Category Archives: Things That Amuse Me—

Webby Night

My hand with a sticker on it

You are invited to a meeting of 'the cream' of the British web, the evening has no real agenda besides 'chatting and seeing what happens'.

So, what sort of set-up do you expect?

Well, the free vodka was a good idea, but putting everyone in a room with pounding music so you can't hear what is being said is possibly not a good idea. Add in the fact that the room is incredibly dark, so half deaf people like me can't lip-read and you have a badly thought out location.

So what do us incredibly intelligent 'cream' do? Clever buggers to a soul, we all decamp outside where it is well lit and there are tables.

…And then the DJ followed us out into the light and pounded us with stupidly loud Dance. For the second time while surrounded by tech people the suggested solution was to disconnect the speakers.

Instead we brave the cold, and like a group of dispossessed smokers we hang around the entrance chatting and 'networking'.

The meet up was a vague affair, done in part to promote 'The Webby's', which is apparently some web based award ceremony. The end date for nominations is the 15th of December and I suspect that they want a few more. Each nomination costs between $150-$250 to be entered. With 5,500 nominations last year, and 15 new categories, it's an idea I wish I'd had…

But the night was good for the excellent people that I met. The first person that I knew was Ian Forrester, who has just designed some rather cool T-shirts. What is nice is that he turns up to all the things that I do and is a constant friendly face. Ian introduced me to Walid Al Saqqaf who (over the pounding music) told me about Trusted Places. Now this is a great idea (and I have signed up), it is a peer review site for cafes, restaurants, bars and cultural places and has a really mature number of features. He has challenged me to find a better kebab shop than Best Mangel

I also *finally* had a chance to say hello to Tom Coates, we've often shared a place, but I've never been able to talk to him. I think I managed a few words before I was dragged away by a wild haired Rob Manuel of B3ta fame – many, many moons ago he suggested that someone scoop me up for a book deal, so you could say that he 'discovered' me. He also roundly abused me for forgetting to link to my interview I did for him. Something I can rectify here. Some of the answers are vaguely tongue in cheek. Apparently his book is selling better than mine, which makes me glad that we aren't in a zero sum game.

I also managed to chat with Tom Armitage (who has the coolest blog title ever) and Meg Pickard who does lots of interesting stuff on the web. I also managed to meet Suw who, with the release yesterday of the Gower's report has been run ragged.

I also managed to chat with Joel Veitch who does those superb web animations. He's also done one for a charity, which when released I'll link to.

So yes, a bloody fun evening despite the loud music and dark lighting.

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Community Relations

Cover of Community Handbook

(WARNING:  It has been a while since I was in education, so I don’t know the current ideas on political correctness, so if the post below is insulting, I’m sorry.  You should know by now that I treat everyone the same.  If you think I’m racist, then check out my archives.  However, it’s not against the law (yet) for me to say that I think religion is a generally silly idea).

Written by the Ambulance Service Association, the Community Handbook (Pocket edition) is an easy reference guide to many of the ethnic groups that we may come across.

Of course, in London there are around 200 different ethnic groups, so any ‘comprehensive’ handbook would weigh a ton.

So we get a two page spread of some of the commoner ethnic groups in the UK.

You can take a look at a sample of the book.

It’s very pretty, and I can imagine it possible being useful for ambulance trusts who do not have a large ‘ethnic’ population.  But I work in Newham, where the ‘ethnics’ outnumber the WASPs, and I’ve found that you tend to pick up on other peoples culture pretty quickly, as in a week or two on the job.

One amusing point of the book is that for a lot of cultures, it says that you should remove your shoes on entering the house.  Yet one of the main things we were told in ambulance school, was that you never take your boots off, as it’s just too dangerous.  I’ve only been asked to remove my boots once before, when I was entering a Mosque.  I explained that I couldn’t and the head bloke there told me not to worry, as the sick person was more important (he was as well, he was having a heart attack).

For a number of cultures, the book tells us that we should speak via the head male family member.  Again, in practice I’ve never come across this.  What I do tend to come across is a seven year old girl doing the translating for the whole family, which is why I think you have a lot of very ‘grown-up’ Asian girls.  Language is always a problem, but I’ve found that although people tell me that they can’t speak English, it is more probable that they don’t have the confidence to try.  So I always try to talk to the patient, and then the relatives will translate the odd tricky word.

Various cultures also apparently have a taboo about men dealing with women.  Again, something I have very little trouble with, as I’m not about to perform gynecological examinations on my patients.  The only time I’ve found that it might be an issue is with delivering babies, but if there isn’t a woman around then I’ve found that people are just plain happy that there is someone around who knows what to do.

Although, having seen some of the ethnic grannies, and their attitudes to their granddaughter having a baby (something along the lines of, ‘Stop being a wimp, and push it out’), I suspect they have as much an idea about delivering babies as I do.

And I can’t see any culture being happy about having their women undress alone in front of strange men.

The book also has little sections on ‘Customs around Death’.  I’d like to think that we are so successful at treating people that we don’t have to deal with it that often…

To be honest, a lot of the book is trying to teach us to suck eggs.  As long as you have some semblance of common sense, and are polite and respectful to everyone (except maybe drunks…), then you shouldn’t have any problems.  If in doubt ask is my motto, and I’ve learned quite a bit about other cultures just by asking the patient.  I’m guessing that a lot of ethnic people have come across a fair bit of unconscious culture clash, and have developed their own strategies for dealing with it.

Please note how Reynolds has made special effort to make everything positive in the above post.  Note how he hasn’t mentioned that some people have a huge chip on their shoulder about their culture, or how one culture seeks to emulate the worst qualities of another culture, or how a lot of non-drunken violence seems to be ‘ethnic’ vs ‘ethnic’ violence.  Just remember, I dislike everyone equally, I’m an equal opportunities cynic.


I love my crewmate.

Not romantically mind you, that would be very wrong, but in a brotherly way.

You see, she's had a few days off work and I've had to work with other people. Now, these other people are fine people to be working with, but as I've never worked with them before we don't have the 'telepathy' that my regular crewmate and I share.

Let's imagine that we have a patient who is actually sick (I know, I know it hardly ever happens, but please bear with me) a simple glance from either one of us can let the other know what we are thinking with the patient being none the wiser.

It's nice not to notice that the nice ambulance people who are trying to treat you also think that you might end up shuffling off the mortal coil somewhat sooner than later.

The back of an ambulance is fairly cramped and so you work out fairly quickly how to work with the other person without bumping into them while still sharing out the jobs that need to be done. With a strange crewmate you find yourselves doing awkward shuffling dances in the back of the ambulance as one of you goes to put away the carry chair while the other tries to check a blood pressure.

With mixed sex crews there is also the potential of sexual harassment, thankfully my crewmate has managed to keep her womanly desires under control and away from groping my bum.

The current joke is that I'm looking for a divorce – like a married couple we finish each other's sentences, we whistle at the same tunes on the radio, we think alike and, like a married couple, I've stopped flirting with her.

Why, it's only a matter of time before I feel comfortable farting in the cab.

And of course, when we can, on nightshifts* we get to sleep together – me farting and drooling on one sofa while she snores and scratches herself on the other, slightly smaller, sofa.

Of course she does try to get me in trouble, like the time we were going to a little girl who'd apparently swallowed a magnet.

“You get bonus points if you can work a pun in there while you are talking to the mother”, she suggested.

“Like what?”, I asked.

“I don't know, something like 'I'm really attracted to your daughter'”

“Oh, so 'pun' is a new word meaning 'paedophile' and you want me getting arrested for telling a mother that I'm attracted to her three year old?”

She did manage to stop laughing by the time we reached the job.

So there you have it, part of the reason why I don't change ambulance station or go for my Paramedic qualification is that I just like working with her too much. A good crewmate makes all the difference to this job, and I'm glad I get to work with her.

*And by 'nightshift' I really mean any shift where we are left alone for longer than ten minutes – gotta grab those naps when you can.

Let You Entertain Me

I'm off working on nightshifts for the next few nights, and so will be spending large chunks of my time either asleep, working towards trying to be asleep, or desperately attempting to be awake while dealing with drunken teenagers.

So, for the next three days I'm opening up this blog for you dear reader. Comment authentication is off and anonymous comments are now allowed. This is the equivalent of letting down the castle gates while marauding barbarians look for decent women in medieval skirts.

Three days to entertain me and the other readers of this site.

Leave interesting stuff in the comments. Jokes, pictures, videos, short stories, links to interesting sites, links to your own sites. It's a free-for all for the next three days.

Show me amazing things, or work that you are proud of. Drop in links to whatever music you find interesting or forums that you call home.

Teach me something I don't know, or just plain show off your own particular talent. Tell me what is heading the news in your part of the word or leave me a video message.

30,000 people or so read this blog and each of you are unique in your own way – show me how much of a snowflake you are.

And a very grateful thank you to the person who sent me a gift from my Amazon Wishlist – it's very much appreciated and will see plenty of use, I'm a big fan. And this is the only way I can say thank you as you didn't give me your name.

(Another) Nan Down

Since I am feeling (and to be more honest looking) fat I’ve decided to take up cycling again.  I’m sure that I gave a great amount of joy to anyone who saw this particular tubby man puffing and panting against the wind while cycling along at 1mph.  Still, if I want to stop from looking 6 months pregnant I need to start some exercise.  This is due, in part, to a job I did yesterday.

We were sent to a strange call.  It was given as “Elderly woman laying on the green as you enter Kellett road.  Woman may have got up”.

Rushing to the green we found it empty.  So we decamped from the ambulance, grabbed our bags and went for a little wander to see if the patient was hiding in a dip in the ground.  Across the green, near some houses, some people started waving at us, so we trotted over.

The patient was a very elderly woman.  She was wearing a nightdress, a threadworn cardigan and nothing on her legs.  She was also barefoot – I was surprised that the thin skin on her feet hadn’t been torn apart by the pavement.

The temperature, not taking into account the strong windchill factor, was around 1 degree Celsius.

She was – unsurprisingly – a bit blue and she felt like a block of ice.

We just had our medical equipment with us, we didn’t have a blanket, so I took off my fleece and wrapped it around her before running back to the ambulance to bring it closer to the patient.

Twenty-four hours later and my ankles are still in pain.  I was shocked by how out of breath I was after jogging about 150 yards.

I brought the ambulance closer and we bundled the patient into the back, turned the heating on full and wrapped her in our blankets.  The patient was one of those little old ladies that you would want to give a good cuddle to if she were your Gran.  We had a short and uneventful trip to the hospital where she was soon receiving the attention of the nursing staff.

My crewmate filled in a ‘vulnerable adult’ form, which means that the Social Services will get involved so that the patient will (hopefully) get any long-term care that she needs.

I managed to get my fleece back.

It now smells of granny wee.

It’s in the washing machine as I type this.