Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 19.40.56

…Ms YMBFA hadn’t torn  ligaments and suffered a Weber A fracture of the ankle two weeks back, I would be at this concert.

I would have flown to Boston, today hired a car, driven up to Portsmouth, stayed at the Marriott, had a late lunch at the Black Birch in Kittery, driven up to Portland, had pre-concert oysters at Eventide, seen the concert, driven back to Portsmouth and finished off the evening at the Portsmouth Brewery.

Because of this



As it is, I’m stuck here, emptying bedpans.

Not that I mind, of course

Posted in Away, Too good to miss | 3 Comments

Socialised medicine in Germany

IMG_20140822_0001At 6am one Friday morning, you think that there are 7 steps down to the living room, but in fact there are 8.

End up on the the floor with a lump the size of a grapefruit on the outside of your ankle and, boy, does it hurt.

Get driven to Casualty/ER at the University Clinic where you’re assessed and get seen by a doctor within about an hour.

X-rays, back to the doctor who diagnoses a Weber Type A fracture of the ankle in 2 places, here are some crutches (copayment: €5), don’t put any weight on it for 2 weeks, light weight for 2 weeks and then start learning to walk again, here are 3 anticoagulant injections to tide you over the weekend, go and see your GP on Monday, have some thrombosis blood tests,  get an appointment with an orthpaedic consultant and in the meantime elevate, rest and cool.


Get a same day appointment with a really good surgeon consultant, here’s a prescription for an ankle brace, come back on Friday to fit it if the swelling’s gone down enough, otherwise we’ll do an MRI.

Get measured for an ankle brace (copayment: €35), pick it up on Thursday.

GP’s up 3 flights of stairs, which is not exactly an option

Other family members are with another GP, no stairs.

Get a same day appointment, get there early, get slotted in earlier, they fill the prescription, appointment for blood tests on Friday.


Blood test at 8am, consultant surgeon at 10, swelling’s not gone down, might be a damaged ligament (if which case we’ll need to operate), MRI please.

MRI clinic at 11.

Appointment Monday , but hang on, I’ll see if they can slot you in today.

They can, but at their sister clinic on the other side of town.

Finished by 12:30 (MRI and consultation with the physician, who says, no, ligaments are fine, no operation necessary, it’s all good)

Appointment to get the ankle brace fitted by the surgeon consulatant on Tuesday. (He would have done it on Monday, but he’s in theatre all day.)

This will cost you 8.5% (matched by your employeer) of your gross salary per month, capped at €350.

Pinch me.

I must be dreaming……

Posted in This is important, True stories | 6 Comments

It’s windy today

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 12.56.29

No it’s not, it’s Thursday.

So am I. Let’s have a beer.

If you want to avoid bad jokes and deaf oldies, go here.

Real time, interactive

Quite stunning.


Posted in Bad joke alert, Too cool, Too good to miss | 2 Comments

You look armless enough…..


…why don’t you fly the airplane…”

You really couldn’t make this up…..

Pilot lost control of plane when artificial arm became detached

Flybe has instigated a number of extra safety checks after one of its pilots lost control of a passenger plane when his artificial arm became detached.

The incident happened in February on a Flybe flight from Birmingham, with 47 passengers on board, as it was landing at Belfast City Airport in gusty winds.

A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said the captain was manually flying the aircraft at the time but, as he made the final manoeuvre, ‘his prosthetic limb became detached from the yoke clamp, depriving him of control of the aircraft’.

It said although the pilot had thought about getting his co-pilot to take control, he decided that due to time pressures and the challenging conditions, his best course of action was to move his right hand from the power levers on to the yoke to regain control.

“He did this, but with power still applied and possibly a gust affecting the aircraft, a normal touchdown was followed by a bounce, from which the aircraft landed heavily,” said the report.

The AAIB said in future the captain had said he would be more cautious about checking his prosthetic lower left arm was securely attached to the clamp used to fly the aircraft, with the latching device in place.

He would also properly brief his co-pilots about the possibility of a similar event happening so they can be ready to take control at any time.

In a statement, Flybe said it was proud to be an ‘Equal Opportunities Employer’.

“This, in common with most airlines, means we do employ staff with reduced physical abilities. Where appropriate, and in accordance with UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) requirements, this does include pilots,” it said.

“The senior captain referred to in this report is one of Flybe’s most experienced and trusted pilots. The airline confirms that at no time was the safety of its passengers or crew compromised in any way, nor was the aircraft damaged.”

It said following the incident, it immediately undertook a ‘detailed internal investigation from which it determined a series of additional fail-safe safety checks’.

“These were rigorously tested and instigated immediately to ensure that this type of incident could not happen again.

“The safety of our passengers and crew is our number one priority. This means that Flybe not only adheres to the CAA’s strict requirements relating to the employment of staff with a reduced physical ability, but exceeds them to ensure that safety is never compromised.

“Flybe understands that the AAIB is to review this report to more clearly contextualise certain issues referred to in its findings.”

Posted in Bloody hell, WTF | 1 Comment

Missing Robin Williams

Posted in Too cool | 1 Comment

You know you’re in New England…

IMG_7231…when Tom at Bullmoose Records in Portsmouth NH says “I’m pretty sure I signed you up for membership last year”

And he’d be right.

IMG_7219When you go to an open air performance of Shakespeare’s “A Comedy of Errors” in Prescott Park in Portsmouth (yes, that’s the water back there..) for $5 each and bump into…


…Maggie Hassan, State Governor talking to constituents. (And which other states – apart from VT and ME perhaps – would elect someone with a name like that?)

D7K_6046When you go to Fort McClary in Kittery ME to watch the flotilla headed by Piscataqua, a gundelow, head out to help raise awareness for a life saving station in the harbour and stumble over a battle recreation involving Brits, Americans and French…



…which develops into a running battle with an enemy vessel armed with a water cannon..


and someone says “Be careful – he’s got an unlimited supply of ammunition..”IMG_7202

Where the local arts festival makes you want to stay all summer.IMG_7197IMG_7198

Where you discover a new restaurant with a beer list that’s as good as any wine list, where the food is stunningly good, where the place is run by the 3 guys who own it (front of house, bar, kitchen), they play classic 1960s/1970s vinyl albums and when you go to pay an $8o+ bill, the bartender (who tells me about a Brazilian guy who’s buying up all the vinyl in the world a day before the story appears in the New York Times) says “It’s been taken care of”


“Wasn’t me” he says

“Me neither” says the other guy behind the bar, both looking as if butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths

“Don’t worry – It’s a New England thing” he says

I still don’t get it.

And where the barista at Lil’s Cafe in Kittery says “It’s on the house” when you choose a pastry from the display half an hour before closing.

It really must be a New England thing….D7K_5926

Where Lowell’s Boat Shop is still making boats as they did in 1793 (They couldn’t before the War of Independence, because the Crown Forester claimed and marked all trees with a diameter greater than 24 inches)IMG_7182 IMG_7179

Where the customers in the Portsmouth Brewery have

a) great t-shirts
b) great taste when it comes to recommending restaurants (“Street” on Islington is phenomenal, thanks Adam)

and where the lady behind the bar says “Hey, you’re back – nice to see you”

I could live here.

Quite easily…..




Posted in Away, Too good to miss | 3 Comments

You know you’re in America…


…when these are “1/4 Kiddie” size ice creams.

Two scoops.

“Normal” size is a 5 scoop monstrosity.

Then again – what’s normal around here…?

Hodgies’s ice cream parlour in Amesbury, MA

Posted in Bloody hell, This is America | 1 Comment