Ten Things

A slightly eccentric mix for this month’s Ten Things

Ten Desert Island Discs

[Yes, I know the radio programme Desert Island Discs asks only for eight records, but this is Ten Things, OK?]

  1. Monteverdi, 1610 Vespers
  2. Bach, Christmas Oratorio
  3. Yes, Close to the Edge
  4. Pink Floyd, Wish You were Here
  5. Beatles, Let It Be
  6. Handel, Messiah
  7. Granados, Piano Works
  8. William Byrd, The Battle
  9. Caravan, In the Land of Grey and Pink
  10. Moody Blues, Octave

The Knee’s Progress

[If you don’t like things medical, look away now.]

Just for those crazy people out there who might be interested in the progress of the knee, following the total replacement op on 28 December … it’s doing very well. And just t prove it, here are the pictures:

9 days
9 days after the operation
just after having the dressing removed
14 days
14 days after the operation
when the final dressing was removed
4 weeks
After 4 weeks
7 weeks
After 7 weeks
effectively fully healed although still some swelling


Just a quick post as I must log today’s result — and indeed those of the last week.

I’m currently in the usual cycle of medical things. Let’s go back to last Thursday, 9 February …

Thursday. Physiotherapy session for the new knee. Although I’ve had a flu-like bug (not full flu nor a head cold), so I haven’t done a lot of exercises, the knee is progressing well. I no longer need a stick; I’m walking easily; and taking very few pain killers. The Physio is delighted, especially as the flex on my knee is 119° — he says a “fairy tale” knee replacement would be 125°. Now to concentrate on a handful of the exercises to rebuild strength and extension; and see him in a month probably for a final session.

Friday. Horribly early appointment with surgeon for the 6-week check-up on the knee. Surgeon is equally delighted. The scar has healed well; the flexibility is good; the extension is already better than it was (it is now about the same as my left knee). Book another appointment for 6 months time and we can discuss doing the left knee.

This is followed by going to the supermarket with Noreen for the weekly shop. I walk round half the store before retiring to drink coffee. That’s more than I’ve been able to do for over a year.

Tuesday. Two meetings about things to do with our GP’s patient group (PPG; of which I’m Chairman): one with the Practice Manager and the other with CCG people. Good results and progress from both on ways the PPG can work with the Practice and the CCG. Downside: more work for me over the next 6 months.

Today. This afternoon I’ve had an appointment at the big health centre where our local cottage hospital once was. This is my annual diabetic retinal eye screening — that’s where they take a picture of the back of your eye to see if there is any damage. [The image is one of my scans from last summer.] This means drops in the eyes to dilate the pupils so they get a good view — and then you’re semi-blind for the rest of the day. Well usually that’s what happens, except today it didn’t. The charming young lady technician went through all the usual checks, plus can you read the chart (yes, even the bottom row with my glasses on). She was about to put the drops in my eyes but said “Oh your pupils are already well dilated. We might be able to get the pictures without the drops”. Excellent; let’s go for it. And yes, she got all four pictures (two for each eye, at different angles) first time, without any drops. Results in a couple of weeks, but no reason they should be abnormal. I was out 10 minutes before my appointment time!

So I’m home. And I’m not blind. Which is great as dilated pupils give me something like mild travel sickness. The downside is that I don’t have an excuse to be idle for the rest of the day.

So lots of wins!

Next week it’s hearing aid check-up time. I need another result there too.

Talking Therapy

Over the years I’ve tried talking therapies, of various sorts, on a number of occasions and each time I have found they don’t work even if one persists with them for a protracted period.

In fact it is my contention that they don’t really work for anyone, although some may be able to delude themselves and reach a cosmetic resolution — which I guess is working of a sort.

Last evening I was reading a blog post by our favourite zen master, Brad Warner under the banner I Hate Myself. Brad points out that the root of the problem is that the “I” and the “Self” are one and the same, so trying to fix one to fix the other is as useful as trying to argue your way out of a paper bag — pointless and productive of very little. And because we become aware of our failure it often makes the situation worse, rather than better.

Indeed it seems to me this is what talking therapies are trying to do: to fix (your variant of) “I Hate Myself” by getting you to separate the “I” and the “Self” when this is neither possible nor sensible.

And this is why talking therapies don’t generally work: they’re based on the false premise that “I” and “Self” are different and can be separated.

In the words of the exam paper: Discuss.

Knees Up

[Skip this if you don’t like things medical.]

For anyone who wants to know what a total knee replacement looks like 2 weeks post-op, here’s mine today just after having removed the dressing. Slightly longer scar than I had been led to expect, but no stiches/clips but glue. Still swollen and uncomfortable, but definitely on the mend.

Click the image for a larger view, if you dare

Notice about 2/3rds the way down the incision, a small scar on each side where I had arthroscopy some 10 or more years ago.

Birthday Meme

Just for a bit of fun, I thought I’d make up my own birthday meme. Hopefully it doesn’t give too much away!

  1. Do you share your birthday with anyone well known? Yes, former miners’ leader Arthur Scargill (b.1938), golfer Ben Crenshaw (b.1952) and England footballer Bryan Robson (b.1957).
  2. Do you share your birthday with anyone you know? Yes, JP.
  3. Do you share your birthday with an historical figure? Yes, most notable Harry Gordon Selfridge (b.1858), founder of the eponymous London department store; also James Paget (b.1814, English surgeon and pathologist) and Ezra Cornell (b.1807, founder of Western Union and Cornell University).
  4. Do you share your birthday with an important historical event? Again yes, the first recorded lottery in England in 1569.
  5. Where were you born? University College Hospital, London.
  6. What time of day were you born? Just in time for lunch! [No change there then!]
  7. How much did you weigh? Something over 8lb.
  8. Who are you named after? No-one to my knowledge, although I do have my mother’s family name embedded.
  9. Zodiac sign? Capricorn.
  10. Chinese zodiac sign? Metal Tiger.
  11. Innie or Outie? Innie.
  12. Do you wear glasses or contact lenses? Glasses since I was about 14.
  13. What have you had pierced or tattooed? No tattoos, and you really do not want to know where my piercing is.
  14. Do you still have your tonsils? Yes, I still have my tonsils, but I’ve been robbed of my appendix, a deformed fingernail and my right knee joint.
  15. At what age did you become aware of pornography? I think probably at about 13.
  16. What is your best attribute? An analytical brain.
  17. What is the thing you least like about yourself? An ability to be tactlessly outspoken.
  18. With who do you feel most comfortable talking to about anything? Noreen, Katy.
  19. The last time you felt broken? Today — it’s a knee thing.
  20. Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert? Introvert.
  21. Have you ever taken drugs; if so what? Only the West’s drugs of choice: alcohol and tobacco.
  22. Who amongst your current friends (not family) have you known the longest? Ken King; we were at primary school together 50+ years ago and have recently make contact again.
  23. Is there anyone on your friends list you would ever consider having sex with? Yes; but no I’m not going to tell you who!
  24. Are you cool with talking about sex? Yes.
  25. Who did you lose your virginity to? Faith.
  26. Has reading a book ever changed your life? Yes, see this from my Zen Mischief weblog.
  27. What were you doing when you last lost track of the time? Being wheeled into the operating theatre.
  28. What can you do today that you couldn’t do a year ago? Use crutches properly.
  29. Do you think you’ll change in the next 3 months? Yes, of course; we all change all the time.
  30. What will you be able to do at this time next year that you can’t now? With luck I’ll be able to walk properly.
  31. If you had to be executed but could choose the method, what method would you choose? Instantaneous poison.
  32. What will people say at your funeral? “Phew! There goes that PITA at last.”

So you’re all now challenged to complete this on (or even not on) your birthday each year. The only rule is that you must add or change at least one question each year. Have fun!

Ten Things

This month, as it is the beginning of the year, we’ll have a double serving of Ten Things.

First here are Ten Things I’d like to do in 2017 but probably won’t:

  1. Get a new body and a new head
  2. Have a nudist holiday
  3. Have acupuncture
  4. Get a tattoo
  5. Go for a nude swim
  6. Travel (across Europe) on the Orient Express
  7. Win £1M+ on the lottery (or equivalent)
  8. See the aurora borealis
  9. See the Severn Bore
  10. Prove my family history back to Tudor times

While, with the exception of #1, all the above are possible, if I achieve any of them it will be a bonus.

So here is the official, achievable, list of Ten Things I’m definitely trying to do in 2017:

  1. Keep breathing
  2. Do something I’ve not done before
  3. Go somewhere I’ve not been before
  4. Be drawn/painted/photographed nude (again)
  5. Walk across London’s Millennium Bridge
  6. Complete my AP’s London Photography project
  7. Do more photography
  8. Have a day out every month
  9. Visit Horniman Museum
  10. Make some significant progress on my family history

[And yes, I know the second list has a large degree of overlap with last year’s list; some of that is deliberate and some just reflects how badly I did in 2016.]

I’ll report back this time next year, DV.

2017 Predictions

As I promised a few days ago I’ve again dusted off my crystal ball to see what this year could bring. After all it can’t be a lot worse than 2016 — or can it?

What follows is my best interpretation the misty images in the aforesaid crystal ball. I remind you that they are just my ideas of what could happen; they’re based solely on hunches and gut feel; I have no inside knowledge and I haven’t been studying the form — so if you base any decision on any of this I will take no responsibility for your for your wanton act of idiocy.

As before, I’ve divided the predictions into three sections: UK, Worldwide and Personal — the latter are documented but currently redacted.


  1. Brexit. The Supreme Court overturns the High Court judgement that Royal Prerogative cannot be used to trigger Article 50.
  2. Brexit. Article 50 will be triggered in the last week of March by government without the agreement of parliament.
  3. Brexit. It becomes apparent that no deal is possible with the EU and that the notification under Article 50 cannot be withdrawn.
  4. As a consequence, Theresa May resigns and asks Parliament to grant a General Election.
  5. Boris Johnson is sacked as Foreign Secretary and relegated to the back benches.
  6. The new Foreign Secretary is one of David Davies, Liam Fox, Michael Gove.
  7. Inflation will hit 2.5% by year-end.
  8. The Bank of England Base Rate will be reduced to 0%.
  9. The Pound falls by 20% (cf. 1 January) against the US Dollar and the Euro.
  10. FT100 falls by at least 10% compared with the start of the year.
  11. Unemployment rises by 10% compared with December 2016.
  12. GDP falls by at least 2% year-on-year; the UK is in recession by the end of the year.
  13. The Government will introduce legislation to implement Nordic model of prostitution.
  14. The Government also implements alcohol minimum pricing.
  15. There is at least one major incident (plane crash, train crash, terrorist attack, industrial accident etc.) with over 50 fatalities.
  16. At least one high street name goes out of business with over 500 job losses.
  17. At least 2 major hospitals are forced to close due to finance problems, with loss of jobs and healthcare; there is no allowance for anyone to pick up the slack.
  18. Two horses die in the Grand National, which is then permanently scrapped.
  19. There’s significant flooding somewhere in the UK in March, May and October.
  20. A meteor strike destroys two houses, but there are no fatalities.
  21. There is finally proof that there are non-native big cats living wild in the UK; there are enough to maintain a small breeding population.
  22. The Queen dies unexpectedly followed within 3 months by Prince Philip.
  23. Prince Charles ducks becoming King thus allowing William to take to the throne.
  24. Other Deaths: Paul McCartney, Bruce Forsythe, Bob Geldof, Michael Parkinson.


  1. Donald Trump is inaugurated as US President amid strident protests, possible rioting and several fatalities.
  2. During the year there are moves to impeach Trump which may succeed.
  3. Obama care is scrapped.
  4. NASA’s budget is halved.
  5. An accident (maybe a debris strike?) destroys the ISS with loss of the crew.
  6. Consequent on the above NASA abandons manned space flight for the foreseeable future.
  7. Trump visits Russia; Putin visits the US.
  8. US imposes severe restrictions on immigration.
  9. Against all the odds the USA abolishes the death penalty.
  10. Major banking collapse somewhere in the developed world, possibly Italy, USA or UK.
  11. Major cyber attack brings down power/utility infrastructure affecting hundreds of thousands, probably in USA but maybe Western Europe.
  12. Marine Le Pen is elected French President precipitating an existential crisis in the EU.
  13. Turmoil in South Africa after the arrest of a top politician.
  14. President Mugabe of Zimbabwe dies.
  15. Consequently the regime in Zimbabwe becomes even more repressive, in an attempt to prevent a civil war; this triggers a mass exodus of blacks to neighbouring countries.
  16. At least one major earthquake (magnitude 7.5+) with over 200 fatalities in Asia and another in South America.
  17. Scientists in Tasmania discover a small breeding population of Thylacine.
  18. At least two major civilian plane crashes each with over 100 fatalities.
  19. There is a significant downturn in air travel which causes at least one major carrier to fail.
  20. At least one conspiracy theory of 2012-16 turns out to be true.
  21. There’s a major epidemic of a new infectious disease across a whole continent (or more).
  22. IBM is bought by/merged with another large US corporation (possible contenders: Microsoft, Apple, Google).
  23. Other deaths: Rupert Murdoch, the Dalai Lama, Jimmy Carter, George HW Bush.

Personal predictions have been documented but are redacted to protect both the innocent and the guilty.

  1. Knee Surgery 1. [[REDACTED]]
  2. Knee Surgery 2. [[REDACTED]]
  3. Pension. [[REDACTED]]
  4. Deaths amongst Family & Friends. [[REDACTED]], [[REDACTED]], [[REDACTED]], [[REDACTED]]
  5. Anthony Powell Society. [[REDACTED]]

I wonder if I can do any better than my pathetic 32% score for 2016 — but I wouldn’t advise anyone to put any money on it!

And if you have any good predictions please do share them.

[Updated 7 January 2017]

My 2016 in Summary

As for the last few years here’s a summary of my achievements and engagement (or, if fact the total lack of same) in 2016.

It’s been a funny year. On one side, my depression has been worse than usual, although I’ve been functioning most of the time; on the other I’ve had some good pieces of health news. I seem to have been doing even yet more voluntary work than ever, despite scaling back on some of th4e things I do, and having some work taken off me. And I don’t feel I’ve achieved anything although one or two things have been knocked off the bucket list. So here goes …

At the beginning of the year I posted 10 Things I’m Going to Try to Do in 2016. The results are in and I think it fair to say I lost badly — again!

1. Keep breathing — WIN
2. Go somewhere/do something I’ve not done before — WIN x3; three things achieved: visited Castle Howard; bid & won online at live auction (no, not eBay!); and then …
3. Be drawn/painted/photographed nude by someone other than family — WIN; although the proof is still under wraps
4. Visit Horniman Museum — LOSE
5. Visit four exhibitions [Samuel Pepys: Plague, Fire, Revolution (National Maritime Museum); Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture (Tate Modern); Scholar, Courtier, Magician: The Lost Library of John Dee (RCP); Bagpuss, Noggin the Nog & Clangers (V&A MoC)] — LOSE x4
6. Attend the Anthony Powell York Conference — WIN
7. Visit at least one steam railway — LOSE
8. Keep drinking more champagne — WIN
9. Get paid my state pension — WIN
10. Take more photographs than last year — LOSE

7/15 is not that brilliant — although better than 2015’s pathetic 3/10. Can I do better in 2017?

Looking at the year through the usual 25 questions doesn’t look any better.

1. What did you do that you’d never done before?
a. Bid and win at real auction online.
b. Been photographed nude by someone other than family.
c. Had a knee replacement.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I can’t keep resolutions I didn’t make.
No, I won’t make any again this year as they are only ever self-fulfilling failures.

3. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
A new head and a new body.

4. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory?
a. 11 January — I’m 65 and we lose Harry the Cat.
b. 23-24 June — that stupid Brexit vote.
c. 28 December — knee replacement op.

5. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing major, other than the ongoing depression and diabetes. Oh and the knee op.

6. What was the best thing you bought?
Two paintings, one by Adrian Daintrey the other by Graham Clarke.

7. Where did most of your money go?
Fuck alone knows.

8. What did you get really, really excited about?
a. Nothing; I don’t do excitement, just like I don’t do panic and crisis.
b. But buying those paintings and being photographed were fun.

9. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a. happier or sadder? — probably about the same; some things are better, some are worse.
b. thinner or fatter? — thinner, by about 12 kilos; but still much too heavy overall.
c. richer or poorer? — about the same.

10. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Nothing — it would be nice not to be continually busy, busy.

11. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Being depressed.

12. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Anthony Powell Conference in York.

13. What was your biggest failure?
The failed establishment of the local area network of GP practice patient groups I was chairing.

14. How many one-night stands?
Zippo — which is probably as well, all considered.

15. What was your favourite TV program?
I don’t think I’ve watched a single TV programme from end to end all year, mainly because it is such garbage.

16. What was the best book you read?
It would have to be the London Bomb Damage Maps which are really interesting.
[Not much gets read end-to-end these days but a lot gets dipped into.]

17. What did you want and get?

18. What did you want and not get?
a. Sanity.
b. Multi-million lottery win.
c. The opposite of just about everything that’s happened in the world.

19. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Given everything that’s happened and happening, being a hermit might have been good.

20. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
I wear clothes to cover other people’s embarrassment.

21. What kept you sane?
I am sane? Are you sure?

22. Who did you miss?
My mother, ‘cos it just feels odd not to be able to ring her up or be visiting Norwich.

23. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016:
Mundum alter et idem — The world is the same and different.

24. A quote or song lyric that sums up your year:
a. As I’ve grown older I’ve learned that pleasing everyone is impossible, but pissing everyone off is a piece of cake.
b. One does try not to be an Old Git, but they don’t make it easy. [Alan Bennett]

25. Your hopes for 2017
No Brexit and no Trump but they’re both a bit of a forlorn hope.
Last year I wrote “something better”; we failed at that so we’d better have another go this year.


Probably time to sack the manager.

How was your 2016? And what are your hopes for 2017?.