Archive for April, 2006

Odd

Sunday, April 9th, 2006

It’s Palm Sunday.

Church was a bit busy this morning – I was driving the minibus, then serving at the service, and then my house group were providing a “frugal Lent lunch” of soup and a roll, in return for which we were hoping people would make a donation to Tear Fund’s tuberculosis campaign. We don’t really do frugal very well in our church, so most of us had three bowls of soup each (Leek and Potato, Curried Parsnip and Mixed Vegetable, all home made by Edna).

This afternoon I went caching. It felt a bit odd really, to be out enjoying myself when Bob’s family are at home not having much fun – I know that you can’t stop living, and Bob would have been the last person to want that to happen. But I guess the feeling was strengthened by the fact that the first one I did this afternoon, Widley Walk, is exactly the sort of cache that Bob would have enjoyed doing. He’d also have enjoyed taking the mickey out of the people playing soldiers, running around Fort Widley and shouting at each other :-)

The other one for the afternoon was Farlington Secrets, a nice trudge through the mud of a local wildlife reserve.

Scared

Saturday, April 8th, 2006

I’ve got a KitKat in the fridge.

If you’ve been paying attention you’ll know that we went to the Hospital Broadcasting Conference last weekend, and among the goodies in our goody packs were a Freddo the Frog chocolate bar, and a KitKat. I scoffed the Freddo bar sometime during Friday afternoon – I’d only had a rather second-rate cheese and tomato sandwich for lunch, and I was having a bit of a sugar crisis. But the KitKat stayed in the bag, came home with me, and now lives in the fridge. I think I might start calling it “Steve” – the KitKat that is, not the fridge.

Is it normal to be scared of a KitKat?

I don’t mean I’m scared that it’s going to creep up the stairs in the dead of night with an axe or anything – the axe is locked in the shed, and it’s only a four-fingered KitKat so I doubt if it could reach the padlock. Nor am I particularly concerned that it’s going to phone the local paper and tell the world about my Stilton addiction – apart from anything else, I seem to have just confessed to that anyway, which sort of breaks the potential for any blackmail, doesn’t it?

Since I was told I was diabetic, I’ve almost totally cut out chocolate altogether – one square at bedtime now and again is my limit. But if I were to eat a whole KitKat, I’m sure my resolve would crack – if one KitKat doesn’t hurt today, then surely another won’t hurt tomorrow, and so it goes on. Before long I’d have to put the word “fat” back in my blog header.

Besides, how can you eat a KitKat once you’ve named it “Steve”?

Still Sad

Friday, April 7th, 2006

I went and saw Sarah and the kids this evening after work.

They’ve been really touched by how friendly and kind everyone has been, and particularly thank all their chums for the offers of help: Needless to say they’ve been overwhelmed by the contacts, and for some it’ll be a while before they get round to responding to everyone.

That’s all I’ve got to say, really: Apart from that today was the last date by which exam results were due to arrive: Still nothing. I’m going to start getting narked before long.

Sad

Thursday, April 6th, 2006

As some of you will have read, in Jenny’s blog or in an online forum, a good chum of ours died last night.

I’m not sure how long I’ve known Bob, but it’s about 12 years. He was a mate and will be sadly missed: Much more importantly, he was a husband and father, and I can’t begin to understand how Sarah and the kids must be feeling – as soon as I heard the news I rang Sarah and we gibbered mutely at each other for a few minutes. Neither of us really knew what to say to the other, but somehow the contact was worthwhile anyway.

What you never seem to expect in this sort of situation, is the feeling of helplessness: There are loads of us who’d do anything we could, for Sarah and the kids – but there’s nothing we can do to lift the load from them. Jenny is on her way to stay with them for a few days, and that’s great and really useful – but for anyone else to try to “be there” for them would not only be no help, but could be overwhelming.

Sarah, I expect I’ll have seen you anyway before you read this – but love and hugs to you and the kids anyway. You know where I am.

PS – thanks hugely to Neil, for ringing to make sure I was OK…sorry I wasn’t too coherent on the phone, but the thought and your effort was (and is) appreciated.

Negligent

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006

Some people who suffered ill-effects after volunteering as guinea-pigs for a drugs trial, are considering suing the drugs company for negligence.

Since negligence is one of the things I have to know about for my exams, it’ll be good revision for me – and maybe a bit interesting for you – if we review their chances of success. It goes without saying that all comments relate to English law.

The definition of negligence currently used was decided in the case Blythe v Birmingham Waterworks, and can be paraphrased as:

To do something which a reasonable man, acting in accordance with the precepts which normally regulate the conduct of human affairs, would not do, or fail to do something which a reasonable man would do.

Straight away I think they’re in trouble there – the pre-clinical trials seem to have been conducted entirely in accordance with normal best practice, and that seems reasonable to me. Anyway, let’s delve a little further: The case Lochgelly Iron and Coal v McMullen established three tests for negligence:

  • Duty of care owed
  • Duty of care breached
  • Loss or injury as a result of the breach

The first is easy – Donaghue v Stevenson established the “neighbour principle”, and there seems to be no doubt that this fits. The third is a little harder: They’ve certainly suffered harm, but until we’ve decided whether there’s been a breach of duty, we can’t decide whether the harm was caused by it.

If I were defending the drugs company, I’d start by claiming “no breach of duty”, quoting the principle volentis non fit injuria – basically, you can’t hurt a willing volunteer. If I were the claimants’ barrister I’d be saying volentis can’t apply, as one of the basic requirements is that the injured party must be undoubtedly aware of the risks they’re taking. Since even the medical team didn’t know of the risks, the volunteers can’t have done either. It depends whether the court decides that the volunteers were sufficiently briefed about the possibility of risk, or whether they think that they’d have had to have known the exact harm they were likely to come to, for volentis to apply.

The next best defence is based on “no forseeability of harm”, with two legal precedent cases: Lewis v Carmarthen County Council is one – sadly I can’t remember the name of the other, which is a better example. The point is that all the pre-clinical trials had been conducted exactly in accordance with industry best practice, and had not revealed any sign of a problem. Again, in a drug trial there’s always a possibility of it going wrong, but forseeability requires some probability.

There are other defences to “duty breached”: “Sole fault of claimant” (Shatwell v ICI), “no proximity to original act” (Bourhill v Young) or “Injury not pursuant to negligent act” (Corn v Weirs Glass, although not a perfect example), but none of those are likely to apply in this case.

Mind you – and I don’t really want to make light of something pretty horrible – their solicitor was on the radio this afternoon, and he said that the documents the volunteers signed suggested they’d take their medicine, then sit around playing billiards. If someone told me I’d be sitting around playing billiards, I’d at least assume they knew nothing about pub sports.

UPDATE: The “forseeability of harm” case that I couldn’t remember was Bolton v Stone, which set the precedent that if something could happen, but it’s really really unlikely, then there is for practical purposes no forseeability of harm. There’s also a social utility clause, set under Hawes v Railway Executive, which in this case could apply to say that the usefulness to the public of testing new drugs on human volunteers far outweighs the risk of something going wrong.

Piccies

Tuesday, April 4th, 2006

Here are some of the pictures I took at the weekend – no conference ones here, they may come later…

Button has definitely grown since I last saw her

Pickle and Jenny wrestling

The view from near the cache “Kegworth Flood Lock”. My mate Greg works over there, in the Health and Safety office.

And this one’s near to Stu and Sarah’s “Hey You!” cache.

First Day Back

Tuesday, April 4th, 2006

Today was pretty gripe, really.

It was, of course, the first day back at work after my fabby Conference weekend, which is bad enough in itself. But to spark things off, they’re digging Eastleigh up, and it took about a week to get to work. Then when I got there, the computer had forgotten I exist, and refused to let me log in.

Ooh, then once the computer let me in, the e-mail system had forgotten me and I had to go through the whole rigmarole with IT support all over again.

The canteen was closed to have a new floor fitted, so there were no bacon sangers for breakfast. Then when I went to check on the accident progress in the four days – FOUR FLIPPIN’ DAYS – I’ve been away, we’ve had two minors, plus a pair of employees beating each other up – one’s going to be off for at least a week, and the other isn’t coming back at all – although of course, I’m not allowed to pre-judge the disciplinary process ;-) .

Then at the end of the day I forgot to go home until late, which meant I got stuck in traffic and took ages to get to the gym. Still, tomorrow should be better, apart from the early start – I’m off on an ocean voyage to our Isle of Wight depot. I wonder what’s gone wrong over there?

Going Home

Monday, April 3rd, 2006

Yesterday ended with driving home from the conference in the rain and wind – we even had a mini-conference assembly at Knutsford Services, where we saw about twenty of the people who’d been in Blackpool! We were really tired by the time we got back to Jenny and Chris’s, although we had enough energy – just – for a meal out in the company of Jenny’s mate and ex-working-colleague Rob.

This morning started early – not as early as a normal working day, but the minibus had to be back at the hire company before eight. Jenny followed me over there and drove me back to their house, then she and Chris went off to work while I hung around playing with the kittens, washing up and getting ready for the journey home.

Last task before leaving Long Eaton was a maintenance visit to my own cache (jointly owned with Jenny and Chris) Erewash Canal: It was in good condition, but I must admit, I only found it when I stood on it – the previous finder had re-hidden it quite well! I’d picked out some caches to do on the way home, starting with Kegworth Flood Lock, a nice easy microcache alongside a canal. The others were two Stu and Sarah caches in Luffbra – a circular walk of about a mile and a half taking in Moor Lane Book Cache before dropping down onto the towpath of the Grand Union Canal for Hey You!. And then I drove home. And now I’m nearly asleep.

G’night chums.

Sepcial

Sunday, April 2nd, 2006


Yesterday’s main event was the National Hospital Radio Awards ceremony, an evening supported by all the big names in radio – IRN, PPL and Radio 5 Live and Radio 2, to name but a few. One of the awards is called the John Witney award, named after a great behind-the-scenes worker in national radio and respected by anyone who’s anyone in radio. It’s awarded to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to hospital radio, and this year our good chum Andy1 won it! Andy’s a great guy who works fantastically hard on behalf of his station, and to support the national association. After that, the evening really couldn’t get much better.

Ooh, and I got a couple of caches during the afternoon – Memorial to a Memorial, a nice easy little virtual, and an equally easy traditional cache, Blowing Sands. The pic, by the way, is Chris, Jenny and me, just before the start of the awards ceremony.

1 See the “who’s who in my blog” for a pic of Andy and his luffly wife Jan.

Talk Talk

Saturday, April 1st, 2006

It’s Saturday.

As many of you will know, today was the day I was giving a seminar at the Hospital Radio conference: Subject – “Safety Without Insanity – Risk Assessing Outside Broadcasts for Hospital Radio”. It actually went down fairly well, people laughed in the right places and didn’t laugh in the wrong ones, and that’s all you can ask :-) . It’s been suggested I do follow-ups at future conferences, so hey…

I forgot to mention that last night, Blitzy took me an’ Alistair caching. It was raining, we got wet and muddy, and the cache was missing. Grr.

This afternoon I have to collect VIPs from the railway station – I hope to fit in a virtual cache or two on the way.