Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A weekend in hospital

Over the years it has become apparent to me  that I am an 'early adopter'! This week a survey of UK Hospitals has found that becoming ill on a Friday night is not a good idea as hospitals at week ends are dangerously under maned as all the senior are off duty. It is the same in Auckland New Zealand as I found out over ten years ago when I had the misfortune to get the life threatening  stomach infection, Clostridium Difficile.

If it is at all possible time your illness for a week day when the appropriate staff are on duty because it became very clear to me that the hospital closes down to all but the most immediate emergencies at around 6 pm on Friday night.

I timed my illness extremely badly. When I first presented with this infection the specialist in this area was at a conference in Los Angeles for ten days so nobody
qualified in gastroenterology was available. The junior staff just guessed cancer which of course it wasn't and gave me all the tests including a colonoscopy the preparation for this on an infected stomach was torture.

The first weekend when I was dying there was nobody to treat me. I was seen by a doctor who was a specialist in broken limbs. He was in charge of the whole hospital but he agreed diarrhea was life threatening and he knew nothing about it. I never saw the specialist.

I was sent home but not cured so I had to return.  I was dying.  I knew it but the hospital didn't. It was a 5 am Friday morning when I arrived. I was told nobody could see me and I was to sit in the waiting room. I did for 17 hours. I was even interviewed by a psychologist to see if I really was ill, my husband had died and the doctor thought it might be grief and at about 2 am Saturday morning I was admitted reluctantly as it was felt I was a malingerer!

I didn't see a specialist until Monday morning. The hospital was put into hibernation for two whole days just ticking over. By the time I was seen I was really ill but I did not look ill. No temperature  just extreme weight loss and constant diarrhea. I was in a ward and really left to look after myself. No help was given. Fortunately I knew my way around.

They wanted to throw me out. Telling me I was not ill and should get better at home. I knew I was dying and I was as I had Clostridium Difficile, the bug you pick up from hospitals or too much anti biotics from my previous visit. It killed 495 patients in Maidstone Kent.

It is highly infectious and in those two days I must have given it to many patients. It took two days before any tests were made in which time I could have collapsed and died from infection and nobody would have had a clue as to why because I had not been diagnosed.

It was the same for everyone in the place. It was like being in limbo.

Maybe someone should tell hospitals that with illness it is impossible to keep to working hours. One gets very ill at inconvenient moments. It must kill many people who cannot wait until Monday morning. On the whole it would be better to go home for those two days and be looked after by family and return on Monday morning if that is possible. For me this was not an option.

I survived but it was a close run thing. Because of the failure to diagnose I was left with drug related injuries that have lasted for ten years but I am alive and for that I am grateful. Once I saw a specialist on Monday and tests began I was on my way to recovery.

So schedule your hospital event and avoid weekends.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ken Russell Salome and Me

I have admired Ken Russell since I was a child. I was influenced by his BBC Monitor programmes especially Debussey which made a big impression on me so when the chance came to actually appear in his first feature film Women in Love as an dancer in the Chalet scene set in Zermatt I jumped at the opportunity.

I knew he had seen me work. I was playing the comedy lead in the Desert Song at the Palace Theatre in the West End. I saw him in the front row on the night The Queen, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret had attended. It was a terrible performance as most of the men got nervous at the Royal presence and my partner dropped me!

I loved the part but not the show although it was fun. I should have preferred that Russell had seen me in The Turn of the Screw but he saw me in a very sexy role where I appeared in a revealing Middle Eastern harem costume.

As I did not want to be noticed I did my hair in a very different way at my audition. Yes Russell auditioned the extras and he noticed me. When I went to the costume fitting his wife who was the costume designer said 'Ken knows you from somewhere?' I said we had never met and rattled off a list of my best work and Shirley Russell said 'no not any of those'. I took a deep breath and said 'I played Susan in The Desesrt Song.

'That's where he saw you!' Shirley Russell gasped then she added 'Ken thinks you are marvelous and the best thing in London'. I was so flattered.

During the shooting Russell took no notice of me but at the end he called me over and said. "I love your work and I have something for you'. It was Salome in Salome's Last Dance his film based on Oscar Wilde.

For me it never materialized. Russell used someone else but he based his conception of the role on the way I played Susan. His Salome looked just like me and I might add did it far better than I could have done. I could never have handled the nudity as I think Russell may have suspected although I had a figure to die for but the part would really have helped my career and I think I should have done it justice. Russell did not take a chance but fortunately Britten did.

I never met him again. I admired him so much although he never matured professionally and his style looked a bit infantile and dated as can be seen in the clip above towards the end but he was a child of his time and a great innovator. RIP Ken Russell. You will be missed

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Week with Marilyn

The up coming film My Week with Marilyn based on a brief encounter by Colin Clark in 1956 made me take a look at the film on which this story is loosely based. I was just 13 when it was made and although I heard about it I never saw it. The only glimpses that I got were all in black and white. At that time I never saw any of Monroe's films as I was just too young and I never really appreciated her either. I thought she was over rated. A silly uneducated woman who traded on her sexual personality. I was definitely under whelmed.

I had heard of the problems Olivier had had with her on the set and how difficult he found to work with her and I was surprised that he actually chose to do so. He was the producer and director but of course I was wrong. It is so nice at my age to able to admit one was mistaken.

In my day the show biz world was small  and paths crossed often but the nearest I got to Sir Laurence and Lady Olivier is that I slept in a bedroom occupied the previous week by this illustrious pair. Now do not get the wrong impression this was not a room at the Ritz but an average set of theatrical digs in Bristol. It was clean humble and for me more than adequate but for the Oliviers? Even then I realized a lot of their magic was show.

Thanks to YouTube yesterday I was able to catch up on the film I had missed. To my surprise it was in color! But the biggest surprise was that Monroe stole the whole show. Her stunning performance reduced the great Olivier to second rate status. Her presence radiates off the silver screen and still would today. Here was an intelligent woman playing a bimbo and knowing exactly what she is doing.

At the time the Oliviers held all the cards but now all is different. That old style of acting and direction has past. Marilyn knew exactly what she wanted to achieve and wiped the floor with all the other actors with perhaps the exception of Richard Wattis but then I am biased as he was exactly like a parody of my husband Miles.

Marilyn encapsulated the position of women of that time. Extremely bright but totally uneducated and reduced to bimbo status which was not deserved. The way she tackles her pompous betters and acts them off the screen is a lesson to us all.

Monroe had every right to behave as she did. She knew the power of the Rattigan play and she knew it was a perfect vehicle for her talent. She bought the rights and she produced it with Olivier as her guest producer and director who then treated her as we say like muck.  I can vouch for the treatment handed out to women producers/directors, as late as 1986 I had to employ a male director for my TV series as the men refused point blank to take orders from me. I had to beg for every close up and I was paying the bill.

If Monroe wanted to be late she had every right to be late and for Oliver to insist that his wife Vivenne Leigh who was the first Showgirl attend each day of the shoot must have been intimidating to say the least. If you want to put somebody off that is exactly what you do. Again I had this happen to me when taking over a major role at short notice and the experience was horrible.

To tell Monroe to Try and act sexy was a first class insult and Olivier must have realized that with this woman he was way out of his depth in film technique.

Actresses of my day had only one choice and that was to be a bimbo if you wanted to work. We were intelligent but bright women were not required. I am just so pleased I had not seen this performance before I took over the IT girl in The Desert Song which is a similar role that of a sexy intelligent girl overlooked by everyone around who cannot see her worth as I should have lost all confidence in my ability to pull this off immediately. All women can sympathise with her character and all men want to go to bed with her.

Monroe may have had an abused upbringing and no education but she married the foremost playwright of her day Arthur Miller. She knew what she did well and did it.

Bravo Marilyn. Here she is with Richard Wattis when her character realizes she has been set up. I expect many of my friends would have had to cope with this sort of situation on a daily basis. I have found myself here on more than one occasion. I too knew how to get out of such tricky moments.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cold Calling Jehova Witnesses

Today I had a call from The Jehova Witnesses. Usually I see off these calls with a curt 'Don't have the time' a la Karen from Outnumbered but I had a few moments to spare and I wanted to try out an argument based on the Creation Myth that had hit me a couple of years ago at the time of Darwin's Double Centenary.

The ladies looked and indeed were delightful and about my age so with the warning that  they were about to enter the house of a died in the wool atheist they bravely decided to come in on the condition that I should listen to them for five minutes and then they had to listen to me and then give me their opinion.

They accepted. They were charming, intelligent and totally uneducated in science.  Women of my age were. The social contract of the time saw to that. Boys were educated and  girls like me were not. Children who were lucky enough to go to state schools had a chance of escaping but middle class women were sent to convents and that is the problem.

All of us had received no education in sex or science and were taught to believe what we had been told. Only the rebellious like me escaped the heavy indoctrination. These two ladies had never met anyone who was in favor of The Modern Scientific Theory of Evolution only the opposite variety.

I listened to what they had to say and then I had my turn. It was a  friendly meeting with no conflict and I choose my words carefully  as I had no wish to offend but they had knocked on my door and wanted to talk about this touchy subject so I felt free to put my side of the equation. I broached the unmentionable subject of Adam & Eve and that Sin. Because it had struck me in a Eureka moment two years ago that of course if they didn't exist, they couldn't have sinned! Darwin had killed the bible because he had doubted the existence of this first very human couple. Darwin could not prove their non existence but today we can with DNA. Not a trace of the couple and if they had lived they would show up.

For those who have forgotten Adam & Eve, to whom we are all supposed to be related, Sinned and God the Father who had made them in his own likeness was so peeved that he sentenced the whole human race to eternal torture in hell. Totally unacceptable today as one would never condemn anyone for guilt by association but this loving God is not like that.

Adam & Eve are the basis of the whole saga and today DNA can prove beyond all doubt that this pair never existed and could never have sinned thus proving that the bible is a story and of course none of us is related to this couple so we are not even guilty by association. This of course relegates the bible to  the waste paper bin.

There is of course no answer to this! Except that the world is only 6,000 years old which of course it isn't. The ladies took it well and I did not push my advantage. One lady was 78 and I must admit it may be too old to change and indeed why should she if it gives her pleasure and makes her happy but the younger lady might. She was clever and I hope open to my suggestion. I showed her a fossil, an ammonite from the pre Cambrian. She was fascinated. They both were and as neither could use a computer  I suggested they buy one for Xmas and make up for lost time and take a basic science course say Science made Easy on YouTube by Potholer54.

I was lucky. I met my husband who filled in the gaps in my education but these two excellent likable ladies have not until today when they met me. We had a delightful morning and I must be the only person alive who experienced two Jehova Witnesses who were actually longing to go! It was their good and bad luck to meet me. It was a pity their teachers let them down.

At least I made them think! My experiment was a success. I managed to put my point of view without confrontation or coming to blows and there I shall leave it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What we need is Karen on the Bond Market

Living in New Zealand I have only just discovered Karen from the BBC's Outnumbered. The Brits have known about her for the last five years which gives some indication of how behind the times TVNZ is but what I have come to the conclusion that what the economic crisis needs is a Karen.

Out of the mouths of babes sometimes comes a lot of insight. I should love to get Karen on the Bond Market. That's the market where governments lend money they don't have and promise to pay it back in the future by lending out some more money they don't have. When this tactic eventually comes to the point where a government has to pay the problem is solved by printing a lot of money they don't have to pay back the punters! Karen would see  immediately that it is not going to work.

How can we all be so gullible? I know UK has taken Karen to their hearts but it is now time the rest of the world woke up to her. Karen is very good at seeing off door to door salespeople too.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Euro Crisis - a Replay of the French Revolution?

The Comedy or the Crisis of the Euro rolls on getting more complicated everyday with it seems, no answer in sight. Italy and Greece are hopelessly in debt due mainly to a certain sections of the elite who demand to retain their privileges to tax exemption, tax evasion and corruption and the rest of the Euro countries and the rest of the world who have foolishly lent their country's savings to Italy, Greece, Ireland et all without due diligence now face losing their money.

The world never learns. We have been here before and the outcome for the elite was unpleasant. From 1792 until 1799 there is a period known as The French Revolution of which the present crisis is sadly showing signs of repeat performance possibly without the guillotine but nevertheless chaos.

The problem is then and now that the Elites have avoided paying their fair share of taxes, leaving that to the Third Estate (middle class) and working class to do that for them but government institutions are expensive to run and eventually there is nothing left to tax. Continual mulching of the cash cow is unsustainable. Capitalist's free markets means that everything becomes centralized with the loss of manufacturing and civil service jobs and there is only theThird Estate  left to tax and because of the downsizing many of them are unemployed or on the bread line. Capitalists refuse to be taxed as they  plead they add to the economy. How they actually do this is never stated but they are quite sure they deserve their bonuses.

The most brilliant plan  that is being offered now by France and Germany who would suffer if these two debtor countries go broke is to solve the problem by offering more loans and more austerity for the Third Estate.  Louis XVI tried this with spectacular failure.This will solve the problem in the short term but you cannot get blood out of a stone when more money is needed to pay up.

Or one can just print money but Germany knows that that solution doesn't work either having had practical experience in the Weimar Republic. Both the methods above are mirages and any intelligent being will know they are not going to work

The Elites have to pay their share, tax exemption and corruption have to stop, Germany and France and the rest of us have to write off the debts and Italy and Greece have to be given control of their own currencies to kick start their economies otherwise the masses will rise and the results will be ghastly. 

Oh they need me there! But we know all this! In 1929 Hendrik Willem Van Loon wrote a history primer for children entitled  The Story of Mankind. His conclusions are still relevant today and I think this book ought to be essential reading in schools.

Stand by for the next thrilling installment!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hands up all those who think the Greek Bailout will work!

Hands up all those who think the Greek Bailout will work! I am not an economist but even I can see that unless there is a miracle, this bailout is not going to work.

You cannot get blood out of a stone and Greece is broke it seems. Greece may be the foundation of democracy but it is also very good at corruption so I have been led to believe in the press and has a history of the rich evading their taxes. Like the Third Estate in the French Revolution when the poor who did pay the taxes to keep assorted Kings, Queens and clergy who didn't, in the luxury to which they felt they were entitled, could not longer pay.

So this whole thing has been shunted forward another three months and then will the fat hit the fan? I think it will. I am quite happy to be wrong on this one. There is no way Greece can pay up without reducing its citizens to penury!

The EU wants Greece to sell off all its assets to greedy bankers and it is going to force Greece to do this. Poor Greece! But countries have a mechanism which private companies and us do not. Countries can Nationalise. NZ has had to do this twice quite recently. NZ had to buy back its airline and railways. The railways cost a $1. If I were Greece I should do just this!

Times have changed . The Ship of State has been turned into a very different Ship of State from even ten years ago. The sailors, us, have moved into the present day, the 99% will no longer put up with greed and tax evasion but sadly the captain and officers, our politicians, still imagine they are running an old aircraft carrier which ought to be decommissioned years ago.

All in all, interesting times and whatever happens we are in for a rocky few years.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Too many people?

Oh dear the world is going through a difficult stage. There are just too many of us and not enough jobs to go around. Technology has seen to it that, except for a very few mind blowingly boring jobs, the amount of people needed to make everything the world's consumer could desire is minute in ratio to the world's population and in the future jobs for every one is not possible as it was in the past.

Capitalism good as it was in the past for some of us no longer works for the majority. Developed countries have seen all their manufacturing jobs exported to Asia and not one political party in the West bothered to consider what was going to happen to the thousands put out of work or where these people were going to find new jobs.

What this crisis needs is a genius to come up with some new answers. Somehow the world has to work out how to pay for all the billions who don't have a hope in hell of finding a good old fashioned boring job. Growth and capitalism no longer work as it used to do so politicians should stop castigating their electorates about hard work and self reliance put on their thinking caps  and start finding them something purposeful to do to fill up their lives. Self reliance has had its day. It is just not possible for all of us to have a job that pays.

Nature will of course solve the population problem in the end but probably in a very unpleasant way.