Well our 8 days of celebrating the exodus from Egypt is now over, and I admit to being
gr<eat>ly relieved. That’s my entire consumption of matzas over, until April 2022, and of
course I hope I’m still here to joke about being cream crackered. Seriously, this year was
unusual thanks to a close friend who had a due date for 1st night pesach. Off we went, with myself as the intended doula, only for it to go frustratingly wrong and finally have a theatre appearance at the end. (Rather that, than a court appearance). Baby Miriam arrived, clocking in at 3.5 kilos, or 7lb 11oz, for those non-metric folks. It&#39;s been 7 years since my last child made her debut, so it was a pleasure and an honour to hold a little one again.
It is heartbreaking for us to hear this week that the mother of missing student Richard
Okorogheye (19) found out her son will never come home. Richard, a first-year business and IT undergraduate, had been shielding throughout the lockdown due to having sickle cell disease, and only left home to attend hospital appointments. He left home without his
medication on 22 March and was later captured on cctv heading into Epping Forest. Police
have now found his body, and his mother has spoken of her devastation at the loss of her
only child, who she said had been ‘struggling to cope.’
A 21 year old patient, Evan Smith, died after calling 999 from his hospital bed because he
had been refused oxygen. Smith, an analyst, died in April 2019 at North Middlesex hospital
after suffering sepsis following a procedure to remove a gallbladder stent. Smith suffered
from sickle cell disease and oxygen is often used to treat low blood oxygen saturation. The
sepsis is thought to have triggered a sickle cell crisis. Barnet Coroners Court heard that
Smith of Walthamstow, London might have survived if he had been offered a blood
transfusion sooner, but the haematology team was not informed he’d been admitted and the nursing staff told him he didn&#39;t need oxygen. Smith told his family that he called the ambulance thinking was the only way to get help. The court heard that a haematologist laterprescribed the oxygen, but by then he could not be saved and suffered a series of cardiac
Now if you happen to be taking a ramble up Moel Famau on the Flintshire- Denbighshire
border, you’ll be pleased to hear that the Welsh Ambulance Service has left a defibrillator there, handy should you find yourself having a heart attack. According to Search &amp; Rescue, thousands (!) climb the hill each week. The rescue team leader, Chris Griffiths, said it would save lives.
Keeping the above in mind, it made depressing reading to hear that a paramedic stood back whilst on a call-out to a heart attack victim, and instead let bystanders carry out CPR whilst he watched. Peter McDonald (52) was fighting for his life in December 2019, having
collapsed at a bus shelter. Only when a second emergency vehicle arrived 10 minutes later
did Mr McDonald finally get hooked up to a defibrillator, but by then he was beyond saving.
The assistant coroner Peter Nieto asked paramedic Gary May why he had not acted, to
which he replied, “I may have been having an off day, and could have been distracted.” The coroner recorded a narrative verdict, as the inquest was told there was no certainty that Mr
McDonald would have survived, even had he received proper treatment. How obscene is
that?Over in the East, Alexei Navalny has been moved to a medical facility after showing signs of
a respiratory illness following a message from him last week saying that several cell mates
had been hospitalised with TB. He also talked of filthy plates in the food hall, joking that he
was surprised an Ebola outbreak hadn’t yet happened. Navalny went on hunger strike a
week ago, after being denied the chance to be seen by a civilian doctor for acute back pain
which appeared to be spreading to his legs. His family are concerned this could be linked to
the Novichok poisoning last summer; both his private doctors and lawyers have been denied access to him. Dmitri Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, said decisions as to hospital admission or special treatment lay in the hands of prison officials. Good to know!
Vladimir Putin has approved legislation which will allow him to hold office for two additional
six-year terms, raising the possibility he might stay in power until 2036. He has already been in power for more than 20 years and his current term expires in 2024. Kremlin opponents say the legislation is a pretext to allow the 68 year-old to become effectively ‘president for life.’ This wouldn’t be so bad if he had a positive track record, rather than being known for his frequent abuses of human rights. This behaviour is reminiscent of despots who clutch onto power until their dying breath, and then pass the reins over to one of the family. Frequently they live in indescribable luxury whilst their citizens rebel, their policies flounder and their economies fail. Russian democracy is being put to the test.
At home we are being told to test twice weekly with lateral flow tests, to catch a potential
outbreak in the bud. Putting aside the £1 billion cost of this, and the non-compliers, is this
another step towards covid passports? There is a wave of dissent, claiming LFTs will
generate too many false results. However Professor Alan McNally, a microbial genomics
expert at Birmingham University, said fears of inaccuracy were overblown, citing only one
false positive result [1:20,000] in 5 months, these findings corroborated by lab-based PCR
tests. What happens if you don’t comply with testing, though? Perhaps you have been
vaccinated and feel you present no risk, or what if you simply forget? Will you be stopped at Sainsbury’s and sent home?
This week attention is drawn to schools, behaviour and mobile phones. Top of the list is that face masks are to be mandatory until mid-May. I bet that’s going to be fun for the staff; mumbling, call-outs, bad language, all under cover of a legitimised mask, with the offender looking in every other direction, to rounds of peer laughter. Only a non-teacher would sanction such madness, ironically being extended to placate the unions. Second on the to-do list is mobile phones, One has to ask again why children (sorry, but it’s what they are)need a smart device which functions as a word processor, phone, internet browser and
social media tool? Ermm. Actually, they don’t. It’s no longer a phone. Perhaps it’s a micro-
laptop intended to replace a decent dictionary and thesaurus, an up to date Encyclopaedia
Britannica – although that’s also available online, and a set of good reference books. Books –
those old fashioned jotter things with paper pages – are how I learned (what a dinosaur), and also how Einstein, Stevenson, Marie Curie, Plato, all learned. And none of them were
regarded as intellectually stunted. My own offspring rail loudly, often abusively, at me for
trying to pry them off technology and onto something more tangible, even though it has been shown by science that the mind absorbs information better, by reading and making notes, than by looking at screens. I really do think kids become screen-blind, and those less naturally gifted academically perhaps process it poorly anyway, with negative outcomes. So no surprise then that Gavin Williamson has appointed 22 lead schools with glowing Ofsted reports, to assist and advise struggling schools, to help them improve discipline regimes.
Top of his list for offender behaviour is the mobile phone, weapon of choice for those pupils
intent on wrecking classroom order and teacher sanity, putting aside the applications which
enable peer bullying. With my twins approaching high school, the nagging for a phone has
reached dizzying heights, but my preference is to resist, or as a sop to allow a brick phone.
I’ve seen phone addiction up close and personal, and it isn’t pretty. I was once told I would
be stabbed if I didn’t hand the phone back. But I didn’t, and confess to having a frequent,
insatiable urge to put all the phones under the front wheels of my car, and accelerate like the Stig. But I digress. I’m minded to ask schools to introduce classes in etiquette, manners and citizenship, for far too many children today behave antisocially, treating their parents as pals (at best), or the enemy (at worst).