Saturday, May 30, 2009

Appointment to see the neurologist

Yay! I've been given an appointment to see someone at the neurology department some time in July.

My GP ran all the tests and found nothing wrong with me, but I am still getting the numbness in both my hands (usually when I sleep) and we both want to know that it is not the onset of some degenerative nerve disease.

They now have this 'choose and book' system. One is given a long list of hospitals we could go to (previously one could go to the one decided by the GP, I suppose). We then check them out online, see how long their waiting list is, and try to book an appointment.

The hospital I chose did not have an online booking system, so I had to ring up. The hospital had not issued any dates. So it could be two months or twice that. Who knows?

I was told that if the hospital does not contact me within two weeks, then I must go back to the GP for advice.

What? Go back to the GP? Do you know how difficult it is to get an appointment to see my GP?

So I put it down in my diary that I should hear from the hospital by such and such a date.

Date came and went. Son on holiday and I was too busy to try to book a time to see the GP.

And then Mr Postman brought me news. I have been given an appointment at this hospital in July.

But of course it is during the holiday period and we would have been away in France that day.

But, again, no. It was so tedious trying to book our holiday we decided to forgo it and holiday locally. So I shall be able to make this neuro appointment.

I don't think there is anything seriously wrong with me but it's good to know. I hope the neuro would be able to put my mind to rest.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Domestic Goddess -- not!

One of the mums from my toddler group came in some time with a box full of popular magazines she rescued from the bin at her office. There was quite a scramble as mums tried to pick a magazine either for themselves or for their children.

I got myself one on home decor. Me, home decor? Ha! Before we got married I made it quite clear to my husband-to-be I am not the proud house-owner type (ie: don't expect me to keep the house spotless, etc, etc.)

Thankfully he was of the view that it is no fun living in a showroom. We can boast of living in a very 'lived in' house. Toys everywhere? That's only because my son had not tidied up. I do not go tidying up after him.

Anyway, I spotted this section on covering up an 'open cupboard' (ie open shelves) with a patchwork curtain:

"Sew together fabrics until you have a piece one and a half times the length of your worktop. Stitch a narrow casing at the top and hem the bottom. Thread curtain wire through the casing and fix hooks and eyes at each end."

Guess what? My late mum used to do EXACTLY that when we had open shelves that needed covering. But she did not spend £26 per metre on "Lollipop 6065 and 6068" fabric, or £28 per metre on "Rodeo Check" fabric, etc. She just used whatever scraps of cloth she could find.

What I found most surprising is that while I used to consider what my mum did as being most 'primitive', a reflection of the poverty we lived in, this glossy magazine has converted the same idea into the very height of sophistication.

I wonder what mum would have made of this. Tsk, tsk.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cannabis factory #2

Looks like the police refused to tell even the owner of the house about the case.

He was around earlier and I went over to share my commiserations.

He told me he rented it out to a Chinese family who never paid the rent, so he came down with the police to see what happened. Apparently there was some guy upstairs.

"Any arrests?"

The police wouldn't say. Hmm.

Today he engaged a couple of guys to empty the pots of compost into a truck. The piles of plastic pots are shown below.

How many pots did they find? Note there are more pots behind the green wheelie bins.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

A cannabis factory across from my house

Tuesday we noticed police presence across the road. After son's piano concert I walked across to police officer and asked if there's been a break-in. If there's one, I needed to know.

"Nothing to worry about, madam. Not a break-in."

No dead bodies? "Nothing like that madam."

Wednesday I could see policeman guarding the open door as colleague was doing something inside. Dusting for fingerprints? Poor chap standing there all morning in the cold. So at lunch time I went over to say, "Would you like a cup of tea?"

I don't think he's allowed to accept hospitality while on duty. I mean, what if I spiked his drink? No, he said.

What about your colleagues? "I'm fine," came the voice of his female colleague from inside the house. I could see that the house was in a bit of a mess.

Thursday. Another policeman at door while his colleague was inside. Then she was outside, writing up some report on the big wheelie bin.

Today (Friday), big truck came with police car late afternoon. They went away. About 8pm when son came home from Cubs husband said there's a big truck outside.

Some time later I looked out to see people removing lots of electricals. Lots and lots of electrical. What looked like battery packs, many many of these. Lots of switches on boards, lots of large metal plates looking things, boxes with holes cut out with aluminium piping connected. Lots of stuff they put in clear plastic bags too but I could not see in the dark.

There was no lighting in that house. An electrician's van was parked outside on Tuesday so it looked like the power supply had been cut. Instead they were using torches and lights powered by portable sources.

I said to husband I think it must be a cannabis factory. Googled "inside a cannabis factory UK" and looked under "Images" and there I could see pictures of stuff that I had just seen taken out.

Now I know.

Never seen a soul go in or out of that house since 'people' moved in, less than six months ago, I think. Always an upstairs window open. Apparently most of these cannabais farms are run by illegal Chinese or Vietnamese, more or less imprisoned there by their paymasters. (I wonder if the police might have thought I was involved being Chinese, too!!)

Recently in a location not far from us someone was actually killed. I think he was trying to run away from this clandestine operation, but of course, no one would let him.

So very sad.

Incidentally this blog was suspended for a few days because the robots had flagged this as a spam blog (!). I don't know how a spam blog works. I only know that some weeks ago I was attacked by a spammer -- in Chinese. This person was sending the same offending message advertising some nasty pharmaceuticals via my 'Comments' facility. As soon as I removed one such comment, about four more 'pinged' into the Inbox. Eventually I managed to contact Blogger. Whether or not they actually did something to stop it, I don't know. But those people are vicious.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

It's good to talk ... listen

On Tuesday I heard a BBC programme in the afternoon (hands on the sewing machine, ears to the radio, that's multi-tasking?) which made me feel completely vindicated about not letting my son watch TV for the first two years of his life.

Well, not all TV, but children's TV. He was allowed to watch sport and news.

The psychologist (Arik Sigmund) on the programme confirmed my hunch that children's TV is bad for the developing baby/toddler brain.

According to scientific studies children who watched 'educational DVDs' were not any better in their comprehension and vocabulary when compared to those who watched The Simpsons and Oprah Winfrey. The only group with superior ability were "those who watched none of those but simply incidentally hear background conversation of their parents with others".

He concluded that listening which forces us to 'paint pictures in our mind' is better at fostering cognitive development. Well, there!

I remember feeding my baby with the radio tuned to BBC Radio 4. It often took an hour to nurse him at each feed. When he was a little older we 'invested' in CDs which told stories. There was even one which adapted Shakespeare themes.

Growing up in a rather poor family where we could not afford the TV -- my father justified it by saying it did us no good, and he was right -- our entertainment was of listening and reading.

There was Rediffusion ( a wired service, cheap to subscribe to) which gave us programmes in Mandarin, Cantonese and English, including BBC programmes. In the evenings we sat down to do homework, listened to drama on Rediffusion (usually a detective, a soppy soap, or a ghostly tale) and when that was done, Mum would play some of her Cantonese opera on tape (she had recorded this off the Rediffusion).

She sang along with the opera, and we learned to do much the same!

Only when I was sixteen when a grown-up cousin decided that he had had enough of his old black and white TV and passed it on to us was I able to watch myself on TV. Yes, I used to appear on TV as part of the school band at 'Central Judging', Youth Festival, or even in special recordings with the Singapore Schools Orchestra (where I played the trombone) but always needed to go to a neighbour's house to do that.

I don't think living without TV did me any harm. Indeed it forced me to 'paint pictures in my mind' and I was determined that my son would share the same privilege.

Coincidentally when I met him at school later that day son showed me his exam results and I had another pleasant surprise. He sat exams in English, Maths, Science, History, Geography, Religious Studies and attained 90-something percent in all, with 100% in English Comprehension. Last night we worked out his average as 96% compared to a class average of 69%

Vindicated once again.

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