the other way round

The lovely long curly wavy hair I had as a child may have looked nice but it was hell to keep knot free.   Getting the brush or the comb through other than superficially day to day involved my mother gritting her teeth and me growling and howling and many tears.   The sweetener was chocolate. 

  “It’s a food” opined my mother, breaking off two squares.   “And if it’s good enough for Captain Scott, it’ll do you.”  

I have hardly any sweet tooth but I habitually kept the plain chocolate in a plastic box in the fridge, for occasional use.  Pam the Painter who has a sweet tooth is gratifyingly impressed.   But then one day, when the Italian sweet rusks I bought to eat one of for breakfast became too expensive, I tried a much cheaper product, a similar thing, lighter, made of oats and edged with plain chocolate. And began to eat one with my coffee for breakfast.    The point of this is not to bore you rigid with the chocolate component of my admirably sensible diet but to point out that I stopped buying bars of chocolate.  I bought the chocolate edged biscuits and had one for breakfast, at that end of the day  when I can burn anything, rather than a couple of squares in the evening when I can’t.  

In Saturday’s Times magazine I read the following : “Our ageing population is one of the greatest threats we have ever faced – but what if we worked out how to keep people healthier for longer?

Raghib Ali has the answer.  The former A&E doctor needs just one in ten of us to sign up to one of the biggest medical trials in history.  Prepare to be recruited on your next weekly shop.”

It’s a fascinating piece because, instead of writing yet another lament about strikes and the burden on the NHS, this talks about how research is setting out to accrue data which can be used to employ clever medical insights the other way around, not to keep the elderly from dying, but to prevent them, younger, from getting ill. 

It used to be common to talk about how difficult it was to get men to go the doctor – always supposing you can currently get an appointment.  A chronically ill friend waited 8 weeks to see a GP and left in tears of frustration. So let’s put aside getting to see a doctor and presume you can.  The people who won’t go, won’t go, because they are afraid of what they’d learn, because they might be faced with bad news and worse still, their own responsibility in trying to get better.

Not wanting to hear bad news, being scared, not wanting to have to change but hoping for a magic wand – that’s a personality – whichever sex. 

And I will never forget how taken aback was the young clinical research fellow who tried to brief me when I first went to Moorfield for eye injections.  Between the  complex terminology, her strong accent and a mask, we weren’t getting very far till I heard a word and stopped her.  “Are you asking me to take part in research ?” She agreed, she was.  “Then yes, yes.”  She was astounded and when she explained, so was I. 

People don’t like to take part in research, they fear intrusion, indiscretion, being treated less well than they might otherwise be.  I waved it all away and had the great pleasure of meeting her again two years later, the first four injections in her research project, the rest in Moorfields outpatient clinics. Bless them.

Social transition is almost always slower than we like to think.  People look at a longterm project which might benefit them and delay – till after the holiday, when I’ve done the kitchen.  But the wheels are coming off the cart of  a particular model.

When Snowdrop tells me about his mother  going to yet another appointment, for yet another prescription, but nobody ever sits her down  and tries to make a picture of what’s gone before and build on it, it is a dramatic illustration of our over dependence – unhealthy dependence  – on a particular model eg., go to the doctor and get a prescription. 

I don’t know what is involved in this project,  I am probably too old to be useful but I am – as my father used to say – putting my hand up in church.  If I can be useful, I’m going to be and I am sending the article to the Princess of Wales

who is avowedly interested in benefitting the younger.

To sign up, go to and investigate biobank.  

Annalog is all about discussion, so feel free to leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.