Friday, November 30, 2007

Ireland's Prosperty: How it Started and How it Will End


From where did our recent and famed prosperity come?
The truth is, it came from lots of sources.
And here are some:
Europe, who pumped in billions without which prosperity would not have arrived.
The efficiency of John Bruton’s government which, if it was still in power, wouldn’t have us in this mess.
Jack Charlton.
Ray Houghton’s goal in Stuttgart to beat England.
U2.
Bob Geldof and his role in Live Aid.
Michael O’Leary and Ryanair.
Seamus Heaney.
Maeve Binchy
Father Ted
Bailey’s Irish Cream.

Riverdance.
Terry Wogan.
Temple Bar.
The IFSC.
The Royal Hospital
And even the Rosc exhibition
(and yes, I know they’re all Haughey inspired)
The DART.
Italia ‘90.
Rugby’s resurgence.
Pearse Brosnan.
Liam Neeson.
Gabriel Byrne.
Neil Jordan.
Jim Sheridan.
Roddy Doyle.
Low corporate taxes.
The US economic boom.
Peace, more or less, in the North.
Bill Clinton.
Pope John Paul II’s visit.
The building boom.
The house price boom.
Immigration.
Celebrity immigration.
Eddie Jordan.
Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan and other blockbuster movies.
Golf.
Stag parties.
Hen parties.
Multiplex cinemas.
Greater access to third level education.
Dermot Desmond.
Denis O’Brien.
Sean Quinn.
Michael Smurfit.
Harry Crosbie.
Dennis Desmond.
Jim and Peter Aiken.
John Fitzpatrick and his hotels in New York and Chicago.
The Cat Laughs Festival.
Oxegen, despite the spelling.
The Electric Picnic.
Vicar Street and The Point.
Croke Park.
The ‘new’ Gaa.
Rocket.
Sushi.
Bagels.
Parmesan Cheese.
Good restaurants.
A taste for wine.

And one thing that will kill it forever:
Greed.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

To Be Brutally Honest...


I am going to be honest. Don’t know why. Maybe it’s because the utter dishonesty of politicians is annoying me more than it ever did.
If you read my profile, you will know what I’m like.
Pretty cool guy.
I like cool music. And I like cool books. And I like cool movies.
And it’s all true.
But it’s not all.
Here goes.
Despite their being as uncool as it is possible to be, I like Keane. I actually like some of what James Blunt does. I like
Gilbert O’Sullivan. (A mate of mine, since deceased, once joined me singing Gilbert’s back catalogue at a pre-gig reception before a Bruce Springsteen concert. How cool is that?)

And I actually don’t give a damn what anyone says, I liked the Frog Chorus.
Mind you, Keane and Blunt are the only two on the Virginmedia list of top ten uncool artists I actually like. I would draw the line at the likes of Phil Collins or Celine Dion.
I like a lot of cool movies. But I also like the first three or four Carry On movies. I like virtually all World War II movies, especially the dodgy ones like The Dirty Dozens and Where Eagles Dare and such like.
I love the Ealing comedies and movies of that ilk, The Man in the White Suit, The Titfield Thunderbolt, School for Scoundrels. I love Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, anything with Alistair Sim, Alec Guinness, Terry-Thomas and so on.
I like any movie that makes me cry, even crappy tv movies.
(Another confession. I saw Love Story three times on three consecutive nights with three different girls. And it was only on the third night I had to pretend to cry.)
And if they have a Christmas theme all the better.
(Plea for help: I once watched a movie with my sister about a businessman who was mugged in New York whose clothes were stolen by a hobo. The man lost his memory and the hobo, wearing his clothes, was killed by a train.
His family thought him dead.
But one Christmas, his memory returned and he went back to his home town at Christmas and watched his now grown-up children go to church with their children. He then went to their house, while it was snowing of course, and looked in the window as they celebrated Christmas. His son spotted him through the window and went out to him. Not knowing who he was the son said: “Come in old man whoever you are and have Christmas with us.”
Happy ending I thought.
But the old man said “No” and walked away.
And my sister and I wept for a week.
If you recognise the movie, let me know. I fancy a good weep.)
I love It’S A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone, that kind of thing.
And when it comes to books, I love Kafka and Camus and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
But I love Stephen King even when he’s at his worst. I love Joseph Wambaugh. I love a bit of chicklit.
And when it comes to television, I’d watch any British cop show. Rebus, Silent Witness, The Linley Mysteries, Miss Marple, Taggart and so on.
I follow Corrie and EastEnders. I love Grand Designs and Property Ladder. I loved Butterflies, I loved Ever Decreasing Circles, I loved The Good Life.
I watch the Late Late Show, I listen to Tubridy, I think Ronan Collins is brilliant.
I think Tommy Flemming and Liam Lawton have brilliant voices.
I've always enjoyed Joe Dolan.
I When it comes to comedy, I loved all Ronnie Barker’s stuff.
I think Tommy Cooper was the best of them all, with Les Dawson close behind.
I loved Morecambe and Wise but never got a laugh out of Dick Emery or Benny Hill.
I find Russell Brand funny. I laugh at Jack Dee. I thought Bill Hicks a genius.
Currently, Peter Kay is miles ahead of anyone.
I don’t actually find Tommy Tiernan funny though he apparently finds himself hilarious. I think Jimmy Carr unbelievably unfunny.
And I admire Podge and Rodge for getting away with the same gag for so long.
Why am I getting this off my chest now?
Because I came into the hospital at 9.15 this morning and had my bloods taken. It is now 3.00pm and I’m still here having been told to wait, the doctor would see me in a minute.
Haven’t seen her yet.
Which reminds me.
I loved the Doctor movies - Doctor in the House, Doctor at Sea - too.
One last thing.|
Why don’t they show the Beatles’ movies on telly at Christmas time anymore?
Yes, I think they're brilliant too. And not at all dated.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

I'm Glad Ireland Is Not In Africa. (Or Am I?)

I am, kind of, glad that Ireland is not in Africa.
If it was, there would have been a coup a long, long time ago.
Why?
Well, all the ingredients are there.
We have a prime minister who is paying himself and his cronies more than just about any other leader in the world. And he’s doing it with public money, money taken off the people in taxes.
In addition to that, he has taken ‘loans’ from friends. These ‘loans’ weren’t ‘loans’ at all until it was discovered that he had received them. Up to that point, not a cent had been paid back.
He then lies, or at least doesn't tell the truth, to a tribunal of investigatioin.
And he won't explain what it was necessary for him to abandon the banking system and hide money in a safe while he was going through his separation.
I can only presume, despite his record, that he declared the money in the safe as part of his assets when he was required to do so.
Furthermore, he managed to wangle himself a bank loan of £19,000 without formally applying for it and without having to pay anything back for 18 months. It’s clear, he wouldn’t have got the loan if he had not been Finance minister at the time. And using your position for personal gain is more or less the definition of corruption.

If he could do the job, you might turn a blind eye.
But look at the country.
The health service is an unmitigated disaster, kept afloat only by the incredible and largely unrewarded efforts of the frontline workers.
It is top heavy with overpaid administrators who couldn’t run the proverbial in the brewery.
Our road network is still in an horrendous state. For years, little bits of motorway and dual carriageway were built here and there. This was a) to facilitate local political and electoral need and b) to avoid the legal requirement to open such schemes up to tender from construction companies in Europe.
Currently, only two cities on the island of Ireland are linked by motorway/dual carriageway. And Belfast and Dublin are linked for ideological reasons, not infrastructural.
When roads are built, they’re built badly and with little concern for history, culture, heritage or archaeology.
The M50 is, quite simply, a joke and it will always be a joke. And it will become an even more ridiculous joke when the National Roads Authority - possibly the most inept body in the world - is given control of the Westlink toll bridge.
The National Roads Authority. That’s the body that was charged with building roads to bypass towns and villages and then refused to allow services along the new roads telling people they could go into the towns and villages.
It is the body charged with signposting Ireland. Honestly. Someone is actually in charge of that.
It is the body which believed a bramble hedge was sufficient barrier in the central median of a motorway.
It’s another joke.
The Department of Education can’t build sufficient schools.
The Department of Sport is paying for the building of Lansdowne Road, a stadium too small by half, having funked building a national stadium.
It is also at least partially responsible for the pay-for-pay debacle in t he GAA.
The Minister for Social Welfare can keep a straight face telling us that €300 a week is sufficient for pensioners, when his pay rise alone is almost twice that.
The Minister for Enterprise is watching jobs vanish.
The Minister for the Gaeltacht has created division in Dingle where there was none.
The Minister for Justice is presiding over a brutal gang war, a police service corrupt in parts and a system that sees fewer gardai on the streets now than there were in the sixties.
As for the ‘Green” Party ministers, it seems there is a direct relationship between the amount of money they’re paid and the abandonment of their principles.
And as for the ‘independents’ they have, largely, been bought.
The years of prosperity are over, and the only ones with anything to show at the end of it all, are politicians who received more than twenty pay rises, and the construction industry.
It’s an outrage. It’s a scandal. It’s a tragedy.
We still have the desperately poor. We still have in sufficient places for the intellectually disabled. We have virtually no facilities for those who wish to try and beat their addiction to drugs.
We have nothing.
So maybe, at the end of it all, it’s a pity we’re not in Africa.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Unbridled Joy as England Lose

THERE is a certain type of person, a politically correct type of person, who doesn’t approve of Ireland’s schadenfreude in relation to many things English.
Last night, I tried hard, very hard, to feel sorry for the English soccer team and, indeed, English soccer fans, when they were beaten 2-3 by Croatia at Wembley.
I tried to feel as I felt when Ireland bowed out of the European championships. I tried to feel the disappointment of the fans who had planned a summer of sport in Austria and Switzerland. I tried to feel sorry for players I like such as Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick and Steven Gerrard and so on.
But I failed. I couldn’t do it.
It’s just not possible.

Now, when I wrote about this in the Sunday World, the last time England bowed out of some tournament or other (it wasn’t cricket. I support them to a degree at cricket) I received a bagfull of mail telling me how immature I am (I acknowledge that) how juvenile I am (no problem there) and how racist and bigoted I am.
Whoa! Not guilty.
My desire to see England lose at, well, soccer, rugby, tennis and a few other sports here and there, stems not from events in 1169 or, indeed, 1607 or for that matter, 1798 or 1916 or even 1972.
It has nothing whatsoever to oppression, perceived or otherwise.
It has nothing to do with the Irish being ‘colonised’ or ‘downtrodden’ or anything of that sort.
It has nothing to do with some of England’s more odious monarchs or the real and actual hardship imposed on Ireland over the centuries.
No, it has a great deal more to do with John Motson and Jimmy Hill and The Sun and Ian Wright than it has to do with history.
It is an extraordinary thing that English football pundits seem to think that any tournament without them in it, isn’t worth having at all.
In fairness to Motty, he acknowledged on Wednesday last, just how utterly lousy the current English team is.
But hardly had he said as much, when Ian Wright was blathering on about how England deserved to be at the finals. No they didn’t, Ian. They didn’t win a sufficient number of games and, hence, didn’t garner a sufficient number of points. It’s simple.
When it comes to rugby, you think Stuart Barnes and Brian Moore and The Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph.
But mostly you think Martin Johnson and how the arrogant lump insulted Mary McAleese and, by extension, Ireland, with his behaviour at Lansdowne Road a couple of years ago.
Rugby players are, in the main, a well-bred bunch, mannerly and so on.
But there’s always an exception.
And if Johnson didn’t do it for you, surely the reaction of their media to their jammy wins in the Rugby World Cup did.
When it comes to tennis, you think Tim Henman. It’s not so much Tim’s fault as it is the media’s. They built him up and up and up. Henman Hill, for God’s sake. What was that all about.
And anyway, I find the name Spiderman reasonably impressive. Batman isn’t bad. Superman is brilliant.
But Henman?
I’m afraid it will always be the same for us, or at least, most of us.
The next best thing to Ireland winning is England losing.
You know, the funny thing about our win against England in Stuttgart, is that it was celebrated as much in Glasgow and on the Shankill Road as it was in the Republic of Ireland.
Indeed, when Ireland was drawn with England again in the World Cup in 1990, a reporter asked a woman on the Shankill Road, how she wanted the Irish team to do.
“Beat England - and lose all their other games,” she said.
Just about says it all, really.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Profiles in Greed

CAN you remember the last time a politician in this country did something courageous?
As a rule, our politicians are opportunistic, selfish and small-minded.
They are guided entirely by political expediency, not by any moral imperative.
They build schools and hospitals and roads in places that will provide the greatest return electorally. Those with any kind of power pour money into their own constituencies to the detriment of other areas.
Our leaders - an inappropriate word if ever there was one - make deals, expedient and opportunistic deals, with people, regardless of who they are or what they have done or what they stand for. The likes of Beverley Flynn and Michael Lowry may be rehabilitated in Bertie Ahern’s mind. But that just goes to show what a nasty place that is.

When was the last time an Irish minister resigned, voluntarily, for doing or saying something wrong, for causing offence, for wasting money or just because he or she felt morally obliged to make a principled stand? (On that score, if Bertie had been in just about any other democracy in the world, he would have quit over his over signing blank cheques for Charlie Haughey when the dogs in the street were barking about his corruption. He would have walked once his dodgy dig-outs became public, he would have submitted his resignation over his mysterious ‘money in the mattress’ during his separation. But he wouldn’t have been there at all if he had had the manners to quit after suggesting that those who moaned about the economy should go off and commit suicide.)
Every move an Irish politician makes is inspired only by self-interest.
Since going into government (in the mistaken belief that the 500 or so in the Mansion House, who endorsed the decision to go into government represented the 86,000 voters who voted Green) John Gormley has been busy telling us what he cannot do rather than having the courage to actually do something.
He recently managed to outfudge his Fianna Fail colleagues when it came to explaining how he was spending tax payers’ money on his office and constituency workers. Power corrupts etc.
Our politicians have built roads and railways where they believe such schemes will win them votes. For years, little bits of dual carriageway littered the country, each one built to satisfy local political needs. One utterly bizarre stretch in Mayo, was even nicknamed the “Pee Flynn bypass.”
Wood Quay was destroyed because politicians feared the wrath of unions representing local authority workers, just as the M3 is now being built on a route recommended only by those who will benefit financially from its construction. Not one of the area’s elected representatives had or has the courage to put heritage ahead of self interest.
Some years ago, representatives of Irish politicians were given the “Profile in Courage Award,’ an accolade named after the book written by John F Kennedy, for their work on the peace process.
It has, before and since, been given to politicians who have made enormous sacrifices, who have lost their jobs - who have lost just about everything - because they put right before self-interest.
I cannot imagine it, ever again, being awarded to an Irish politician.
Sure, I can think of exceptions. I can think of Joe Higgins, I can think of Richard Boyd Barrett and a few others who, even if I don’t agree with everything they say and do, stick to their principles despite knowing that by doing so their are lessening their chances of getting elected. The Labour Party too, refused to prostitute itself after the general election which was the honourable, if not profitable, course.
I used to think to he Greens in the same way, but no more.
We now live in a country where Dail seats are passed on to brothers and sisters, widows and children as if they were a favourite old armchair or a wad of cash left in a will.
We live in a country where politicians are becoming less and less accountable, where the Freedom of Information Act has been watered down simply because it allowed people the freedom to get information.
We live in a country where politicians, presumably to compensate themselves for no longer being able to accept bribes and handouts, give themselves pay rise after pay rise.
We live in a country where new laws are brought in in jig-time to allow for the abolition of the very tribunals which are exposing Bertie Ahern’s duplicity and dishonesty.
It is a country where the prime minister believes a pay rise of more than the average industrial wage is not only justified, but merely a ‘token amount.’
So, just think about these words:
“In whatever arena of life one may meet the challenge of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follows his conscience – the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow men – each man must decide for himself the course he will follow. The stories of past courage can define that ingredient – they can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul.”
John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage
Those words mean nothing to politicians in this country.
Instead, our politicians are greedy, grubby people.
And, yes, that is a moan.
And no, Taoiseach, I won’t go off and kill myself.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rugby is Waiting in the Wings


❍Jimmy Greaves, rugby fan

“I was a footballer but now rugby is a greater love for me.”
I could have said that. People who were actually good at rugby could have said it. People like, maybe, Keith Wood or Shane Byrne or Tony Ward.
But the astonishing thing about that little quote, is that it came from Jimmy Greaves.
Jimmy Greaves, goal-scoring hero for Spurs for a generation. Goal-scoring hero for West Ham after that. The genius who missed out on a world cup medal in 1966 because of injury. Half of Saint and Greavsie who, unlike today’s pundits, realised that football was and is a game.

Today’s pundits? Today’s players too.
It is a long, long time since I have seen a soccer match that made me feel good, one that entertained me, one I didn’t actually regret watching.
I cannot abide the showboating, the negativity, the diving, the feigning of injury, the whinging at referees, the attempts to get opponents booked or sent off, the inarticulacy of the players, the clich├ęs, the hype and the money.
Between yesterday and the day before, I watched four games of rugby. The worst of those, that between Edinburgh and Toulouse, was aeons better than the best soccer match I have seen in recent times.
God help us, there are large periods of soccer matches where it surprises me that those on the pitch remain awake, let alone those in the stands. I now know why so many supporters take their tops off even in freezing weather. They are trying to fend off sleep.
Now, I know not all is right with rugby. During the recent world cup, it too sank a little with the Garryowen, the old up-and-under, featuring rather too much. Referees have become just a little too protective of players. Some may not like what we used to call ‘clearing out’ when the boot was used to move opposition players who were illegally lying on the ball. But it worked. And when they lay on the ball, they knew what to expect.
Some of us don’t like the fact that the ball seems to be crooked in to every scrum.
Some of us don’t like the fact that different referees seem to interpret the offside law in different ways.
Nonetheless, when you watch rugby, there is always something happening.
If you get into it - and if you’re not, I recommend you do - you will realise that even when it just looks like a heap of bodies lying there, there is lots happening.
Leinster’s defence, for example, against Leicester was stupendous.
There are so many aspects to the game that you could write a book simply about tactics.
One of the main reasons rugby is such a fine game, is that it is a team building game.
The girls - that’s the backs to you - know well that nothing will happen for them unless we - that’s the forwards - get the ball for them.
Yes, there are flash players in the backs.
But you will find that, to a man, they acknowledge the work of their team-mates.
Rugby doesn’t generally give birth to grudges, despite hard physical battles. It generally gives birth, instead, to a few rounds of drinks.
And rugby doesn’t tolerate people who whinge at referees, even if they are wrong, which they generally are.
Rugby is growing. And it will keep growing if the authorities a) keep an eye on the laws of the game and b) keep promoting the game in the weaker countries and in the weaker areas of the strong countries.
A man in a Dublin rugby club once said, to my certain knowledge that ‘they shouldn’t be playing rugby in Tallaght.”
Bad cess to him.
Tallaght and Neilstown and all of the new suburbs and indeed, all of the new Irish, are the future our game.
I don’t wish soccer any ill.
But if keeps going on the way its going, it will become too boring for fans, too expensive for fans, to costly even for television and boring beyond belief.
If that happens, rugby is ready for the challenge.
(You will gather, I’m feeling a great deal better!)

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

I Suspect...

HEALTH is the issue.
Right now in Ireland, it is just about the only issue for many people.
I know about the health service because of my experiences with it and in it.
My experiences with it are good.
In it, not so.
I don’t know who designs hospitals. I suspect it is accountants. And I suspect they are on a bonus for every euro they save.
I suspect they make wards and rooms, waiting areas and doctors’ offices as small as possible.
I suspect they don’t bother including what might be called leisure activity areas for patients, not all of whom are confined to bed all day.
I suspect they say that it is up to the patients to decide what they’ll watch when there are two televisions between four or six.
I suspect they say the radios aren’t great and the earphones won’t last, but what the hell if there are no radios for the patients.

I suspect they say that the showers with the six inch steps up to them and the narrow doors aren’t actually very good, but they’re a great price.
I suspect they say that if they put in a decent kitchen, it will only result in the production of decent food and decent food costs money so let’s not bother.
I suspect they say that centres of excellence will be good for health but even better for budgets as long as we make most outlying patients pay their own way to get to them.
I suspect they say that it’s not their fault if people have to hang around hospitals all day waiting to see consultants so they’re not obliged to provide them with any diversion of any kind.
I suspect they say that if people spend six or eight hours a day visiting sick friends or relatives and then have to fork our twelve or sixteen euro for parking, that’s just efficiency.
I suspect they say that it would be too expensive, even if it is the right thing to do, for nurses and other staff who deal with patients, to be provided with clean and sterilised uniforms on their arrival at work each day.
I suspect they say it would cost too much to sterilise every bed every time a patients leaves hospital.
I suspect they think that medical care is all that counts. I suspect they think they pay doctors and nurses enough and I suspect they don’t really care if porters and cleaners and dinner ladies leave on a regular basis because, I suspect they believe such people don’t require training of any kind.
Mostly, though, I suspect those who make the decisions I suspect are made relating to patient care as opposed to patients medical care, are made by people who don’t use public hospital and who probably think they shouldn’t have to.
I suspect they have contempt for those damned costly patients.
And I suspect nothing will ever change.
Thank God that, at least in the short term, I’m at home watching my fourth rugby match in two days.
Couldn’t do that in hospital.
Reckon they suspect providing satellite television, even at a small charge, would just be too much damned trouble.

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Parole

Out of hospital at least temporarily. No tunnel required.
But it was an escape nonetheless.
I don’t like hospitals though I am likely to spend an awful lot more time in them in the coming years, assuming, that is, there are years coming.
Because patients come last.
No, not when it comes to medical care of course.
I doubt there is anywhere in the world where the medical care is better than it is in Ireland.
But, God, the hospitals are depressing. They generate depression where previously, there was none.
Small, claustrophobic, grey rooms with a television up on the wall in the corner and a radio that doesn’t work.
Most patients see medical staff only occasionally. Certainly, they see them as often as they must and more.
But whether in a ward or a private room, patients are left alone to their own devices for long periods of the day.
And it is, for me anyway, depressing beyond endurance.
I know how lucky I am that my family is just a couple of miles away and that I got to see them often. But when they weren’t with me, they may as well have been on the moon.
And while everyone does everything to deal with my disease, my head, at the same times, turns into a kind of mush.
I hear, on a daily basis, how wonderful our health service is going to be. It may very well be. Mary Harney and Brendan Drumm may well be right.
But to be perfectly frank and perfectly selfish, that’s shag-all use to me.
I say patients come last because, when it comes to the design of hospitals, when it comes to their ‘non-health’ welfare, if you like, little consideration is given.
Why are the rooms so dull?
Why don’t the radios work?
Why is the food so unappetising?
Why are six people expected to share two televisions?
I could write a very long list.
But, for now, I’m going to be brief and enjoy my break from hospital. I’m going to enjoy with with Connie and Charlotte and of course, Eric the mutt.
I may have to go back in again soon, depending on blood counts and what not.
I dread it.
But if it all works, sure, it will have been worth it.
Question is, why they couldn’t make it all so much more pleasant.

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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Paddy Murray Is (a bit) Unwell (this time) V

A FEW of the boys are working on a tunnel.
It’s slow work.
They’re using scalpels and hiding the dirt in their colostomy bags.
But progress is slow.
The plan is for them to emerge somewhere near the Guinness tap in a pub on James’s Street.
And I wish them the best of luck.
Personally, I’m not going to chance it, not because I don’t want to get out of here, believe me, I do.
It’s just that they’ve put me on the one antibiotic that reacts with alcohol. Makes you pretty ill. And when you’re pretty ill, the last thing you want is something that’s going to make you pretty ill. Or pretty iller. Or prettier ill. Whatever. You get my drift.

My defiance of authority came in the form of Singapore Noodles which were sneaked in by a friend on Saturday night, disguised as a bunch of grapes. The noodles, not the friend.
It was wonderful once again to taste something that tasted of something.
I am proposing, when I eventually finish my sentence, to launch a television game show called: Guess the Food.
In it, people will be blindfolded and fed hospital food and asked to guess what it is or, at least, what the hospital says it is.
“It’s beef,” they will cry only to be told it’s actually a pork chop.
“It’s a pork chop,” they will shout confidently, only to be told it’s bacon and cabbage.
“It’s bacon and cabbage,” they will roar to the cheers of their family members, who, like family members always do in such programmes, will be standing around looking like complete idiots.
But it won’t be bacon and cabbage, it will be jelly and ice cream.
I always thought there was at least a degree of overacting in films such as The Bridge Over the River Kwai and Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence.
But now I am beginning to see that incarceration does that to a body. It makes him overact dreadfully.
The boredom is the worst part of it. I don’t know. That could actually be a line from a prisoner of war movie for all I know.
And so I have taken to complaining.
I hate hotel rooms, but I don’t understand why single rooms in hospitals are half the size of single rooms in hotels. It’s the engineering I don’t understand. How do they make them so small? The architect must draw his plans under a microscope or something.
I don’t understand why they wake you up all the time either. Half the time they seem to wake you up to find out if you’re awake or not. And I bet they find that 100 per cent of the people they wake up in the middle of the night are actually awake. And that means they don’t feel guilty about waking you up.
And I hate the rubber covering on the mattress and the pillows. Yes, I know why it’s there. But I can say, honestly, in my case: Not guilty.
Most of all, I hate being without Connie and Charlotte and yes, Eric the mutt too.
Hospitals may repair the bodies of their patients, but they do nothing for their mental well being.
If Mary Harney had the faintest idea what she was doing, she would address the issue of patient welfare as well as patient well-being.
I’m off again.
Which is why one friend has promised to bring in to me, a painting for my wall.
The Moaner Lisa.

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Paddy Murray Is (a bit) Unwell (this time) IV

WHEN you’re in hospital, you’re asked a lot of questions.
You’re asked your date of birth on a regular basis.
(NOTE: If there is a Paddy Murray in James’s Hospital, and if he was also born on August 5, 1953, and if he is awaiting a barium enema or indeed, an enema of any description, could he please call a nurse and point out that he is not me.)
And you are asked about your allergies.
I am asked, for example, on an almost daily basis if i am allergic to penicillin or antibiotics of any kind.
I am not. But if I was and I told them so, they would not give me such medicine.
Every now and then, I am asked if I am allergic to anything.
I always reply in the affirmative and point out that I am seriously allergic to the following.
Sleep deprivation
Hospital food
Pain.

They don’t listen.
In fact, i wonder why they ask.
Because if there is one thing you are not permitted to do for any length of time in hospital, it’s sleep.
“Good night” and “good morning” are separated by only a tiny gap.
And if you are ever lucky enough to have a nurse tell you she, or indeed he, will leave you to sleep for an hour, be sure, be one hundred per cent sure, that during that hour, you will be visited by a cleaner, a junior doctor, a registrar, someone from accounts and the porter who is there to bring you, right now, for the x-ray which was scheduled for yesterday or tomorrow.
I have no doubt in my mind, that some patients die from sheer exhaustion.
Another certainty in hospital, is that you will be served hospital food. It is called hospital food not only because it is served in hospital, but because it is unique in manages to look so unappetising, in the way it can make carrots chewy.
And then there is pain.
Most hospital stays begin with pain.
You know the way it is. You have a pain in your elbow*. You go to the doctor. You have tests. You are told there is something wrong with your elbow (which you had more or less managed to figure out for yourself) and you have to go to hospital.
(*Insert hand, foot, heart, head, knee and so on, as appropriate.)
So off you go to hospital to get your pain removed.
And what do they do?
They start sticking needles into you. “It’s for bloods,” they say.
And if you have to get mucho drugs, they insert a canula or a Picc line. Worse still, they might decide to operate. And that involves cutting you and stitching you up again.
And it all hurts. It hurts a lot. And, if you’re a man, it hurts an awful lot indeed.
And so you lie awake in your bed, knowing that trying to sleep is pointless because someone will arrive ti wake you up if you make any attempt to get forty winks or even ten.
And you’re hungry because you can’t/won’t eat the food.
And you’re in pain.
You told them you’re allergic to all three.
Three?
Of course I meant four.
Stress. I’m alleregic to stress.
And boy, do they give it to you in spades in here.

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