Moulders Lane

Category: Thoughts on Life

A New Year – and a New Writing Direction?

I’ve found throughout my life that Fate has always been handy with the bit of lead piping, so it shouldn’t really be surprising that, with a short story, a script and two ideas for further screenplays now in hand, as well as an inkling, at last, of where my writing bent could best express itself, the health problems which first made an appearance in late September are still hampering attempts to actually get on with things.

We’re inching towards some sort of diagnosis, mostly by finding out what it’s not, and tidying up some other things on the way. (I did say it would be nice to have some sort of MOT, now I was at the point where I could drop ‘at my time of life’ lugubriously into conversations – but this isn’t quite the way I envisaged it.) After three months traversing the health care system I’m getting a good idea, not just of how the NHS works but, even more helpfully, the rationale of how it works. So, in my usual vein of passing on useful info I would have been really glad of myself, various future posts on this subject will hopefully spare you my own errors as you move through the NHS.

As to the writing: the screen-plays were started in the late summer before all this health nonsense began. The first is supposed to be a romantic comedy but, as ever with my attempts at this genre, keeps edging more towards romantic drama: it’s more a love story with a twist, about a misunderstood man and the power and importance of music to move people.

It came about after I’d been idly spinning out a clip of The Voice I’d found down a YouTube wormhole into various follow-on scenes: Read the rest of this entry »


Carpool Karaoke – the Coffee Break Cheer-up

YouTube is probably the no 1 internet site for leading you down primrose byways – you start off, earnestly, to see if that interview you want a quote from has been posted online and before you know it you’re looking at pictures of kittens with captions. I’ve never actually made it to the kitten stage but I have lost a lot of writing time this way, following rabbit hole suggestions to that point where you suddenly realise you’re watching a video someone’s made about their camper van. The bonus is inadvertently finding some other bits and pieces along the way; and one of these discoveries is a very happy find: the Carpool Karaoke segment of James Corden’s American late night chat show. This has proved an ideal switch off for when things aren’t going well and you sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit to take a break. They’re the perfect mini cheer up – compressing good humoured banter, silliness and singing into an eight to fifteen minute clip that gives you a little window of joy in what can seem like an increasingly drab world.

The basic premise is extremely simple – Corden needs someone to carshare with him so he can use a priority lane in negotiating the Los Angeles traffic on his way to work. He calls up a friend to help out and they chat about what they’ve been up to, while singing along to songs on the radio throughout the journey.

Except that the ‘friends’ are the likes of Elton John, Jennifer Lopez and Madonna, and the songs on the ‘radio’ they’re singing along to are a compilation of their greatest hits.

The result is every bit as entertaining as you could wish for, with energetic seat dancing, unexpected insights, ridiculous jokes, some very funny moments and, of course, some great singalongs.  (Corden takes this to a whole other level in the Gwen Stefani clip when George Clooney and Julia Roberts hop in, discuss favourite lines in (their) films and join in, wholeheartedly bellowing along to a Queen chorus: ‘We are the cham-pions!!!!’)

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Things You Can Do to Take Charge of Your Health


Part one – Taking Charge of Your Health


Part two – Things You Can Do to Take Charge of Your Health

Take control of your health at a basic level

* When you attend a surgery or clinic with your symptoms the first thing they generally do is some very simple and basic health checks. Did you know you can do these yourself at home? Professional quality basic diagnostic tools such as an aural thermometer, finger tip pulse meter, and blood pressure tester are available from medical supplies websites at surprisingly affordable prices.

* The second level of tests is likely to be a urine sample. This is initially tested with a ‘dipstick’ in a similar way to a pregnancy test and matched against a colour coded chart. If this indicates areas of concern the sample is sent to a lab for further testing. Again, this dipstick test can be done at home. All the necessary bits and bobs can be bought from the medical supplies websites.

* Undiagnosed diabetes can be life-threatening but, with the right equipment, you can do a simple test for this at home. A digital meter that measures both glucose and ketone levels, lancet pen, and separate blood test strips are all easily obtained from retail pharmacies and will alert you to the need for any action without waiting for a GP appointment.

Becoming familiar with the state of your own general health and what readings are normal for you, as well as the average, is a good starting point for taking charge of your own health. Doing the basic medical tests when you have concerns about symptoms that have appeared will help you feel more in control when you’re ill. It’ll also help you make a more informed decision about whether or not you need a GP’s appointment.

Understand the system

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Taking Charge of Your Health

Like many people who’ve always had good health or those, like my mother, who belong to the post-war generation where you Don’t Bother the Doctor unless significant amounts of arterial blood are involved (and probably not even then) I’ve never really had that much to do with the NHS. It’s been something in which, as a Briton, I took a vague pride – but also took completely for granted. Now, after a recent Series of Unfortunate Events that left me both in awe at my first experience of its sharp end and frustration in my first experience of its bureaucracy, I’m starting to realise that what is required is a far more active approach on the part of us patients. In other words – we need to take charge of our health.

Being ill is worrying enough but when you have no idea what’s wrong with you, and you’re trying to navigate the medical support in your area when you don’t fit into the system, it makes it a whole lot worse. What this also throws up is how medically ignorant you are and, how much, in the past, you’ve left all the responsibility for managing your health to the medical profession. Do you know, for example, what your temperature should be and when it indicates illness? Or your blood pressure? Do you know about the early signs of diabetes or what your urine tells you about the state of your general health? Read the rest of this entry »

Something for the Tea-break

When trying to find a word last week to describe the delightful medley of Wodehouse reviews I’d discovered at The Aroma of Books, ‘gallumifray’ occurred to me. Unsure if I’d made this up or not, and unable to find it in Chambers, I ran a Google search and stumbled upon this endearingly bonkers site.

Devoted to the celebration and importance of Biscuits in Daily Life – did you know a survey had found that the varieties of biscuits on offer at business meetings can affect how the meeting goes?? or how many biscuits etiquette requires you to take, when offered with your cup of tea? Read the rest of this entry »

The Girl’s Own Wardrobe – dressing for summer in the inter-war period

After unearthing the previous article on Christmas Decorations during the inter-war period of the classic Wodehouse novels, I’ve been looking further through my copy of The Girl’s Own Annual for 1922/23. What strikes me is that many of the articles on How to Negotiate Life are just as relevant for us today, with many of the ideas we think of as new and excitingly contemporary disclosed as concepts with which our great-grandmothers were familiar.

I rather liked this article on concerns about fashion trends, the machinations of the fashion industry and how to get around post War (post Recession) straitened circumstances, which could have been written today, not 92 years ago. I suppose now we have the (option?) of buying cheap throw-away garments made in a country with un-regulated working conditions by people on pitifully low wages. Without wishing to go into ‘Spode mode’ on the subject of British manufacturing (the decline of Marks and Spencer as the bulwark of British made high quality basics is a whole other post!) we do seriously need to put more thought and effort into choosing items of clothing – as outlined in this delightful article.

Transcribed by myself; copyright The Lutterworth Press.

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Votes for Women! Gertrude Jekyll on the £20 Bank Note

I was going through some old newspapers to be thrown away when I came across a well-argued little article in the Gardening section, putting the case for Gertrude Jekyll as what the Bank of England rather engagingly describes as its new ‘character’ on the back of the next £20 bank note.

I came to gardening myself in the early nineties – my grandfather was a professional gardener, and my grandmother and mother both keen amateurs, so I had little chance earlier of my own bit of earth – and was strongly influenced by the Arts and Crafts revival of the period, spending hours in bookshops poring over the stunning photographs of Tony Lord and Andrew Lawson, studying the painterly techniques of Rosemary Verey and browsing facsimile editions, reissued by the Royal Horticultural Society, of works by Margery Fish and, of course, Gertrude Jekyll.

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The British Workman

I was sitting at my desk one morning, when a noise made me look up. A large pantechnicon had pulled up outside the un-occupied house next door, the name and details of a removals company professionally decorating its side. I pointed it out to my companion, who remarked that they must be taking the furniture away at last. ‘Just wait’, I said, and recounted the story of my own experience moving house, when I’d relocated with work and the firm had paid. ‘It’s absolutely marvellous how efficient these people are, they’ll be in and out in a jiffy; have that house completely cleared in no time.’

We waited.

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The Smoking Room

I recently found a rather battered, old paperback of P. G. Wodehouse short stories, held together by Sellotape, and as he is everywhere acclaimed as the master of the snappy sentence I thought I couldn’t do better than to read them and imbibe some tips on style.

One of the things I have always liked when reading writers of the early twentieth century is the throwaway snippet of social manners and mores you frequently come across, and in the story I have just finished the hero emerges at one point from the smoking room of the golf club.

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