Much ado about nothing

So Jacqui Smith’s spouse has been watching “adult” movies at the expense of the British taxpayer.

Does it really matter?

With new revelations every day regarding massive expense fiddles by shameless politicians, and obscene golden fuck-offs paid to criminally incompetent and corrupt fat cats, what difference is a few quid going to make?

I don’t personally pay to watch porn movies, so I don’t know what it costs, but I can’t believe it’s enough to be newsworthy.

Interesting article in today’s The Independent.

Oui oui, mes amis

There’s nothing like mutual wee-weeing for breaking down social barriers.

This morning I went for my 4-yearly check, courtesy of the French health system. Teeth, sight, hearing, weight, puffability, blood pressure (both arms), ECG, blood tests (congratulations to the nurse for her ruthless determination to extract the required amount despite the flow coming to a complete halt twice), and of course the urine test. There is no room for bashfulness here; all candidates, of both genders, sit in a row waiting to be called by the urine lady, who hands you a transparent plastic cup and points you to the loos (gender specific). Some people seem to take far longer than others to fill their cup, and when they emerge from the loo the cup is placed companionably on a red trolley with all the other cups. I noticed some cups half empty, and some half full; one barely damp, and several filled to the brim. There are no guidelines as to the correct quantity.

I wondered if I should mention my idea that the lids could be coloured in some way to signal their presence. Being transparent, it would be quite possible not to notice them.

As you have to arrive “à jeun” – on an empty stomach, once your various unsullied bodily fluids have been extracted you are given a neat little brown paper bag containing a carton of orange juice, two slices of melba toast, a container of strawberry jam, a pot of apple puree, a plastic spoon and paper napkin, and a card outlining what constitutes a healthy diet. The French health care system is wonderful.

Rules of writing

  1. Remember to never split an infinitive.
  2. The passive voice should never be used.
  3. Do not put statements in the negative form.
  4. Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
  5. Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
  6. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
  7. A writer must not shift your point of view.
  8. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
  9. Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!
  10. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
  11. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
  12. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
  13. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
  14. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
  15. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
  16. Always pick on the correct idiom.
  17. The adverb always follows the verb.
  18. Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives.

~William Safire, “Great Rules of Writing”

I think rule No. 8 is outdated, but otherwise the above seems to be sound advice.


Natasha Richardson’s death confirmed my belief in the unalterable course of fate. I’ve always been certain that we are born with our destiny stamped indelibly and unalterably onto our life, like a bar code.

She has an apparently minor accident, bangs her head, and shortly afterwards she’s dead. That was her destiny, poor lady.

Eleven years ago TOH started suffering from severe headaches after banging his bonce. The headaches continued month after month; his doctor diagnosed a blocked sinus. The headaches got worse, and TOH’s behaviour became increasingly erratic. Everybody who knew him suspected either a brain tumour or early Alzheimers. Finally, after EIGHT MONTHS, a different doctor took a better look, and within 24 hours he was being operated on for a subdural haematoma – the same condition that killed Natasha Richardson.

Five days after the first operation, TOH’s headaches returned, and he was operated on again. Both times one litre of blood was drained from between his skull and brain. Until today, I don’t think we had appreciated how lucky he was to have survived. Destiny.