Dover – York St – 1952:1960

My son was recently doing a project for school on “Victorian Housing”. They were asked to look at remaining Victorian houses in their area and describe them. This made me realise how distorting this was – because what remains of Victorian housing is middle and upper class. The working class slums have been knocked down.

I was born in a real working class, privately rented, house in Dover in 1952. It makes the ‘Monty Python’ sketch about “I was so poor that…” look all too real. Continue reading

Tongue out of cheek (or 18 hours in A&E)

imageI am currently in the ENT Dept at Wythenshawe, having spent the night in A@E. (That photo is from last night, about 12:00, its returned to normal now).

I had a recurrence of my mysterious massive tongue swelling episode, which I had about 3 months ago, last night.

After big dose of intravenous piriton and steroids it has subsided back to normal over night. They still have no idea what is triggering it so expecting more tests etc but as outpatient. But must emphasise the medical treatment was excellent and quick – its what happens next when things get “interesting”. Continue reading

Hillsborough and Transparency: why I know something of how the relatives feel about not getting the truth (until now)

[Originally published Sep 12, 2012]

I understand something of the frustration and anger of the relatives of the Hillsborough victims because I had a similar experience – albeit on a much smaller scale. British officialdom has a cult of secrecy and cover-up that is still with us, even if is has gotten slightly better.

In 1982 my younger brother Gary, 21, was killed. He was beaten up and died of a heart attack. Officialdom made this horrible situation worse by acts of secrecy. Continue reading

Black Like Me (Flash SciFi – stories in 150 words or less)

She stared into the mirror, shocked. She’d turned black! Locked in her room for with a horrible fever, curtains drawn and lights off because her eyes hurt, she hadn’t seen herself for 48 hours. It had never occurred to her that her sickness was the so-called ’BLM Virus’. She thought it was ’flu!
Unleashed by an AQ-Nation of Islam fusion group, it was a retrovirus that rewrote part of the victims gene sequence, changing their skin colour, permanently. She’d had a briefing. She sobbed quietly to herself, ”God help me”. He wasn’t listening.
It wasn’t the change, she told herself, she could cope with that, she hoped. She was a good Catholic and really not a racist, despite her politics. But the virus was supposed to be an STD. ”Converting the white Devils through their own sins” said their website. How was the country’s most famous virgin going to explain that?

The NHS and a Tale of Two Lumps (not for the squeamish)

WARNING: If you are squeamish you might not want to read this, and especially not look at the photo’s.

This is the tale of the removal of two lumps from my body by the NHS.

I am fully aware, as a good social scientist, it is a completely idiosyncratic story from which no general lessons can be drawn. But given the debates about having a “GP driven” NHS and the desirability of more locally provided services, it might be interesting as a bit of ‘participant observation’ research? Continue reading