Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Don't bandy words with your betters...

Just read this on Theo Spark's site and having laughed out loud, I thought I would share it with my admittedly tiny readership:

Irish Railway.........

The following is an exchange of correspondence between a customer and the Irish Railway.


I have been riding trains daily for the last two years, and the service on your line seems to be getting worse every day. I am tired of standing in the aisle all the time on a 14-mile trip. I think the transportation system is worse than that enjoyed by people 2,000 years ago.

Yours truly,

Patrick Finnegan

Dear Mr. Finnegan,

We received your letter with reference to the shortcomings of our service and believe you are somewhat confused in your history. The only mode of transportation 2,000 years ago was by foot.


Larnrod Eireann


I am in receipt of your letter, and I think you are the ones who are confused in your history. If you will refer to the Bible, Book of Numbers, 22nd Chapter, you will find that Balaam rode to town on his ass. That, gentlemen, is something I have not been able to do on your train in the last two years!

Patrick Finnegan


Monday, July 19, 2010

More excuses...

Just a very quick missive to explain my lengthy absence from the Blogosphere.

I'm afraid a very intense and busy period professionally, coupled with a sudden and unexpected, increase in grandfatherly responsibilities have combined to deprive me of sufficient spare time to write any posts worthy of the name.

I hope to resume my normal level of productivity from about the start of August or so...

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Missed your six month check up Mark?

Watching the news this evening, I saw an interview with Mark Serwotka, the General Secretary of the PCS union, who was expressing his outrage at the suggestion of 40% cuts in some Whitehall budgets; but that’s not the point of this post.

Forgive me for being personal, but what struck me was the state of his teeth; because he’d either been eating liquorice (and large amounts of it) minutes before his interview, or he has shockingly neglected his dental health for some years.

Unfortunately, I can’t find a picture of him which adequately shows the state of his teeth, but from what I saw of him on the television, his mouth resembled the inside of an Eccles cake.

Quite the worst set of railings I've seen for many a year.

No wonder the Americans have a thing about the poor state of ‘English’ teeth, even though Serwotka is actually Welsh...

Happy birthday, USA...

May I take this opportunity wish my American readers, or any of your compatriots who accidentally happen across the Throne, a very happy Independence Day.
Enjoy your party, and to get you in the mood, here's a refrain with which I have no doubt you will all be very familiar...
My country,' tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing; land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims' pride, from every mountainside let freedom ring!
My native country, thee, land of the noble free, thy name I love; I love thy rocks and rills, thy woods and templed hills; my heart with rapture thrills, like that above.
Let music swell the breeze, and ring from all the trees sweet freedom's song; let mortal tongues awake; let all that breathe partake; let rocks their silence break, the sound prolong.
Our fathers' God, to thee, author of liberty, to thee we sing; long may our land be bright with freedom's holy light; protect us by thy might, great God, our King.
Now where have I heard that tune before...

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Gout: The curse has returned...

Yes, once again, this week, I have mainly been suffering from gout.

And yes, I've heard all the 'jokes' about it being a 'rich man's' condition and 'drinking too much port', blah, blah, blah - oh how I laughed - but Im afraid I have had something of a sense of humour failure about this attack, coming as it has in the middle of an exceptionally busy period of work; and before you think it, no, going off sick simply isn't an option for me, so I'll limp through it feeling, probably looking and certainly behaving, like a bear with a sore head (or paw, as the case may be).

But it's not just the timing of this attack, it's a little bit more than that. For instance, when the attack began, I didn't have any medication left, having given my last few tablets to a fellow sufferer who was in agony a few months ago. And yes, I know that was my own fault, but bear with me.

As someone who has suffered from the condition on and very much off for the last twenty years, I know when I'm having an attack: believe me, only first-timers don't know*, so rather than book an appointment with my GP, I thought the more sensible course was to free up his time and order a repeat prescription on-line instead.

So, yesterday morning, I emailed my request to the surgery, expecting the prescription to be ready at 3 o'clock this afternoon, after which treatment could commence immediately, or sooner, if possible. Imagine my agonised rage disappointment then, when the receptionist told me, "Sorry, it won't be ready until this time tomorrow, because the doctor hasn't seen it," before watching me hop out of the premises with pain etched across my face.

Just remind me why I didn't book an appointment and waste five minutes of GP surgery time writing out that prescription...

But there's more: this is an excerpt from the website I linked to at the top of this post, offering advice as to how to reduce you chances of suffering further attacks:

'Lifestyle factors may reduce the risk of having gout attacks. These include losing weight (if overweight), eating a healthy diet, not drinking too much alcohol or sugar sweetened soft drinks. If gout attacks recur, then taking vitamin C supplements and/or allopurinol each day can prevent attacks.'

Dealing with them in order: I am not overweight, even according to the ridiculous BMI 'standard'; perhaps not surprisingly, given the fact that I am not overweight, I eat a healthy diet, I never drink sugar-laden soft drinks and I take 500mg of vitamin C every day. Regular readers will know that I do like a drink every now and then, but to put that into context, I have not had a drop since last Friday evening and then I only had four bottles of Magners' cider; so I hardly qualify as a sot. Lastly, and for the uninitiated, allopurinol is a medication given to gout sufferers to reduce their production of uric acid, which is the root cause of the problem. However, it is only given to those who have regular attacks (i.e. every couple of months or so),which thankfully, I have not had to endure and my GP has never recommended it to me.

So why me? I'm fit, strong, relatively athletically built, eat sensibly, supplement appropriately and don't drink to excess.

Probably because my father had it and I'm told that there is a very strong familial link to the condition; for instance, my elder brother is also a sufferer and he is on allopurinol. As (bad) luck would have it, my brother-in-law is another victim and as my son wrily observed earlier on tonight, given that combination, he is firmly in the cross hairs, too.

Rant over. Time for me to hop back over to my easy chair and put my foot up.

(* The first time I suffered an attack, I went to casualty, because I was convinced I had broken my foot, the pain was that bad).