours is entitled to trap Z and deliver him to the city pound where I may have to pay a $100 fine plus kennel fees to get him back.

The City of Edmonton would like to eradicate all cats from the outside and limit them to the inside of people's homes. As far as I know, the City has no plan to deal with the explosion in rodent population in the unlikely event that their policy is successful.

Z's sister is an indoor cat. In order to stop her scratching the soft furnishings her owners had her declawed. This is the equivalent of having the tips of all your fingers and toes removed to the first joint. It is regarded as cruel and is outlawed in the UK and 22 other countries, but not in Canada or the USA.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Kitty Controversy

I opened our local paper today to discover that I have managed to enrage a large section of the Endmonton public, not by supporting the Rethink Alberta Campaign, but by writing a letter about pussy-cats!. The replies are here. They take up nearly a whole page in the print edition. What larks! Beam me up Scottie!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Another Skunk Video

The accidental soundtrack consists of background music by Elgar and a commentary by Ian.

Monday, July 12, 2010


In 1988 I was admitted to hospital as an emergency because of a kidney infection. I lay on a trolley for several hours because no bed could be found in the intensive nursing ward. If you have a kidney infection it is important to keep up your fluid intake. I should have been on a drip, but no-one had time to rig one up for me, so my mother ferried plastic beakers of water to me from the wash-room. However, I was eventually found a bed, put on a drip and from that point on received excellent care.

In 2005 my father was admitted to hospital as an emergency with complications of Parkinson's disease. No bed in intensive nursing was available, but the hospital had to meet a target limiting the amount of time a patient could spend in casualty, so Dad was placed in a general nursing ward instead. Over the next fortnight my father was not given any of his medications for Parkinson's, or the other conditions he suffered from. Initially he was put on a drip, but when he pulled it out in delirium it was not replaced. He could not drink properly so my mother attempted to keep up his liquid level by posting water down his throat with a teaspoon. Dad died two weeks after being admitted. His death certificate records one of the causes of his death as dehydration.

I can take cold comfort from the bleak fact that if Dad had been given a bed in intensive nursing he might not have fared any better, as Margaret Hayward exposed a few months later.

So forgive me for being cynical about the so called improvements to the NHS under Labour. I didn't experience them. I can't say that it is really clear to me how Andrew Lansley's proposed reforms might improve the NHS for patients, but I don't think he can do worse than the Labour government.

Skunk update

At least one skunk kit has survived and is still foraging in our backyard. Last night she dug up some of our leeks. The video shows her (or him) paying a visit to our garage. We hope she will find his way back to the river valley because, as my neighbour Karen said, life is tough for a skunk in the big city.