Friday, 21 August 2009


"I have to say, I'm a compassionate man...." I didn't need to listen to any more on this morning's 9 am phone-in on Radio 5 about the release of the Libyan, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, from Scotland. You know, don't you, that the next word will be "but", and probably the next sentence will be "that man deserves to be hung by his toenails in a cell and the key thrown away"? Well, I didn't listen to the rest of the programme, which in this case was bound to be a sharing of ignorance. Sometimes it's best to be silent. However there's a selection of those introductory excuses, such as 'I'm not prejudiced, but...', or 'I don't have anything against...,but...', or 'With all due respect...', and 'I hear you...', which effectively mean little or nothing. They're certainly warning signs, of a big 'BUT' coming up.

I've not much enjoyed the first day of the final test at the Oval, I must say. A bit of a disappointing opening innings by England. BUT I have been enjoying the athletics. A BBC commentator aptly called Usain Bolt 'an absloute godsend for athletics'. Two emphatic new world records. He certainly shows a God-given natural talent, plus of course a lot of hard work. The British medalists seem to me to be triumphs of dedication. Jessica Ennis who won the gold in the heptathlon had a broken bone in her foot last year and so had to change her take-off foot for the long jump. Phillips Idowu won the triple jump after years of 'unfulfilled potential'. In terms of performance on the day, I thought none was so impressive as Jenny Meadows in the 800 metres, who missed the silver by a whisker, after an amazing sprint up the back straight. The much maligned South African teenager, Caster Semenya, who's in a class of her own, won the gold, but Jenny Meadows was outstanding in her determination and finish.

Earlier this week I had a session with my new speech and language therapist, Helen. I like her - which is important; I suppose it's because she didn't talk down to or lecture me. She doesn't reckon I need speaking aids, like a lightwriter; that encourages me, her being a professional. We discussed swallowing and the danger of things going down the windpipe instead of the oesophagus. Again she was helpful on how to recognise the signs, and again encouraging about my cough, the protective mechanism, which is still strong. I'm blessed. No buts.

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