Stazjia’s Commentary

Posts Tagged ‘england

Queses Likely

Originally uploaded by Horn Of Fury

I went to London on Friday and came back yesterday (Monday). I always forget how much I dislike London till I go back. I don’t think I could ever live there again. I’m too used to the peace and quiet of a country town, people having time to smile and say good morning, going into stores and workers having time to exchange a few remarks. In London, people barely look at each other, let alone nod or speak.

As for the traffic…. well, in our small town we think think it’s a major traffic jam if there are 10 cars ahead of us at a junction! Of course, in bigger towns here in south-west England, there are traffic jams, pollution and busy people but not on the scale of London. Our closest cities are Bath, Bristol and Salisbury. Only Bristol is really big because it takes about 30 to 50 minutes to travel from the outskirts to the centre, depending on which way you come in and the traffic.

On the way home last night, there was a major accident on the motorway causing the police to close both carriageways. It was obviously very serious because the air ambulance came to take the casualties to hospital. It took 2 hours for the motorway to open. Luckily, I had a newspaper and a book to read but I was desperate to go to the toilet so we went into the next service station.

We got home very late but at least we arrived safely unlike the people involved in the accident so I don’t moan about the wait or long delay.


A typical full English breakfast with eggs, sausage, black pudding, tomato, baked beans.

A typical full English breakfast with eggs, sausage, black pudding, baked beans.

Yesterday I finished two new lenses. They started off as just one called Meet the English but the section on food got so long that I decided to put it in a lens of its own called English Food Explained.

In the second lens, I show pictures of traditional food like a ‘full English breakfast’, shepherd’s pie, toad in the hole and steamed treacle pudding with a bit of explanation. I also cover how we English eat now, particularly how we’ve taken to foreign food like ducks to water. I hope it’s interesting.

I thought Meet the English would be quite lighthearted but it didn’t work out like that. I start off lightly enough with ‘English Humour’ and even patriotism wasn’t too serious. When I got to English Passions Run High, I wrote about rioting and the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Religion was so-so, but ‘The English and Alcohol’ got very serious with all the binge drinking that goes on here. I managed to end on a lighter note, though, with Sport.

It’s not as much fun as London Cockneys, that’s for sure.

Of course we are very lucky here in the UK to have a National Health Service (NHS) that is “free at the point of need.”

The problems start as more advanced treatments come on the market for life threatening illnesses like cancer because many of them are extremely expensive. There is a limit to how much tax the government can impose to pay for the NHS and the budget still has to be found for all the existing treatments and other expenses.

Because the NHS is administered regionally, we have now entered an era of ‘postcode lottery’. People in some areas can get an expensive drug to treat their potentially fatal cancer while people in the area next door can’t. To complicate the situation, at present, patients can’t pay for the extra drug themselves and continue to get free NHS treatment and other drugs they need. If they pay for one drug, they have to pay for everything including doctor’s consultations, hospital stays, etc. It’s only the wealthiest people who can afford to do this or those with very good and expensive health insurance – quite rare in this country.

Some people can raise the money for the expensive drug denied them by their local health authority, maybe by remortgaging their homes, taking out a bank loan or some other means. Because of the rules, though, they can’t do it without sacrificing the rest of their treatment.

It’s come to the point that people die because they are denied life-saving treatment and they and their families have to live with that knowledge as the disease progresses.

There has been a big outcry in England about this and opinion now seems to be swinging in support of allowing people to pay for the extra drugs without losing the rest of their NHS treatment. The same debate is taking place in Scotland where the NHS is administered by the Scottish Parliament. There the debate seems to be going in the opposite direction. The argument against allowing paying for some treatment is that, first, “the NHS is free at the point of need” and second, it gives better off patients an advantage against poorer ones and so makes the NHS unfair. The whole point being that the health service is supposed to iron out inequities between people with money and those without.

I can see both points of view. Why should some people be allowed to die because they can’t afford to pay for extra drugs but why should everybody be allowed to die who could benefit from new drugs because they aren’t allowed to pay for just the ones the NHS can’t afford?

I suppose that, in the end, there is no advantage to letting everybody die when some could be saved – denying the more prosperous treatment won’t help the poorer patients. The terrible thing is that this is the kind of dilemma that the NHS was supposed to stop happening.

Kevin Pietersen

Originally uploaded by barberseville

If winning all those medals at the Beijing Olympics wasn’t enough, we’re now winning cricket matches – will wonders never cease?

The new captain, Kevin Pietersen seems to be living up to his nickname of ‘Teflon’ even if he only managed to score 5 runs at the wicket himself. Freddy Flintoff more than made up for it with an unbeaten 78 in the 2nd innings, and claiming two South African wickets with his bowling.

England’s Samit Patel played a key role in England’s victory with a maiden 5 wicket tally.

England 296 for 7 (Bell 73, Flintoff 78) beat South Africa 170 (Amla 46, Patel 5-41) by 126 runs

Currently England are winning the series of one day matches 3 – 0. They play again at Lord’s on Sunday, 31st August and the final one of the series takes place on Wednesday 3rd September in Cardiff. Happily, England is in the position of not being able to lose!

…and I’ll show you a loser.

This seems to be the British, or maybe just the English, disease. We have it drummed into us when we are young that if we win we shouldn’t gloat but be gracious and generous to those we’ve beaten. If we lose, we shouldn’t throw a tantrum and try to punch the winner. It’s called being a good sport. It’s a high praise, or it used to be, here in England. “Oh he’s such a good sport,” people would say admiringly. What other nation would be so happy with Eddie the Eagle, the English ski-jumper who was hopeless, to put it mildly. We cheered if he managed to land standing up, we didn’t actually expect him to jump a decent, let alone winning, distance.

Tim Henman is another example. He never won Wimbledon, yet we still have ‘Henman Hill’ there. Why? Shouldn’t it be Federer Heights or Sampras Ledge or McEnroe Mount? After all, those people have all won at Wimbledon. Every year there was great speculation in newspapers and on TV about if this was the year Henman could win. Huh! It never was and we all knew it.

He was a nice guy and nice guys finish last! Well, not invariably but quite often. Winners have to have some steel in them and a burning desire to win, not just play the game well and be a good sport.

When the BBC interview some of the British Olympics team, often they ask “Do you think you can get a medal?” Some reply, “Just getting here is an achievement, getting a medal would be a bonus.” I want to scream at the TV, “No it wouldn’t. The idea of going to the Olympics is to win.” OK, not everybody can win but the ones who do win, are often the ones who say something along the lines of “I’m going to give it my best shot and all my training for the last few months has been aimed at getting a medal.” That’s pretty much what Nicole Cooke said before she won the gold medal for the Women’s Road Race for Britain yesterday.

I’ve started writing a very shortened account of my life on my Lensography. The first section deals with my restless, rootless childhood. I think one of the reasons I like writing about places in England is because my parents found it hard to settle in one place during our childhood. Find out how we went from Windsor to California by way of two London suburbs, Somerset and Devon, all before I was 16 years of age.

In the the next section of my life story, I tell more about my childhood and my parents’ stormy relationship. This is hard to write about, even so many years later. It feels disloyal because, even as children, we never spoke about it although some days we were very tired at school as we’d been woken up during the night.

I’ve quite surprised myself writing about all this because I’m usually an intensely private person. Some people have known me for years and still know very little about me. On the other hand, people I’m close to know all this stuff.

A View Across the Levels

A View Across the Levels

© Copyright Tim and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

I’ve published my latest lens, Ancient Somerset Levels. I’ve got more stuff to put on it but I think there’s enough to be OK but I won’t join any groups just yet.

I’ve had some of my lenses featured on the All Things Travel group page which I’m so pleased about.


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