Three New Superheroes

Three new Superheroes

You might think that there are enough Superheroes out there already. But you would be wrong. How many is enough for a 3 year old (going on 4) with the hyperactive and infinite imagination that kids have?

Dragonfly

Superhero: The Movie is a spoof on the superhero genre of films. The majority of the story mocks the basis of the first Spider-Man movie but also a few other Marvel films. Instead of being bitten by a radioactive spider the “hero” in this parody is bitten by a radioactive dragonfly. I normally give these type of films a wide berth but when it was shown on Spanish TV recently I did watch most of it and thought it was quite funny.

Meanwhile Dani was playing with his toys and I thought he had not even noticed the film. But he had…

When asked who his favourite suprer hero is he usually lists one or two. Invariably Iron Man gets a mention and sometimes Spiderman, sometimes Batman. Now he adds Dragonfly! As if Dragonfly is a real superhero.

Wait a moment. What am I saying? Are Iron Man and Spider-Man real? Well no of course not; but at least they are supposed to be genuine fictional characters.

Note: I do try to tell him that Wonder Woman – the 70s version – is better than them all but he is not taking the bait.

Meanwhile here are two that Dani’s old dad made up; and Dani has taken on board as his own…

Medical Man

Origin: A cheap version of the Playmobil sets his mum bought when on a work trip to Prague.

Medical Man is a doctor by day. By night his alter ego allows him to fight the villains using a clever set of career based skills. He dresses in a white lab coat and blue trousers. Just like a doctor in fact. His disguise is merely a cape with the letters MM and a surgical facemask.

Special Powers include:

    • Ability to repair (cure) his own injuries using his extensive medical knowledge – naturally!
    • Putting his enemies to sleep by injecting them with various medicines that he has stolen from the hospital store room.
    • Super hearing powers due to his stethoscope with built-in amplifier.
    • Climbs and swings from building using the extra strength waterproof bandages – again, liberated from the hospital’s storage room.
    • He leaves no fingerprints because of course he always wears surgical rubber gloves.
Medical Man – a clinical hero. It’s said he works in both NHS & Private sectors.

Star-Jumper Man

Again this character came from a cheap Playmobil-like set. He was just a mild mannered train passenger who just happened to be sporting a green jumper with a large yellow star on the front. Very seventies! I used to have one similar with 3 yellow stars. He is a super hero with no discernible abilities apart from suddenly being able to drive the train. I think Dani likes him because of his outfit. Well, Captain America gets away with wearing a blue jumper with a white star. Star-Jumper Man uses different, more earthy colours. That’s enough surely.

One day my son will realise that these superheroes were just a figment of his dad’s imagination. Until then I am going try to make them seem even more real and sit back and enjoy the fun. Or maybe I should approach Marvel comics with my ideas?…

Star Jumper Man. That 70s fashion sense is not to be underestimated
Star Jumper Man may be small; but he’s a grafter!

Telling Tall Tales

All the small ones tell tall tales
Walking home and squashing snails.
Baggy Trousers – Madness (1980)

It is such a great age for both of us. For Dani he is at that age where he can now communicate in various ways. He can express himself well enough and ask questions – including that favourite most repeated one; “Why?”

For me it is even better. I can spin the biggest most ridiculous made-up stories and he will more or less buy into them. Hook line and sinker. Providing I do it convincingly enough. (For proof of this look out for the next post about superheroes.)

I wonder how much longer that is going to last? When will he realise that his daft old man is telling him completely ridiculous porkies? He is already getting wise to me.

He seems to know when I am deliberately taking the piss. Not a complex tale of nonsense but a quick and deliberate thing – like just being incredibly childish.  Here’s an example.

If I say something to attract his attention – especially in an animated way or displaying a certain degree of urgency – even if he is engrossed in a game he will eventually respond. Then when I just tell him “Ah. Nothing” he immediately grins. He gets it. He knows that I am messing about. After a short pause he will then do the same thing back to me.

“Daddy. Daddy. DAAAADDY!”
“What?”
“Nothing”

Or to be more accurate; “nussin”. All done with a huge grin on his face.

For the moment though I still have a full poetic licence to conjure up intricate and stupid tales. The lad is even trying to tell his own tall tales. And I love it.

Health Matters

Last week in a Blogpost on the sad case of Charlie Gard I said I was going to write some comparisons between the health systems on offer in the UK and Spain so here goes…

Apologies. This is a longer than usual post but please stay with it as I believe it is an important one.

This is based on…

My personal experience is limited in both countries – thankfully. From a personal health point of view I have been a national health service outpatient and a private patient. Nothing major but enough to be able to compare the two countries.

Naturally I have also observed the Spanish system through my young son for his regular medical check-ups, inoculations plus the odd illness and subsequent hospital visits. The usual child’s scenario

The Public Sector…

I don’t want to detail all my hospital visits on the NHS but suffice to say when I was doing more sport I had several injuries that required visits to the nightmare that is the Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments of hospitals in various towns. I also know what it is like trying to get an appointment to see General Practitioner (GP). Over recent years I have made similar visits to hospitals or doctors clinics in Spain.

While the NHS in the UK is completely overburdened – at breaking point –  the Spanish public health system, generally known as the Sistema Nacional de Salud (SNS), seems comparatively underused. The appointment booking process is much easier and waiting times are far less than in the UK’s NHS. Even the waiting times in the A&E departments are far less than the infamously overstretched NHS equivalent.

The Private Systems…

In my brief experience of the “private” system in the UK I had several appointments and a scan. The course of treatment also included 10 physiotherapy sessions The cost of my annual premium shot up considerably the following year.

There are so many types of policy I cannot possibly speak with experience on all of them but generally, in order to book an appointment to see a specialist in the UK, requires your GP to make a referral. As I am sure everyone in the UK knows it can take weeks to get an appointment with a GP. This means that there is an inherent delay built into these private policies. This is true for most private policies in the UK – maybe all; I really don’t know. If you know please tell me.

The two systems are not run completely separately in the UK. Doctors, consultants and other specialists spend part of their valuable time between both systems – no doubt with a reasonable amount of travelling time between the two in some cases.

When I was a child this kind of thing was always referred to as “robbing Peter to pay Paul”. Shared resource in the health sector does not work and is one of the key failures for both private and public sector health care in the UK. Both private and public systems suffer as a consequence.

In Spain there is some sharing of consultants/specialists but it is not as widespread. Plus the private hospitals have their own dedicated staff. If you use the private sector you can feel (more or less) safe in the knowledge that you are not using resource shared with the public sector (and vice versa).

There is no A&E for private health care in the UK. If you need to go to A&E then you face a lengthy period of time in the waiting room. Four hours plus is commonplace. That was certainly my experience on the several visits I have had to A&E in UK hospitals, going back over a 20 year period.

In Spain the private health system runs in parallel and completely separate. The health companies have their own clinics and hospitals which includes the equivalent of an A&E service. The waiting times are almost zero when compared to A&E in the UK. Bliss.

I know from experience that on the odd occasion Dani has woken with a fever or shown signs of a rash, within minutes of arriving at the private hospital he has been seen by a doctor.

You can book your own appointment to see a doctor – effectively the equivalent of a British GP. You can book an appointment to see a specialist directly, without going via your own doctor (GP).

Cost comparison…

In the UK a few years ago I was paying over 60 pounds per month for a system that does not include A&E treatment.

In Spain, I would pay about €65 (Euros) as an individual but can get it as cheap as €35 through an employer’s scheme– that’s less than half what it was costing me in the UK. As if that is not good enough the premiums have not increased., despite me having used the system several times.

In Spain you can get fairly comprehensive cover for less than half the price of an average package in the UK. Not only that, you actually get a good, dedicated service with hardly any waiting time, any time of day.

I don’t know for certain how they manage to do it but they certainly seem to offer a much better service in Spain. This is true for both the public and private sectors.

Here is one simple theory.

How? Why?

In the UK the NHS is a national disgrace and needs completely rebuilding in my opinion. Yet the private health service is also incomplete and not fit for purpose. I believe that Spain has a much better health service. Let me try to explain why.

It’s basically a numbers game. In Spain, so many people have private health insurance. This could be as part of their salary package or they will pay for it themselves. The fact that so many people in Spain are using the private health systems means that the numbers using the public system are greatly reduced. This allows the Spanish SNS to cope far better than the overburdened British NHS can ever dream of doing. I realise that many people have similar deals in the workplace in the UK but those schemes are nothing like the Spanish private health system as explained above.

The appointments process is not only more efficient in Spain – for both public and private systems – but there is far less waiting time when you arrive at the clinic/hospital. Again, this applies to both private and public services.

The Spanish private health system is what private medical insurance should be; and that is probably why it is so widely used in Spain. The biggest argument against private health care in the UK is that the NHS invariably suffers. The Spanish systems prove that this does not have to be the way.

Puzzling…

One thing puzzles me however. What is going on in the world of Radiology? What is it about that occupation? I have had x-rays in both countries and even in Spain the wait times are grossly out of proportion to all the other services. If anyone reading either works in radiology or knows someone who does, please let me know why this is.

Original Expectations….

I said when I started this blog that Dani might expect the best of both worlds. In this case I believe he has the best two options simply by being in Spain.

First Zoo Trip

During a trip to the seaside last week when the weather was overcast we decided to visit one of the local attractions.

We visited a small zoo in Borth on the west coast of mid-Wales. Not being a huge fan of zoos I was pleasantly surprised. The zoo began as a way of giving a home to some of the many exotic pets that are discarded each year in the UK. This does not just include animals like terrapins and iguanas that can quickly outgrow their owners glass tanks. Even the zoo’s ocelot and leopard were unwanted pets.

In 2014 it was estimated that there were more than 42 million rare and unusual ‘exotic’ pets kept in the UK. That’s a lot of animals; even if that figure does include “tropical” fish.

All Creatures Great and Small…

I was initially expecting only a little more than a petting zoo. Mainly typical farm animals with the odd caged wild animal plus a few reptiles. How wrong I was. They have a wide selection of monkeys, marsupials and large birds. They even have an Iberian Lynx – supposedly native to Spain although increasingly difficult to see there in the wild. The lynx recently gave birth after being received as a gift from another zoo: Alas we never saw the kittens.

They have recently taken on two lions (one male one female) from the Noah’s Ark zoo farm near Bristol. Apparently these lions were surplus to requirements in that zoo farm such has been their success and growth. The enclosure is spacious and the animals come right up to the fence. It is the closest I have been to a lion in any kind of zoo.

They do also have all the typical petting zoo creatures like small rodents, lambs and ponies.

Snakes on a Boy….

Not to be confused with that dreadful film Snakes on a Plane; this was the reptile encounter. A fantastic, educational, close encounter with some of the zoo’s more exotic species.

The reptile keeper brings out some of the snake collection so you can see them at close quarters and even hold them. The first snakes he brought out were a relatively small Corn Snake (that he had wrapped around his neck) and a Royal Python called Luna. He passed the python around the audience where the kids got to hold it.

A mere six foot (2 metres) or so and not weighing too much Dani comfortably held it on his lap – half excited half scared I suspect. But he never flinched or showed any signs of fear. What a charmer! Snake charmer no less. He held it and stroked its smooth and silky skin. It is a common misconception that snakes are wet and slimey.

Then they brought out the second python. I say “they” because it took 4 of them to carry it. This thing was a female Burmese python called Bernie. She is over 20 feet long (over  6m) and weighs over 12 stone (that’s over 168 pounds or more than 68kg in new money)

First they had to uncoil it and then lift it before carefully walking out of the glassed housing area into the public seating zone. Finally placing it carefully on a table for the kids to maul it. In reality the kids were very well behaved and treated the animals with respect. The girth of this animal was incredible. Dani could easily fit inside it without any stretching or bulges showing.

 As big and powerful as these pythons are they are gentle in nature and do not bite. The one disappointment was that none of the pythons we met was named Monty.

Other Attractions

Apart from the advertised feeding events and reptile encounters there are other attractions that you cannot find in most zoos. Peacocks roam freely and clearly enjoy displaying their famous feathers. Visitors are free to enter the wallaby pen. For an extra fee you can even enter the popular meerkat enclosure. The interaction with the animals is fantastic and a great place for kids to learn or stimulate a thirst for more knowledge. Borth is only a few miles north of the university town of Aberystwyth. If you are in that part of the world I can highly recommend it. Check out their website (which is currently being updated/rebuilt) at http://animalarium.co.uk/

 

 

Aside……A couple of film references

If you are a frequent reader of the Blog you will know that I occasionally like to make references to the movies. Here are another two…

Snakes On a plane – Extremely shit (2006) film starring Samuel L. Jackson. The “L” stands for Leroy by the way. Although I will admit there was at least one very funny moment just about when the snakes were starting to appear when a man is taking a leak in the toilet. Real snake meets trouser snake (so to speak). It had me in fits of laughter. While I consider Sam Jackson to be a decent (rather than great) actor he did play one of the great cinema roles starring as Jules Winnfield in one of my all-time top 10 films Pulp Fiction.

A Clockwork Orange: This 1970s cult classic, taken from the book of the same name, was banned for many years in the UK. Reportedly because too many youth gangs were copying the behaviour of the film’s anti-heroes. The main character is Alex played by Malcom McDowell. In the movie, Alex has a pet python he calls Monty.

A Sad Conclusion to Charlie’s Story

I have already nailed my colours to the mast on this one so there is no way I can let this go without having another say…

Even if the end was (more or less) inevitable –  I was always going to write about it. Whether Charlie got to visit the doctors in America or not. Even if that therapy failed to make a difference. Happy or sad, good or bad; this story needs a conclusion.

Whatever your opinion recent events should have brought a tear to your eye.

Being the cynical old dad that I am I might normally laugh at the self-styled Charlie’s Army. Write them off and call them nutters etc…as many seem to have done. But this is different. This case involves the National Health Service (NHS) and I am immediately sceptical of what goes on in the UK’s hugely inefficient health system. I am not anti-NHS nor do I particularly favour private health care per se. I do however believe that while the intentions may still be honourable the NHS is no longer fit for purpose and should be rebuilt from the bottom up. It is certainly not this untouchable, perfect organization that we are often led to believe it is. It should not be above criticism. This is a very important issue because it affects us all remember. Or soon will do for my generation. I have written a blog post comparing the health systems in Spain and the UK which I intend to publish this week. Please read it and feel free to comment.

I do not have blind faith in the workings of the NHS. The nurses and doctors and their assistants – people on the shop floor – may be doing their best but as an organization it is broken. Unfortunately, the NHS in the UK is above such criticism. It is a political football that no one dare criticize. It certainly seems there is no politician brave enough to suggest that it must be hugely improved or even rebuilt.

Conspiracy Theories or Just Harsh Realities?

For all the good that places like Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) do they are definitely influenced and (who knows?) may be funded (at least in part) by big pharma. Vested interests abound.

Is the therapy (including drugs) being offered by the American doctor something that cannot be copyrighted by big pharma? Just a thought. This blog post is beginning to resemble the Pelican Brief!

Having said all that, I am an old dad. It means I have been around long enough to see a lot of things. Nothing surprises me anymore. I am by nature bit of a cynic. Such cynicism grows with age and experience. This is true for most of us. So here is another thought…

Has the situation been deliberately prolonged by the parents? Is it possible that they have done this for some untoward reason? I do not think so; but you can never be too sure. Remember the case of the woman in Doncaster, England who faked her own daughters’ disappearance in the hope that the public would throw money at the cause? It turns out the little girl was hidden away in the house of one of her mother’s friends. These things do indeed occur. Life really is stranger than fiction, so nothing, absolutely nothing, would surprise me.

Time will tell if the money raised for little Charlie will be used correctly or not. I believe it will.

The Sad Summary…

One thing I am convinced of is that the GOSH have some serious questions to answer. Unfortunately in the UK the hospitals and NHS never seem to have to confront such questions. Whatever they say is supposed to be taken as the undisputed truth and second opinions (if they ever happen) are not considered. The whole system needs to be seriously looked at. If nothing else comes of this sad case then let us all hope that it somehow changes the way such things are considered in the health service

Some things are hard to dispute. In her final statement to the court Charlie’s mother summarized it simply.

“There is one simple reason for Charlie’s muscles deteriorating to the extent they are in now – time. A whole lot of wasted time.”

And…

“All we wanted to do was take Charlie from one world-renowned hospital to another world-renowned hospital. We feel that we should have been trusted as parents to do so.”

I would urge you to read up on the facts of the case. Read the mother’s final statement to the court. For me, it is clear that Charlie should have been given that one opportunity. For me, the timeline of events tells its own story.

So; this sad and sorry tale draws to a close; although not quite. Even now they are still deciding where Charlie can be allowed to “die with dignity”, telling the parents that Charlie cannot be allowed to die at home.

I wonder what will come to light in the coming months? I am sure we have not heard the last of this.

From Fake News to Fake Fairy Stories

We live in an age of “fake” news. Or so we are told by all sides of the political spectrum. Was it ever any different? Of course not. The difference nowadays is that we all think we are more connected and more in tune with the latest news etc… We are not.

That aside there is plenty of scope for fake stories. Even those incorporating fake goods. There is a saying that “life is stranger than fiction”. Well sometimes even fiction can be stranger than fiction…

Tales Ad Lib…

Whenever I try to tell a story I often get interrupted. Other characters get thrown in by a little voice. By a little boy who is supposed to be listening to, not telling, the story. I welcome interaction in the story telling. Let’s face it we have all heard the tales so many times; they do get boring. Even the better fairy stories turn dull after the 200th telling.

The other day was a great example. When I tried to relate one of his favourite stories – The Elves and the Shoemaker – he insisted on including the Muffin Man. Whenever I got the part where someone came into the shop to buy the latest foot fashion (made the previous evening by the little helpers) he insisted that it was the Muffin Man doing the shopping. No idea why it had to be him but I could work with this I thought. Over-lapping characters from different tales or rhymes can be quite fun. It can quickly turn the story into a scene from that movie Shrek.

In this case it goes something like this…

I usually throw in three or four artistic cobbling night-shifts. Then once they discover who is making the shoes the shoemaker and his missus make their little helpers some Saville Row inspired three piece suits. The following mornings, each time a few fine pairs of shoes go on sale, in walks the Muffin Man. It turns out that the shoe shop is just around the corner from Drury Lane. I never knew that (he said, surprised). Did you?

The combination of good quality leather combined with the fine stitch-work and artistry of the nimble fingered elves meant that the shoes could sell for quite a sum. This wasn’t cheap bargain footwear or even mid-range. These were top end designer priced shoes. So, for three or four consecutive days Mr. Muffin Man splashed out top dollar – actually, pounds, shillings, pence, farthings and groats in this pre-decimalisation case – for the various elf made shoes.

The rest of the story was pretty much standard with only a few minor elaborations. Standard poetic license for any old dad.

On the final night of the story the shoemaker once again lays out the best leather he could find. Only this time he also leaves a couple of perfectly tailored suits for the elves. Just like the previous nights the elves make the shoes and then notice the suits. They try them on – perfect fit of course – and then decide to walk off into the sunset. Actually, sunrise in this case. Just like that. No explanation as to where they came from or where they are going. Nobody knows. It’s probably just an elf thing.

The Sting…

Meanwhile right on cue, some 10 minutes after opening time, in walks the Muffin Man. Only this time he is not alone. With him are two policemen; and they were not looking for new shoes.

It turns out that the Muffin Man had been working as an undercover Trading Standards officer and all this time he has been following a trail of high quality fake Jimmy Choo shoes. They were so good in fact It was impossible to tell them apart from the real thing. He had been following the sudden unexplained spike in fake designer shoes (and bags apparently) in different shops around the country. The only connection was that all the shops were owned and run by old couples who should have been retired but could not afford to. The elves had been moving freely from town to town spreading their high quality counterfeit wares upon the unsuspecting public. Seemingly with no care for the intellectual property rights of the designers or the statutory rights of the consumer. Yet somehow they were also like good Samaritans, helping hard up old age citizens. Quite a conundrum for any law enforcer.

Morals in the Story….

The more fake the story the more intently he listens. Maybe he is already a little bored with the routine versions and wants some taller tales.  Now all good children’s stories should have at least one moral. This one is clearly no exception but there are so many and they are so complex. Where on earth do I begin? All help is greatly appreciated.

Poor Charlie Soldiers on….

Poor little Charlie Gard has just been given a third reprieve. It seems that some team of medical experts has informed the Great Ormond Street Hospital (where Charlie is being cared for) that there may be some benefit in some form of treatment. The exact details of this treatment are not clear – to me anyway.

Yet the powers that be still won’t let his parents take him to the USA. That is still the most baffling part of this whole sorry saga.

Since I posted the article on Charlie two VIPs have intervened. Verbally at least. The Pope and even the president of the United States – Donald Trump himself – have weighed into the debate. I tweeted my previous post on this subject to Mr. Trump. He probably does not read them himself. No doubt that is work for some of his minions. It is highly unlikely that he even writes “his” tweets. Still, it was worth a try.

Just a thought…

A thought occurred to me the other day while reading some of the articles in the media about poor Charlie’s case.

We are told that he has the extremely rare mitochondrial depletion syndrome. We are also told that he is one of only 16 such cases with this condition. The therapy offered in the USA is, we are told, experimental. If there are so few cases to experiment with surely it would be in everyone’s interest for Charlie to go to the USA?

How can they find a cure (or useful treatment) to such a rare condition without a patient to experiment on?

Just a thought…

Meanwhile I hope that someone in authority makes a good and right decision for once. For the sake of little Charlie Gard.

Thomas the Tank Engine featuring The Beatles?

It is well known that Ringo Starr narrated the stories in the early Thomas the Tank Engine series.

For those of you too young to know who that is, he was 25% of the Fab Four. Sorry. Maybe I need to clarify that still further. He was one of The Beatles. Regardless of your musical tastes it is a fact that they were and still are the biggest, most successful act in the history of popular music. Ringo only read the stories for the first two series but his name is synonymous with the early episodes when they used model trains. Far more enjoyable to watch than the newer animated series.

Cameo?

So much for an ex-Beatle narrating the stories. But did The Beatles make a very brief cameo appearance in one of the early episodes?

Last weekend something caught my eye while the kids were watching one of their favourite Thomas DVDs. It included the episode “Jack Jumps In” and I am sure there is a quick glimpse of the Fab Four in one of the scenes.

When Jack arrives on site the storyline even mentions that “Thomas delivered Jack to the quarry” just when the “Beatles” appear on screen. See for yourself in the picture below. Now it doesn’t take a genius to work out the link here. Before they became the Beatles the fab four were known as “The Quarrymen”. Coincidence? A tenuous link? Or maybe I just need glasses.

Is this a cameo appearance by The Beatles in Thomas & Friends?

One of the better episodes….

The episode is quite a good one. The first time I watched it with Dani it made me laugh. In one scene Jack the little front-loader squares up to Max the huge dump truck and the there is a tense stand-off. The soundtrack plays the classic whistling sound from The Good The Bad and The Ugly. A nod to a spaghetti western style confrontation and a cameo appearance from The Beatles in the same episode? Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? Judge for yourself when you watch the whole episode click here.

The Sad Case of Charlie Makes me VERY Angry

This blog was supposed to be fun and a kind of diary of my son’s early years. Breaking new ground and trying new things etc… Largely this is exactly what it is. I have tried to steer clear of politics and the similar “real world” things. I know that I can’t protect him from the harsh realities of life forever – hence the slightly political posts I have made. I felt they were (and are) relevant to the lad’s future.

But this morning as I drove to work I was both saddened and angry with what I heard on the radio. Apologies. Here goes…

This is different. It is almost sinister and why I feel that I have to write it down while it is fresh in my mind. There are real bastards out there; ruining ordinary people’s lives. And I am not talking about your typical criminals – per se.

A young couple with a 10-month-old baby boy are being told that they have to let him die in hospital. Charlie has a rare genetic condition and the doctors say they cannot do anything for him. The parents want to take him to America for some form of “experimental” treatment or other. We all know this kind of thing happens frequently. It seems the medical care in the USA is far superior to ours in Europe otherwise why do so many people raise money for children to go there. And it is mostly children who go there. But let’s not get into that debate. The parents are even being denied their last wish to be able to take their son home to die. It beggars belief.

This is about doctors (apparently), the British legal system and the European court of human rights telling the parents that they must let their child die and that it has to happen on a certain day – today! Telling them that there is no alternative and that they cannot even try the American option.

The poor boy is fighting for survival on life support equipment and while there is hope, any chance, that something can be done the parents should be allowed to at least try. But no; they have been told that the machines must be turned off. These are the same type of people who deny old and severely disabled adults the right to choose death over life. The old and unable are denied the chance to “die with dignity” yet this is exactly what they are telling the parents of this young baby. That their little boy must be “allowed to die with dignity”. Unlike those old adults who want the right to choose their ending the poor lad has not even had a chance at life. Any life.

So who is really behind this? We are told “doctors” and “lawyers” have said this or said that… But where are the NHS managers? The doctors can only say that there is no more that they can do (in this country or hospital). Apparently they have said that they do not think the experimental therapy in the USA would work. They are entitled to that opinion but would they really ever deny parents the right to try some new treatment in another country? I seriously doubt it. Such things contradict their training and dedication.

Lawyers are following the law you might like to think. In this case what does the law have to do with it? Surely the real issue here is that the hospital – the National Health Service (NHS) – wants to free up the room/equipment. Naturally they think that if the doctors say they cannot do any more then the equipment and space should be made available to other patients. The parents only want to keep their child alive long enough to take him out of the country. Surely they should be allowed to do that? To have one last attempt at saving their baby’s life? They had even managed to raise a large sum of money in order to pay for the whole thing thanks to donations by thousands of the great British public.

In my opinion, it is not the doctors or lawyers who are to blame here. It is far more likely to be down to those with no discernable life skills. The bureaucrats working for the NHS. So-called “managers” who probably know nothing about medicine nor the law. They almost certainly possess no useful skills but are very good at playing the political games and, let’s cut to the chase here, bullshitting. Such people are paid large salaries to “manage” the hospitals.

Highly paid individuals contrive to tick all the “right boxes” – or so they think. The “safe” approach. The easy option. Follow the “rules” – if indeed there are any. But don’t – whatever you do – use a bit of common sense and decency. Heaven forbid! To me this has parallels with other, recent events in London where decisions were made by unskilled over-paid pen-pushers but this is not the place to go into that. Unfortunately such characters seem to be everywhere these days.

According to the press a hospital spokeswoman said: “As with all of our patients, we are not able to and nor will we discuss these specific details of care. This is a very distressing situation for Charlie’s parents and all the staff involved and our focus remains with them.”

So; there you have it. A faceless, nameless, pen-pusher working for the NHS has the last word. It saddens me greatly but more than that it makes me very angry. And it should make you angry too.

School’s Out – For This Summer

Dani left school just like any other day. Standing out from the crowd by politely saying goodbye to the teachers and assistants who help the children safely down the steps (as described in a previous post…). School’s now out – for this summer. By my rough reckoning he only has another 494 weeks to go. Approximately. Give or take a few weeks. But who’s counting?

It’s at times like this I think back to when every adult used tell me “School? It’s the best days of your life. Enjoy it while you can.” You know the sort of thing right?

I never really got that back then, and I still don’t if I am honest about it.

Having said all that at this young age most days are an adventure and Dani hardly has an off day with school. He has done extremely well considering. As I said in previous posts we never started full time school until we were 5 years old. Dani started two months before he was three and it really is full time – 9 to 5! I am really proud of him.

So what now?

What about this long hot summer ahead? Firstly I brought back to the UK yesterday. His mum has to work away and I have my (still) new job. That means that while I am at work next week Dani will be looked after by his nanna. Or will that be the other way around?

In between there will be trips to the Marbella with his Spanish grandmother and to the picturesque white villages in the mountains near Ronda with his grandfather. He will also be over in the UK for a couple more weeks later in the summer.

Best of both…

That is one way the benefits from having family in the UK. Many parents in Spain eager that their kids learn to speak English pay to send them over to summer camps and the like in the UK. This is one case where Dani has the best of both worlds.