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Its coming home, its coming home, football is coming home. I am not a real footie fan but now it is all change. The green hills of England have swollen with pride and England is through to the quarter finals of the world cup, the monarchy is popular again and the words "I am proud to be English" are once again resounding through the hills. Football is a barometer of our society; it is a bench mark of how we feel about ourselves and after beating Denmark 3-0 we are in seventh heaven. This world cup tournament has been like no other. The favourites have gone, the defending champions are home and we are still in it. This is England's best chance to bring football home. Only 3 games left between now and that dream that has eluded every school boy for 36 years. Oh yes I know we must face Brazil, Italy and Germany still. But the belief is now there and for once the English team looks like it could do it. The game was frantic for a disillusioned fan such as I. From the off the Danish looked the more nervy and they stuck to there short passing game as if it was the only game they knew. The English were surer of themselves and by half way through the first half despite only having 30 percent of the possession they were 2-0 up and we started to believe. After Heskey finally scored England's third we looked like world champions, assured on the ball and calm in defence. The second half went to script; we sat back and watched the Danish play we let them create chance after chance yet our defence stood firm and after 1 minute of extra time the whistle blew and we were through to the last eight. 3-0 is a very respectable score and the country breathed a collective sigh of relief and jubilation. 36 years of hurt and here we are again in the top eight. Who would have believed it of the English football team? Why is football so important to us all, especially us men. I think it is a form of religion. We have stars w e worship. We give them vast gifts, or salaries and in return we expect them to live perfect lives. Not personal lives but lives on the football pitch. Lives we could not possibly emulate and lives that are better to any one else. For the last 36 years we have been denied this utopia as England have struggled to field a competitive team in any world championship. But in this jubilee year we have found the superstars we have yearned for in the likes of messers Beckham, Butt, Ferdinand, Scholes, Owen, Heskey, Sinclair, Campbell, Seaman, Mills, Cole, etc. We can all strive to achieve those lives yet very few of us make it. So we worship these deities at the altar we call television and our lives somehow become complete. Yes I am mad. I have elevated the England team to a level that is well beyond reality. But that is what a good result can do. We can now feel proud of our team and that makes us feel proud about ourselves. Anything that does that certainly deserves star billing. The jubilee did it for most of us, some of us saw Lewis' victory over Tyson as another great step and now getting past the second round of the world cup into the last eight has added icing to the patriotic cake. It is not over yet. We could go on to greater glory and then the team would be revered in history as high as the great 1966 team. The dream final for me, would it not be fantastic if it was England v Ireland?
I will review this movie with a mind to the entire Star Wars epic that is unfolding before our viewing eyes. The Clone Wars is episode 2 of 9, 5 have been completed and this episode is gripping in its own right but it brings together some of the mystery that the whole saga is based on. In this respect it is even more poignant and well worth a trip to the cinema to view it. The whole epic is a masterpiece that is created on a three S formula; Simplicity of the story, Symbolism and Special effects. SIMPLICITY, the saga is based on the age old story of love and the battle between good and evil. I don't want to give away too much of the story but Clone Wars is the coming of age of Anakin Skywalker. Ultimately Anakin becomes Darth Vader, Lord of the Dark side of the force and a Jedi knight of some power. In Clone Wars he is still Obi wan Kenobi's apprentice but there are signs of both his skill and his mastery of the force and more importantly his crossing to the dark side. Clone Wars sees his impatience with the slow wisdom of his master and his use of rage to boost his power, we witness his slaughter of those who he sees as his enemy based on the revenge spawned by the maltreatment of his mother, in a most unjedi like manner he kills women and children to satisfy his need for revenge. The story also deals with his love for the senator he met as a child in the first episode who ultimately becomes Luke and Lea's mother in episode 4, 5, and 6. This love is forbidden by Jedi law yet Anakin is prepared to break this law. SYMBOLISM is by far the most important thing that a star wars aficionado craves. The whole Jedi order is almost Masonic in its ritual. Clone wars has the ultimate Masonic symbolism of the three pronged attack on the Dark Emperor's right hand man Count Dooku. First Obi wan tries to vanquish him and fails, and then the more talented Anakin gives his right arm in a titanic clash, but fails. Then the master Yoda takes on Dooku. The master is able to match his foe but is unable to cast him asunder and Dooku escapes. True Masonic stuff. The Dark Emperor is disclosed as being the Lord high chancellor who uses those Dark side attributes such as sewing seeds of distrust and disunity to take control of the intergalactic republic and amass himself a formidable army of clones from the most determined bounty hunter in the universe. These troopers are clad in white and become the storm troopers of subsequent episodes. The clones are based on Temura Morrison, evil to the core and all have the only accent that is acceptable in Hollywood at the moment as the mark of a baddy, New Zealand. The Jedi order shows the weakness that leads to its down fall in that they were unable to sense the traitorous Dark Emperor in their midst. Presumably the next film will deal with the fall of the Jedi. Star Wars itself is the story of the rebirth of the Jedi through Anakin's son Luke Skywalker. The force is strong with Anakin and his skills are formidable. Remember his skills will increase as each Jedi who kills another acquires the skills of the Knight he has vanquished and I presume Anakin will be the fall of Dooku in the next film. We meet Babafet the son of the bounty hunter who witnesses Anakin kill his father and this has real significance in later films. The other secret that we see in this film is the planning of the death star that the Dark emperor builds and Luke destroys in star wars. Obi wan Kenobi comes across this when he is searching for the would be assassin of the senator. SPECIAL EFFECTS are the trade mark of the George Lucas in this saga. Star Wars first burst onto our cinema screens in 1977. We had not seen anything like it before and even now the special effects in that movie are awesome. Star Wars has been seen by more moviegoers in the world that any other movie and it was as a result of these effects that it remains the world's most popular film. Clone Wars is packed with awesome effects too. The most powerful image that remains in my mind is the effect of the sonic charges that dogged Obi wan as he flew through the Asteroids in pursuit of the bounty hunter. Spectacular and devastating weapons have never been more graphically portrayed on digital celluloid. The sound effects too are marvellous in full digital glory and make the visual art even more poignant. This is a must for all Star Wars fans. It is a must for the big screen as I am sure a great deal of its impact will be lost on the small screen. Clone wars is a major contribution to the art of cinema and has taken the saga to a new plane with its effects. I have the utmost respect for George Lucas. This story has been created totally in his head. There is not a book that he based the fuilm on and he is able to keep the symbolism going through now 5 films. Each film is linked to the next and the story is unfolding before our very eyes. He has not made sequels that fall flat after a first film but he has kept true to the story and true to the Force. Watch it and be prepared to be moved as the force becomes with you.
Harry Potter, the boy who has reawakened our need for magic, love and traditional family values has made it to the small screen in the living rooms of the nation. Expected to be a smash this DVD has not let AOL Time Warner, its financiers, down. Written by J.K.Rowling, "the philosopher's stone" is the first part of a tremendous tale of magic, courage and the fight of good against evil. The DVD attempts to recapture the essence of the literary surprise of the nineties. I, however, feel that somehow the transition to the big and small screen has not been successful. The book rolls along from tragedy to comedy, from love to magic in a totally unforgettable way. The film was partially able to recreate the scenes and action in graphic detail and the DVD does too but on the small screen the impact is somehow lessened. The character development is let down by acting that is wooden in relation to the screenplay and the plot and nowhere near the characterisation of the book. Why? The book depends heavily on Harry's narration to carry the fear, loathing and amazement of a boy in his early teens, taking his first faltering steps to become the greatest wizard of his day. The DVD loses a lot in removing the first person element from it. The ask is too much of Daniel Radcliffe, the young actor picked to portray the young wizard Harry. The dialogue is too stilted to convey the essential messages of Harry's journey. Wonderful casting (Robbie Coltrane is undoubtedly the main support) does try to lift the wooden dialogue but Harry on the screen cannot magic the emotion of the Harry in your imagination as you read the tale. Daniel Radcliffe will become a great actor, do not get me wrong, but in comparison to the limitless boundaries of your imagination, he cannot live up to the expectations of your Harry. Unfair of me to expect that of him, true, but it is that factor that has made the books the bestsellers they are. The DVD has to be measured by that yardstick. The DVD is stilted in comparison. Awards do have to be credited to the wonderful special effects and the scenery. This is really brought to life in the extra bits that a DVD has. In this DVD the extra footage deals with the special effects in great detail and tries to make a star of it. But we have become used to the fantastic computer generated wizardry in films now and this was not a surprise. It was a little like watching an Arnold Schwarzenegger (please excuse the spelling) film and being surprised when his muscles come out, this does not happen any more. The effects of the DVD itself are fantastic. The sound is 6 channel digital surround sound and with the right hardware this makes for a cinema like experience. The abilities to stop the action and [pick out scenes are superb, but we are now used to that in all DVDs and they are common place. Extras on this DVD include a tour of Hogwarts (but you ot that from the marauders map in the book) theatrical trailers; a visit to Olivanders where you can pick out a wand; sessions in different classes at Hogwarts and a chance to find the Philosopher's Stone which rewards you with deleted film clips from the finished movie. Is it worth getting the DVD? Yes, probably. This is one collection that I will get for my library. It will rank up there as the definitive Harry Potter collection from film 1 to film 4 (as it stands at the moment, there are rumoured to be 7 planned by ms Rowling). It will take pride of place next to my complete Star Wars collection and undoubtedly my complete Lord of the Rings trilogy when those are completed. It will not, however stand above the other fantasy collections it is not as good as the books and they will forever have a place that is more special in my library. If you have not read the books then I heartily recommend them as being far more entertaining than the DVD. The DVD is good but not great. The books are great.
Autotrader is an icon of the eighties that has moved into the new century with grace and skill. This is not through active management but it has been driven by market forces and as such it has survived. Both a magazine and a website, it is dedicated to the sole aim of selling cars and car accessories to the Great British public and it does this very successfully. The magazine is on sale for £2 at every newsagent and bookshop. It is sold nationally but is divided into 13 regions and each regional issue sells goods and services in that corresponding region. It contains lists of motors that individuals want to sell giving a photo and a brief description with contact details of thousands of cars. These lists are subdivided into types and price ranges to allow the reader to find his needs quickly and easily. For a price range there is a choice of 5 different sizes of adverts and information you can buy and use to show off your old car to its best advantage. Interspersed with these lists are adverts for motoring accessory companies ranging from insurance sales to bolt on go faster goodies that can turn your runabout into a lean keen fighting machine (unless you drive a Corsa of course) The magazine also offers guides as to how best to sell your car and guides and advice should you be buying a car. Why is autotrader so popular? It has as its subject matter cars and car life, this is something that everyone needs at some time in there life and for a great many, mainly male it has to be said, cars and things to do with cars hold a great fascination. But it also appeals to the next most favourite thing in most of our psyche, and that is the possibility that there is a bargain out there. Next to cars most of us have a deep fascination with money and the chance to save a few pounds on our second largest purchase of our lives is an irresistible draw. There is another aspect of this magazine that keeps many addicted t o the need to purchase it, it provides information that makes up a large part of many peoples lives, again mainly male, it allows us to be knowledgeable about the price trends of our most treasured possession. Is it a good guide to the market price of your vehicle? No it is not, it is the best guide. It is the largest display of used cars in the country. Most of the adverts are listed by private individuals and most of the purchasers are again private individuals. If you have a hundred Ford Escorts listed and most are listed at, say £1000 then you will probably not sell yours if you list at ten times that amount. This means it is the real guide to what people are prepared to buy cars for, so it is a guide as to their worth. So much so that every used car and new car dealer has this months copy sitting on his or her desk, it is as essential to the car industry as the bible is to the church. Is it a good tool to sell and buy cars from? Yes it is. Buying cars from private individuals is risky. Apparently one third of cars sold in this way have a dubious past. But if you must nowhere else will you get access to so many. But if you do not want to run this risk it is a great resource to use to find dealers and car supermarkets that may have the make and model you desire. If you want to sell, over one half of all cars advertised by Autotrader are sold after the first appearance of the advert, often within a day. This may explain why Autotrader offers your third weeks advertising for free most sellers don?t need it anyway. Is it worth the money? This is a silly question. You are about to fork out a load of dosh on a new car, this is likely to be over £1000, what is another £2? Go get a copy or visit www.autotrader.com and see for yourself. A tool for the car obsessed and a resource for those who like to bore the pants off anyone who will listen, apparently that Corsa with its low slung suspension, big bore exh austs and gas flowed heads is worth at least £10000 and that will include the fluffy dice.
Hmm tricky thing nicotine replacement, the only people who want these things are people who want to give up smoking. Why were these then the best selling nicotine replacement over the counter for the year 2001? There cannot be that many smokers who want to give up. Perhaps there are many smokers who want to give up and they never give up giving up. I will give a personal account of my experience with them. This is not a detailed explanation of all their side effects and benefits, for that get the data sheet off the net. Try http://www.nicorette.com for a start. Do these work? Not a lot is the answer. Perhaps that is why these sell in such great numbers, smokers like to rely on them to get over the nicotine cravings, but they don?t seem to be good at stopping people smoking. The inhalator is a very efficient method of delivering nicotine to the system. You put a cartridge into the inhalator and inhale deeply. Within one minute the level of nicotine in your blood system is equivalent to that of a cigarette. After a couple of hours you start to be aware of the need for another hit and you can inhale the same cartridge again. So they satisfy the need for nicotine in the short term but do nothing to lessen the craving. So these are the closest thing to a cigarette substitute there is. This may explain why so many smokers take to them. They provide the hit without lessening it, they stop you smelling, you can take them at work and no one knows and when you get home you can light up without any fear that you are letting yourself down because you don't feel as if you are giving up. Ah hah you say, so these are being abused. I don't know, they may be but it explains why these outsell every other type of nicotine replacement therapy. What are they like? Small cartridges that you slip into a plastic inhalator that taste of nothing in particular but leave a slight tingle at the back of your throat as you inhale. Not unpleasant, but no t really pleasant either. Until you are used to them they can leave you feeling a little nauseous Are they effective? As I have already discussed, the answer is yes and no. They satisfy your craving but are less helpful in giving up than other forms of nicotine replacement. Are there any restrictions in their use? Yes you are advised not to use more than 12 a day; you are advised not to use them if you are under 18 or if you have any form of medical condition. Great so anyone who really needs to use them for health reasons cannot. I think you will find that most health professionals will work around these restrictions and be a little freer in the attempt to be sensible and not over protective. What do they cost? About £15 for 50 cartridges, the same as three and a half packets of cigarettes but 50 will last you six or seven days. So they are half price then. As a substitute this is cheap as a cigarette spacer this too is cheap (unless you are a smoker of illegally imported rolling tobacco). Are there any side effects? For me there are two; the first I can directly attribute to the cartridges, namely sore areas at the back of my throat. Not too bad just a little tender when I use the next one for a few seconds. I suppose it could get worse or even lead to a cancerous spot but for the moment I will tolerate it. The second is a little constipation. I am not sure if this is an effect of not smoking. I used to rely on my first fag getting me going in the morning, as it were, and I do miss that. I will get over it but till then fruit and fibre and fluid are my dietary stable mates. Are they handy? This is one of the brilliant aspects of these things. A handy plastic pack that you have to fill and refill, it is just like making sure that when I leave the house I have my cigs and lighter with me. So that part of my sad habit is satisfied, I have the toys. Am I still smoking? Yes from time to time. This is what I mean about them, after 3 months use I am still smoking 10 or 15 a weekend and none during the week. That is an improvement but I am not sure it is healthy to be using these great little devices as a smoking spacer. I want to stop. I find it hard and these cartridges are not really helping me get used to life without nicotine. Yes I can live a life without cigarettes but I need my nicotine hit and these are not teaching me to do without that. I am not going to tell you how to stop smoking, largely because I don't know. I do know that for me the nicorette inhalator will not help me quit. They help me smoke less but that is not what they are for. They may be all you need however so I will advise you to give them a try. If they work, great, If not then try again. The moral of this tale is to never give up giving up, I guess it will happen to me one day.
"An extremely practical child car seat", or so the brochure says, I agree too. My son is now 9 months old. He loves the car. He rides around amazed at all the moving scenery, the other cars on the road and he has found that riding in this forward facing seat has made car journeys much more fun. Gone are the days of rearward facing seats where the only view he had was the back of the passenger seat. Gone are the days of restrictive belts and a curled up posture. He is now riding high, sitting up just like his Mum and Dad and he can really interact with us now on trips. Why do you have to have a car seat? Well it is obvious really, remember the road safety advert where your child turns into a deadly missile in the event of an accident and bursts out of the windscreen at 30 miles an hour. A horrific image and it happens. Well not to my son it won't. We splashed out the £89.99 at mothercare and purchased this accessory. It sits firmly on the rear seat. It feels comfortable for him with plenty of padding and we are happy because it is easily cleaned, spills and food remnants wipe off easily. The whole padding unit is machine washable and easy to remove and replace. It is the safety aspect that we wanted the Britax for. This seat has been designed to make the safety aspect as easy as possible. As a result we are confident that our lad is protected. It has been crash tested to destruction and provides a level of safety that is unsurpassed. The detailed instructions are useless if they are not read though. Recent findings by the British standards institute showed that 8 out of 10 car seats are fitted incorrectly and were potentially dangerous. Any child's safety, therefore, depends on the parents. I took the instructions and followed them to the letter. The instructions made fitting the car seat as simple as possible and even me, an instruction book idiot, was able to follow them. The seat comes with a 12 month guarantee against material or manufacturing problems. This of course requires a proof of purchase so we have kept the receipt in a safe place. It goes without saying that this guarantee does not affect your statutory rights as a customer. This is not a piece of kit I would buy second hand. An accident can seriously impair the proper functioning of a car seat. You would not use accident damaged seat belts for yourself would you? Features include seatbelt guides, adjustable recline, 4 point shoulder harnessing that is adjustable, seat belt locks and colour coded seat belt guides. The frame is powder coated metal and tested to 100 lb capacity but at 100 lb your child would be too big. The point here is that the unit is over engineered in the interest of safety again. Britax can be contacted at their customer services helpline on 01264 386034 and their web site is http://www.britax.co.uk/main1.htm. (Mothercare is at http://www.mothercare.com)
I know this is not really the place for this opinion. But I wanted to warn parents about some pitfalls with Walker's crisps and other snack foods. When Kids go to the kitchen 9 times out of 10 they emerge with a snack of some sort. I found this out about crisps, Coke and other carbo snack treats. So how do I write something that will grab your attention about the nation's favourite potato snack. They are really really bad for you. Sacrilege you all yell. Not our favourite snack. Not the ones that Gary Lineker, the paragon of all that is good and nice sells surely? Well, yes they are really really bad for you. I am not talking about the 133 calories per packet of 25g. I am not talking about the strange and varied chemical flavours that they add to make them taste so good. Although, I could point out that the only smoky bacon that smoky bacon flavour comes into contact with is what ever is on the breath of one of the line workers in the Walkers factory that morning. You see it is all to do with organic chemistry, otherwise known as aromatic hydrocarbon development. You take nasty bits of plastic blend them under certain heat conditions and behold you get a substance that smells and tastes of smoky bacon. Also it is not the salt. Although there is enough salt in a packet of crisps to send your blood pressure up by about 2mm of mercury. No it is the carbohydrate. Carbohydrate? You ask. Well yes. You then will say that I have already excluded the calories. Yes that is right. Carbohydrate in this form is a killer in two ways. 1) When carbohydrate remnants are heated in fat to certain temperatures, as they are in crisps, they turn into a carcinogenic compound. A substance that causes cancer. This is found at levels 400 times the recommended maximum daily dose in one packet of 25g crisps. It is thought that these carcinogens cause bowel and throat cancer and snacks such as crisps may account for the fourfold rise in Bowel cancer i ncidence we have seen in the last 20 years. Think on that. 2) The second way in which Walkers crisps may kill is due to the simplicity of these carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates such as potato fragments heated in hydrogenated oil are readily broken down into glucose by the body. This causes your pancreas to release a load of insulin. The sugar is stored and then you suffer a hypo. This makes you hungry for more, and this is the reason why one bag is never enough. So what. Well the insulin release depletes the pancreas, the sugar levels poison the little cells that release the insulin and the Free fatty acids that the crisp also releases causes your body to be less sensitive to insulin so you have to release more. A viscous circle then, I hear you say. Yes one that ultimately ends up as diabetes. Simple sugar snacks such as crisps cause the increasing incidence of type two diabetes. We have just seen the first cases in children and the consequences are devastating to those people. Cabletow is nothing but a moaning killjoy isn't he. My old man used to say that life was worth living and everything is OK as long as everything is taken in moderation. Latest medical research sometimes seems to rebuke this, and Walker's crisps are the latest killer highlighted by the press. I am sure that those of you who eat this stuff by the truckload will start to see your health suffer. But a packet a day cannot be too harmful can it. It would seem that this is a risk you have to take. If the politically correct police take crisps to heart as much as smoking or Coca-Cola you may well see an anti crisp league develop because of its cancer causing features. In the meantime however you have to eat and a little of what you enjoy seems fair enough. The message I am trying to impart is be hard on yourself and learn to say no to that all appealing second packet. Delicious as they may be.
The NHS is dying; Max, for god's sake, get it into resus. No room? There must be room - this is the nation's saviour, the flagship that Britain hangs on to, and the stalwart paragon of great British socialism. But Max we must save it. Casualty is the BBC's own grown hospital drama. These days however it is more to do with political drama, than hospital drama. After watching another gruelling episode of death, stress and caring, I can only come to one conclusion. The BBC has finally become blatant at being a New Labour advertising tool. Tonight Casualty was bought to its knees. Corridors had become full and Casualty could no longer cope with the flotsam and jetsam of Britain's health service. All very dramatic and harrowing, and Max had to close Casualty. The coincidence is all too apparent. On Wednesday next is Gordon Brown's awaited budget. The budget that, he has promised, will outline his prescription for saving the NHS. A prescription that many pundits are prophesying that will mean the end of low taxation. Never fear though, increased taxes will; we are assured, save our ailing health service. So the BBC helps out. Over dramatize the worries of the middle classes, and soften them up for the blow that will come. I have been sceptical about claims that the BBC was in New Labours pocket, but now I am agreeing. Tonight's episode was over the top. Wards full, with bed blockers. The waiting time to be seen got over 6 hours. The staff dropping like flies with the Norwalk vomiting virus and overwork and patients had to be treated in ambulances in the parking lot. The staff had to lie about the death of a patient to cover up there inadequacies and management started to see the toll all this was taking on the staff. The plot was taken straight from the Daily Mail's daily tirade about our third world health service, and it worked. Everyone who watched it must have been moved to tears as the old man with cancer died in the corridor and the staff nurse who started that day had to comply with Charlie?s request to lie to the relatives. Is it really like this in our hospitals? Well, yes it is. But it has been like this for a long time now and my concern is why we are being shown the dark side now. Up till now casualty staff have risen above the politics and focussed on what every one who works in the NHS does to the best of their ability. That is getting on with the job of dealing with patients. Why usually on busy days like today the staff manage to solve a deep and complicated social problem. Not tonight, though. They just could not cope. Propaganda takes many forms. Clever propaganda is that which the viewer does not even realise is propaganda. Churchill was the master of this. Remember the directors of the BBC have all recently been replaced with New Labour spin doctors and they have now started to get to work on casualties doctors. I can assure you that despite the promises most of the cash that is earmarked for the NHS gets swallowed up before it gets to patient care. It gets spent on new management schemes to cover up the deficiencies of the NHS. It does not provide more doctors and Nurses it provides more people with clip boards making targets that are achievable, scoring parameters that prove those targets and then reworking the statistics to prove that the NHS is getting better, when patently it is not. Just two weeks ago it was leaked that there are 210,000 NHS managers, 196,000 NHS beds, 120,000 nurses and 60,000 doctors. For the first time in the history of the NHS there are more managers than beds. Any tax rise next week will only make this worse. How can the state of our hospitals be so bad when around each bed there are 1.1 managers? More money is needed for patient care, it is true. But it must get to the patient and not to those who are creaming it off. It must go towards getting and keeping more doctors and nurses. It must go to increa sing bed capacity and not go towards spurious targets that have more political meaning rather than patient cantered improvements. This used to be Charlie Fairhead's constant refrain. But, it would seem, even he has taken to dealing with just getting by. Even he has become a master of the cover up, to support an ailing system at the expense of the conscience of his loyal and dedicated staff. That would never happen under Tory rule. The actors did their job fantastically. They helped us all live the desperation that the NHS has become. The script writers fulfilled their brief fantastically, and I am sure many of you will comment that I am ranting and exhibiting signs of paranoia. But I question the timing and the motives. I am sure we will see a tax raising budget and I am sure that many of you will feel better about that. It is a good cause you will say. Yes it is a good cause, but we spend much more than other places yet we have very much fewer clinical staff. The care we get is appalling yet all we seem to care about is that there is a better management. Please be aware that better management does not mean more management. I am happy to pay more in tax if it means a better heath service. Better must, however, be judged at the patient level and not by a spurious measurement of how many aspirin have been prescribed last year. We need to start seeing reports in the newspapers of happy patients grateful for the fantastic results the hospitals have achieved and we need to see casualty return to the halcyon days of solving all the problems of their patients. Then we will know that taxes have saved the NHS.
As I sit here reading the Hawkshead summer 2002 catalogue I have been taken back. Back to a time pre internet and shopping channels on digital TV, a time of honest innocence, a time when shopping from home meant "the catalogue". Nostalgia is fantastic, I guess all of us who have reached a certain age say things like that, I was taken back to a time when the catalogue ruled. You leafed through several photos and selected a garment. You phoned up the next day during office hours and you ordered. You experienced the thrill of a parcel arriving with the post the next day. You experienced the pain of having to take the item back to the post office because it was the wrong size and finally the sense of achievement when the right sized goods arrived and you could wear it with pride. This was, of course a time when the Post Office was called the Post Office and they delivered first class goods the next day, and a time when credit card fraud was a thing of the future. Hawkshead is a clothing firm. They still rely on catalogue orders and supply a range of outdoor clothing that is middle of the range price and quality wise. The range of items is comprehensive yet conservative. The stock is all their own design but has heavy reliance on the style of "name" brand outdoor goods although the fashion is perhaps two or three years behind the trendy high street store. Their service is fantastic. There is never a quibble about returns and the turn around time for all their items is about a week at the most, Consignia may extend that time and you of course run the risk of your item never arriving but that is another opinion. It is the catalogue approach to their sales that I have enjoyed recently. How wonderful it has been to lie in the bath and make my selection. Try doing that with your desk top. It has been refreshing just looking at clothes without having to wade through links, Email forms, reset buttons, adverts for totally unrelated things such as Amazon, and disclaimers. It has been a revelation that shopping browsing at home does not rely on downloading page wait times and the other vagaries that is the World Wide Web. It is total freedom to be able to make your purchase selection whilst sitting on the loo. I have realised today how life has become more, and not less, complicated with today's technology. After I have finished my selection I have a free gift too, a wonderful fire starter or bottom wiper. The old catalogue can be used in a few time honoured recycling ways. Hawkshead summer 2002 catalogue is one of a high quality. Good looking models photographed in the English outdoors are a taster for my summer to come. The catalogue has whet my appetite for a grey English summer and I cannot wait. The clothing is suitable for the man about the English outdoors who does not want to standout out too much. Discreet colours and labels are a feature. Low tech garments that are made well are Hawkshead's trade mark. This is not a bad thing. Costs are kept low by the low overheads the company has, for example timberland style boots for walking in are £27 a pair and Alpine fleeces, in the style of Quicksilver or Ocean Pacific, are a bargain at £20 each. As with all catalogue clothing companies, I get a little distressed when I come across jeans with elasticised waists even if they have side pockets on the trouser leg but £20 is cheap enough for them so I will not complain too much. Hawkshead offer a choice of payment options, including a Hawkshead account card which allows you to claim a further £10 off your next purchase, and , sadly, they have a web site that you can order from. (www.hawkshead.com will see you right.) Delivery charge is £2.95. they also do have a few stores on the high street and the list of these stores is available on the catalogue. Let me tell you what I have ordered last week. A pair of waterfall webbing sandals in black for the summe r, at a reasonable £22 and they fit well. It has been too cold to wear them, but there you go, so much for the spring. For those of you who have had there appetite whetted for this simple pleasure you can order a catalogue your self from the web site or by dialling 0870 5993344. Trust me, if you are in the market for nondescript clothing and a selection that can be perused in your most personal times, get a Hawkshead catalogue. It makes a great fire starter if nothing else.
New parents do you want freedom and security? Is this not having your cake and eating it too? As I sit here writing this opinion, little Archie lies asleep above me, I can hear his breathing, listen to his snorts and grunts and be happy. We are your usual paranoid parents and we need the reassurance that all is well with him. For seven months we have relied on the Tomy Walkabout 2001 as our peace of mind. The Tomy Walkabout is a radio transmitter-receiver that allows us to have time away from our sleeping child yet if he awakes and get distressed we can hear him. He gets reassured as we come to comfort him and we are reassured that we can hear him. Why do parents need this? Well we need to know he is all right when we are not with him. We therefore need to hear his breathing and hear when he becomes distressed, but we also need time to ourselves. This piece of kit allows us to do both; in seven months we have come to trust the Walkabout 2001 completely. It has been reliable, it is portable, and it is hardy enough to survive being dropped, crashed and even chewed by the dog a little. Tomy have made baby monitors for many years. Their model range expands yearly and the Walkabout range has been in existence for about five. Made from durable white plastic each monitor comes with a carrying handle and belt strap. Each monitor has mains power and battery options and the receiver has both audio and visual modes so you can see a flashing light show as well as hear noises. This is useful in situations where your ambient noise levels are high or when you want to turn off the sound. It has a range of about 50 yards in our house so we can access all areas of the house and the garden and still hear those reassuring little noises. It operates on two channels so that any interference from other radio transmitters can be minimised. Battery life is a reasonable 7 days when being used away from the mains. A word of warning, if you leave th e monitor switched on all the time you must remember where the transmitter is as it will pick up any noise, even your voice. So if you have guests in your living room and you are in the nursery, don't say anything you may regret, they will hear all if the monitor is switched on. Remember the advertising campaign for MacDonald's of a few years ago ? it happens. Walkabout is an interesting choice of a name for a baby monitor. It conjures up images of escaping responsibility, a calm serenity that one sees in aboriginal culture, and freedom. The name was probably chosen very carefully to carry these messages. It, therefore, is a real advertising executives' coup to have come up with this name. Does it live up to these standards? As you can see, we have discovered a sense of freedom. We have achieved a life outside of our baby's nursery and we have calmed down in our fears of cot death. So yes the walkabout has lived up to some of it's image for us. What about the ability to shelve responsibility? I believe that the Walkabout is an aid to better parenting so we have done the responsible thing and given our baby and ourselves security. Happier parents make a happier baby. This was not the first monitor we bought. That honour goes to the Tomy digital model. This was not a great monitor as it only comes to life when your child squeals. Tomy missed out on the most important reason that we as parents bought it, we like to know he is all right and we like to hear his gentle breathing. We were not happy so we exchanged it for the Walkabout model. This is analogue and it transmits all sounds continuously. Every parent has a fear of cot death as well as the need to hear your child's distress and the Walkabout 2001 addresses both these fears, the digital monitors don't. More information can be found at Tomy's web site http://www.tomy.co.uk/default.htm The cheapest on line sites that I have found where you can purchase The Tomy monitors are: http://www.viponline.co.uk/tomy_security.htm http://www.mailorderexpress.com/TomyShop/TomyShop.html About £35 will get you the monitor, expect to pay about £40 on the high street. In summary; The Walkabout 2001 is a great monitor. It gives you a little more freedom for your sanity yet gives you the reassurance of the security that listening to your child can give you.
PC world is a surprise. 8 years ago I wondered to my self how a superstore,dedicated to only computers could survive in the industrial state battleground on the outskirts of town, apparently competing with the likes of Tescos, Asda, Comet, Curries, etc. The battle however has seen more specialised superstores take arms in the struggle to wrest cash from us, Joe Public. Mothercare, Toys R us, Momas and Poppas, and Pets mart. All have found the cheaper rates of industrial estate Britain profitable. 8 years on and PC World is going strong. PC World sells hardware and software, targeting the novice, and aiming to deliver a cheap feel to expensive products. This aim has been delivered successfully as far as the accountants are concerned. Is it any good as a computer store? By virtue of the fact that you are all sitting at home using your computer to read this, you are all out of PC Worlds target population. You all know a little about computers. That is why many of the opinions written here are negative towards PC World. I remember the first time I wanted to but a computer. I went to PC World and talked to a salesman. It took me half an hour to find one but when I did I asked him the questions that I though were sensible. "Which one is best for me?","What should I look for in a computer?" and "What if something goes wrong?" Well, the salesman was helpful. He answered that I needed as much RAM, Processor power and Gigabytes as I could afford, in that order of preference. He had an Advent 350 P2 here for $1000 that was great value and that PC World would guarantee it for a year and I could bring it back at any time. Armed with this information I left the store and went to a small local back street builder gave him the specs and he built me one for £500. So my impressions already of PC World are mixed. I got useful information, but I felt they were a little pricey. This was all 5 years ago. Since then I have expanded in girth as well as in other areas. My computer has grown and my knowledge has grown too. I have bought the odd peripheral from PC World and found the store to have two big faults. I have always had trouble in finding someone on the shop floor with any computing knowledge, and I have found their repair service and their stock levels to be lacking. The only good aspect of using this large superstore is that they will gladly refund items, no argument, if you keep the receipt. Every piece of hardware I have purchased from them I have had to replace as parts were missing or the hardware was broken. I have bought scanners, mice, printers and soundcards. A total of ten items. Yes, all ten had to be taken back and replaced. Not a good strike rate is it? 10 out of 10 returns. It is not surprising, therefore, that PC World is good at the refund aspect of customer service, they get a great deal of practice at it. What do PC World do badly. The staff has no sense of ownership in the business. This means they are curt, rude, interested only in their next break and see punters as just that, punters. They all will counter that they are not paid enough to be interested, I am sure. New management advice from America does teach that "If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys" A good manager will engender a feeling of ownership from the staff and this translates to improved public service. PC World and other superstores have a great deal to learn on this count. Running a store dedicated to computers is tricky when it comes to stock keeping. Computers date very quickly and PC World has a large network of stores. Therefore stocks of the latest game, mouse or operating systen are hard to keep up to date. Also unfashionable items will tend to stockpile, so there is a temptation to build these items into the next home computer system that they will sell. It is only in the last two months that you can buy an off the shelf system from PC Wo rld that has XP loaded, they had surplus Windows Millennium to get rid of. This does tend to leave a feeling of, "I have just been ripped off" Prices are competitive with other computer superstores and, although not the cheapest, Cheap enough. After sales guarantees are not worth the paper they written on though. The first time you use your computer to go on the internet or load an external programme on, you negate the guarantee. So rewording their guarantee promise ~ it should read " We will guarantee our product only if you never use it" So why is PC World in business still. Well it is easy, it is open seven days a week and it is reassuring to complete novices to go into a store where there are working computers that they can have a play on. Do not be fooled though PC World is not a great place to get your computer. You can get a good idea of what you need and it is a great place to get your stocks of paper or ink. Before you part with any real cash ask your self this. "If they are all that cheap how can they afford such a big store with all this kit in it?" "What is their main purpose, to make themselves richer or provide you with the best computing solution to match your needs and budget?" and "Why do real techno heads not get their kit from here?" I think, therefore, that you should consider browsing and then walking away. Others will disagree strongly. I accept that. In computing we all like the way we do things the best. I bet my Internet explorer is configured differently from yours. I bet many of you swear that MSN explorer or AOL is better than Internet explorer. No one is right. These are all solutions to the problem as to how to see a thing on the net and not one solution is right and all others are wrong. For me PC World was a dead loss. I would be happy to hear of happy shopper stories from this superstore.
The salt spray stung my face. The hulls vibrated and groaned. This was speed. Six inches above the water, six feet out from the side of the boat, I had the most fantastic view as the hulls of my Hobie 16 sliced through the clear blue sea leaving perfectly cut water closing in behind them. This is catamaran sailing. Exhilarating, fast and furious. Another small wave, adjust the tiller round up slightly, lean back and up we go, yes clear airtime again and crash we come back down, the lee hull submerges but pulls out in a flash and we carry on as before. As we come into the surf close to shore we ride down the wave front, pull hard on the tiller and flare off the top. Pure adrenaline. I have just come back from my hols. Two weeks in the sun and sailing a free Hobie 16 was daily entertainment. These catamarans are built for the surf. They are a two-man, twin-trapeze speed machine, capable of about 25 knots in ideal conditions. Designed in the sixties by a surfer, Hobie, they are simple to rig, and having a characteristic banana shaped hull they have no centre board. The rudders have a patented kick up mechanism that is robust and simple, the idea of these design characteristics is to allow you to ride the waves, much as a windsurfer does and travel right into the beach. This allows the very cool sight of two people with broad grins sail in on the surf, right onto the beach, and get off on the sand. Hobie was a man who loved the sea. He recognised the need for a light fast catamaran that was strong, simple to sail and gave him as much fun as he had on a surf board. The 16 is the perfect boat that fitted these design criteria exactly. Any visitor to the many all inclusive beach resorts will notice many of these boats on the beach in front of their hotel. This is testimony to their durability and safety. The same visitor will find that many people want to take these boats out, so he or she may have to wait their turn, testimony to there popularit y. They are pure fun in the sun, the most fun you can have on the beach with your lifejacket on anyway. Built from fibreglass originally and now from polyurethane composite, they are strong and light, easily managed by the two people who are needed to sail them to their potential. My wife and I had no trouble rigging and lifting one to the waters edge. They are best sailed in a breeze up to 20 knots. The view when both of you are out on the trapeze is one of spray, hulls slicing through the water and coloured sails contrasting with the, hopefully, deep blue sky. Now in grey old England this may seem like an unnecessary dream. Yes I agree. Skimming the surf in the pacific is a stark contrast from beating into a stiff easterly down the Orwell River in Ipswich. At £3000 for a new one here this too adds to the unlikely benefits of owning one here. But in their element on a surf beach or in a New Zealand harbour these craft are king. I write this opinion praising the hobie 16 as a reminder to you all. It is spring, no doubt your next beach holiday is on your mind, and can I recommend a catamaran holiday in the sun. Try an all inclusive that has free water sports, and I guarantee there will be a hobie 16 sitting on the beach. Don't walk past it to the volleyball, get on it. It is easy to sail. It is great fun and the excitement of getting these up to speed is fantastic. Happy hols.
A gentle whiff pervades the air. Screams echo in your ears and you know it is time. You can put it off no longer. It is time to change his nappy. So urgently you think of something that is very important to do, but urgently having to write an opinion on Dooyoo cuts no ice with your missus. Your boy is not impressed either so you steel yourself. You lay him down and undo his babygrow and peel back his nappy. God it is carnage in there. Green smelly smear seems to have pervaded every crevice, The smell is rank. On top of it all, the boy wonder squeals with pure delight as his nappy is taken off and he is free to kick to his hearts content. Oh no, too late you realise he has dipped his sock in it and is managing to smear his green nappy just that bit further. What fun. Gross. It is time for some serious cleaning. Out comes the Johnson Baby wipes. Like a knight in shining armour they wipe cleaner with every wipe. Cleansing well and supposedly moisturising as they go. I am not sure about that, things seem to be quite moist as it was. If the box says it, then it must be so. Two sheets later and things are pleasant again. Now you can enjoy your boy kicking and squealing as he kicks for Britain. I am sure he is another David Beckham. A scene from the house of cabletow. Thank goodness for these wipes. Johnsons have been one of many players in the baby wipe business. Someone has thought of taking sheets of linen cloth, impregnating them with a pleasant smelling moisturising lotion, Johnson's in this case, and selling them in handy plastic packs to mothers everywhere to help with keeping babies bottoms clean. By making them out of thin and therefore pliable cloth and impregnating them with a lotion that cuts through fatty residues, it makes cleansing easy, gentle and pleasant. The moisturising lotion is made from a blend of aromatic chemicals that dissolves fat. So it works like soap. It contains no lanolin, which can sensitise some baby 's skin. It also contains no alcohol, which can smart if there is any broken skin. By cleansing effectively these wipes help prevent inflammation of the nappy area and cut down on the incidence of nappy rash. They dry quickly so they don?t leave your baby's skin damp as you replace his or her nappy. They biodegrade slowly so disposing of them by flushing is not advised. Johnsons baby wipes are for cleaning bits of your baby but come in useful for cleaning all sorts of nooks and crannies. In fact there are some members of Dooyoo who use them for their own bits and pieces (you know who you are!). They are available from all supermarkets and Chemists and cost £3.37 for a double refill pack. That is 144 wipes. Johnsons recommend you keep the packaging away from baby to prevent accidental suffocation. The pack is resealable to keep the wipes moist and fresh. The packs are not bulky at all so storage is easy. This is important. Any one with a baby will tell you, There are so many accessories that come with them you need all the space saving features you can get. We use them in preference to others as we find the smell less offensive and the texture is softer than many of their competitors. The price is similar and so they get our vote. Thank you for reading. ♥
What is thrush. A yeast, a type of fungus that commonly makes it's presence felt in the vagina. I make no apologoes for posting a second medical advice opinion. My last one was blocked temporarily after a misunderstanding and I lost all my Dooyoo points I gained from it as a result. this opinion is from my medical information website that I write as part of a Radio show I do for radio Suffolk. I aim to offer advice. I obviously have no personal experience with Vaginal thrush as I have no vagina. I am a bloke. But read on it may help someone. Thrush is a very common infection that can affect a number of areas in the body. These include the mouth, the skin under the breasts, the napkin area and the genital area, particularly the vagina. Vaginal thrush is caused by an overgrowth of a yeast called Candida albicans. This yeast occurs naturally and may live harmlessly in your skin, vagina, rectum and bowel without you ever noticing it. However, several factors may cause an overgrowth of the yeast and lead to an infection in the vagina and the surrounding area. What are the common symptoms of vaginal thrush? The common symptoms of vaginal thrush include:itching of the vagina and the surrounding area (vulva)redness and swelling of the vagina and vulva soreness of the vagina and discomfort during sexual intercourse a thick, white, non-smelly discharge. However, not all women who have vaginal thrush will have all these symptoms. You may have only one of them. (A yellow or green, smelly discharge is not thrush but may be caused by another type of infection. You should see your doctor to have tests and get the right treatment) Men can get thrush, but they often do not get any symptoms, or they may just notice a dryness or irritation of the penis. How is vaginal thrush treated? Vaginal thrush can be treated by using cream, pessaries or by taking tablets or capsules by mouth. The cream or pessaries are inserted in to the vagina using special applicators. The cream can also be applied to the outside of the vulva to ease any external itching. Tablets or capsules can also be used to treat vaginal thrush, or thrush affecting other parts of the body, particularly if it keeps coming back after you have tried other treatments. Only one or two doses of treatment are necessary to clear the thrush. These treatments are available on prescription or over the counter in your pharmacy. It is important that both you and your partner are treated, because you may reinfect each other during sexual intercourse. Some people are more prone to getting vaginal thrush than others. However, there are some steps that you can take to prevent thrush or to stop recurrent infections (see box opposite). If you are still worried or have any other questions about your symptoms or the appropriate treatment, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice. Causes of vaginal thrush Antibiotics kill the bacteria that cause infection, but they also kill the 'friendly' bacteria in our gut. This upsets the balance of organisms in our body encouraging the thrush to multiply. Steroids, chemotherapy and some other drugs weaken the body's defence mechanisms against infections. This can allow overgrowth of infections including thrush. People with diabetes or immune disorders such as HIV infection are more likely to get thrush. The Pill causes changes in hormone levels that affect the lining of the vagina. These changes favour the growth of thrush over the 'friendly' bacteria. Vaginal thrush can be spread by having sexual intercourse without condoms, with a partner who is infected. HELP YOURSELF If you usually get thrush after a course of antibiotics, ask your doctor to recommend or prescribe a thrush treatment at the same time. Try to keep your genital area cool. Wear loose fitting clothes rather than tights and trousers. Cotton underwear is best as it is cooler than other fabrics. After a bowel movement, wipe from the front to the back. This will avoid carrying infection from the bowel to the vagina. Avoid reinfection. If you have thrush and are having sexual intercourse without condoms, you must make sure that your partner receives treatment as well. Men can unknowingly carry Candida and your partner may reinfect you during intercourse. Use your medication exactly as recommended by your doctor or pharmacist.
What is IBS? This opinion is taken from my Web site that I produce as part of my work with Radio Suffolk as a Doctor and it reflects some useful advice for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. For more information you can view the site at www.webgp.fsnet.co.uk Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of conditions that affects your bowel, causing it to contract in abnormal ways. This causes a variety of symptoms, as shown in the box opposite. Strong contractions of your bowel are felt as abdominal pain, and the contractions can also cause diarrhoea or a feeling that you must rush to the toilet. Gas can gather inside your bowel, making you feel bloated and resulting in wind. The symptoms tend to come and go, lasting a few hours or days before settling, often without treatment. How common is IBS? IBS is the commonest gut condition. It affects about one in five people at some time in their life. However, the majority of people who suffer from IBS are female and are in the 25 to 45 age group. What tests will I need? If you are suffering from these symptoms, your doctor may diagnose you as suffering from IBS and will start you on treatment first. However, if you have noticed blood in your stools, or if you are over 40 years of age, your doctor may refer you for tests before choosing the best treatment for you. If you do need tests, two types are most likely: 1 A flexible telescope test that allows the specialist to look inside your bowel. 1 A special X-ray of the bowel. If you only have IBS, both of these tests will be normal. What can I do to help myself? IBS is thought to be made worse by stress, eating irregular meals and, in some instances, not having enough fibre in your diet. Take time to relax and get more exercise. A healthy, well-balanced diet may help the symptoms of IBS. You should also try to eat more fibre. Fibre is found in wholemeal foods, cereals, fruit and vegetables. Eating plenty of high-fibre foods will be particularly helpful if you have constipation. Many people find that modifying their diet helps, but true allergy to food is unusual. Diets that exclude certain types of food should be supervised by a dietitian. They may suggest that you exclude tea, coffee, milk products and chocolate. What drug treatment can help? Drugs cannot cure your IBS, but there are drugs available that can relieve your symptoms. If you are suffering from abdominal pain and bowel spasm, your doctor may recommend that you take anti-spasmodics. You should take these drugs as recommended for two to four weeks to see if your condition improves. If these drugs are helpful, you can then use them as and when you need them. Constipation may be eased by changing your diet to include foods that are high in fibre, or your doctor may suggest fibre supplements. Anti-diarrhoeal drugs will help with diarrhoea. Symptoms of IBS Abdominal cramps most commonly occur on the left hand side or lower pad of the abdomen. The pain may be sharp, stabbing or colicky, and may be eased by passing wind or passing a motion. Your abdomen may feel bloated and swollen, with excessive wind, causing you discomfort. You may be constipated or have loose motions. You may feel that you urgently need to open your bowels. Your motions may be small and hard, like pellets. You may have to strain or have a feeling of being unable to empty your bowels completely. Sometimes you may feel tired or nauseous. Help yourself If you have constipation, it is important to have a healthy diet and to eat more high-fibre foods, such as wholemeal foods, cereals, fruit and vegetables. Excluding certain foods may be of some benefit to some patients-try cutting down on tea, coffee, milk and chocolate. Use your medication exactly as recommended by your doctor or pharmacist. Further information: IB S Network St.Johns House Hither Green Hospital London 5E13 61U Tel: 0181 698 4611 ext. 8194 Thank you for reading.