Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I think this speaks for itself

That is all.


Today the BMA are discussing whether doctors praying for patients should be a disciplinary matter. This is a sort of reprise of the problem with Nurse Petrie.

The Wright Stuff had the topic this morning and I was surprised at how strongly I reacted against it initially, (but then it was phrased slightly differently to the Guardian's more considered piece).

However, I just don't think prayer is the business of doctors, and I don't think it's an appropriate time or setting. In hospitals, there are already chapels and visiting services, so that a patient can ask for a priest or rabbi or whatever. I mean, in these times of economic constraint, do we really want to put vicars out of work?!

A doctor, even more so than a nurse, is in a position of trust and authority over the patient: you're relying on their knowledge and skills to help you get better. It's hard to say no to a doctor, and often there's a feeling of indebtedness/gratitude towards the people who are caring for you (not always of course, given stats of violence against the emergency services, but often). When you're ill and vulnerable is not the time to be made to feel socially awkward unnecessarily.

And it does feel awkward to turn something down that is kindly meant. The alternative is to go along with it (graciously) when you don't want it, and that's an imposition and you feel a hypocrite.

Matthew Wright kept going on about the 50% of the population who apparently pray regularly potentially liking a shift that allowed doctors to pray with them, but where does that leave the other 50%? Potentially feeling put upon and less than. Why should the latter group's wishes be of less consequence than the former's, especially when religious facilities can be accessed in hospitals anyway, so believers aren't being denied anything?

I think it's OK for a medical professional to ask their patient if they feel they'd want a priest (or whatever) to visit them, because that gives a bit of distance where the patient can refuse (or accept) without feeling they are rebuffing that person. Offering to pray with them directly is a step too far, it's too personal and can feel like rejecting the person rather than the offer. Unless it's something that patient initiates, then it seems to me that doctors should keep their prayers private.

So I guess the answer I come to is that I do think that it should be a disciplinary matter. I wouldn't want anyone sacked over it, but I think it crosses a boundary that's there for good reasons, and if if that happens it's appropriate to intervene.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Alpha males

I watched the first in a series on Channel 4 about religion, called Revelations: how to look for God last night. It followed a group of agnostics through the 'Alpha course'.

It was a documentary by Jon Ronson, who I don't know much about. He has quite an annoying, scornful-sounding voice, although I couldn't tell whether sneer is his default setting for everything or whether it was reserved for this topic, not having seen anything else he's done.

All in all I found it quite disappointing, just the style of it. Although we were following a group, really only three of them featured to any extent and those were men. We found out very little about them, and even less about the other members of the group. One woman did reappear a couple of times, but her airtime seemed less than her male counterparts. The hour-length didn't allow for any great depth, it seems, and it was mere scratching at the surface. I think it would have been better to have a couple of programmes following them really, or a much broader focus on the wider course, as this format was unsatisfying in that you just didn't know enough about the people involved.

I found it surprising that on the weekend away with the Alpha course, the participants were invited to speak in tongues as well as partake of communion and so forth. This seemed a lot more out there and charismatic-churchy than I had expected the Alpha course to be. (Of course, I'd never really thought too much about what the course would entail before, but I'd assumed it was more restrained and buttoned up than that.) According to Ronson, all Alpha courses follow the same structure, but whether encouraging speaking in tongues is the norm as well, I don't know. (I had never considered speaking in tongues mainstream Christianity, and whether it is or not perplexes me).

What struck me about the scenes where the leader was trying to get them to indulge in speaking in tongues, was the tone of voice and repetitions he used. These reminded me very strongly of Derren Brown in his stage show, when he's trying to get some of his audience into a trance. Amusingly this atmosphere was dispelled when another conference being held at the retreat broke up and drove away in their sputtering sports cars just at the (in)opportune moment.

Two of our featured group were seriously repulsed by this stage and left. The woman decided the course had actually put her off organised religion. But one young guy, Dave, was intrigued and moved by it all and said that he would attend another Alpha course in the future, seemingly on his way to Christianity, (or rather back to it, having been brought up in it).

It was an interesting documentary, but I don't think an hour was long enough really.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Powered by belch

T'other day I was walking and it was hot and I was thirsty. I had 50p in my pocket and thought I'd go see if I could buy something to drink. I didn't have anything else on me.

My expectations were low - I thought maybe, just maybe, I could get a child's carton of juice, if I was lucky. But no, all those were at least 20p out of my price range. A small bottle of water was even further out of reach at nearly a pound for the cheapest.

However, I could buy a 2 litre bottle of own-brand fizzy lemonade and have 11p change.

There's something a bit screwy about that.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Of ponytail pulling

In the ad breaks during Supernatural (end of series finale last night! Eek. What to do without it? My Sunday evenings are ruined!), ITV2 kept running trailers for Katie & Peter Stateside.

It was strange watching these when the news came out that they were splitting and the ads were still all lovey-dovey. Now it seems the ads show more of the misery. I don't really have an opinion about the sleb couple as I don't watch the programme, (although I guess it hits my disapproval meter fairly high that they make their children live their lives in a goldfish bowl).

But anyway, what snagged my attention about the ads were the captions, 'you've seen them happy', 'you're seen the romance', 'now see the depressing, bitter break-up', 'drink it up & roll around in it*' - that kind of thing. But following a caption about 'you've seen the flirting', you see a scene of Peter pulling Katie's ponytail rather hard from behind. Of course, it's out of context so perhaps it was part of some mutual horseplay, but otherwise it seems an odd image to choose for flirting.

For being bloody annoying, it would work.

For being unpleasantly physical while expecting the recipient to laugh it off, it would work.

I want to find the trailer editors and pull the chairs out from under them (flirtily, of course).

* Not real captions.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Let me count the ways

This is the 800th post on this blog and I feel like celebrating with an appreciation of the good things in my life. Or at least some of the little things. I'm conscious that I often have a beef to express when I blog, so this is a bit of a breather. But if you're feeling cynical or hard-done-by today, you may wish to avert your eyes...

I could talk about my husband and children, but I'll just say that they make that simple song "you are my sunshine" feel profound. I could talk about my friends, but I want to break it down much further to some, in the scale of things, very minor things that please me.

Have I ever told you about how much I like dandelions? The top picture may suggest as much and I say I'm fond of them in my profile, but I don't think I've ever shared my full enthusiasm for them. Most people seem to hate them and think they're horrid weeds. And they are weeds*, yet the rich yellow flower is very cheery.

I love their cycle, first the flower, which when over closes and the old petals form a tip that you can pull off, and later opens the puff of the seed-head. Then of course we can play at deciding the time by blowing the seeds off the 'clock'. Not only are there these tactile and satisfying interactions, but every herbivorous pet adores the taste of the leaves. Feeding a dandelion flower stalk-first to a hamster through the bars is fun and strangely fascinating, as it draws it munchily into its pouches and ends with an Ermintrude-like moment with just the head at the side of its mouth. The other thing I love about dandelions is that we ourselves can eat them in salads and make them into drinks. It's useful, it's tactile, it's handsome, it's persistent.

The other thing I cite as being fond of in my profile is the chaffinch. It's such a nice little bird, if common as can be. I love the red of its plumage, not as bright as the robin, more tasteful. I like its calls and the flash of white as it flies. I like to see them flitting in the hedge, jolly little birds.

I love the view from my front door, when I look out across the river. I can see for miles and miles and miles [/The Who**]. Indeed I love the view as I drive anywhere from my house. I love that I can walk down to the beach and swim in the mornings, (although I don't if the waves look at all big as I am a wuss). I love the taste of saltwater on my skin afterwards.

I love walking barefoot in the grass.

There is certainly more to say, but it's nice to appreciate those things for the minute. Life isn't all bad.

* And the definition of a weed is merely a plant in the wrong place.
** Who I also like.

Finished: Neverness

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The stupid it burns

People are weird.

On the one hand, we have the fact the economy and government generally are in a bit of a mess. The people in charge of all this, the people with the power, are predominantly white, middle-to-upper class men. Yet to show outrage at the state of things, some of the electorate voted for the BNP.

Yes, everything would be hunky-dory if it wasn't for those naughty immigrants, taking the jobs 'we' don't want and clearly managing hedge-funds & mortgages etc terribly badly in their spare time.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Breakfast appearances

After Jesus in a marmite lid, the appearance of PacMan in a scotch pancake* is perhaps less impressive. (And not nearly as good as the man in my plaster, who beats Jesus in marmite into a cocked hat).

But don't knock it too much, we all need encouragement in our daily lives and this tells me to go on alternately running away from and chasing ghosts. Nom nom nom.

*And no, I didn't just cut a bit out of it, it was like that straight from the pan.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Chasing feathers

It's a more dangerous business than you might think.

Small boy managed to fracture his arm (in a minor way) yesterday, while in pursuit of plumage at school. Poor little chap. He's quite happy now he has a cast on, it's obviously supporting his wrist enought to keep him comfortable.

It seems the Birds wreak their revenge for whatever they might wish to revenge themselves in subtler ways than DuMaurier predicted.

Monday, June 01, 2009


If your neighbour trims your hedge, should you feel grateful or reproved?

Cameo broached

It doesn't sit well with me that apparently Mike Tyson has a cameo in a comedy film, The Hangover. Perhaps it would be unfair not to allow for the rehabilitation of his public persona: perhaps the rape conviction, ear-biting and so forth should be allowed to shimmer mirage-like into the past.

It does worry me that celebrities can make comeback after comeback, and apparently we forget or forgive their most extreme lows and crimes even.

It's fortunate that it's not the kind of film that would appeal to me anyway, I guess.

finished: The First Casualty