For the benefit of my new readers, ‘The Ranch’ is the name I jokingly gave to my allotment many years ago. Only British people understand what an allotment is, because they don’t exist elsewhere. Allotment comes from the notion of a piece of land ‘allotted’ to an individual by a public land owner – usually a town or parish council. The history of allotments goes back as far as Saxon times and is a topic that could easily fill a book. Here’s a neat synopsis.
The joke is that my one tenth of an acre scrubby clay hillside allotment was as far from the concept of an American ranch as possible.
Things became more ranch-like when I bought the acre field next door in 2015. Paradoxically a lot of the things I talk about, such as being completely off grid and growing clean food as efficiently as possible, are much more a part of the American way of life than they are over here.
I started writing when I was about 17. In the form of songs. I would have written regardless, but the particular era of 1977 was punk and I played in a punk band. My song writing has always been anecdotal, observational and autobiographical so the leap to writing a book was a fairly natural one.
The format of the book i.e. throwing anecdotes from daily life into the annual cycle of the ranch, is self-perpetuating, because each year there are new characters on the block and interesting observations to make. I don’t really like the term blog – I’m more of a columnist without a column or newspaper, bringing you the latest from the weird universe. I’ve set myself the discipline of writing honestly about whatever is happening – not always easy. Eras end, eras begin. This one is from 2 years ago
Part of daily life for me is being an Emergency Medicine consultant and I feel morally, ethically and professionally obliged to document what I think is happening during the pandemic.
Intellectual curiosity, observation and a spirit of critical thinking are essential for all good science (and journalism) – especially medicine.
I use the same themes every time (Ranch; The Other Ranch; Wheels; Rock & Roll) and I knowingly repeat myself a lot, because truth is truth and it needs telling again and again. The uniting theme is ‘as above, so below’, meaning that the principles of nature observed on the ranch, can be extrapolated to the wider world.
If something very wrong is happening and a hundred people are watching, quite often only one will speak out. It’s human nature.
I’m that one. Petulance, irreverence and questioning everything go with the territory. I use too many vernacular colloquialisms and I alienate all but the closest with my histrionic outbursts (which I affectionately call twat tantrums). Einstein said that no one is remembered for being normal. I wrote Sick of being Normal as a teenager.
I’ve grown more than ever this season thanks to finally finishing that crazy two storey greenhouse, and experimenting with around a hundred different varieties of open-pollinated seed from the wonderful Real Seeds.
Wild cards include quince, dog’s-arse (medlar), Chilean Guava, Red Pirella, mini melons and Nigella sativa (black cumin).Quince turns pinky-peach when stewed and has a unique flowery taste unlike apple or pear.
This week has brought the first frost, heralding harvesting time for rosehips, horseradish and Yacon.
Sativa is Latin for cultivated. Botanically, it often refers to health-giving plants. Nigella is derived from niger meaning black. I planted a packet of fairly old seed and ended up with just one plant from which I’ve collected about 30 seeds. It turns out that the plant has been used in herbal medicine for centuries. Thymoquinone is its main active ingredient which shares a quinone ring with hydroxychloroquine. There’s some promising research into its efficacy against various infectious diseases. It’s in the (underground) news at the moment for its promising effects in treating Covid and vaccine adverse effects. Here’s a video of John Campbell interviewing a famous American mountain biker who has used it with good effect for his post-vaccine adverse effects. There’s a recent paper from Pakistan, trialling honey and black cumin seeds which sounds promising. Vitamin C is also being lauded as useful in C19 treatment, but there’s no hard evidence for it. I’ve got loads of rose hips this year.
My triple-bay compost bin is working well. I sandwich layers of green compost with a layer of fresh woodchip manure. The heat from the latter seems to be killing off the seeds in the greenery and I’m using it as an over-winter mulch for the beds. I’m still bringing home a trickle of fresh food.
The Other Ranch:
The Irish comedy duo are on together and they lighten up the day. If they ever leave medicine, they could have a Laurel and Hardyesque stand-up career. One of them is from County Clare and the other is from the upmarket end of Dublin and isn’t allowed to forget it. Doctors in training move round ever 6 months and we learn that one of the duo lived in a posh hotel for an entire 6 month’s job.
Leahy teaches me an Irish phrase – Pogue Mahone, explaining that it’s a respectful form of address for people in authority and that I should start using it immediately, in order to offset some of my outspoken behaviour, especially as I’ve failed my arse-kissing module again. He uses the word himself a lot, with great comic effect.
The registrar from the recalcitrant speciality of the week is giving me that ‘Your dad had two dicks and you were one of them’ look, when I respectfully suggest that he:
a. Sees the patient.
b. Takes a history and carries out an examination.
c. Orders the appropriate investigations
d. Informs either me or the nursing coordinator of his plan.
His retort is ‘Can we get a CT?’
Who exactly tf is ‘we’?
Does he mean me personally or one of the blue-clad hand-maidens languishing in anticipation of his bidding?
Joking aside, the specialities have mostly been very helpful, working just as hard as everybody else, trying to give patients appropriate care in often overwhelmingly challenging circumstances.
Lots of staff are off sick and every day there are unfilled shifts. Patients are often lining the corridors on trolleys for way over 12 hours and meanwhile politician pricks talk about ‘saving the NHS’ after they’ve already fucked it with privatisation and under-funding.
I have a conversation with a colleague from another hospital about the perceived disconnect between senior management and front line staff. I try and point out that they’re all hard-working people doing their best. I have to agree though that going online to access ‘well-being’, however well-intentioned, is a non-starter. Human wellbeing is dependent on face to face contact with other human beings.
One of the highlights of my time in The Dirty Old Town has been making The Film. It was fun, and it moved my film making up a notch or two. I’d made music vids before, but this was a different ball game. Not long before I started my filming, the BBC had been in the department, walking round with their giant cameras, making a documentary about junior doctors. They must have been there for hundreds of hours for a programme lasting less than an hour.
Likewise, I ended up with hours of footage, for a 2 minute social-media friendly film. I could make a brilliant ‘director’s cut’ fly-on-the-wall biopic with all the unused footage. It would be unlike any other film about Emergency Medicine, because I filmed it as an insider. You can’t film patients without formal written consent, so portraying a busy emergency department without showing patients was technically very challenging. I used 2 ordinary DSLR cameras (a Canon 550D and a Panasonic Lumix D7K), with ‘prime’ lenses that film in low light.
People have stopped saying ‘You’re early’ when I arrive on the shop floor at 7.30 for an 8-4 shift. I think they know that I’m there so that I can see the night nursing staff before they leave. It’s one of my little gestures to show them that I’m there for them.
I work with the finest loveliest people that walk the earth.
The film came about because we asked for funding for a BMJ advert for recruiting new consultants. They said ‘Yes, you can have the funding, but you’ll need a promo film’. They also agreed to fund an external videographer. That would have added up to about £3500. The external videographers fell through, which is how I ended up doing it.
When I’d finished, I didn’t ask for expenses (film-making is expense free don’t you know). I just asked for a contribution to the endowment fund. I got a somewhat offhand response, saying that there wasn’t any money.
Doctors get paid study leave to do the life support courses that they need for their continuing professional development. Nurses have to pay for their own courses, which is ridiculous. The endowment fund is used amongst other things to contribute. The consultants, bless them, decided long ago to give all the money that they made from police statements and cremation forms to the fund. Other people donate to it too.
Asking for a contribution for the nurses was a simple point of principle. Coincidentally, I recently overhear the same people talking about the desperate staff shortages and what to do about it, including asking people to come out of retirement. How surreal.
We get sent online staff surveys from time to time which are like a red rag to a bull for a lot of us. Did the Polish army get staff surveys and online well-being resources before the German army invaded? If I was sent a survey for this particular situation, I’d be ticking the piss-f’ing-poor boxes for recruitment and retention, well-being, people-skills and intuition.
There are certain narratives and behaviours that I can’t subscribe to and injecting children with an untested compound is one of the big ones. There’s no such thing as ‘mild myocarditis’. The FDA have approved the jab for 5 to 11 year olds which is horror. To change the developing immune systems of children with a compound that has no long-term safety data, in order to protect adults is criminal in my view. I’m hearing the first reports of UK child deaths after the jab (= medical manslaughter), but I haven’t been able to corroborate them yet.
The pandemic has thrown a lot of light on the human immune system:
1. Natural or innate immunity.
This actually means something very specific in immunology. I’m referring to a well-developed immune system, that has been ‘primed’ by exposure to lots of pathogens, aided by a particular lifestyle – namely being outdoors a lot and scrabbling in the dirt, breathing in fungal spores, getting maximum vitamin D and so on.
In fighting viral infection and cancers, T cells are of paramount importance and there’s an increasing body of research showing the importance of vitamin D in T-cell function. Here’s a Nature paper.
Vitamin D levels can be measured in all hospitals so why isn’t it being done routinely?
I’ve said many times that the link between overweight patients and people of colour being more susceptible to serious C19 infection is low vit D levels – vit D is poorly metabolised in adipose tissue. A lady called Hilja Gebest is doing excellent work in compiling Vitamin D evidence. I remember as an SHO, David Grimes, one of the medical consultants at one of the hospitals where I worked, wrote a book on vitamin D. He’s just written a second one, with another retired physician: VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY AND COVID-19.
By natural immunity, I also mean ‘fight it off at the door’ immunity, thanks to the nasopharyngeal lymphoid tissues which includes the tonsils.
Emergency Department workers are an interesting example, because although thousands of them caught C19 and tragically many died from it, a lot didn’t, despite sustained exposure to high viral loads. I believe that natural immunity has the lowest risk of viral transmission.
2. Infection-acquired immunity
Thankfully, there’s now some reasonable research showing that infection-acquired immunity is at least as good as vaccine-acquired immunity, which is what I’ve been banging on about for ages.
3. Vaccine-acquired immunity
Vaccines are safe and effective. At least that’s what we were told at the beginning. Now their effectiveness has been shown to wane so that a booster is needed and some people estimate that as little of 1% of adverse events are reported. The remaining shred of the MSM narrative is that the vaccines prevent severe disease. Maybe they do to some extent, but emerging data shows larger numbers of hospital admissions and deaths in the double-vaccinated, over and above the expected proportionality.
Vitamin D and Ivermectin and other medicines on the other hand are certainly safe. The Front-line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, a group of highly experienced American intensive care doctors, have produced highly effective outpatient and inpatient treatment protocols. Like anyone who challenges the mainstream narrative, they have been heavily censored. Meanwhile, Pfizer have made more than 31 billion dollars from the vaccines so far. Here’s a BMJ article from a whistle-blower highlighting irregularities in their trial.
Vaccines certainly don’t prevent transmission either – here’s a recent Lancet study . I personally think that double-vaccination can increase the risk of transmission. The scientific basis for vaccine passports is non-existent. Ex BBC journalist Anna Brees is doing sterling work with businesses via her Against vaccine passports website
Meanwhile excess deaths in younger age groups have markedly increased here and in the USA and I’m seeing some worrying trends related to impaired T-cell function. I want to be wrong. At least some of the more mainstream outlets are starting to publish views which challenge the mainstream – here’s an article in Newsweek
Peter Doshi is a BMJ editor based in Baltimore. In this video, he points out the value of intellectual curiosity and the spirit of critical thinking and he points out the flaws in the original Pfizer trial. It’s encouraging to see more senior medical establishment figures speaking the truth. Government lies and propaganda have led to thousands of deaths and the more people who wake up to the truth, the better.
Down the rabbit hole:
I’ve repeated the same things over and over again with regard to the government’s astonishing corruption during the pandemic. I could give a hundred examples. I’m coining the phrase The billion dollar unit of absolute corruption. The criteria for a unit is that it involves at least a billion dollars (or equivalent) and it comprises the universal theme of the rich and privileged getting richer at the expense of the poorer. Other themes are propoganda and censorship. Each unit is like a 3-dimensional jigsaw piece, linking to the next.
The latest one, hot off the press concerns MP Owen Paterson.
Here are some facts:
Paterson was paid around £500 an hour to advise Randox, a medical diagnostics firm.
Randox won a £133 million contract for C19 tests without any other firms getting chance to tender.
The UK govt made Randox tests mandatory for travel.
Randox reaps £218 million in revenue (~85% increase).
Meanwhile the UK police suspend all contracts with Randox after discovering a serious breach of forensic science standards.
40 motorists have drink-drive charges quashed and 50 court cases are dropped, secondary to bogus Randox tests.
Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby end relationship with Randox after false test positives for a number of Bath rugby players.
Randox have to recall 750 000 unused coronavirus testing kits.
Rose Paterson, who sadly committed suicide, became chair of Aintree Race Course. Randox spent millions sponsoring the Grand National.
Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock has endorsed around £500 million in payments to Randox during the pandemic
The Commons Commissioner of Standards, Kathryn Stone commissioned an investigation into Paterson’s behaviour in relation to lobbying for Randox and another firm, finding him guilty of misconduct, and ordering his suspension for 30 days.
Boris shits his pants. He doesn’t give a toss about Paterson, who he drops like a stone a couple of days later – he’s terrified of the light that the Committee of Standards could throw on the even more astonishing corruption at the highest level of the Tory Govt, so like a dictator, he orders his government to overturn it and replace it with another bunch of Tories. The Tory arse-lickers dutifully oblige and the Committee is overturned in a Commons vote.
It’s exactly what we expect from a pantomime where democracy has long since gone, replaced by tyrants who presume that they can do whatever they want, whenever they want. Hence we have a festering web of astonishing Tory profiteering and corruption, where each unit links to the next, forming a vast network of corruption at home and abroad – particularly the USA.
It gets mildy interesting, because despite a non-existent opposition, led by an ineffectual red-Tory gong carrier, fatso is shouted down and has to do a u-turn. Paterson of course resigns. The biggest clout actually comes from other Tories – even they are sick of the odious scheming slob.
Please explain to me how anyone with a modicum of intelligence and investigative ability could possibly trust anything that this shower of shite and their mouth-pieces (= >90% of the MSM) says or does. Hence any relevant information about the pandemic has to come from elsewhere.
Rock & Roll:
… is sweet. I’ve been back to Bacup Folk Club a couple of times and on Sunday, Gaz and I played our first gig as a 2-piece, at the Burnley Culture Festival at The wonderful Gallery in Burnley. It’s difficult playing without a drummer, but it went OK. The upside, is that it’s much easier to hear my own singing. Shadz joined us on his dambuka for the last 2 songs which helped. Thanks to him, I’ve sold quite a few books during my visits to folk clubs and open-mic nights.
I mentioned last time that we recorded a song to go on a flexi-disc and it’s out, which is a real thrill given the current long times to get vinyl pressed. Big up to Golden Lion mine hosts Gig & WaKa. The word on the street is that Adele booked up all the big pressing plants for her album and Ed Sheeran is next in the queue. Three major labels have bought all the major pressing plants, so us small fry are right at the bottom of the pile. The Burnley/Tod axis is strong. The Golden Lion is one of a number of music strongholds across the region. ‘Take me along the old Burnley road, take me to Todmorden. Winter’s here and the ever-grey is softly creeping in.’
We’ve got a gig tonight at The Tapster’s Promise in Colne and we’re playing with The Strange in Preston on 20th Nov at one of Rico’s Unpeeled nights.
I’ve started writing songs again. I never force it. It comes when it comes. No-one’s heard the ones I’ve written so far, so there’s no rush.
All good. I want to go on tour and make another record and I’m looking for gigs anywhere and everywhere.