Monday, 23rd October, 2023

[Day 1316]

Today did not did not bring the start of a new week that one would have either liked or hoped for. Not to put too fine a point on it, weeks of caring for Meg including raising her from prone positions when she has slithered to the floor on numerous occasions has finally wrought a toll upon my back and hip. I awoke in severe pain at about 3.00am in the morning and did what I could to alleviate it without any pain relief that I had available to me in the house having much effect. Our son who had called around to do some work from our house shot off to the pharmacy to get me some additional pain relief. Meanwhile, a call to the GP practice elicited a telephone call back from the doctor who recommended more powerful painkillers and these will take a day or so to work their way through the system. In the meanwhile, I am being incredibly careful not to do anything that might exercerbate the condition of my back/hip and this has meant that it has been enjoined upon Meg that she must do everything possible to help herself because my ability to assist her in the ways in which I have been doing over the last few weeks is now severely compromised. But now for some more positive news – the over-the-counter painkillers my son managed to obtain have kicked in to moderate the worst excesses of what I have been suffering earlier this morning and I have tried, with some success, to undertake a regime of very light and moderate walking around which seems to be having the desired effect. I managed to get myself turned around sufficiently to get into the car and obtain a copy of the daily newspaper but any further ventures, particularly those that involve hauling a wheelchair in/out of the boot of the car, are clearly out of the question for the next few days. Having picked up the newspaper, Meg and I had some ‘quiet’ elevenses at home and then having watched some of the political news on Sky News, started to turn our thoughts towards lunch. This turned out to be a very simple affair of baked potato, some fine beans, microwaved tomatoes and slices of the ham in onion gravy that were prepared yesterday. This turned out to be an incredibly tasty meal and we enjoyed it immensely.

After lunch, Meg fall into a little routine as follows. Firstly, we looked at the news headlines on Sky News (rather more ‘on the ball’ I feel rather than the BBC thse days) and then treated ourselves to the next episode in the ‘Outnunbered’ series. This was the episode in which the rather glib-talking headmaster asked, Pete (the husband in the family) who is a history teacher being interviewed for a possible promotion at school and being asked to take the dossier of the schools results and to ‘process’ the data to ‘remove anomalies’ In other words, Pete was asked to either fiddle the figures or put a gloss on them by removing those data sets that did not present the school in the best light. All of this reminded me of an episode that did occur when I was undertaking the fieldwork in preparation for my PhD in the general field of ‘Quality Improvement in NHS Outpatint Clinics’ I was a lone researcher but there was a hospital team of which I read that was doing similar work to myself. We got into contact with each and agreed to share our data sets with each on a reciprocal basis as researchers often do. A few months later, I noticed that the hospital in question had received a European Gold Award for their quality improvement regime and some of the data upon which the award was granted was published. As I had access to the same data, I noticed that the quality improvement quoted for each year was actually the best quarter for that year – in other words, the award was to some extent based upon ‘massaged’ statistics. I made sure that this incident eventually found its way into the PhD suitably anonymised and disguised such that the hospital in question could not be identified. Of course, playing fast and loose with data sets still goes on in the world around us. Only this weekend, the Sunday Times revealed that the costs of HS2 were consistently reported on the low side in order to enable the flow of billions into the project (and the rewards for those managing it) to continue.

This afternoon, Rishi Sunak made a statement to the House of Commons concerning diplomatic efforts to secure an aid corridor into Gaza. It struck me that the Prime Minister made a more nunanced statement than complete support for the Israeli side of the conflict. On the strength of this, Meg and I continued watching the debate on the Prime Minister’s statement on the Parliament channel where, as you might expect, MPs were engaging in the kind of rhetoric that would go down in their respective constitutencies. Nonetheless, the tone of the House of Commons was quite restrained, not to say sombre, because I think there is a realisation on all sides that the Middle East is a tinderbox in which a spark could very easily ignite the whole region. There are some indications that the powerful and well-armed position of Hezbollah in the North are causing the Israelis to pause lest they face a situation in which they are in conflict on three fronts (Gaza, Iranian-backed Hezbollah based on Israel’s northern border in Lebanon as well as the occupied West Bank itself)