Friday, 14 May 2010

Pharmacy Farce

Pharmacy Farce

There is a line in the Coen Brothers' excellent 'Burn After Reading' which came to mind today after a quite tortuous visit to Boots the chemist.

'These are exactly the kind of fucking morons I have been fighting against all my life" says John Malkovic's character at the end of an epic and soul destroying pursuit of two leisure centre workers who had somehow come into possession of Malkovic's highly sensitive government information.

All of which seems a fair way away from any visit to Boots. Yes, it is a stretch in literal terms, but read on and you will soon discover how easy it is to have one's spirit crushed by morons.

I didn't even get out of the car, yet by the end I was left feeling like I had not only been dragged through a hedge backwards, but by the larger of my testicles.

As both my regular readers will know I am ill. With this in mind Emma kindly offered to go into the chemist for me to pick up my monthly order of prescriptions. If I lived in Scotland where prescriptions are free, my monthly requirements might just make them think again about that particular policy. They'd be losing a fortune. The amount of shite I now need from the chemist every four weeks is staggering, and far too exhaustive to bore you with here.

But here's the thing. Every month we go and every month they tell us they cannot dispense the items without first changing the way my prescriptions are ordered by my local doctor. If we go with a prescription for all of the items we are told that they cannot be dispensed. If we arrive with a separate prescription for each item we are informed that they cannot be dispensed. And then they dispense them anyway, but not until you have spent half your evening pointing out to them that you have been told that you can't have them either way. I think it is a test of character. If it is, I'm failing it.

'Are you sure you pay for your prescriptions?' they ask when we have finally signed a legally binding treaty.

'Yes. I work'.

A blank look. The moron cogs are turning, trying to figure out exactly how and why someone who hasn't even got the decency to be able to walk would want to venture out to work for a living. It baffles them in the same way that their policy on prescription dispensing baffles me. I'm exactly the kind of fucking moron they have been fighting against all their lives.

So back to today. It takes fully 45 minutes, and a return trip to the car for yet more evidence of my usual order (they've lost the original prescription, so how the feck do they know what I want or how I should go about getting it?) before we can leave. By this point I am experiencing the kind of kidney pain that would stop Judy Finnegan drinking for a fortnight, but worse than that my spirit is crushed. The inability of the UK's largest and most famous pharmacy to differentiate between items that are needed every month and those that are not is quite something.

Without ruining the end of 'Burn After Reading' for those who haven't seen it, there is bloodshed before the end. I haven't been tempted yet, but if I return to Boots in a month's time and am asked once more to speak to my doctor about my prescriptions then I refuse to be held responsible for my actions. I am a moron after all.

Thursday, 13 May 2010


I'm ill.

Now I realise that is not the most upbeat start to a column (see, I'm not even entertaining that other word now) but my ramblings are nothing if not honest and to the point.

The gory details first. I have a urinary tract infection. This is quite common among the biff community, but is no less agonising for all that. We are prone to this type of thing, although I had been quite lucky up until last year. Eventually your luck runs out, and so now I am on enough anti-biotics and pain-killers to bring down a herd of mammoths.

At times the pain is indescribable to someone who has never suffered from an infection of this kind. The best I can do is to get you to imagine being stabbed repeatedly in one side (without the obvious instant damage to the internal organs which would ensue. No, far better to drag it out). This is then followed by or interspersed with a feeling of being punched repeatedly in the back (around the kidney area) by Floyd Mayweather's stronger but less subtle brother. At times the pain-killers don't touch the problem, while at others it takes barely half an hour for the relief to come flooding through. You figure it out, because I can't.

It doesn't help when the original medication you were prescribed makes you sick. Much of Tuesday morning between the hours of about 4.30-8.30 were spent rolfing royally into the toilet (miraculously failing to wake Emma), and yet managing not to feel any less sick. It was a bit like the verbal diaorrhea from which David Cameron suffers. It doesn't matter how much he spews out, there is always more.

Medication successfully changed (Emma had to take a day off work as any effort pick up my own prescription would have ended in certain death), I was now mercifully rolf-free. Cleverly, vindictevely, the pain even took a break through most of Wednesday. This devious criminal mastermind persuaded me that it would be safe to return to work on Thursday, and then pounced once more on it's victim. This morning was spent bent double in front of my desk like a recently befallen Italian footballer, while two Ibuprofens later I was visited by a deep-rooted conviction that I was again going to splurge a pretty pattern, only this time over my desk. It could have been the cheese and onion sandwich I ate for lunch, or it could have been the chocolate or the crisps. You decide.

At the moment there is calm once more. But then I haven't eaten since lunchtime (even turning down free cake at work) and it is now 8.52pm. The question of whether to go to work in the morning offers something of a dilemma. If I am ok between now and 7.00 tomorrow morning I will find it hard to justify taking another day off sick. But then when I get there I am vulnerable to the kind of attacks experienced today.

All of this no doubt stems from kidney problems caused by my outright refusal to look after said organs as a youth. Twelve pints of lager on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday is inadvisable for someone so prone to kidney defects (the biff factor again). Even now, as soon as my current course of anti-biotics is over I will be piling Budweiser down my neck as if it is the antidote to my recently earned snake bite. I never learn, but then learning would make life an awful lot more dull.

Who wants to live forever? Not me. Not with a bloody urinary tract infection anyway.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

A Huge Election

Yes that title is a double entendre. Well spotted.

So anyway today is a bit of a special day as it the day when the great, good and Russel Brand go to the polls to elect their new government. We only get this chance once every four or five years (even I don't care about By-Elections) so here's why it is so important that you cast your vote today.

Or should I say it is important that you 'did' cast your vote. It is 9.56pm as I write, and the aforementioned polls close in four minutes. At which point the counting will begin, the BBC will whip out it's trusty swingometer, and the race for Number 10 will really be on.

From chatting (possibly a little too heatedly at times) to friends it becomes clear that many people are unsure who to vote for. This could be because, as the author Will Self recently said, you can slide an anorexic cigarette paper between the two main parties in terms of their ideology. What you are left with therefore is a battle between personalities, which is terrifying given that we are now a nation of people who think nothing of sitting in front of our television every summer morning watching some publicity-hungry moron sleep.

But we're not talking tv, so let's drag this back to the plot. I'm trying not to think about the fact that the same people who made SuBo famous are charged with the responsibility of electing a new government. Unfathomably, I retain enough faith in humanity to think that people might actually take this seriously and will have considered their political position before voting.

Not that I am trying to sway anyone to vote one way or another. At the last count I had a readership of eight. This is hardly enough to write a political piece likely to change the result in any constituency. Even if I wanted to write a persuasive piece on this it would be a fruitless pursuit. It is now 10.10pm. The polls are closed and Jeremy Vine is telling me all about the Conservatives Battleground.

What I can tell you is that in my constituency the Labour Party is unbeaten in General Elections for 45 years. The current MP is one Shaun Woodward, a former Conservative MP who switched allegiances shortly after Blairism became cool, and is now Northern Ireland Secretary. He rarely visits St.Helens and has a personal assistant called William whose job it seems is to be as unhelpful as possible. Woodward was placed in St.Helens South simply because we were considered one of the few seats Labour had in which a former Tory would be tolerated. People here just vote Labour by and large, because they still beleive in social justice.

Not everyone, mind. I was staggered to learn earlier that no less than 12% of voters in St.Helens South voted Conservative at the 2005 General Election. This may not seem like a lot, but when you consider that 'Tory' is one of the more offensive terms in the local dialect it seems to grow in significance. I should very much like to know who these people are. It would be fascinating to get inside their heads and find out exactly why they would support Cameron and his ideals of savage cuts in public spending, more money if you get married and fuck the consequences and..............well that is just about the extent of his policies even at this late stage. What we do know is that he represents a party which wrecked industry in this and almost every other town in the 1980's, sent unemployment spiralling into the stratosphere, and spawned the kind of capitalism that has become the norm now even under a Labour government.

And so to the Lib Dems. Their leader Nick Clegg has been rightly praised for his performances in the recent television debates but to take that into account too much takes us back into SuBo territory. The truth is that Clegg can promise free chocolate, beer and sex on every street corner 24 hours a day because he knows that for now at least he is highly unlikely to have to implement his policies. Clegg is a nice chap, but he is an opportunist, feeding off the mistakes of his rivals and dragging disillusioned Labour/Tory voters with him. I doubt very much that he would be able to make good on his manifesto were he to defy the odds and be elected. Who is going to pay for his idea of not taxing people paid under a certain amount on the first £10,000 of their salary, for example?

For his part the Prime Minister has made mistakes, but there seems little doubt that his lack of popularity is down to his dour nature and peculiar facial tic rather than anything to do with policy. The economic downturn happened on his watch, but in truth it is a global problem and we should open our eyes to the fact that it was not Brown or Alistair Darling alone who created the problem. Labour's biggest mistake took place some years earlier when Tony Blair was premier, and took the unpopular, arrogant and very probably illegal step of going to war in Iraq without the necessary backing of the United Nations. Countless soldiers have died as a result of this decision, and we seem no nearer to achieving whatever ludicrous Endgame the former PM had in mind. That was over eight years ago. We're still there.

The BBC have just interviewed Bruce Forsyth, veteran presenter of Celebrity Reality TV Monster Strictly Come Dancing, for his predictions on what might happen. That they feel they need or should do so tells you much about how Joe Public's approach to politics has changed down the years.

Stand by for a hung parliament.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Inside Out

Just a quickie today if I may Madam...........

You know how last week I was talking about how staggering acts of stupidity are magnified by disability? It's all to do with the perception of the Idiot Nation. I'm only an idiot occasionally. When my lips move, usually. But whenever I am, I can't help but feel that it leaves an indelible mark for some. A mark that just reads.......'spasmo'.

Anyway, I came up with another cracking example today. In mitigation I was very tired when I awoke this morning. The Bank Holiday weekend had trained my body to think that getting up before 7.00 was inhumane. I very nearly had to be scraped off the bed this morning.

So bearing this in mind, consider this. I put my jumper on inside out. Not only that, but I did not realise that I had done so until nearly two hours later. I happened to be sitting moodily at my desk (as is my default position) when I noticed. At that point I remembered that one or two of my colleagues had smirked at me through the first hour of the day. I have to say I wondered what they had to be smug about. It was Tuesday morning.

I left my desk as casually as is possible in these mortifying circumstances, landed sharply in the disabled toilets and amended the offending garment. I rolled back in just as casually, convinced that I noticed one or two more smirks as I did. Yet nobody said a word about it. Perhaps they felt sorry for the Office Retard. Perhaps they just couldn't believe I had done it. You know how fashion is these days? Clearly I don't.