Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Wednesday poem #12 - Shadow

Shadow

The lady in the bed,
just a picture of mum
She looks just the same 
but her spark has gone,
Never emerging from the shadows,
Just waiting to die,
Breaks my heart, 
makes me cry

Copyright 2017 - Roger Tichborne 

(Rog note : I wrote this in 2001 shortly after my mum had a stroke. Perhaps one of the most despairing pieces I've written. She was in hospital and I didn't think she was coming out again. But she rallied and ended up living back in her own flat for another 7 years. It was difficult but we did have good times again)

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Rog T's Cancer Blog - Another turn on a bumpy road




For those of you who are regular readers and have read the previous posts on Cancer, you can skip this first paragraph. I write this blog because knowledge is power and if you know what you are dealing with, you have more weapons in the locker to fight it. It is a personal view, I'm not medically qualified. This is for the sole purpose of information for those who are interested. This is the latest installment in my occasional series about how I'm adjusting to living with a big C in my life.  For those of you who aren't, here's a quick summary. I'm 53 years old and in October 2011 I  had a prostate biopsy following two "slightly high" PSA tests - 2.8 & 4.1. The biopsy took ten tissue samples and one of these showed a "low grade cancer" which gave me a 3+3 on the Gleason scale. I'm now on a program of active monitoring.  In early February, I got the results of the a PSA test - down to 3.5 and an MRI scan which found absolutely nothing, two more tests in 2012 were at 3.5 and 3.9, in 2013 my test was 4.0, Jan 2014 was 3.8, August 2014 was 4.0,  February 2015 it was  up to 5.5  and my latest in August 2015 was down again at 4.6. In October 2015 I had a transperinial Prostate biopsy, that revealed higher grade cancer and my Gleason score was raised to 3+4 (Small mass + more aggressive cancer), albiet with small mass. On 22nd Jan 2016 I had HIFU (Hi Intensity Focused Ultrasound) treatment at UCHL). My post procedure PSA in May was 4.0 which was down, followed by 3.7 in August, which means that the direction is positive . I've no symptoms and sadly for a few people, if I'm gonna die soon, it won't be from Prostate cancer. Got the picture?

It is now just over a year since I had HIFU therapy. I had a PSA test in January. The news was promising, it was down to 3.5. I also had an MRI which is part of the trial protocol. Today I went to see the consultant for th one year follow up. I'd already heard the PSA result, as I had this at Finchley Memorial Hospital and they'd sent the results to the GP. So I was in reasonably positive spirits. But as we all know, this journey is not without its twists and turns. It seems to be the case that whenever I start feeling a bit too positive, cancer gives me a slap to bring me down to earth. And so it was today. It started with the normal questions, How was the leakage situation? It is fine. How is the sexual function? Fine thanks. Do I need viagra? No. All very good. My consultant looked a bit surprised at the last answer. Maybe I just imagined this. I guess that doing well is a good thing?

Then we came to discuss the MRI. This was where the news was not quite so good. Lets be clear, its not bad. It appears that when they zapped the cancerous area in the prostate with a HIFU beam, they may have missed a small bit. Then again, it may be an artefact (scar tissue/debris left by the procedure). There is only one way to tell. I need another set of biopsies , targetted on the splodge exposed by the MRI. Depending on what this shows, its either a) nothing b) something to watch c) Something which requires another round of HIFU or d).........(the unknown unknown). My consultant tells me it is a 30% probability that it will require treatment.

So I feel rather deflated. I was happy with where I'd got to and really wasn't looking forward to another round of biopsys and HIFU. Keeping things in perspective, I'm in a pretty good place. Whatever it is, it is small and very likely to be treatable. 95% of men who have small prostate tumours don't know. I have mine under survelliance. In light of recent changes to the way the NHS approaches prostate cancer, I'd not have had a PSA test and I'd not be in a program. I am lucky.

I just don't really feel it right now. But given the choicem I'd rather be where I am than growing a tumour in ignorant bliss.


Monday, 20 February 2017

Barnet Council Playing fields consultation - closes 27th February

Barnet Council is currently consulting residents on its playing field strategy. Anyone who gives a stuff  about the future of our Borough, the health and fitness of our young people and green spaces really should read this and make a submission. Please forward these details to anyone who you think may be concerned.

Having read the document, I must say that this is a definite good starting point. I was quite upset to see that the Burnt Oak Lesiure centre football pitch has degenerated to be a "poor" site. There is also no mention of Cressingham Park in Burnt Oak, home of Watling youth FC.

Another criticism of the document is that every pitch should be listed and classified, perhaps in an appendices, with a full status, in the form of a table. I worry that  unlisted sites will be designated "not a playing field".  There is also a lack of detail. Each site should have its facilities (ie chaning rooms and showers) listed and classified. I am not sure whether these ommissions are worrying or not. but the council must do this important exercise properly.

It is interesting that there is no mention of school tennis courts. Do they still have tennis courts? I note there is no mention of other more minority sports, such as Lacrosse, American Football, Archery, Athletics, etc. I think we need a holistic approach to these.

The document does not list what consultation and input has been received from clubs to develop this document.

So in summary, I'd say this is a decent starting point, but we need a far more comprehensive document that encompasses all sporting users of all sporting fields in Barnet.

I've attached the document below.



The council say on their webpage.

Overview

Barnet Council recognises the need for good quality sports pitches and it has listed them as an important factor in its Parks and Open Spaces and Fit and Active Barnet Strategies. Barnet is the fastest growing borough in London and it is necessary to make sure that an adequate number of pitches are provided in the future.
Working in partnership with Sport England and the relevant National Governing Bodies of Sport (England & Wales Cricket Board, England Hockey Board, Football Association, Lawn Tennis Association & Rugby Football Union), the council is developing a Playing Pitch Strategy which will also address the needs of Gaelic football in the area.
The Playing Pitch Strategy will provide a strong future action plan for Barnet’s provision of sports pitches.  This information will be used to inform the borough’s Infrastructure Delivery Plan, which looks at current provisions and identifies existing and future needs. It will also underpin the Local Plan making sure, amongst other things, planning considers the provision of sports pitches.
Whilst developing the strategy, current facilities and future needs were identified and local sports clubs, leagues and pitch providers were consulted.  Now that a draft Playing Pitch Strategy has been written, we would like you to give us your views on the specific recommendations.

Why We Are Consulting

The consultation is open to all Barnet residents, businesses and community and interest groups, together with sports clubs and individuals who play sport on pitches in the borough.
We want to find out what you think about the sport, area and site specific recommendations contained in the draft Playing Pitch Strategy.

Give Us Your Views

Please take the time to read the recommendations in the Strategy and then give us your views by completing our online questionnaire.
For any further information, or to request a questionnaire in an alternative format, please contact Ruth Miller, Project Manager, by:
  • telephoning:  020 8359 4642, or
  • emailing: Ruth.Miller@barnet.gov.uk, or
  • writing to: Barnet Council, Barnet House,1255 High Road, Whetstone, London, N20 0EJ.


Sunday, 19 February 2017

The tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet

So what has been going on in the Wonderful world of The Barnet Twitterati?


1. We start in Burnt Oak with a small kindness that is rightly appreciated.It's always really good to hear such stories.

2. The work never stops on allotments in Finchley
3. Homeless Action in Barnet got a donation this week. Lets hope they can get a few more.
4. Looking for a new motor? This would do nicely!
5. I'm not really quite sure what message Colindale Police are trying to put across here?
6. A great demolition shot from C&D London
7. Last Sunday, West Hendon held a memorial ceremony for the 76 killed by a Nazi bomb in 1941
8. The Hendon Salvation Army are moving home.
9. Interesting Question from Martin Slaine
10. A Mill Hill landmark celebrated a Milestone this week

Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Saturday list #118 - Nostalgia central - My 10 favorourite 1970's TV characters

I was discussing 70's TV over lunch yesterday and the subject of favourite characters from the 1970's TV came up. A fine subject for a Saturday list, don't you think? On making the list, I realised that all the characters who made the list are what we may call "interesting". I don't really like the one dimensional hero characters. These aren't characters I necessarily like. They are characters who I think make great TV.

1. Jack Regan - The Sweeney. I think we all believed that policemen were like Jack Regan in the 1970's.  Regan's life revolved around "booze, birds and motors". At the time he seemd to me to be a heroic figure, but watching reruns, with more life experience, he's quite a tragic character. Having said that, if I wanted any copper in the country to catch the nasty characters who burgled my studio I'd want Regan to!



2. Fletcher - Porridge - Fletch was the other end of the scale. He was the unreformed old lag. He was the one who was always trying to beat the system. He was someone who, if he'd come from a different background, may have been a philiospher or a politician. Completely amoral in some ways, but totally moral in other ways. I don't think anyone really wanted to be Fletcher, but we all hoped that if we found ourselves in prison, we'd have Fletcher as a room mate.



 3. Rigsby - Rising Damp - Rigsby - a tragic figure, in truth I probably didn't get him at the time and found his obsession with Frances De La Tour a bit creepy. In the early episodes, his clumsy attempts to belittle Phillip, a student who claimed to be son of an African chief backfired in the heat of Phillips superior intelligence. Rigsby is pretty much what most of us expected small time landlords to be like. Seedy, penny pinching and devious. Sadly, my experience of the rental sector as a tenant didn't overturn this opinion. The series would have just been so boring without Rigsby.



4. Alf Garnett- Till Death Us Do Part - A figure who straddlled the 60's and 70's. Garnett was a charicature of a East End working class bigot, struggling to cope with the massive changes in our society. Racist, sexist and ignorant. His wife was the "silly moo". Black people were derided, his son in law was a scouse git. The genius of the writing was that it was able to show just how ridiculous such views were. What Johnny Speight perhaps didn't anticipate when he wrote it was how many people would empathise with Garnett and his hatred of how Britain was changing. Alf Garnett was in many ways UKIP before UKIP existed. Anthing that takes the mickey out of such views and such people is fine by me.


5. Col Paul Foster  - UFO - Interceptor pilot, part time moonbase commander, skydiver pilot, investigator. If ever there was a character on TV I felt empathy with, it was Paul Foster. He starts as a military test pilot, getting accidently shot down by SHADO (the anti Alien organisation), sets out to investigate and expose them. He is then recruited and becomes a senior figure. In one episode, he befriends an alien, but cannot prevent SHADO killing him. This makes him become rather cynical. As a teenager, I was obsesed with aliens and conspiracies. I believed that there were organisations such as SHADO, operating secretly. As I grew up, like Foster I've become more cynical. I now believe that as a race, we are far too greedy and stupid to pull off such conspiracies.
6. Stan Ogden - Coronation Street - Stan was and remains a real hero of mine. Serially unlucky, lazy, uncommunicative, and the script often hinted at his infidelity. He was a serial disappointment to Hilda, his wife. But she loved him.  Perhaps the best period was when Eddie Yeats, a scouse binman became the Ogdens lodger. The dialog was witty and gritty. In many ways Yeats was a surrogate son. As Ogden grew old, Yeats stepped up and looked after him. What I loved about Stan was he was a very believable figure and for all his failings, he had a lot of love. He just had demons as well. These days, it seems there is no warmth in soap stars and few are truly believable working class characters, surviving on the edge.

7. Bet Lynch - Coronation Street - Another epic character from Coronation Street. Bet Lynch was what we all wanted our barmaids to be like in the 1970's bold and brassy and not prepared to take any nonsense from anyone. It seemed that every pub had a Bet Lynch. In those days, you'd walk in the pub and your pint would be on the bar by the time you got there. That is how it should be.

8.  Mrs Slocombe - Are You Being Served? -  She was the archetypal batty auntie character. (I won't say which of my aunties!). She is the pivot around the humour. You never quite new if she was serious or not. The victim of much sexist innudendo and resentment. It seemed to me that she was a bit of a victim of bullying, but very resilient, in many ways having created her own parallel universe. One of the things which most amused me (given that my mums family origniated from Oldham) was how she'd affect a posh accent that gave way to the northern twang when she got cross. As such I felt great affection for her. I once told my mum that Mrs Slocombe reminded me of her, she went absolutley nuts.

9. Frank Spencer - Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em - A true comedic genius character. Michael Crawford was immense in this role. This was absolute must see TV. Some of the stunts were awesome, most notably the scene on the roller skates. Truly brilliant.

10. Huggy Bear - Starsky and Hutch - Although a supporting character in the main premise, I loved Huggy Bear. His whole way of talking was just different. His lifestyle seemed to hint at a whole different side of America that we never saw in US shows. Starsky and Hutch was probably the biggest show of the 1970's, but for me Huggy Bear was the only interesting character. He is described in wikipedia as "street-wise, ethically ambiguous, "jive-talking" Huggy Bear (Antonio Fargas), who often dressed in a flashy manner and operated his own bar". In other words a far more interesting character than the fairly one dimensional stars


Friday, 17 February 2017

Why are Brexiteers so scared of a referendum on the EU exit deal

Last year the UK voted to leave the EU. No one knew what we were voting for, just what we were voting against. Many promises were made by the Brexit campaigners, the biggest one being the £350 Million a week for the NHS. Brexiteers campaigned for years for a referendum and in the light of the result, many have stated "the people have spoken" implying that referenda are the way to decide such things. They say that the "will of the people must be respected". But not enough to give them a say on the deal that is actually agreed. To me it is perfectly logical that Theresa May negotiates a new deal and then says to the British people "This is the best deal we could negotiate, do you want us to implement it?" Unlike the previous referendum, we'd know exactly what we were voting for. If the Brexiteers are right and the will of the people is that we go for it, then fine. But what if Theresa May negotiates a rotten deal that is not in the interests of the people. What if the deal will mean that the economy will struggle and rather than raising our living standards they drop, causing a drop in tax take and a funding crisis for the NHS. Since the vote, the pound has slumped and inflation is starting to rise. By the time May has finished her negotiations, the picture will be far clearer. Theresa May has put hard line Brexiteers in charge of the process. These guys have a blank sheet to get the nest deal they can. Surely every Brexiteer must believe that a second vote would be a formality with a great deal on the table? If they do they should have no issue and if they don't they are being cowardly and dishonest. It would give the Brexiteer ministers a huge incentive to do a good job. For me that sort of incentive is most sensible.

The Friday Joke - 17/02/2017


White van humour

A wealthy man died and went to heaven. He was met at the Pearly Gates by Saint Peter who led him down the streets of gold. They passed mansion after mansion until they came to the very end of the street. Saint Peter stopped the rich man in front of a little shack. “This belongs to you,”
said Saint Peter. Why do I get this ugly thing when there are so many mansions I could live in?” the man demanded. “We did the best we could with the money you gave us!” Saint Peter replied.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Donald Trump - Chaos and he's not been in the job a month

Did you know that in this month in 1962, 55 years ago, The USA exchanged Pilot Gary Power for Russian spy Rudolph Abel? It was the height of the cold war. John F. Kennedy was president of the USA and Kryschev was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR. Whatever you may have thought about Kennedy, with his handling of the Cuban missile crisis, there was no doubt at all that he was a serious politician. There was no doubt that he was a US patriot and a serious politician.

Fast forward to today. the 45th President, Donald Trump has been in the job less than a month. He seems to have avery different sort of relationship with Russia. His pick for National Security secretary has just "resigned" for all manner of dodgy shenanigans with the the Russians. Trump was warned by his cheif attourney (remember her, the one he sacked because he didn't like her now vindicated view that his actions were not lawful).

When Trump took over and started posting executive orders by the dozen, a friend on Facebook asked why Obama hadnt. I think we know now, don't we?

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The Wednesday Poem - The end.

The end

The door has closed,
I look down on the tears and pain,
The shock and despair of those I love,
Adios Amigos, until we meet again,
In a better place.

Copyright Roger Tichborne 2017

(Rog note: I recently had a dream that I had a near death experience. Well I hope it was a dream. It made me feel slightly uneasy. I wrote this to encapsulate the emotions I was feeling. In case you were wondering)

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Thameslink - focusing on the important things?

There was an amazing exchange of tweets today, which totally summed up why Thameslink Railway is such a mess. If there is a point to be made, the management of Thameslink Railway will miss it. There really isn't anything much else to say, except enjoy!