Allan Mayer’s Weblog

Archive for May 2009

 

(This one is a RANT- and if I say anything that is uncharacteristic it is because I am angry and may feel differently tomorrow… but I doubt it.)

The term ‘Moron’ has long since lost its ‘scientific’ meaning as the title of a specific condition and now is used as an alternative word for ‘Idiot.’

After something I witnessed this week, I want to rehabilitate the medical connection of the word ‘moron.’

Now as morons are perceived to be of low intelligence, it makes sense that they would tend to have more accidents, so statistically will end up in A&E or ER more frequently than the rest of us. For instance, a moron may need medical assistance for a lung condition after burning his house down. Any of us could find ourselves in that position. Only in the moron’s case it has probably happened because when it started raining he (or she, because moronism is not gender specific) thought it a good idea to move his barbecue inside the house. That sort of thing.

The condition only becomes dangerous when the moron is taken to A&E. And he will be taken, even if he can get there under his own steam. He will be taken, because somewhere in the haze which is his brain he has grasped the idea that the big van with a flashing blue light is a free taxi.

And another thing that the normally docile moron is good at grasping is what things are his ‘rights.’ He will fight ferociously to defend the rights that a modern democracy has given him, without once feeling the need to give anything back in return.

 

On Tuesday night my wife suffered from a severe asthma attack. Her peak flow meter (a tube which measures how well you are breathing) usually registers 250 but had plummeted to 50. Similar things have happened before, and a visit to an emergency doctor’s clinic has been enough. This time, I phoned the clinic and after getting my wife to speak down the phone and listening to her breathe they advised me not to panic but to get an overnight bag together and call for an ambulance immediately.

In retrospect, there is a very funny side to a man having to get things together for his wife for a night. Somewhere in the urgency of it all I was there trying to choose a matching outfit and appropriate underwear. I was alao having to compute what the best alternative would be for our foster son, which I decided was to reassure him that she would be OK but soon and ambulance would arrive so would he get his shoes on and go over to the neighbours.

A paramedic in a car arrived first, shortly followed by the ambulance. I have to say that from the paramedics, to the receptionist, the nurses, the doctors and the porters, the service was absolutely first class, both in terms of competence and in terms of their professional and reassuring approach.

But then along came the morons…

My wife was admitted and put on a nebuliser very quickly, but due to about three morons kicking off  it was an hour before a doctor got to see her.

One moron had been wheeled by two porters to x-ray, wheeled back to A&E, then got up and walked to the front door to chat on his mobile.

When this waste of resources was pointed out to him he verbally abused the nurse and demanded to see a manager. The nurse pointed out that they were understaffed, and that the manager would gladly see him when she had finished her tour of thirteen wards, but the implications of this were totally lost on the moron.

His demands to see a manager and rant about his rights seemed to go on forever, and I’m there watching the fluctuations in the monitor that is attached to my wife as his manner became increasingly aggressive.

Then another moron interrupted the staff to ask if his wife could leave the building. They said no, because she had a head injury, and that led to a confrontation because she just had to have a cigarette…

Something else happened- we couldn’t see what it was from the cubicle- but the next thing was the police turning up.

Let’s just take a reality check here. This is a place where people go to be healed. It is staffed by intelligent, hard working people, who are there to save lives.

It seemed that the majority of their time was spent pacifying morons.

As far as I was aware, only one of them was drunk- the one who gave the staff a load of abuse when advised that he should not be walking on a  leg which was so badly injured. The drunks usually appear at the weekend. This was Tuesday night and these were morons. And they knew their rights.

I don’t know what the answer, but there is something so wrong about these hardworking heroes having to cope with this additional stress. And there is something wrong about genuine patients (one of the morons had a season ticket at the A&E) having to wait for treatment.

When it came it was superb, and my wife is fine now.

But tonight those staff will probably be facing the same situation all over again. And if you are thinking of scenarios from ‘Casualty’ or ‘ER’ you are in the wrong area. The scene was more like something from ‘M*A*S*H,’ as a group of staff did their job with humour and efficiency, at the same time as keeping one eye on how close the bombs were getting.

And although I have always prided myself on my ‘socialist’ leanings, I find myself wondering if the morons will eventually lead us to inevitable right-wing solutions, where the dwindling resources are allocated only to the deserving.

An advertising campaign once said ‘Don’t die of Ignorance.’

If only it were that simple.

(End of rant.)

Well, sometimes things happen in life which are just that bit more important than anything else you could blog about.

On Friday night my nephew, Matthew James Devine was born to proud parents Philip and Karen. Tomorrow we are going to meet him.

Can’t wait.

It has been so long since there has been a child in the family, then within one year we have a foster son and a nephew, and I feel lucky to be realising what I’ve been missing out on. Today we went shopping for baby clothes and I could barely disguise the fact that I was getting a little gooey too. I saw a photo today and I’m already convinced that he’s the most beautiful baby in the world.

So welcome Matthew James, you will see things that we could only dream of. Hope we’ve not left the world in too much of a mess. One thing we can guarantee: in these days when we are so aware of what can go wrong at the beginning of a new life, you are coming into a world where you will have the best of beginnings, where you have a mum and dad and extended family who already love you and will do whatever we can to give you the best of lives.

Can’t wait to meet you,

Auntie Alison and Uncle Al  xx

 

I’m no longer a member of a church- I did try, but having failed to settle into groups as varied as Plymouth Brethren and Church of England I eventually decided to give up and call myself an agnostic.

My wife is an active member of a local methodist church, and I go with her occasionally. I sometimes feel like I’ve been adopted (not proselytised, which sounds like something that the cybermen might do to you) but accepted, and although I occasionally join in some of the social events no one has ever tried to convert me- which is often an embarrassing feature of casual contact with other brands of christianity.

I was even approached by a couple of elderly ladies who had seen my press releases and wanted to buy my book.

This was due to the fact that they had been to the local W.H. Smiths and come away without being able to order. Not everyone has access to the internet, and the inability of some bookshops and the loss of sales that this has led to has been very disappointing.

So last Sunday I picked my wife up from church armed with three copies of Tasting the Wind. Two were for the ladies who had asked. The third was a ‘just in case’ and as it happened I sold that too.

But not without a little pang of contextual discomfort.

As I handed each copy over I was aware that these elderly churchgoing ladies were going to be reading a book packed with F-words, rude jokes and descriptions of abuse and bodily functions. So with each one I felt obliged to mention that the story was, well… not exactly Mills and Boon.

And in each case I got the same look- the one that people of my generation give to teenagers who think that they invented sex.

It’s a funny thing, ‘language’ in novels. Within my lifetime it has gone from the first novel to use the F-word being the subject of a court case to that and even stronger words becoming the norm. Not only that, but books aren’t subject to the same censorship as other media. As far back as the nineteen-seventies I couldn’t get into the cinema to see ‘the Exorcist’ as I was about thirteen, but I had no trouble getting the book from the local bookstore.

My view is that ‘bad language’ is fine within context- and is often demanded if an author is representing real life. I quite happily presented the people who proof-read for me a manuscript packed with words that I would never utter in their presence.

One scene in particular demonstrates the whole issue.

Martin, who has entered care work after spending his working life so far in a factory is confronted by a girl with a severe learning disability who habitually tears off her clothes. There was no way that in referring to her genitalia Martin would use polite or scientifically correct language.

Having said this, more than one of my proof readers objected to my use of the word c***, but were happier with f****.  Why should this be?  And why, whan we all know what I’m saying here, do I use asterisks? Well this is a blog and not a novel and… well I wouldn’t feel comfortable, in the same way that a bed in a bedroom is different to a bed in a shop window… if you know what I mean.

If what a writer seeks to do between the covers is to entertain and to educate, and not to offend for the sake of it- then surely there can be nothing wrong with that?

Having said this, I still await with some trepidation the responses of my elderly churchgoing readers…


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