Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Well, there's a thing!

I can update this on the move, I find. The Blackberry really is the supreme procrastination device!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Twenty years ago today...

Today is 17 May 2010. As a pensions administrator the date of 17 May is engraved on my heart. At work I refer to it several times a day. It is the day connected to the infamous Barber judgement which occurred in 1990 relating to pension scheme equalisation of retirement ages for men and women. For most of the pension schemes I work on, there is an actual date of equalisation which may be months or years after 17/05/1990. This means there is a transition period between 17/05/1990 to actual equalisation date, therefore adding several layers of complexity to a calculation.

I wonder what Mr Barber (who I understand is now deceased) would have made of all the trouble his case has caused. Although obviously it was the right thing to do to have pension ages equalised, there should have been a tidier way to go about it.

I mentioned the anniversary to a work colleague earlier. Her comment was "Oh yes, we're having a party.....NOT!"

In praise of Southport DGH

I started this blog with the best of intentions but my time management is obviously rubbish, at that was months ago and I've never been back since. So I'm having another bash now and I'll try to do better.

I'm kicking off this time with a fervent vote of thanks to Southport District General Hospital (known locally as the DGH). During the week before the General Election I was out doing my usual election thing, i.e. shoving leaflets through letterboxes, and I took a tumble on the pavement. Fortunately there were people about. and a very nice man came and helped me up (after asking if I needed an ambulance), and then a lovely lady (no idea who she was) helped me into her car,and drove me home (about half a mile) having given me a handful of babywipes to clean the blood off my face. (Whoever you were - thank you!!)

Once home I was able to assess the damage. the blood was superficial (grazed face and lip) but my left hand was turning black and blue and swelling and the right one wasn't feeling too clever either. Clearly a trip to A & E was in order and so Nigel took me in a taxi (we may return to parking problems at the DGH at a later date - suffice it to say it's rubbish!)

I was expecting to hang around ages but it was all very efficient. Reception, followed by triage, followed by a nice sit-down in the minor injuries unit.... after examination, a trek off to x-ray. I remember the days when you came out of x-ray with a big brown envelope containing your films - no, I had an A5 sheet with my name and a bar code, and a small red spot sticker. The sticker meant I'm special! or more precisely, something was probably broken. back to minor injuries, who looked at my x-rays and recommended strapping and a visit to fracture clinic. It's the left little finger which was broken and therefore the clinic nurse basically sellotaped it to the one next door (not literally of course - surgical supplies were used!) and that was it, not even a sling. (They had earlier decided the other wrist wasn't broken). We were there all afternoon but there weren't any gratuitous delays and everyone was kind and efficient (I have obviously been watching Casualty too long).

The same could be said of fracture clinic - efficient, kind, and patient. I was still concerned about the right wrist, which hurt as much as the fractured finger, and the doctor was happy to get that x-rayed as well just to make sure. No break there, fortunately! I mentioned sick notes. "Oh yes, no problem - what do you want, four weeks?" Once I'd got my breath back I settled for 2 weeks at this point and to report to my GP if I needed any longer. Then my hand was re-strapped by the clinic nurse using a different technique and different materials (I quote "They do the other way in A & E, but we are orthopaedic nurses and we do it this way!") and I was given a small packet of further supplies.

So here I sit with one hand strapped as per above, a crepe bandage on the other wrist, thanking my lucky stars that my local hospital is so efficient. I have used its services several times in the 15 years I've lived in Southport (as both in and out patient as well as A & E) and have nothing but praise for its staff and services. Such a contrast to The Hospital From Hell which I experienced in another town and which they will have to carry me into unconscious because I'm never knowingly going near again!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

That was the conference, that was!

OK, so I'm just back from Liberal Democrat conference (with a nasty cold - so much for the alleged properties of seaside air!). Did we have a good conference? Yes we did! It was great to see so much consensus about who we were, where we were going and what we wanted to do when we get there.

But did the media coverage reflect that? No it didn't. Time after time the interviewers were picking and poking, trying to turn any small disagreement into a full blown row, any mild comment into an attack on the leadership. Granted, there were one or two things said and done which could have been handled better (deliberately not going into details here!), but on the whole we made the media work for their crumbs.

Highlight of the conference for me? Sitting in the front row of a hugely overcrowded fringe meeting for the Keep Libel Laws out of Science campaign - I was less than 10 feet from Simon Singh! Further down the top table was Ben Goldacre! Two of my heroes in one meeting - I thought things couldn't get much better... and then I went into the conference hall to hear the amendment on the same subject proposed by guest speaker Richard Dawkins - well, that was a really impressive clutch of sightings for me.

What also struck me was how much Liberal Youth have come on in the last year. Their speakers were persuasive and confident and their amendments were spot on. They exuded a true sense of purpose, whether clustering round their stall (or the bar of course!) or striding off confidently hither and thither, and even dressed in suits from time to time (which reminded me of some of the Young Liberals of the 1980s, "in fitted suits and briefcases" as Bill Pitt the former MP remarked of the then chair Janice Turner- but I digress.... ). Their new web site is also a joy to behold, after the headache-inducing colour scheme of the previous manifestation, and looks to have the potential of a great campaigning tool. The future of our party is going to be in safe hands - and if you're reading, guys and gals, I'm going to increase my Friends standing order as soon as I unpack the paperwork, and I urge everyone else to do likewise. Just send them money, OK?

Downsides? Well, we didn't vote in favour of thinking about considering renationalising the railways. (Commuters everywhere, our day WILL come!) And I thought the session chair could have sounded a bit more excited when she introduced our very excellent president, Ros Scott, to speak to conference - if ypu could very easily have thought she was reading out her shopping list, not introducing one of our best and most respected speakers to her adoring public. We wanted sparkle and fizz not flat lemonade!

That's enough for a first post. There was some more I wanted to say but it'll come back to me later I'm sure. Anyway, these are my opinions - if you don't like them I have others, which no doubt I will share with you soon.