A pilgrim wanders by...

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The Green Dragon

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A pilgrim wanders by...

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Jan 19, 2019, 12:44am

I suspect this year will have too little time for as much reading as I would like, and making any sort of plan seems rather a forlorn hope. So I'll just sit here quietly and jot down a few notes on books that I manage to read this year..

Jan 19, 2019, 1:51am


Jan 19, 2019, 4:25am

G’day. Glad to have you on board.

Jan 19, 2019, 4:32am

Well, howdy there, pilgrim

Edited: Jan 19, 2019, 7:51am

Pleased to make your acquaintance, all! >2 MrsLee:, >3 haydninvienna:, >4 WholeHouseLibrary:

*doffs cap and slides bottle to centre of table*

Jan 19, 2019, 7:13am

>1 -pilgrim-: Welcome to LT and the Green Dragon. I look forward to seeing your posts this year. What types of books do you particularly enjoy? Your profile is all mysterious and private. :)

Jan 19, 2019, 7:50am

>6 YouKneeK: Thank you.

My sobriquet was chosen as a reference to the Sebastian Bacziewicz character, since that references both my interests in fantasy and history, with additional nods to both a lingering habit of reading theology and an enduring love for Tolkien (and the Grey Pilgrim himself, Mithrandir).

However I am a pretty omnivorous bibliophile, so just about anything could turn up here! I have bad habits that involve wandering past a shelf or pile of books, and going, "Oh, that looks interesting..."

Jan 19, 2019, 8:00am

Sounds like you'll fit right in. Welcome! The PGGBs are particularly good here in the Pub.

Jan 19, 2019, 8:25am

I hope you're not allergic to cheese though. Cheese is life (well, almost).

Jan 19, 2019, 9:07am

Welcome, pilgrim. Cheese?

Jan 19, 2019, 10:13am

>8 majkia: I haven't had a PGGB in years... and I am afraid my SF reading has been similarly neglected. (And yes, recommendations are welcome.)

*sniffs air happily*

You guys certainly know how to make a wandering pilgrim feel at home.

Jan 19, 2019, 2:06pm

Welcome! There's never any shortage of books, cheese, PGGBs, or congenial company here in the pub.

Jan 19, 2019, 2:23pm

There are a few hazards, like armed Rombas, spitting cobras, and healthy water buffalos.

Jan 19, 2019, 6:22pm

Welcome to the Dragon!

Jan 20, 2019, 3:08am

Thank you >12 SylviaC:, >13 suitable1:, >14 Narilka: for the welcome!

A little research has provided me with information about sentient Roombas and the proper mode of defence against them. But spitting cobras? And WATER BUFFALO?? How worried should I be?

*grabs staff and looks around nervously *

Jan 20, 2019, 3:49am

Let's leave it at: no fatalities ... yet.

Jan 20, 2019, 4:21am

Maybe I should invest in a small swamp dragon. I am new around these parts, can anyone provide directions to the local market?

Jan 20, 2019, 8:52am

Welcome, -pilgrim-!

Local ordinances no longer permit dragons to be sold at the market since the 2014 dragon flu epidemic, when much of the merchandise started sneezing flame. 🐲

Jan 20, 2019, 9:38am

Drat. And double drat.

Yes, I believe that they require careful nursing (and flame-retardant clothing). But I was thinking that a snub-nosed long-tailed swamp dragon sounded like what I might need for protection around here (from the spitting cobras and water buffalo, not the other denizens of this fair establishment).

Do you have any alternative suggestions?

Jan 20, 2019, 10:17am

Actually, the water buffalo are quite tame, but they tend to leave "presents" that one should avoid.

Jan 20, 2019, 10:21am

Around here the answer to most problems is CHEESE. Help yourself

Jan 20, 2019, 10:41am

Cheese is always the answer :-)

Welcome, -pilgrim-, to the pub on the internet crossroads. I think the biggest worry is not spitting cobras or the water buffalo, but getting hit by too many book bullets!

Jan 20, 2019, 11:18am

>22 Busifer: is right. There are some tremendously insightful readers in the Pub. You end up with stuff on your TBR pile that you weren't in the least expecting to consider. So just shove the Water Buffalo on over out of the way and find a chair.

Jan 20, 2019, 12:15pm

Welcome -pilgrim-.

Has anyone offered you a drink yet? What are you having?

By the way, jillmwo is a crack shot with the book bullet gun. During the week she abandoned the regular approach of describing a book on her own thread and instead posted a comment directly at me. Needless to say the book concerned is due for delivery tomorrow.

Jan 20, 2019, 6:28pm

And just 'cos ... occasionally, there's a wandering minstrel that comes in and attempts some entertainment. It usually results in a food fight. So be forewarned or be prepared; It's your choice. It's no wonder he's called Mike, the Song Butcher.

Jan 21, 2019, 4:22am

>25 WholeHouseLibrary: He wouldn't be a relation of "William the Bloody (Awful)" would he? ;-)

All wandering minstrels are welcome here. Firstly, as fellow wayfarers, and secondly, because I have been known to carroll along with the best of them, as occasion should arise.

Thank you kindly, >24 pgmcc:. I am currently reading Avenging Angels: Soviet women snipers on the Eastern Front , by Lyuba Vinogradova, so I'll have 100g of vodka please, and raise a glass to these young lasses, and their quiet fortitude.

And thank you all. I have bern plied with cheese and alcohol, and made to feel very welcome.

Jan 21, 2019, 7:45am

(Ah, bullet taken on Avenging Angels! Ouch!)

Jan 21, 2019, 8:23am

>27 Busifer: & >26 -pilgrim-:

Very interesting. One of -pilgrim-'s earliest book bullets is a book about snipers. Very interesting.

(To be honest, I heard a bullet whizz past my ear when I saw that one in the post.)

Jan 21, 2019, 8:37am

>26 -pilgrim-: How did you happen to learn of Avenging Angels? I ask because it's not something that would pop up in your average review publication or be on the front table when you first walk into a bookstore. Did someone specifically recommend it to you? It's always interesting to me to find out how serious readers find out about titles.

Jan 21, 2019, 9:44am

>29 jillmwo: Actually I did come across my copy of Avenging Angels on a shelf in a discount bookstore!

But that is not quite the whole story, as I had been looking out for a copy for some time. Long enough that I am hazy as to where I first heard of it. I suspect it was referenced in a review of something by Svetlana Alexievich, the latter being a journalist whose work I very much respect and have followed for some time.

To all who are tempted, I very much recommend "Avenging Angels". Vinogradova conducted a lot of interviews both with the surviving snipers themselves and men who served with them. Her research is excellent, and also encompasses the discrepancies between propaganda and reality (for example, not all the women were actually volunteers) and the effect their service had on their lives after the war. I had been aware of these snipers, but was shocked to learn how young the majority of these specialists were.

I will write more when I have finished the book. This might take a while though. It is compelling reading, but quite heartrending at times. It is the sort of book that you want to read slowly and digest fully.

Jan 21, 2019, 1:42pm

When I searched for availability of Avenging Angels I found Defending the Motherland, from the same author. Sounded interesting, too.

And when we're on the topic of years past, might I mention Rising Tide: The Untold Story Of The Russian Submarines That Fought The Cold War? Engineering history, political history, and military history - all wrapped in one. Not the most eloquently written book that I've ever read, but interesting none-the-less if one is interested in the topic/s.

Edited: Jan 22, 2019, 12:28am

>31 Busifer: I agree totally about Vinogradova's earlier book, Defending the Motherland - although I know slightly more about the "Night Witches" than I did about the sniper teams. (Incidentally, reading sbout the latter is giving me a fresh perspective on a the "White Tights" rumours of the 1990s...)

Lyuba Vinogradova has also translated Vassily Grossman"s A Writer at War into English. Since that is a book that I have been meaning to read for some time, I am tempted to look out for her version.

If you are interested in Cold War submarine warfare, I must recommend to you the short stories of Aleksandr Pokrovsky. He was a career chemical officer aboard a Soviet nuclear submarine, and whiled away his time on watch writing anecdotal stories based on his experiences. They are hilarious, scabrous and utterly horrifying. (They also, more than any other book I have ever read, merit a warning for "strong language".)

It has been a while since I read Pokrovsky, but it would certainly be interesting to read a history that places his experiences in context.

Jan 21, 2019, 3:55pm

>32 -pilgrim-: While not specificially into submarine warfare - to me it was more the political/historical/engineering aspects that drew me to Rising Tide - the Pokrovsky stuff sounds interesting. I’ll make a note of him and see what I can find.

So little time, so many books!

Jan 21, 2019, 4:16pm

>33 Busifer: I read a selection of his stories in the GLAS anthology Sea Stories and Army Stories.

So little time, so many books!
So very true!

Jan 21, 2019, 4:27pm

>24 pgmcc: You are not such a bad shot yourself.

You got me with Into the Woods.

Jan 21, 2019, 4:40pm

Jan 22, 2019, 12:52am

>36 suitable1: No. I'm sorry, but just....NO.

I have never been able to watch a Jack Ryan film for more than 20 minutes without developing a violent urge to throw something at the screen, due to level of inaccuracies, inevitability of protagonist etc.
And Tom Clancy books are heavy; if I start hurtling one of those around, I might do sone serious damage.

Jan 22, 2019, 4:15am

Is there a term for a negative Book Bullet?

haydninvienna's negative reaction to the Stainless Steel Rat has prompted me to go back to the series, and see to what extent my memories of it have been coloured by rose-tinted spectacles.

Jan 22, 2019, 8:38am

That would be a reverse book bullet I believe.

Jan 22, 2019, 9:13am

As far as the book goes, when I was reading it in the very early 90s I had a conversation with a former Navy submariner who said it was remarkably accurate.

Jan 22, 2019, 9:43am

A belated welcome to you, Pilgrim! It's always good to see new faces in the pub. You may already have hit me with a book bullet for Avenging angels; I'll just lie here groaning with the other victims.

Jan 22, 2019, 10:19am

>39 -pilgrim-: Hey, I finished it! Eventually.

Jan 22, 2019, 2:44pm

Welcome! Since no one else has bothered to warn you, watch out for the roombas!

Edited: Jan 22, 2019, 4:26pm

>44 littlegeek: But our pilgrim already knew of this danger. Read post #15! ;o)

Jan 22, 2019, 7:18pm

>45 clamairy: I think I skipped right over it to the SPITTING COBRAS! They are the scariest!

Jan 22, 2019, 10:49pm

>41 Bookmarque: You refer to The Hunt for Red October? To which navy did your submariner interlocutor belong?

Jan 22, 2019, 10:55pm

Thank you for the welcome sakerfalcon and littlegeek.

>46 littlegeek: I know! But clamairy has informed me that swamp dragons are forbidden. Whatever do you locals do?

Edited: Jan 23, 2019, 5:26am

>43 haydninvienna: Congratulations! Our conversation inspired me to start A Stainless Steel Rat is Born. Eight chapters in, and still no genuine sense of peril. I maintain my opinion that Slippery Jim is a lot more likeable than many more modern picaresque heroes, but I don't think this is a case of the writer's skill maturing with age; the earlier books were, I think, better. Am undecided whether to persist or not (I borrowed the anthology, so it would be a guilt-free bail.)

Jan 23, 2019, 12:24am

>48 -pilgrim-: Mostly we climb up on the bar and have another PGGB. Then we don't care what the roombas do.

Jan 23, 2019, 12:59am

>49 -pilgrim-: Thank you for that insight. I'm assuming you don't suggest I should go and search for the rest of the series. I have the "Omnibus" which has the first 3 novels (as written, I think), and I think that's enough of the Stainless Steel Rat for me. Occurs to me that his very nickname dates him--written a few years later the moniker would probably have involved teflon.

>50 MrsLee: Has anyone ever tried feeding the roombas a PGGB or two? Or would a PGGB-fuelled combat roomba be forbidden by the strategic arms limitation treaties?

Edited: Jan 23, 2019, 5:25am

>51 haydninvienna: In fairness, The Stainless Steel Rat for President was the one that was originally recommended to me, and The Stainless Steel Rat Goes to Hell did have its moments. I am curious about the former, but probably not enough to act on it. I think we can agree on letting the Stainless Steel Rat be.

The Teflon Rat (or Teflon Trickster?) however ... does anyone else think that Slippery Jim is ripe for a Hollywood reboot?

Edited: Jan 23, 2019, 5:24am

>50 MrsLee: I fear that if I start mixing PGGBs with my vodka, I definitely won't be able to avoid hostile Roombas...because I JUST WON'T CARE!!! (The mental picture of Pilgrim leaping from the bar, cloak swirling and charging assorted Roombas, spitting cobras - and the lone hippopotamus - with a feral grin is a terrifying one. Well, it terrifies me at any rate.)

Jan 23, 2019, 9:52am

Sorry, he was US Navy and we got to talking when he noticed me reading it in the break room. He obviously didn’t know Russian protocols, but he said the US stuff was pretty dead on, though probably slightly dated for security reasons.

Jan 23, 2019, 10:00am

>47 -pilgrim-: & >54 Bookmarque:

When I first watched the Hunt for Red October film there was one element that resonated with me. If you recall at an early stage in the film the Political Officer was killed.

At the time I watched the film I had a friend who had a Russian wife whose brother was a Political Officer on a Russian submarine based at Kronstadt. I do not think he knew Sean Connery personally.

Jan 23, 2019, 11:57pm

>55 pgmcc: Popular chap, was he? ;-P

Jan 24, 2019, 12:15am

>54 Bookmarque: The issue I have had Clancy's accuracy before has been in a tendency to assume that everywhere else does things the American way, so your colleague's testimonial, although very interesting, does not really address the question. However I doubt pgmcc's acquaintance will be available to comment, and reading Pokrovsky gave me a very jaundiced view regarding to what extent Soviet submariners followed established protocols anyway, so I will probably never know whether I am being unfair here or not.

In general, how faithful are the films to Clancy's books?

Edited: Feb 1, 2019, 4:16am

I have been reading Darkblade Assassin by Andy Peloquin. So far, my feelings about it have been mixed.

On the one hand, the basic premise shows promise. We have the morally ambiguous hero with the magic blade that is powered in some sense by the life force of its victims, in a manner reminiscent of Elric of Melniboné. But the twist that makes it interesting is that it is the Hunter himself who is filled with an ever-increasing obsessive urge until he kills; the bloodlust is in him, not the weapon. He is unnaturally long-lived, but with no past memories prior to a certain point, and no understanding of why he is the way he is. What makes him a more attractive protagonist than Elric is that he is not amoral. He feels a strong desire to protect his city, and determinedly avoids killing any except his chosen prey. His accommodation with his bloodlust is to make sure that his chosen prey is always someone morally reprehensible, who "deserves" their fate. He comes across as a "good man constrained to do bad things". Whether those forces justify the acts as yet remains to be seen.

So far, so good. What makes me undecided as to whether to continue is the writing style. Whilst nowhere near as tortured as Moorcock's purple prose, it is clumsy.

Firstly, the author does not seem to remember what he himself has written. In the space of a few pages we are told that (i) the Hunter has no memory of the time before he walked through the city's gates (ii) his recollections of a small village he passed through on his way to the city.

Secondly, any attempt to visualise the scenes as described becomes bizarre. Take this example: He kneels beside a fallen foe, touching him (and so, presumably facing him). Then the foe is described as being "at his feet". Maybe he stood up? No, he does that a few sentences later. Now, when I kneel down, my feet are behind me...how the heck am I supposed to imagine our hero kneeling, and leaning over a corpse that is behind him?!

Maybe I am being particularly harsh because the author's blog promotes him as a guru who teaches others how to write.

But I find thst descriptions that make me go, "Er...WHAT?!", instead of helping me imagine the scene described, really take me out of the flow of enjoying a novel.

So, does anyone have any experience of other works by Andy Peloquin. Does he get any better?

Jan 31, 2019, 8:06pm

>58 -pilgrim-: Never heard of that author. Sounds like an interesting premise. Too bad the execution is lacking.

Feb 1, 2019, 4:25am

>59 Narilka: What makes it worse is that this is the revised version. Apparently Peloquin is currently revising his series The Last Bucelarii and re-issuing it as Hero of Darkness. This book was originally published as Blade of the Destroyer.

Part of me can't help wondering how bad Blade of the Destroyer must be when the revision is still poorly executed, and the author is so desperate to disavow this previous version that he has opted to rename both the book and the entire series!

Feb 1, 2019, 5:15am

>58 -pilgrim-: & >60 -pilgrim-: I think I would have reached the point of abandoning that author completely if I had had the same reading experience as you. It sounds like you have given this writer enough of your time to justify moving on to more rewarding books.

Edited: Feb 1, 2019, 5:39am

>61 pgmcc: I like to support independent authors who are not just writing a cloned knock-off of whatever happens to be fashionable. I liked the premise. so I was hoping these were just the "teething problems" of a novice author.

I also like to read something lighter alongside more involving reads, particularly when the latter are extremely moving.

And there are times when pain or exhaustion levels are too high for me to properly immerse myself in a really good book, and I am just looking for a good distraction.

But I don't seem to be having much luck with the my choices recently. My "light reads" seem to have been either banally derivative or poorly executed. Or both.

But even when I am not at my best, I get impatient with careless authors. If they cannot be bothered to pay attention to their own work, why should they expect their readers to, let alone pay for the privilege?

Feb 1, 2019, 6:15am

>62 -pilgrim-:
It sounds like you might enjoy Daniel Pennac's The Rights of the Reader.

The right:
1. not to read
2. to skip
3. not to finish a book
4. to read it again
5. to read anything
6. to mistake a book for real life
7. to read anywhere
8. to dip in
9. to read out loud
10. to be quiet.

I would also recommend his Scapegoat for a bit of light relief.

While I respect your wish to support novice authors, and I have done a fair bit of that myself, I think there comes a time when, if they are not demonstrating the flare needed to keep their reader engrossed, they should be cut loose to find their own way. As you say, you have paid for a service. If you are not getting it then you must look somewhere else.

Feb 1, 2019, 5:09pm

>63 pgmcc: Your intelligence sources are remarkably accurate; they appear to have delineated my mentality to you rather well.

You are correct in guessing that, having had an upbringing of the "you don't leave the table until you have cleared your plate" variety, it takes a conscious effort of will not to apply the same logic to books.

But as regards skipping, dipping and reading any unsuspecting book that ventures too close, I am incorrigible. I suspect this is why I do mot really like Kindles: they enforce reading in a more linear manner! Otherwise it takes either really simple, quick book, or a really delicious, complex one, to persuade me to just start at the beginning, then continue to the end.

Thank you for hour recommendations; they both appeal. Although my French is too out of practice to read either in the original.

Actually I would summarise my dilemma with Darkblade Assassin thus: it is a story that I would like to read, but preferably when written by a better author!

Feb 4, 2019, 9:08am

I have finally found a light read that I am enjoying: The Brontësaurus by John Sutherland. Page 121 has the following quote:
In various forms opium was available, legally and cheaply, at every corner apothecary and public house. Some booksellers even sold it for their browsing patrons.

It rather makes inserting a Starbucks franchise into your Waterstones branch pale into insignificance, when it comes to relaxing and encouraging your customers.

Edited: Feb 5, 2019, 7:40pm

Since I am not currently anywhere near my own library, but do have Kindle, I havd decided to make full use of the "Download Sample" function, to try out books that I may wish to add to my library when reunited with it.

The latest experiment was Pagans : The End of Traditional Religion and the Rise of Christianity by James J. O'Donnell.

My feelings are mixed. The period is a fascinating one, and I would particularly like to know more about religion in the Roman Empire jn the immediately pre-Christian period; most studies that approach these beliefs through the lens of "classical mythology" tend to concentrate on esrlier practices, before classical religion became "contaminated" by ideas imported from elsewhere in the Empire.

And it seems clear that the author knows his material. But his style of writing bothers me. I don't mind that it is chatty and quite flippant - a historian does not need to be dull to be informative. What irritates me is a certain condescension in his tone. He is very evidently writing for the general reader", not his academic peers, and lengthy disquisitions on what the "educated general reader knows" - prior to the explanation that this is all wrong - were rather irksome.

I would prefer an alternative that was equally erudite, but less arrogant.

Edited: Feb 17, 2019, 9:53am

Started reading Worth Dying For by Tim Marshall about the history of and symbolism of various flags. The topic looks interesting but the style has disappointed me.

The introduction was a lot of vague waffle, the only interesting part being an account of the disruption of a Serbian-Albanian football match by an Albanian using a drone to land a flag of "Greater Albania" on the pitch. That this was actually done is intriguing, but we don't really learn much from this, other than the completely unsurprising conclusion that if you go to a foreign country, and claim that parts of their country are actually parts of your country, then the locals get rather upset.

The next chapter, on the American flag, was similarly laboured. Very brief summary information about the history of the design, including unsupported hypotheses from the author, was accompanied by a lot of waffle to the effect that no other people treat their flag the way the Americans treat theirs.

The fact that this is a book by a journalist explains the style, I suppose.
Very little solid information, and assuming a very low level of background knowledge in the reader, is wrapped in a lot of vague generalisations, belaboring obvious points, whilst enlivening the whole with vivid anecdotes, which seem to be selected not because they particularly encapsulate the point, but because the author was there.

Some of the chat is fascinating, and I suspect there may be some interesting information in there, but wading through the excess verbiage is tedious, and just as he starts to go into sufficient detail as to be interesting, he cuts away to a new flag and moves on, frustrating me just as he begins to catch my interest.

And this is where I gave up.

Feb 16, 2019, 4:48pm

I have considered his Prisoners of geography, but what you’re saying about his style doesn’t feel encouraging...

Edited: Feb 19, 2019, 1:29pm

I had browsed his Prisoners of Geography and been disappointed: flashy style but relatively little information per country. For anyone with a reasonably good grasp of history, I would not recommend it.

There were fewer countries and more pages per country in Worth Dying For so I had hoped for more depth, but it seems to be additional waffle instead.

When I first gave a lecture, I was advised: "Tell them what it is that you are going to tell them, then tell 'em, then tell 'em what it is that you've told them." Rhetorical technique does not translate well to the written page, where the reader is perfectly capable for reinforcing, by rereading, any points they missed on the first pass.

Feb 17, 2019, 10:23am

I hear you. The book is on display in the window of a map and travel literature shop which I pass to and from work every day, and so I have only seen the cover.
It is now off my list. Thank you.

Feb 19, 2019, 2:46pm

Have been reading a 3 chapter sample of Crimes Against Magic by Steve McHugh. Not really gripping me, I wish I had read the review by FangsfortheFantasy before starting.

It feels like it was written in fifties or sixties, rather than 2012. It basically had the same smug, super competent protagonist that haydninvienna and I were complaining about with the Stainless Steel Rat - but without the humour.

Edited: Mar 6, 2019, 4:05am

In the course of reading Avenging Angels, I came across the thesis that Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a manufactured Soviet heroine. The suggestion was that she had been selected to be paraded as the foremost female sniper because she was politically more suitable than the genuine leading female snipers.

The evidence presented was that firstly, the girls were competitive about their tallies and noted their rivals; Pavlichenko was a relative newcomer in their competition, and would have required a large number of kills in a very short period to take the lead, and the logs of where her regiment was during that period made it improbable. And secondly, although repeatedly asked by American journalists to demonstrate her skills, she deferred the honour to the male sniper accompanying her.

This seems plausible, but the evidence is fairly flimsy, and contradicted by this anecdotal account - although it should be noted that Vinogradova never implies that Pavlichenko was not genuinely an extremely deadly sniper, only that her tally was inflated for propaganda purposes.

With this in mind, I started reading Dupes by Paul Kengor. I am aware that the wartime positive portrayal of 'Uncle Joe' turned into the anti-Communist hysteria of the McCarthy era, and I wanted to learn more about how public opinion was switched between these opposing images of the USSR, and how it affected the popular image of ordinary Soviet citizens. Pavlichenko wss feted when she toured, and received by Eleanor Roosevelt. How were she and her compatriots perceived a decade later?

Unfortunately, although Dupes is fascinating in its account of the earliest years of the Communist Party of the USA, I am getting the impression that it is too much of a polemic, and not a reliable source. For a book on the subject of Communist propaganda, it seems worryingly unfamiliar with communist terminology. In particular, it interprets all statements of desire to have ultimate authority reside in a "supreme Soviet" as an intention to have America ruled by the USSR. American English uses "Soviet" as an adjective of nationality, but in communist terminology it describes a type of government. (The USSR was, formally, a union of republics each governed by a Soviet (which in itself means representative council)).

When the 1920 Congress mandates
Every party which wishes to join the Communist International is obligated to give unconditional support to any Soviet republic in its struggle against counter-revolutionary forces
it is requiring every Communist member to unconditionally support any country with a Communist government; it is not, as Kengor claims, stating "the necessity of total fealty to Moscow" .

These American communists were certainly not democrats; their documents declare an intention to overthrow the current governmental system and establish the "dictatorship of the proletariat", with a willingness to resort to illegal means to achieve their goal. But the conclusion that they wished to be part of the USSR seems unwarranted; other nations actually adopted communism without such a result.

I am familiar with how Communism was perceived in Britain in the early years of the twentieth century, and how many socialists were persuaded to turn a blind eye to horrors, seeing their ideal rather than the bloody reality. I know far less about the American response.(or indeed American politics generally in the twenties).

The ground covered by Dupes is fascinating; I wish I had more confidence in the author. The tone of the book, and the titles of the other books LT lists as by the author, indicate that Paul Kengor has a specific political and religious agenda. I am unclear as to whether his misrepresentations are wilful, or arise from ignorance.

Does anyone have recommendations for a non-partisan account? I am looking for a historical perspective, rather than a political diatribe.

Feb 26, 2019, 5:13am

Try The Fear and the Freedom: how the second world war changed us by Keith Lowe, at least in part. Touchstones are playing up again (how unusual!), but here is a link.

Feb 26, 2019, 11:21am

I find the subject to be highly infected, still, and strangely so if one looks at the world as WWII was about to end... even if it always has been the norm for those of us who grew up in a post WWII world it was not what many thought would happen.
In my mind every account and analysis of the era has to be read with a large dose of scepticism: always be ready to ask yourself - what agenda has the author, or, more implicitly; what preconceptions do s/he have that will colour the text, with our without the author being conscious of it.

Feb 27, 2019, 4:36am

>73 hfglen:, >74 Busifer:
Thank you Hugh, that one looks very promising. And, if its LT review is anything to go by, its author's biases lean in the opposite direction to Kengor's.

I agree with Busifer that all books on this period are likely to be subject to author bias, whether conscious or unconscious; the whole era is too fraught with emotional baggage for most nations. What I am hoping for us an author who is at least attempting neutrality, so that s/he does not wilfully misrepresent or conceal information, and has enough genuine understanding not to give false information. Interpretation of the facts will always be coloured by personal viewpoint, I fear. But one can detect false analysis and spurious conclusions more easily than omissions or errors of fact.

Edited: Mar 6, 2019, 5:20am

I have just started Paul: A Biography for my Lenten reading. It looks very promising. Professor Tom Wright is an Anglican bishop with undergraduate training in ancient history and he seems determined to approach his subject without presuppositions either theological or historical. He has written other books on Paul's theology, and the full title should be taken seriously; here he is focussed firmly on what we can know about Paul as a historical figure.

The style is very readable but the book is fully referenced for all quotes, and ideas are properly attributed with academic assiduousness.

Mar 13, 2019, 6:11am

In a lighter vein, I also started A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang. I know little about 19th century New York high society, but something of the local politics then, and the Tammany Hall references sounded promising.

However so far, I am just not drawn in. Two of the leads are coming across as brats, and the third is an idealised waif, whilst the historical setting is not coming across strongly enough to interest me in unlikable characters. Some of the reviews suggest that there is considerable character development, so I may go back to it sometime. However probably not at present.

A couple of things, however, are puzzling me.

(i) What, in America, is a debutante (in a social context)?

To my English ears, a debutanteis a young girl who has been formally presented to the Queen at reception for such girls, to mark their coming out (into Society) at the commencement to the Season.

Can anyone describe to me what the equivalent American procedure is/was?

(ii) The leading characters, and, it seemed, the dead debutante, are eighteen. I had thought that, in 1918, coming of age was firmly set at 21 in America, as it was in Britain (despite many starting their working lives much younger).

Was this correct?

Mar 13, 2019, 8:59am

>77 -pilgrim-: Somebody else will have an informed and correct definition for you, but my idea of a debutante was a young girl from a "top-drawer" family (more on the east coast than on the west coast, although some of the wealthy here might be called that, but I think it implies an established family), who is ready to attend social events and eligible for marriage. I don't think that in America there is any presenting to anyone, unless it would be to the matrons and eligible men who are bachelors.

Not being from a "top-drawer," wealthy, family, I'm not positive on the details. That is only what I've gleaned from the movies and books. :) Although my family can be traced back to the second ship which arrived at Jamestown, to my knowledge we have always been farmers/teachers/workers and not in the class that debutantes come from.

Mar 13, 2019, 12:00pm

>78 MrsLee: Our present Queen abolished the "coming out" reception in, I think, 1958. But a little googling seems to refer to some sort of "coming out" and Season occurring in New York nowadays, so I am rather curious about the procedure involved.

Whether or not someone is, or is not, "top drawer" is a rather nebulous concept. In the old British class system is was clearly defined: a well-bred young lady had to be out to be considered eligible- and to be a debutante she had to have attended (and hence had to have been invited to!) one of these receptions.

Mar 21, 2019, 8:58pm

>77 -pilgrim-: Just hoping to clarify your understanding of a debutante. Depending upon the period of the book you're reading, a debutante might well be 18. The debut implied by the name was a young woman's entrance into polite society (usually indicative of her an being adult and of marriageable age). Americans wouldn't be presented to Royalty, but to Society in the larger aggregate. Either her father or an eligible young man would escort her to the coming-out ball. Once young women began attending college and graduating, the coming out ceremony might be delayed in their twenties. But usually it was while the young woman was in her late teens.

Here in Philadelphia, the old Bellevue hotel in its heyday had a fabulous marble staircase down which debutantes glided on the arm of the eligible young man. The hotel lobby still features some of the photos of those events. Black tie, very posh, very elegant.

Nowadays, it is more the kind of thing done by affluent families at a local country club. I was attending a business conference out in Scottsdale Arizona and happened to watch a group of young women -- all in white, full gowns -- gather for a photograph. Their coming out ball was that evening. It was lovely to watch and I'm sure the girls were excited, but it doesn't have nearly the same aura.

Mar 22, 2019, 3:58am

>80 jillmwo: Thank you. So if entry is based on marriageable arage, rather than age of majority, then the ages suggested make sense (for America during World War I).

But who organises (and funds) these Coming-out Balls (in that period)? How is eligibility to participate in "the Season" determined? Particularly in the modern era, how are Coming-out Balls distinguished from simply a particularly lavish party thrown by an affluent family?

The monarch's invitation to reception at Court was the indicator of being of the correct social background and hence eligible to participate. Obviously in a republic there can be no directly equivalent figure. So who (or what) acted (and now acts) as the arbiter of social status?

I am also intrigued that in America, coming-out balls are only black tie events! I had been assuming that the white tie dress code would have applied, as in Britain.

Apr 2, 2019, 5:11pm

Ok, I am stumped. The instructions on how to create a continuation thread tell me to click on a link at the bottom of the old thread - but I don't see the relevant link!

Apr 2, 2019, 5:15pm

I believe there has to be a certain number of posts in the thread before it can be continued. 100 maybe.

Apr 2, 2019, 5:47pm

>82 -pilgrim-: After the thread has 151 posts, a link will show up at the bottom. You can see what it looks like by looking at another thread that has that many posts and hasn’t yet created a continuation. The thread of hfglen for example here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/301455

Apr 2, 2019, 7:29pm

>83 jjwilson61:, >84 YouKneeK: Thank you both. It was actually my reading journal thread, which I wanted to start a continuation for the 2nd quarter, that I had in mind; but that currently stands at 145, which would explain my problem.

Apr 3, 2019, 7:11am

>84 YouKneeK: I'm letting my thread grow to 250, and will then start a continuation.

Apr 3, 2019, 8:07am

I have been reading Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut.

At one point, one character says to another "Screw you, Jasper...".
The character so addressed is not named Jasper, so I assume this is a quote of some sort, or a reference that I am totally failing to get.

Can anyone enlighten me?

Apr 4, 2019, 9:15am

Be advised that if you want your thread to grow to 150 posts so you will have a continuation link, Green Dragon Pub denizens are always happy to piffle for a pint. ;)

Apr 4, 2019, 10:57am

>88 MrsLee: It was my Reading Journal thread - as opposed to fhis general wittering one - that I wished to grow...and a brief piffle ensued..

Apr 7, 2019, 9:05am

I was intrigued by the premise that some people seem to make a living from blogging. So I started with Make Money from Blogging: How to start while raising a family by Sally Miller and Lisa Tanner.

Ms Miller states
I publish two articles a week. Each article is around 1,000 to 2,000 words. That's at least 3,000 words a week. On top of that, I publish several books a year.

However, from looking at her website, it appears most of her writing is about how to blog (and make money from it).

Then Ms Tanner says:
Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to be an expert in a topic to sucessfully blog about it.
You know why? Because even though a fourth grader doesn't yet know everything, a fourth grader is an expert in the eyes of a second grader.

The problem with that analogy is the information that the second grader gets from the fourth grader is often wrong - even when the older child is trying to help and not simply making stuff up.

Lisa Tanner in adviding you to choose your niche, also lists "10 popular, money-making niches":

  • Blogging/making money online
  • Personal finance
  • Health
  • Survival
  • College prep/higher education
  • Tech
  • Personal Development
  • Lifestyle
  • Food
  • Fashion

    I find this rather worrying. It would be extremely dangerous to a take advice on the top 5 topics from anyone who is not actually an expert!

    From here, blogging for money is starting to sound like a sort of intellectual Ponzi scam, where the prime method of making money is to con those who know even less than you into paying you, with the promise of making money by copying you and....etv. dtc.

    Now I know that several members of this pub blog. And that they write interesting, intelligent content.

    But I also know that the majority of bloggers do not make money from their blogs. Many write purely from love of their subject.

    What I am wondering is - is there ANY intersection between these groups? Are there people making money from writing good blogs?

    Or is blogging as a profession the exclusive preserve of the cynical manipulators?

Apr 7, 2019, 10:01am

>90 -pilgrim-: I have become very skeptical of most bloggers, but there are a few I have found helpful. For the most part, I go for recipes, and simply skip the blah, blah and go straight to the recipe. I am amazed at how many seem to have copied the same recipe and pass it on as a fresh thing.

An author I am hoping is legit, because I'm following her advice right now on my health, is Katy Bowman. She has several degrees, one of which is in biomechanics.

Apr 7, 2019, 12:21pm

>90 -pilgrim-: I've wondered that myself about bloggers. I think there is some intersection of quality bloggers who also make money from their site but they are few and far between.

>91 MrsLee: I do the same thing on recipe sites. I don't care about all that other stuff, just give me the recipe already! Makes me wonder if anyone really reads all that fluff.

Apr 7, 2019, 1:10pm

>91 MrsLee:, >92 Narilka:
Makes me wonder if anyone really reads all that fluff.

If they really are all recycling old recipes, I presume that it is this fluff that allows them to claim "original content" and avoid plagiarism charges.

Apr 7, 2019, 1:23pm

>90 -pilgrim-:
You have reminded me of two sayings, one of which I may have used in the past week, but it appears to fit here.


"The older you get, the more you realise nobody has a clue what they are doing; they are all making it up as they go along."


"Some people get the name of being a genius not because they are clever but because most people cannot count above fourteen."

Apr 11, 2019, 3:52pm

I am feeling the need to voice my frustration with American science fiction novels.

In all the ones by female authors that I have read recently, there is a compulsory romantic attraction between the main male and main female character, regardless of how disparate their lifestyles and worldviews are, or how inappropriate a sexual distraction is in their current situation. Sometimes this becomes the whole point of view.

In the books by male authors , their male leads are equally preoccupied with their desire for various women, although far less attention (if any) is paid to the women's feelings (cf. the issue of consent in The Forever War).

When I last read a lot of science fiction, it was mainly by British authors. The focus was on the travel, the effects of cross-cultural conflict, how technology might alter society, the structure of alien societies. My experience of Russian science fiction has been similar (with a strong tendency to critique, by analogy, Russian society).

What has happened? Why is American science fiction, and its characters, so fixated on sex/romance? Where are all the other themes ?

Or have I just been spectacularly unlucky with my choices?

(The American books sampled date from the sixties to the current decade.
The British ones that I remember date from the nineteenth century up to the sixties, and the Russian from the nineties up to the current decade.)

Apr 12, 2019, 9:07am

>95 -pilgrim-: Which is why I tread carefully before reading any new fantasy or scifi. I hadn't noticed a cultural difference, but then, I don't read a lot of those genre. Mysteries are infected the same way, which is why as a rule, I stick to the older ones. I don't mind a little romance in a story, if it is a plausible one, but I don't need it in all of my stories.

Edited: Apr 12, 2019, 9:38am

On Wednesday last week I made an (extremely urgent) appointment for yesterday afternoon, having established that the journey involved makes attending one in the morning impossible.

On Friday evening I received a text rescheduling my appointment, without explanation, to this morning.

On Monday, I phoned to query why the person I was to see, and the nature of the appointment has changed, and to reiterate that I cannot attend in the morning.
After first suggesting that I should wait for the first person to return from his annual leave (which seems an odd solution, given that the appointment was apparently so urgent that I was told I needed to cancel my travel plans in order to attend it), they said they would call me back on Tuesday.

On Tuesday I received no phonecall, but I did get a repeat text informing me of my appointment this morning.

On Wednesday, I called to find out why they had not called on Tuesday, and was told they had no record of my call on Monday - or of the letter that they had sent me about the appointment, which I had received on Monday morning (and which had contradicted the letter from them that had arrived on Saturday).
After speaking to multiple people, and reiterating that I could not attend the appointment this morning, they suggested replacing attendance with a phone consultation. When I queried whether the procedures described in Monday's letter could be carried out over the phone, they said they would phone on Thursday to answer this.

On Thursday they asked if it would be OK if I received a phonecall this afternoon, to replace the morning appointment that I have repeatedly explained that I cannot attend.

This morning - I received a phonecall demanding to know why I had not attended this morning's appointment!

I despair.

Apr 13, 2019, 5:10am

>97 -pilgrim-: They clearly doesn't have their records in order. Is there any possibility to find another provider?

>95 -pilgrim-: On your mention I started to think about this, and realised that while I read almost exclusively sf the majority of the books are by authors from the British isles, and very few throw in a random love interest superfluous to the story.

Of the books from American authors that I've read recently I'd say most lack gratuitous love affairs - Martha Wells' Murderbot diaries, Yoon Ha Lee's Machineries of Empire series, The Imperial Radch series or The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie.

Not to say you're not correct in your observation, because I think you are, but to say that there are some exceptions to the rule. Thankfully.
A disclaimer on my ability to mentally blank out stuff that I don't agree with if the rest of the book is agreeable: it is possible that I've just chosen to not remember the stuff that I didn't like with these otherwise good books.

(I think Neal Stephenson is the epitome of gratuitous everything, and I felt that the "young love" thing in Alliance Rising, by C.J. Cherryh and Jane Fancher was entirely unnecessary.)

Edited: Apr 13, 2019, 3:29pm

>98 Busifer:, >96 MrsLee:
Thank you for the recommendations, Busifer. As regards your disclaimer, I concur completely with MrsLee:
I don't mind a little romance in a story, if it is a plausible one, but I don't need it in all of my stories.

MrsLee suggests that this is a problem with modern American SF, and possibly with modern American genre writing generally. I have not read enough recent British SF to be able to comment on whether the same problem applies there - although my most recent example, Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky, was completely free of such themes (and is absolutely brilliant, incidentally) - and certainly there is no such trend in Russian SF. I can also say that although I have sometimes found romances in modern British fantasy and crime fiction to be rather extraneous to the main thrust of the plot, I have not met any cases of the protagonists' sex or love lives becoming the main focus of the plot.

I am not convinced that this is simply a modern phenomenon though. After the discussion with Busifer and other Dragoneers on the other thread, I realised I had read relatively little "classic American science fiction", so I followed the Joe Haldeman with Kurt Vonnegut, whose male protagonist has the same preoccupation with love/lust. I admire Andre Norton's work, but the relationship theme was very strong there also.

My sample is too small to be at all conclusive, but i think Mrs Lee is right, and that the trend is wider than SF (and, of course, there will be exceptions). I am curious as to why it should be so..

Edited: Apr 13, 2019, 3:38pm

>98 Busifer: After all the good things I have heard about Ann Leckie, both here in GD and elsewhere, I think I should look out for her. Given my preference for fantasy, I intended to start with The Raven Tower; unfortunately the recent Kindle sale, as mentioned in the GD, did not apply in the UK.

>98 Busifer: Is there any possibility to find another provider?
This is the NHS. A congenital chronic condition has meant that private health insurance was never a realistic option for me. Naturally, that means that I am a supporter of the British system, but this also precludes 'shopping around' for the service.

Apr 13, 2019, 7:18pm

>97 -pilgrim-: The bureaucracy of the NHS working at its finest once again. I hope things eventually work out for you.

Apr 14, 2019, 6:56am

>100 -pilgrim-: On the NHS issue: aha - in Sweden it is possible to find another clinic/doctor as long as you stay within the nationalised healthcare system. I assumed the same applied in the UK. Now I know better.

The other topic/s I need to come back to later, when I'm not in the middle of doing a lot of other things!

Apr 14, 2019, 9:23am

>100 -pilgrim-: In the UK funding is at the Health Trust level, each of which covers a specific region. You have a choice of GP for primary care, but your GP then refers you to the specialist. It is possible to get an out of area referral to a specialist centre of excellence, but in order to do so, your GP has to make a case, to the local Trust administrators, as to why the treatment you need cannot be obtained within the Trust. This will be opposed by the local Trust wherever possible, as the other Trust will bill your local Trust for providing an "out of area" service.

Like you, I had made the assumption that the nationalised healthcare systems in Sweden and the UK worked in the same way. I would be interested to learn more about how the Swedish system works, if you have the time to post about it some time.

And I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the other topic(s) too.

Apr 14, 2019, 12:08pm

>103 -pilgrim-: Not much to say without it soon devolving into a rant, a lot less than great things going on in Swedish health care as some has tried to Americanise it, with, let me say it, horrendous results. That said in more than one instance I have switched GP and as a consequence specialists, too, when I have felt them lacking.

On the other topic, I think it might be something that certain publishers demand of the books that they buy the rights to publish?
I read a piece some years ago were an author - can't remember who, but he was from the UK - talked about how he only wrote crime fiction because it paid the rent; if he was to follow his own mind he'd write more literary novels, but he couldn't find any publisher who wanted that. Apparently this was the norm: crime sold books, other genres did not.

Maybe some publishers think that "human interest" in the form of traditional "boy meets girl" style makes a book more popular?

Edited: Apr 15, 2019, 3:34pm

I am watching in disbelief as Notre Dame de Paris burns. The spire has collapsed...the fire has spread to one of the towers...

According to a spokesman, the entire wooden interior is burning.

>104 Busifer: Thank you for your comments Busifer. I would like to continue this discussion, at another time.

Apr 15, 2019, 6:05pm

I was on the road all day and only just heard now. I watche two videos and it’s just too sad to watch more.

Apr 15, 2019, 6:31pm

The wooden interior is destroyed, but they have saved the outer structure. I have just been listening to President Macron promising to rebuild. He looked very young, and near to tears as he spoke of what Notre Dame means to Paris and to France.

Apr 16, 2019, 1:05am

>107 -pilgrim-: I saw #105 on my flight to Doha, and for a wild moment I wondered if there had been something in the previous conversation that I'd missed, so that you had been speaking in some weird sort of metaphor. (I was half asleep at the time.) Unfortunately not. I must admit that Notre Dame isn't my favourite cathedral but I have some idea what it means to the French, and just cannot cope with the idea of it being gone. Ive been to Dresden though, so I know that rebuilding is possible. Sorry, I'm not very coherent at the moment, but this is a tragedy of which I can't think of a parallel in modern times, other than in war.

Apr 16, 2019, 9:17pm

>108 haydninvienna: I have a cross made from nails from the old Coventry Cathedral, and seen the new. And a visit to Warsaw Old Town demonstrates just how much can be rebuilt when the people's will supports it.

But you are right; in contemplating such devastating damage, I can only think of wartime destruction. The fire in Windsor Castle was likewise caused by an accident during renovation. It burned for 15 hours. But the damage was nowhere near that which we see in Notre Dame.

Apr 30, 2019, 3:16pm

After taking a solid BB from Karlstar, followed by strong supporting fire from YouKneek, BookStoogeLT, and AHS-Wolfy, I have surrendered. I went back to the shop and bought a copy of Fevre Dream (for £2, so I don't feel too bad about the failure on the "no new purchases" front that I mentioned a while back.)

Apr 30, 2019, 3:42pm

"No new purchases" is just a guideline, not a rule!

Apr 30, 2019, 6:47pm

>110 -pilgrim-: LOL, I look forward to reading what you think about it once you read it.

Apr 30, 2019, 9:59pm

>110 -pilgrim-: I'm glad to have contributed to the book buying economy!

May 13, 2019, 3:47pm

Half-Bloods Rising - A Tale of the Dwemhar: Book 1 of the Half-Elf Chronicles by J. T. Williams - 1 star DNF

I started reading this in February, when I was fairly ill. It was so simple that even my befugged brain could follow the plot, but I had neither any attachment to the characters nor excitement over what was going to happen next.

It has been sitting waiting for me to go back to for some time now, but I thought I should give it another chance, in case the problem was with my brain failing to engage. I did; it wasn't.

Basically this reads like the write-up to an uninspired havk-and-slash FRP game; stock characters go to place X and defeat monster Y, several times over before I gave up.

The overarching quest is that they are looking for their parents, who left them behind for perfectly logical reasons. But our protagonists want adventure, so they ignore that.

As to the "Half-Bloods" of the title - the reference to half-elf is quite misleading. These are not the children of an interracial marriage. They come ftom a race who are "half elf". This makes no sense to me, and was not explained further. Maybe everything is resolved later, but I could not plough on any further. (I was about halfway through.)

I have been known to finish quite bad books, because of a nagging curiosity about the ending. In this case I'll never know, and I simply don't care.

Edited: May 13, 2019, 3:59pm

>104 Busifer: Returning, finally, to your (much) earlier comment (after being distracted repeatedly by other events):

Maybe some publishers think that "human interest" in the form of traditional "boy meets girl" style makes a book more popular?

I think you may be right and that this is the modern counterpart of the obligatory sex scene of the seventies.

But at least the intrusion of an irrelevant sex scene (for titillation purposes) generally had no real effect on the plot of the novel and could easily be skipped, while obligatory romance distorts the plot, and nowadays often seems to replace it.

May 13, 2019, 4:12pm

>115 -pilgrim-: Indeed. Perhaps I am lucky in having escaped most of that kind of story, as I take any recommendation of some solid ”relationship drama” as a recommendation for my ”don’t read” list.
I’m sure I miss some good books that way but I’m going to miss good books anyway, so... ;-)

May 21, 2019, 11:54am

>116 Busifer: I have the same aversion. I don't mind a romance happening as an organic part of the plot; I loathe when it takes over and becomes the plot.

May 22, 2019, 7:11am

>116 Busifer:, >117 -pilgrim-: I agree with you both about this. If I want to read a romance (unlikely, I admit) I will seek one out. I don't want it to be the main focus of the plot in an SF novel.

Edited: May 27, 2019, 5:15am

I have been catching up on old SF shows, and watching Season 1 of Battlestar Galactica. The president's terminal breast cancer seems to be a major theme.

Is it my imagination or is tbis a rather over-used plot device?

May 28, 2019, 12:14pm

>119 -pilgrim-: Stop watching after episode 5 of season 3. You have been warned!

Show runners who get bored and start other projects before they are done should be punished in some horrible way.

May 28, 2019, 5:56pm

>120 littlegeek: Do I detect a major rerouting of the plot at this point?

Edited: Jun 1, 2019, 5:39am

I have just finished Season One of the "reimagined" Battlestar Galactica. Whilst some episodes were better than others, my overalll reaction was to be somewhat concerned by its ingrained attitudes, the assumptions it assumed the audience shared.

  • It seemed to buy in wholeheartedly to the proposition that "torture works". There was some hesitation about whether it was actually moral or ethical to do so, but this always resolved in favour of the hero beating the crap out of a possible enemy, in order to "find out" what was necessary. It always worked. There was a sense that someone was making the "hard decision" to do this, but no questioning as to whether it was actually the most effective way of solving their problems.
  • In general, problems were solved by hitting people. I don't simply mean in battle. Interpersonal conflict was solved either with punches, or by soneone sublimating their frustrations and hitting someone or something else.
  • Selfishness was portrayed as somehow noble. When Commander Adama stated that he would have potentially sacrificed the whole fleet - and thereby all humanity - in order to rescue his own son, this was indicated (by portenteous pause, swelling music etc.) to be a response that we were supposed to admire.

    It did raise one interesting, and currently very apt, debate on the nature of democratic power. Does a leader who has attained the supreme office by due democratic process have the right to then take decisions on behalf of the governed, in what they think is the best interests of the people, without subjecting each decision for popular approval, trusting that if the people dislike the tenor of their period in office, taken as a whole, then they will not be re-elected? The answer seemed to have a tenuous concept of democracy. When the military commander disapproved of the president's unilateral decision, he staged a military coup! A popular uprising might be considered an acceptable response in a democracy, but it is impossible to conceive how the personal opinion of one military officer can be considered to be "protecting democracy" in overruling an elected official (however irresponsible he thought her decisions). The whole tenor that the military were somehow wiser and more responsible (despite their commander's decisions being, in practice, both nakedly selfish, and his judgment badly distorted by personal isdues at times) was rather disconcerting.

    But the most interesting issue that was raised was never addressed at all. Humanity created the Cylons. They are sentient beings. It was never stated how the Cylons were treated before they rebelled, but the fact that they had to rebel implies that they had not been given autonomy. It seems likely that they were created to labour for humanity's benefit. We are, in effect, watching the devastating aftermath of a slave rebellion, with the assumption being that our sympathies "must" lie with the defeated former masters!

    Even after comprehending that the Cylons are sentient beings, our heroes persist in referring to them as if they were simply objects, e.g. "toasters". This is reminiscent of the dehumanizing speech often quoted from U.S. soldiers about enemy populations. Although obviously designed to minimise empathy, and thus make it easier for soldiers to kill, this attitude of depersonalising the enemy interferes with the ability to understand the opposition and use this type of empathy to predict their actions. It makes the Cylons "incomprehensible", which is poor military strategy. Hearing such terms from the "grunts" is, I suppose, understandable, but from the CAG?!

    I would assume that we are intended to believe that human invention of the Cylons was not the deliberate, evil, creation of a slave race, but simply the design of efficient mechanical aids, with unforeseen sentience.

    This question regarding the limits of A.I., the risks of creating machines that are better than we are, and the risk of them becoming autonomous is a relevant current issue (as raised by Stephen Hawking, among others ).

    Having created such beings, how should we humans try to deal with them - and their justified anger? This question is an old one, from the "modern Prometheus" that Frankenstein created onwards. Frankenstein wanted to destroy his creation. What does humanity want to do with the Cylons? The questions is never even properly discussed. Avoid them, or "kill them before they kill us" seems to be the only answer.
  • 123littlegeek
    May 29, 2019, 11:25am

    >121 -pilgrim-: Reading your critique, especially the second spoiler tagged section, I would say it's more like they double down.

    May 29, 2019, 12:01pm

    >121 -pilgrim-: Thanks for that comment. I’ve been wondering for years whether I ought to catch up with the big sf tv series, and you’ve removed one from the list.

    May 29, 2019, 12:49pm

    >121 -pilgrim-: What >124 haydninvienna: says. I vaguely remember starting to watch it, aeons ago, but never getting into it, and really not remembering anything. Now I can strike it from my list.

    May 29, 2019, 12:56pm

    >125 Busifer: >121 -pilgrim-: >124 haydninvienna:

    I was always a bit reticent about the remake as I was brought up on the original film and TV series. I found many of the changes gimmicky, like Starbuck being a woman rather than a coffee shop. I also found the agro between Starbuck and the Sargent to be poorly acted, phoney and a bit OTT.

    The one good thing I took from it was the advice of the Admiral Adama: "Never lend a book. Give the book. You are never going to get it back anyway."

    May 29, 2019, 1:35pm

    If we're talking TV series I would like to point at The Orville. I really REALLY don't like Seth McFarlane's humour in American Dad and Family Guy, and it do make an appearance in Orville every now and then, but all in all it's old school Trek, without being Trek. And with Trek I mean TNG, before it got all dark and realistic - back when Trek was about presenting a vision for tomorrow while also discussing ethical and philosophical dilemmas, and not all about parallels with the real world. Which can be interesting, but I think what made Trek so great was the optimism about the future, the promise that humankind actually could achieve something larger. And in general that vanished from television in the early 00's.

    Edited: May 29, 2019, 4:01pm

    >127 Busifer: We agree on the Orville. I have said it is more traditional Trek than Star Trek Discovery. I enjoyed Discovery too, but it is movie time Trek rather than raising issues Trek.

    May 29, 2019, 3:30pm

    >128 pgmcc: I'm of the same opinion. I'm prone to saying that Trek is a "talkie", ie dialogue driven. Try to follow the plot when it's dubbed to a foreign language (I have watch TNG in Italian... a weird experience!) and you'll know what I mean. The Orville is much the same.
    Discovery, much as I like the show, would probably be comprehensible even if one couldn't follow the particulars of the dialogue. And definitely not as optimistic about humanity.

    May 29, 2019, 4:10pm

    >129 Busifer: I know what you mean. I always thought of it as cinema standard but you are making me realise it is more cartoon graphic novel.

    May 29, 2019, 4:19pm

    >130 pgmcc: Yes, that makes sense.

    May 29, 2019, 4:35pm

    >127 Busifer: My husband and I have recently started watching The Oroville and are enjoying for its "trekkieness." I find the adolescent humor more funny in that context.

    May 29, 2019, 4:47pm

    >132 littlegeek: I've watched a could of The Orville episodes and I can't get over the feeling they are trying to blend Star Trek NG and Galaxy Quest. Am I the only one that feels that way?

    May 29, 2019, 4:59pm

    >132 littlegeek: Me too, though we're watching it with our son who is now 15, going on 16, and he thinks some of it is embarrassing to watch with parental units present ;-)

    I do think McFarlane's somewhat more restrained in The Orville, for which I'm grateful.

    May 29, 2019, 5:38pm

    >134 Busifer: Yes, the inappropriate humour has reduced in the second series but it does raise its head on occasion.

    I see what Karlstar means in >133 Karlstar:. I think they were starting out to do a Galaxy Quest type show but ended up doing a Next Generation/Original Start Trek cross. They have episodes dealing with social issues the way NG used to. I think they discovered they have taken on the mantle of NG and are giving the fans of NG something that the rest of the Star Trek franchise is not offering.

    May 30, 2019, 8:13am

    I have understood it as a conscious choice - that it was set to be Trek from the beginning, using his connections to do the Trek he himself wanted to see.
    Most episodes are direct nods to various TNG episodes; at least that's what I think. Even set design, costume design, species - everything is Trek, through and through. He did start off with Jon Favreau as director in the very first episode, and he has continued as an adviser, but after that he has enrolled quite a few directors and writers with Trek cred - Robert Duncan McNeill, Brannon Braga, Jonathan Frakes, James Conway, Joe Menosky...

    May 30, 2019, 8:48am

    >136 Busifer: You have obviously paid a lot more attention to the making of the Orville than I have.

    May 30, 2019, 11:40am

    Trek crossed with Galaxy Quest is a good description. No wonder I like it!

    May 30, 2019, 12:19pm

    >137 pgmcc: *laughs, and blushes a little* I've been a Trekkie for a long time, and have transferred it to son, who easily can spend an hour or two discussing the differences between TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY, ENT, DISC, and The Orville. And the Kelvin Timeline, ie Abrams' reboot Trek movies. And so on and so forth, and in a level of detail that should make any Trek show runner green of envy. And without having to stop to breathe, apparently.
    I admit that I'm the one who recognizes names in both intro and post credits, though. Comes with having watched most of the Trek shows way back before streaming allowed you to jump right into it, I guess ;-)
    The Orville intro is practically a rip-off of the Voyager intro.

    Jun 1, 2019, 5:24am

    >124 haydninvienna: A "big sf series from the past" that I would recommend that you do try is Andromeda. In many ways it is the antithesis of BSG. It can be very tongue-in-cheek at times, and appears not to always be taking itself seriously, but actually raises a lot of interesting issues regarding the encountering of races that are really alien (in mindset rather than appearance) and the evolution of different philosophies and governmental system.

    It got quite a bit of flak, both because the special effects were not quite up to the imaginations of the writers, and because of the apparent silliness of some aspects e.g. the "naive ingenue" whose special skill is that she is incredibly lucky. She is rather irritating at first, and the idea seems very silly. However the underlying rationale - both in terms of how her "luck" works, and why her personality is like that - is actually well thought out and rather interesting.

    I believe that the writing quality deteriorated markedly in the later seasons, but I have a soft spot for this series. (I felt it was unfairly slated by critics who took too much at face value.)

    I really must schedule a rewatch.

    Edited: Jun 1, 2019, 7:41am

    I feel a bit out of my depth in the above discussion of Trek series. I was an avid watcher of TOS reruns in my childhood, but not a great fan of TNG. While the TOS certainly had a lot of assumptions that are extremely cringeworthy in retrospect, at least it was blindly innocent about them. I found some of the political/social lecturing in TNG very heavy-handed, whilst still in practice continuing some of the more irritating assumptions of the original.

    Consequently I got out of the habit of watching assiduously - more "watch over tea if it's on as I come in, in the evening" than "record and catch up on missed episodes" - and treated DS9 and VOY the same way, without ever really checking if they deserved better.

    And I have missed the later series altogether.

    ....and never even heard of The Orville! Maybe I should take a look.

    Edited: Jun 22, 2019, 6:51am

    >126 pgmcc: I missed the original series completely. One reason was my complete inability to tolerate the smugness that emanated of every character that Dirk Benedict ever played without developing an overwhelming urge to slap him.... My mind is now completely boggled by the mental image of Dirk Benedict as Starbuck seducing Dr. Baltar...!

    Jun 1, 2019, 6:32am

    >141 -pilgrim-: TNG got more character-driven sometime in season 3, but I realise that it's a lot of hours to watch, just to get there. Some of the early episodes wouldn't ever be written today. Part of the enjoyment, for me, was watching this week's episode on Sunday and discussing it with my colleagues during lunch on Monday.

    DS9 is another creature altogether, it's more a discussion on religion, belief, identity, belonging, loyalties, and war. Voyager is harder to classify, though I watched all of it, but I must admit that I never watched all of Enterprise.

    The Orville... I think if you didn't like TNG then maybe Orville is not a safe bet? Because there are distinct similarities: it's kind of like TNG transposed to the 21th century.
    And especially the start of of the first episode was cringe-worthy, if anything. I do love the show, though.

    Edited: Jul 20, 2019, 12:58pm

    >143 Busifer: Babylon 5 was, for me, the ultimate arc-driven show (and still one of my all-time favourites). In comparison, I found the lack of continuity between episodes in TNG very outdated (although, of course, it was the norm in the days of TOS). Did it develop more coherence as the seasons progressed? (In >140 -pilgrim-: I was ragging on critics who bailed on Andromeda too early, without letting the structure develop; it occurs to me that I may have been guilty of the same thing with Trek...)

    After all, when I looked back at early SG-1 episodes, they are deeply cringeworthy, yet when I discovered the show, around Season 5, there was some really good SF.

    As a digression: I have now watched the first episode of Good Omens. I found it surprisingly good (given that I am ambivalent about the book). David Tennant nails it as AziraphaleCrowley.

    Jun 1, 2019, 8:44am

    >144 -pilgrim-: TNG for the most left the "adventure of the day" format from TOS sometime in the middle of season 3, but it never got really arc-driven: rather, multiple character-based arcs, with the odd one-off adventure inbetween. DS9 is where to go for arc Trek, and so is the new one - Discovery. Neither is as arc-driven as Babylon 5, though. As I remember things it was written as a 5-season arc, mainly plotted out from the start.

    I loved B5, btw.

    To jump to Good Omens I always loved the book, and after having watched the first episode I feel... well, so far so good.
    (David Tennant is Crowley, though; the demon/snake.)

    Jun 1, 2019, 9:00am

    I am waiting to watch first episode until I'm with my son tonight. I can't remember if this is one of the few books I recommended to him that he actually read. We are both big David Tennant fans though.

    Jun 1, 2019, 10:03am

    >145 Busifer: Thank you for the potted Star Trek guide. It sounds as if DS9 might be the one to try. They stand independently of each other, right?

    David Tennant is Crowley, though
    *hangs head in shame* (It is unusually hot here, I claim in my defence. What brains I have, have evidently overheated.)

    >146 MrsLee: Did you see David Tennant in Casanova? I thought it was a performance of infectious irrepressibility that made a a character, who could easily have been unlikable, sympathetic.

    Jun 1, 2019, 10:26am

    >147 -pilgrim-: Yes, they are reasonably independent. A few TNG characters continue their lives in DS9 but no prior knowledge of them is needed.

    Jun 1, 2019, 11:26am

    >144 -pilgrim-: I too have a particular fondness for Babylon 5. *sound of glasses clinking in recognition of common fellowship!*

    Jun 1, 2019, 6:52pm

    >143 Busifer:
    TNG got more character-driven sometime in season 3

    I thought the relationship between Data and Worf was developing nicely and was looking forward to more fun between them when the show was cancelled. :-(

    Jun 2, 2019, 12:17pm

    >150 pgmcc: Yeah, Data was always my favourite character, and perhaps the main reason why I enjoyed TNG so much. I personally would rather had more of Data and Worf than Worf in DS9, though I can see how 7 years doing the same show had perhaps started to get on the nerves of the producers and, possibly, some of the actors.

    That said, the Cardassians of DS9 - "plain simple Garak" with his strange relationship with Dr Bashir, and the fiendish Dukat - is also special. But for other reasons.

    Jun 2, 2019, 8:49pm

    >147 -pilgrim-: No, I didn't see that one. I enjoyed his performance in Hamlet, and a small series about a young man in a mental institution. Also a short movie with him as a driving instructor. Sorry about the no names, I'm on my tablet and feeling lazy. I think it goes without saying that I loved him as Doctor Who.

    Jun 2, 2019, 9:30pm

    >152 MrsLee: Ooh, I'd forgotten he was in Takin' Over the Asylum. I agree he has some excellent Shakespearean performances. Unfortunately I don't know the driving instructor one. The only thing I haven't really enjoyed him in is Broadchurch, and that was not so much a poor performance as my not liking the plot.

    Jun 3, 2019, 7:50am

    He was exceptionally disgusting as the villain in the first season of Marvel's Jessica Jones.
    And I mean that in a good way.

    Jun 3, 2019, 7:52am

    And I suppose we shouldn't omit Barty Crouch...

    Jun 3, 2019, 8:23am

    >155 -pilgrim-: I'd forgotten about Barty!

    Edited: Jun 10, 2019, 7:57am

    My phone has died, taking with it my ability to communicate, and get onto the Internet.

    Am currently borrowing a friend's access, and trying to catch up. Have been welcomed back by BBs from haydninvienna and jillmwo. Return, it seems, may prove expensive.

    Jun 10, 2019, 5:04pm

    OH! I hope it will prove affordable. The pub aside life in general is easier with internet access. At least in Sweden, were you can't even find the number for the doctor's office without internet.

    Edited: Jun 15, 2019, 7:20am

    Have deleted post as could be considered to infringe pub rules.

    Jun 15, 2019, 7:18am

    I am livid. I have been trying to deal with an oncologist who insists he knows more about my pre-existing condition than specialists in that field and refuses to consult them (despite never having encountered a patient with that before).

    So last week I requested to see a different surgeon.The response: I have been discharged from the clinic and he has written to my GP claiming that I have " refused treatment"!

    Jun 15, 2019, 10:24am

    OMG I’m so sorry. What a jerk. Can your GP direct you to someone better/more open minded?

    Jun 15, 2019, 10:28am

    I have no idea. I am running up against the time limit; 2 months ago I was told that the cancer would have spread enough to become inoperable "within 4-6 months". And my GP is currently on holiday...

    Jun 15, 2019, 12:37pm

    That is horrible! Does your GP return soon? And can you complain to a higher-up at the clinic or at least set them straight on exactly what happened?

    Jun 15, 2019, 6:40pm

    >162 -pilgrim-: Does your NHS trust have a patient liaison and advice Service? My wife worked for the Oxfordshire trust’s one for a while a few years ago. If there is, it may be a place to start. See if you can ring the PALS and talk to someone with a bit of brains (they exist).
    Also, surely your GP’s practice has someone else that could see you and maybe provide another referral.

    I would also keep a written record of conversations etc.

    Sorry this had to happen. I don’t kick the NHS—having lived away from it for a few years, I’m still in awe that the NHS does as good a job as it generally does. But of course idiots exist everywhere.

    Jun 15, 2019, 8:26pm

    Sending virtual hugs! That surgeon hasn't listened from day one. I hope you can find someone to finally listen and get your treatment back on track.

    Jun 17, 2019, 7:41am

    That's awful. You really don't need any more stress on top of everything else at the moment. I hope that you're able to get a referral to someone more helpful.

    Jun 17, 2019, 7:26pm

    >164 haydninvienna: Thanks for the suggestion. Googling gives the nearest PALS all at hospitals with a different trust, so I think I am out of luck there.

    I tried going to another GP at the practice, who basically told me to book another appointment with my usual GP in 2.5 week's time.

    This feels like an extremely dangerous game of Chinese whispers. I feel exhausted.

    Thank you all for your good wishes.

    Jun 18, 2019, 2:01am

    >167 -pilgrim-:
    That is shocking. Big hug. I hope you get some progress from them quickly.

    Jun 18, 2019, 2:38am

    Being told to book an appointment with the other GP in 2 weeks is completely unsatisfactory. If you've exhausted the PALS services, are you up to trying some of the organisations linked to here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/social-care-and-support-guide/help-from-social-ser... I quite understand if you feel it's all too much.

    Jun 18, 2019, 9:17am

    >160 -pilgrim-:, >167 -pilgrim-: I am shocked, and so sorry for you. Sending lots of virtual hugs and strength.
    I wish I had som advice, but the NHS is beyond my comprehension and knowledge. And others are more knowledgeable than me anyway.

    I'm holding my thumbs for you.

    (Are there any gov't agency to which you could report the practitioners/clinics for maltreatment?)

    Jun 18, 2019, 10:12am

    >167 -pilgrim-: I am aching in my heart for you. May you find someone to come alongside you in this journey soon.

    Jun 18, 2019, 4:31pm

    >160 -pilgrim-:, >167 -pilgrim-: - sending virtual hugs, as I have no useful suggestions. I hope you can get some progress on this soon!

    Jun 18, 2019, 7:23pm

    >160 -pilgrim-: & >167 -pilgrim-: So sorry to hear of your problems. Do you have a contact with the Macmillan group. They may be able to offer advice on what alternatives are avaialble to you at this stage. If not then you can call their support line free (inc. most mobile networks) on 0808 808 00 00.

    Edited: Jun 21, 2019, 7:23am

    Thank you all for your good wishes; they mean a lot.

    >173 AHS-Wolfy: I have been in touch with the national helpline that you refer to. Unfortunately the local branch run a "drop-in centre" in a hospital only in a neighbouring town, and a 2-3 hour journey by public transport each way is not something I can really face when there is no guarantee of being seen.

    I get the strong impression that one is not "permitted" to have any other medical problem in addition to cancer! The services are set up in a way that do not allow for the possibility that you are not otherwise fully functional.

    >169 haydninvienna: I am unclear what I have said that leads you to think that I lack mental capacity. Nor do I think that claiming that I am mentally impaired in some way is likely to increase the chances of being listened to by medical professionals!

    Jun 21, 2019, 8:04am

    >174 -pilgrim-: Oh dear, no way! Obviously I didn't read that page carefully! Humblest apologies.

    Edited: Jun 22, 2019, 7:14am

    >175 haydninvienna: Understood. No worries. It is a long-standing bugbear of mine that I have noticed that"assistance" is almost always conceived of in terms of "guiding the mentally impaired through making decisions/gaining authority to make decisions on their behalf" rather than offering assistance to those who have communication difficulties arising from physical ailments e.g. hand injuries, impaired mobility or illness making attendance at standard consutation sites, etc. etc.

    My more cynical side wonders whether it is because the power trip of running someone else's life is more 'satisfying' than acting as a simple assistant!

    We are supposed to be part the "bad old days", as satirised by the BBC radio programme Does he take sugar? (the question supposedly being addressed to a person wheeling a wheelchair); in practice the attitudes thus lampooned appear to persist in subtler form: the apparent assumption by service providers that physical impairment intersects completely with mental, such that there is no need to make provision for disabled people who are capable of making their own decisions.

    Jun 22, 2019, 7:49am

    >176 -pilgrim-: Exactly. While I was pushing my late wife in a wheelchair, I sometimes had people ask me what she wanted, to which my answer always was "Ask her. She knows".

    Jun 22, 2019, 9:22am

    I'm so sorry for all that you are going through. I do hope you find someone to help you navigate the mess soon.

    Jun 23, 2019, 11:13pm

    >178 clamairy: Thank you clamairy. But I think I have exhausted all the avenues of support that I can think of.

    Edited: Jun 24, 2019, 12:39pm

    I tried to read Richard Holloway's Waiting for the Last Bus, but had to give up.

    The author is a former monk, former Anglican Bishop of Edinburgh, now an agnostic campaigner on social justice issues.

    I read his Godless Morality in the nineties, and was not impressed. His reasoning was based on the assumption (which he stated) that "all men would prefer that everyone was well, and all war and injustice is rooted fundamentally in people misunderstanding, and therefore being fearful of, one another". He was blithely ignoring the established medical fact that there exist psychopathic personalities whose satisfaction with their own situation can only be obtained by successfully "doing down" others - and that the amount of harm such people do is out of all proportion to their numbers.

    He had not impressed me personally either, when I listened to him eulogising the U.S. penal system and discovered that he erroneously believed that the U.S. disenfranchisement of felons only applied during the term of their incarceration (as it does in the U.K.). It seems to me to be a basic requisite that you should take the trouble to learn what a system actually consists of, before giving formal public lectures about it!

    So - he was not my favourite choice for an author, but I had last encountered his writing a couple of decades ago, he is now quite venerable, and I hoped his career path would give him some useful insight into the topic - which is preparing for death.

    Firstly, he writes firmly from the perspective of seeing death approaching as an old man, frustrated by signs of ageing and their reminders of his mortality. In his whole thesis of how we ought to be more like the mediaeval mindset, in accepting death as a natural part of the cycle of life, there was no acknowledgement that death sometimes arrives unexpectedly, and far too early - even though he uses an excerpt from a novel about children dyiing on the way to a concentration camp to demonstrate his thesis that we should tell children the "beautiful lie" (which is his description of belief in life after death).

    Secondly, his description of "sidewalk rage" at being stuck behind those who have more restricted mobility than he currently does, and glib jokes about "those over seventy should have to pass some sort of minimum speed test before being allowed out", demonstrate a remarkable lack of empathy from someone who has followed his career path.

    I have met this attitude before: the elderly person who is proud of their good health, as if it was their own achievement, rather than their good fortune, and who despises and belittles those who are younger yet more incapacitated. But here it seemed particularly inappropriate.

    The book has some good things to say, primarily about living in such a way as to have fewest regrets at the end of it.

    But overall I got the impression of a selfish, privileged old man, who is enjoying his advantages too much to be sanguine about the fact that mortality will soon force him to go somewhere where he cannot take them with him. His words may well be of comfort to those in a similar position.

    But he seems to have no more understanding of the variety and range of human experience than he did when I last encountered his thinking.

    He describes fighting against death as being as ineffectual, and as rooted in vanity, as his fight against baldness. The selfishness implied by that metaphor says it all, really.

    He assumes that fearing one's death arises from "things one does not wish to lose". Obligations unfulfilled, people one wishes to protect rather than distress, the things one wishes to DO (for purposes other than one's own list of achievements)… I saw no evidence that he understood such emotions exist.

    I may be doing him a disservice. But I could not read any more. I had to put this down in disgust.

    Jun 24, 2019, 10:15am

    >180 -pilgrim-: Ugh.

    There is an author you may (or may not) wish to look into. I'm not sure what all her books are about, but the one I read was an insightful look into spirituality when one finds themselves unable to walk with the crowd. I'm not sure whether she has written anything about the end of life though. Barbara Taylor Brown is her name. She is definitely in a spiritual camp though, so may not appeal. Although, she does understand that spirituality can come in many forms and be different for each person.

    Jun 24, 2019, 12:41pm

    >181 MrsLee: Thank you. Your recommendation is very much appreciated.

    Edited: Jul 14, 2019, 2:53pm

    Those who have been following this thread will know that I have been trying for over a month to get an alternative surgeon - or at least a second opinion from someone other than from a surgeon who refuses to take my pre-existent condition into consideration, and has no intention of consulting an expert in it "until there are problems" - by which time it will be too late.

    Last Thursday was the first time in 5 weeks that I have actually managed to get someone from the breast cancer clinic to call me back - every time I have rung in, there has either been no one there, or the person I have spoken to has said, "I will get back to you after speaking to X" (and then nothing more).

    And the news? I have been given an appointment - with the same surgeon as before!

    Meanwhile, I visited the minor injuries clinic when the pain in my arm, after the fall near the end of June, was getting worse rather than better. The staff there think the pain is due to the cancer spreading, rather than injury in the fall. It is now in question whether my cancer is still operable.

    They advise returning to the surgeon as soon as possible. But I cannot - because my bank has now TWICE sent out my replacement cards without them reaching me (once to the wrong address, once simply not arriving)! So I have no means of paying for my return journey.

    I have been agonising in the past weeks over whether I should allow the surgeon to operate on my arm, leaving me permanently crippled, unable to care for myself, and in permanent severe pain - or to let the cancer take its course (since the surgeon that I have refuses all other options).

    It now appears that my bank has decided the issue for me.

    (I have spoken to a doctor where I currently am, about the possibility of getting me treatment here; he says that he thinks the 3-4 weeks that it would take would probably be too late.)

    Jul 14, 2019, 7:30am

    >183 -pilgrim-: Oh dear lord. This is beyond terrible. Surely the universe (and the NHS) must have played cat and mouse with you sufficiently by now. I read your post about half an hour ago, and been trying to think of something to say that would be appropriate and wouldn't sound flippant. I can't. I know this is inadequate, but all the sympathy and concern that I have is yours.

    Jul 14, 2019, 10:13am

    >183 -pilgrim-: Like Richard in >184 haydninvienna: I am lost for words. I can only offer my sympathy. Have you tried getting a politician involved in raising awareness of your predicament?

    Jul 14, 2019, 1:12pm

    >183 -pilgrim-: /facepalm This has been a comedy of errors of the worst sort. My thoughts are with you. I wish I could think of something more useful to help out.

    Jul 14, 2019, 1:57pm

    >183 -pilgrim-: *gentle hug* I cannot imagine. May you find strength and courage for whatever comes next.

    Jul 14, 2019, 2:25pm

    >183 -pilgrim-: Comedy of errors? Tragedy of errors more like! What a display of ongoing incompetence!

    Jul 14, 2019, 3:10pm

    >183 -pilgrim-: Like many others, I don't know what to say, except that I hope things get better from here.

    As >187 MrsLee: said, may you find strength and courage for whatever comes next.

    Are there any resources (personal or other) you can access to help out with transportation, advocacy, finances, or anything else useful?

    Jul 15, 2019, 9:42am

    >183 -pilgrim-: Oh no... I also am at a loss for words. Strength to you.

    Jul 15, 2019, 11:20am

    >183 -pilgrim-: what Clam said

    Jul 15, 2019, 4:02pm

    >183 -pilgrim-: This is beyond terrible, I'm at loss for words. I wish I could do something besides being here. May you find strength.

    Jul 16, 2019, 6:40pm

    Thank you everyone.

    Jul 20, 2019, 5:00pm

    I am now back, and have been catching up on reading threads. (My complaints finally got high enough up the chain to find someone who could actually do something.) The trip enabled me to access more of my book collection, which is a Good Thing.

    I am not sure whether pub rules preclude me mentioning this (and I certainly do not intend to give offence to any Dragoneers with different beliefs), but this was a very meaningful event for me: last Wednesday I was received into the Orthodox Church.

    Jul 20, 2019, 5:19pm

    >194 -pilgrim-:

    I understand the ban on Politics and Religion to be bans on preaching and arguing. Reporting an important event in your life is an occasion of celebration regardless of the specifics. It means a lot to you and I for one join with you in your celebration of the event.

    Jul 20, 2019, 5:24pm

    Thank you Peter.

    Jul 20, 2019, 6:50pm

    >194 -pilgrim-: Congrats!

    Jul 20, 2019, 7:10pm

    >194 -pilgrim-: Peter is correct. You should revel in your achievement. Congratulations.

    Jul 21, 2019, 1:36am

    >194 -pilgrim-: Good to have the hint of some better news in your first paragraph, and as to the second, no objection here. The pub is a community, and we should certainly be able to share significant things such as this.

    Jul 21, 2019, 2:13am

    Thank you clamairy.

    >199 haydninvienna: Unfortunately the good news extends only as far as getting a bank person to act to assist in regaining access to my funds and enabling travel. The news from the doctor was not good; I have another CT scan scheduled for next week.

    I"ll write a little more about that later; at the moment I cannot do so calmly.

    Jul 21, 2019, 3:06am

    <200 I hope the scan results will be favourable.

    Jul 21, 2019, 8:44am

    -pilgrim- I've not been delving too deeply into threads recently so I'm saddened by your recent trevails. Hoping for the best on your next scan.

    >194 -pilgrim-: At last some good news for you. Congrats!

    Jul 21, 2019, 12:35pm

    >200 -pilgrim-: I can well understand your inability. Best wishes and as much strength and comfort as I can send.

    Jul 22, 2019, 10:54am

    I've been away so had missed your news. I'm really sorry to hear that things have got so bad, but I hope that your acceptance into the Orthodox Church will bring you some peace amid the turmoil.

    Jul 22, 2019, 11:48am

    Congrats on your acceptance into the Orthodox Church. I hope it will bring the peace and comfort to your heart and mind.

    Jul 23, 2019, 9:41am

    Thank you everyone.
    On the medical front, I should have more news tomorrow.

    Jul 23, 2019, 9:41am

    >206 -pilgrim-: Best wishes for you.

    Jul 23, 2019, 11:47am

    >206 -pilgrim-: We are all wishing you the best.

    Jul 23, 2019, 11:56am

    >206 -pilgrim-: Hope it's good news. In the meanwhile, strength to you.

    Jul 23, 2019, 12:00pm

    Keeping my fingers crossed for you.

    Jul 23, 2019, 4:58pm

    Congratulations on your good news and I hope that your medical news will improve soon.

    Jul 23, 2019, 7:32pm

    >206 -pilgrim-: Here's hoping for the best!

    Jul 24, 2019, 1:31pm

    Congratulations on your spiritual attainment, and hoping for good news on the medical front.

    Jul 26, 2019, 7:25am

    CT scan yesterday, anaesthetist the day before. More referrals, but no news further than that which I received last Friday, to whit:

    1. The breast cancer nurse had not contacted me for the last 5 weeks because, although I had notified her that my own mo ile phone was broken, and given her a friend's number by which she could reach me, she had never TRIED that number, because she "preferred" to try the original (and had apparently been happily leaving messages on its voicemail, ignoring the fact that she knew I had no means of collecting them!)

    2. As a result of the delay, my tumour has over doubled in size and the surgery that was originally proposed will no longer be possible.

    The CT scan that I had yesterday us to ascertain how far the cancer has spread, and whether anything can be done now.

    To say that I am both angry and terrified is an understatement.

    Jul 26, 2019, 8:39am

    OMG sweetie I am so sorry. I have no words and really, none would help. I hope. That's all I can do.

    Jul 26, 2019, 9:51am

    OMG! I am so sorry.
    My thoughts on the nurse are not fit for print.

    I'm holding you in my heart.

    Jul 26, 2019, 10:54am

    >214 -pilgrim-: You have my sympathies. My thoughts are also not fit to post. But you should report that nurse. Her level of incompetence is astounding.

    Jul 26, 2019, 11:15am

    I agree with clamairy. I am speechless. As with Bookmarque, I hope, and add my prayers.

    Jul 26, 2019, 11:59am

    >214 -pilgrim-: A level of incompetence all too often seen here. Which doesn't in any way excuse the nurse. Strength to you.

    Jul 26, 2019, 12:29pm

    . . . Words fail. I am so sorry.

    Jul 26, 2019, 12:51pm

    I am sorry to hear about your experience. There is nothing I can add to the words of the others about apart from my own sympathy.

    Jul 26, 2019, 3:01pm

    Echoing what everyone else said. Please report that nurse, that is completely unacceptable. Sending virtual hugs.

    Jul 26, 2019, 7:01pm

    Utterly unfathomable that this type of thing goes on in situations like this. So soory that you've had to suffer this on top of all you're going through. My thoughts and sympathies can be added to the those of all the above.

    Jul 27, 2019, 6:27am

    I'm so sorry to hear your news. Like everyone else I offer you my heartfelt sympathy and hope that there is still something that can help you.

    Jul 27, 2019, 11:29am

    I’ve been out of contact for a few days and have just seen this. I can’t add much to what everyone else has said. No response seems adequate other than a cry of outrage. It’s too far beyond appalling. Best I can say is that I’m sending you all the strength I can muster.

    Jul 28, 2019, 4:56pm

    Thank you all for your support; it means a lot.

    As to reporting the nurse, I don't know whether to do that. The last time that I did make a complaint against a member of the medical profession, a (different) doctor advised me to withdraw itt, as it "might adversely affect my treatment"...

    Jul 28, 2019, 5:30pm

    >226 -pilgrim-: That is criminal.

    Jul 28, 2019, 8:37pm

    >226 -pilgrim-: >227 pgmcc: perhaps not criminal in the strict sense (I’m not saying definitively that it’s not, just that I’m not sure), but unethical. Complaints have to be made, and examined by a properly constituted, unbiased tribunal. That is not achieved by hushing them up. I’d better stop there before I get on the soapbox in earnest. Still sending you strength.

    Jul 29, 2019, 4:18am

    >226 -pilgrim-:, >227 pgmcc: If it's not criminal it should be. And I find I agree with >228 haydninvienna:. But I can also understand your hesitance.

    (I'm still angry with myself for not reporting my son's now former school to the national school inspectorate, on several points, but my husband feared retribution (lowered grades) from his teachers.)

    Jul 30, 2019, 7:02am

    >227 pgmcc: It was not phrased as a threat; it was presented as "friendly" warning that medical staff, being human, tend to develop hostile responses to people who criticize their colleagues, and that this hostility "could affect their actions and decisions".

    >228 haydninvienna: I understand the principle, of course, but for those of us with chronic medical conditions, taking the ethical and altruistic course, and proceeding with the complaint, does come at a cost. I have had doctor-prescribed pain relief withheld by a hostile nurse before now. Making people dislike you, then putting yourself in their power, has a price.

    (The compartmentalization of medicine is a problem. The fact that I develop condition A does not cure chronic condition B. So I frequently find myself on a ward whose routines are organised to manage condition A, getting abuse from nurses who quite rightly realise that the symptoms of condition B are not results of condition A, and therefore become angry with me for ""claiming" that I cannot do things that cannot be a result of A. Since B is incurable, it does not feature on the first page of the notes, and few staff have time to read beyond that. This is why I usually deteriorate after every hospital admission; I usually acquire further damage in hospital.)

    >229 Busifer: I sympathize with your dilemma. I presume that in Sweden marks given in class have some bearing on qualifications obtained at school and hence on one's future?

    Jul 30, 2019, 8:40am

    >230 -pilgrim-: I hear you. Taking the ethically correct course often does come at significant cost, unfortunately, and as far as I know no-one has ever found a satisfactory general answer.

    Jul 30, 2019, 5:15pm

    >231 haydninvienna: You are making me feel like a coward, for not going ahead anyway...

    Jul 30, 2019, 6:55pm

    > 232 I'm sure that's not what is meant. You are no coward. Each person walks their own path. I'm pretty sure that >231 haydninvienna: was saying was that he laments the way this world and the people in it function at times.

    Edited: Jul 31, 2019, 5:28am

    >233 MrsLee: No, of course I do not think haydninvienna was criticizing me intentionally; he isn't that sort of person. I just feel that way nevertheless..

    Jul 31, 2019, 5:33am

    >232 -pilgrim-: >233 MrsLee: MrsLee has it exactly. The world is imperfect and is never going to be perfect. That’s regrettable but unavoidable. Everyone has to decide whether paying the personal cost is worth it. Ethically correct is admirable in the abstract but is often painful and the pain often isn’t worth it.

    Approaching the point another way: if you were to report that nurse, what would happen? Maybe she would be disciplined in some way. Does that help you? No. Does it help anyone else? No way to know. So I’m not going to suggest that you “should” report her, particularly since it seems that there might well be further detriment to you if you did. I quite see that in some sense I’m siding with the doctor you mentioned in >226 -pilgrim-: and >230 -pilgrim-:. I’m also feeling like I might have turned around in my own view. I don’t think so, though. Bullying someone into not making a justified complaint has to be wrong. But suggesting that a complaint not be pursued for fear of retribution is a bit more nuanced, simply because that sort of behaviour is a regrettable fact of life.

    The only thing I think you “should” do is, do whatever you see as the best way of keeping your head above water in your very difficult circumstances. Anything that won’t help can be pushed aside temporarily or permanently.

    Aug 2, 2019, 7:36am

    Today I saw the oncologist - for the first time.

    Whilst theoretically it was possible that they had simply finally acceded to my request to see someone other than that surgeon, I had my suspicions as to why he was not seeing me to discuss the results of the CT scan as promised. I was (unfortunately) correct.

    The cancer has spread to my lung and is now inoperable. I have months.

    Aug 2, 2019, 8:15am

    OMG sweetheart I am so sorry. Tears aren't enough to show that. Nor is shaking my fist at the universe. If it were me I don't know what I'd do. I wish you painless days and comfort while you can have it. Can anyone be with you, friends, family?

    Aug 2, 2019, 9:06am

    Oh no, I am so sorry to hear this. There really are no words in a situation like this but I pray that you will be able to make the most of your time for as long as possible.

    Aug 2, 2019, 9:08am

    Oh my God. I can add nothing to what >237 Bookmarque: said. I watched this happen to my second wife and my heart breaks for you.

    Aug 2, 2019, 9:44am

    >236 -pilgrim-: I am very sorry to hear this news. You are in my thoughts. As has been said by the others, there are no words.

    Aug 2, 2019, 10:00am

    You have my love and prayers, and if a virtual hug is worth anything, here it is. *hug*

    Aug 2, 2019, 12:18pm

    I'm so sorry doesn't even begin to cover this.

    Aug 2, 2019, 12:34pm

    >242 Taphophile13: Exactly--it's hard to find words. Wishing you strength and peace, and always a place here on LT if you need it.

    Aug 2, 2019, 3:53pm

    So sorry to hear this. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I wish I could say or do more.

    Aug 2, 2019, 4:28pm

    Just piling on to say I'm thinking of you, and echoing Marissa's wish of strength & peace for the journey you face.

    Aug 2, 2019, 10:06pm

    Very, very sorry to hear this. I echo everyone else's comments. Will be thinking of you often.

    Aug 3, 2019, 3:38am

    So very sorry to hear this. Sending big virtual hugs your way. Will be thinking of you.

    Edited: Aug 4, 2019, 2:58am

    Thank you everyone. The support I have received from the folks here at the Green Dragon has meant a lot to me.

    This is a valuable lesson in the futility of plans. I have been stranded for the past 10 years in a home that, although in a beautiful location, has been extremely isolating. I had finally found (after two disastrous false starts) some help, to enable me to move away from there, and was looking forward to starting a new life. Now it looks like my remaining time will be spent in a building site!

    I have been patient, and put my life on hold so many times - for illness in my family in my teens, then hoping for a cure for a condition that turned out not to be curable and has whittled away at me, then as carer for my husband, and so on, and so on. Looking back, my patience gives me no satisfaction.

    I was patient too, when every time I phoned the clinic I was told someone would ring me back; when no one ever did, I assumed it was because the symptoms I was reporting were thought trivial changes (I did check each time that they had the new number.)

    Now I have been told that the delay is MY fault for not replying to the messages left on the number of the phone that the nurse knew was broken (she confirmed that she had remembered that, but decided that she preferred to use my broken phone's number rather than use the friend's number that I had given).

    I cannot recommend patience.

    Aug 3, 2019, 8:26am

    >236 -pilgrim-: I'm so sorry to hear this news :( Keeping you in my thoughts.

    Aug 3, 2019, 8:51am

    >236 -pilgrim-: Like everyone else has said I can only to say how sorry I am and offer up my thoughts for you.

    I know it won't help with regards to your prognosis but have you given more thought to an official complaint for the way you have been treated. It may prevent similar incidents from re-occurring in future. Looking at this website I would suggest perhaps contacting the Clinical Commissioning Group if you feel you should.

    Aug 3, 2019, 3:17pm

    >250 AHS-Wolfy: Thank you Dave. I have never complained in the past, since the experience that I described in >226 -pilgrim-:, but I now finding myself wondering what further harm it can do...

    And the concern about who else may suffer if I don't HAS been preying on my mind.

    I have had had to put my life "on hold" for so long, that trying to work out how to make best use of a very abbreviated timespan is daunting. Maybe this is something worthwhile that I can achieve...

    Aug 3, 2019, 6:34pm

    We'll all be thinking of you and wishing you the best. And I'm so sorry for what you're going through.

    Aug 3, 2019, 7:18pm

    >251 -pilgrim-: They do mention an advocacy to assist that may be useful to you. Going up against any organisition is a terrifying prospect at the best of times so it would be good to have an independent body to support you. Don't let it consume you though and make sure you take time for yourself also.

    Aug 3, 2019, 8:14pm

    >251 -pilgrim-: I know we’ve been over this already but it may help someone else if you do. But whatever you do, please try to make some space for enjoying life as far as possible. Sending hugs.

    Aug 5, 2019, 12:13pm

    Just catching up on threads and I'm so sorry to hear what you have been going through. FWIW, I support whatever you want to do with your remaining time. Peace to you.

    Aug 10, 2019, 4:44pm

    Thank you all for your support.

    I was in the throes of making major life changes when the diagnosis first came in. Having revised my plans once, with the expectation of a hefty dose of treatment, I am now having to rethink my future plans yet again.

    This week has been rather busy with conversations with the police, after criminal damage done to the outside of my home.
    Definitely a complication I could have done without!

    Aug 10, 2019, 4:53pm

    >256 -pilgrim-: I am sorry to hear about that incident. That is definitely not needed.

    Aug 10, 2019, 5:19pm

    >256 -pilgrim-: I've run out of words. (Hugs)

    Aug 10, 2019, 8:47pm

    >256 -pilgrim-: Oh for goodness’ sake! As if you hadn’t enough to deal with! {{{{hugs}}}}

    Aug 10, 2019, 9:54pm

    What >259 haydninvienna: said!! Good grief :(

    Aug 11, 2019, 4:25am

    Aug 11, 2019, 8:32am

    Oh jeez, I'm sorry that's on your plate, too.

    Aug 11, 2019, 11:15am

    Having been away from my laptop for almost two weeks I can only say that I am thinking of you, hoping for your journey to be a peaceful one.

    (And as to >230 -pilgrim-: : yes, you are correct in your assumption.)

    Edited: Aug 18, 2019, 5:06am

    For almost a year, I have been stranded somewhere that I had only intended to visit for a couple of weeks, firstly through being abandoned (without any warning) by my traveling companion, them by a fall that left me housebound, and THEN by the discovery of the tumour and the whole diagnosis b process!

    In July I finally returned to where all my belongings are (including my library), with the intention of trying to put my affairs in order (and undo the chaos caused by being away from home so long) and collect some clothes, books and other things, to make my stay here a little more comfortable whilst going through treatment.

    The trip was agreed with the medical staff in advance, I left them appropriate contact details, and it had been agreed that in my absence the staff would arrange my requested appointments with a pain specialist, and a second opinion (by phone), with the understanding that I would return by a given date, and that the treatment programme would be set up in preparation for my return.

    (Of course, none of the promised appointments were actually made, every time I phoned to ask about progress I was told that my "named nurse" would call back, the nurse decided that she "preferred" not to use the contact number that I had supplied her, and I have now been advised that the consequences are MY "withdrawing from treatment" by going on this agreed trip and not answering the phone that the they knew was broken....!)

    So, the purpose of trip has been completely undermined, but that was the reason for taking it.

    It meant that July was an extremely hectic month , not to say increasingly frantic, as I got more and more worried by the silence from the hospital and the financial mess I had to try to resolve (e.g. 3 attempts to get replacement credit card sent to the correct address)

    As a result, I went mostly for short eBooks. I was also trending towards lighter reading than usual, as I was consciously avoiding anything that I anticipated being possibly emotionally involving. I am not convinced that the result was successful. Too many of the brief pieces were too bland to be s satisfyingly distracting - and a rapid unwind was what I was really seeking.

    Aug 28, 2019, 5:18am

    Today is supposed to be my first session of chemotherapy. I say "supposed" because the ambulance to take me to my appointment has not yet turned up, and my appointment was 20 minutes ago....

    Aug 28, 2019, 6:42am

    Oh no! What a mess :(

    Aug 28, 2019, 6:50am

    No words. Absolutely no words.

    Aug 28, 2019, 7:14am

    >265 -pilgrim-: That is appalling.

    Aug 28, 2019, 7:41pm

    >265 -pilgrim-: Did it ever show up?

    Edited: Aug 30, 2019, 3:08am

    >269 Narilka: No.

    When it reached 10 minutes before my appointment, I phoned the Patient Transport Service to ask where the ambulance was. They told me that their computers were down for maintenance and would not be back up until 11am, so that they could not check, "but don't worry, the drivers all got their route allocations last night".

    I also phoned the hospital to warn them of the situation, and they said that they would try to sort it. After 11, they told me that they could not do anything yet because the computers were still down.

    Three hours later the computers were still down, so the hospital rang me to say they would reschedule everything for today.

    This is not the first time that an ambulance has failed to turn up. It happened a couple of months ago , when I was due to go for a CT scan to determine the extent of the cancer. I booked an ambulance, it simply did not turn up.

    When I rang the PTS to query what had happened, they said, "Yes, we noticed about half an hour ago that no driver had been allocated to you. We won't have anyone available for another 4 hours. You had better contact the hospital for another appointment." (And this was after I had already had to ask for a different appointment twice, because the ones that I had been given were either too early for me to be delivered to or too late for them to collect me from.)

    And then, when I did have the CT scan, the radiologist had difficulty injecting the "dye" (my chronic condition means my peripheral circulation is poor and veins tend to collapse). The ambulance driver came into the room where the San was going to take place, to complain that he was waiting, so the scan had to go ahead without the dye.

    This is not a situation that I would recommend.

    Aug 29, 2019, 2:20am

    >270 -pilgrim-: Second last paragraph: and the radiologist didn't tell him to eff off? Since when did PTS drivers' patience determine what treatment you got? I've run out of ways to say how utterly appalling this all is.

    Edited: Aug 30, 2019, 3:08am

    >271 haydninvienna: That is not the only time they have done that. A few years ago I had an appointment with a gastroenterologist, for which I had waited 18 months. The consultant was running late, so the driver had come to collect me before I had gone in to see the doctor. As a result, my appointment, which had been scheduled as lasting an hour, was reduced to 5 minutes, so as "not to keep him waiting".

    And there was the time that I missed a clinic completely because the PTS service did not attempt to deliver me until 2 hours after my appointment (having decided it suited them better to deliver the other patients on the vehicle first). They told me not to worry "you are a PTS patient, so the doctors will see you whenever we bring you". When I arrived, the clinic was over and there was no one there.

    That, of course, counted against me as a "DNA, no notice given" -- quite apart from the fact that freezing in an ambulance for 5 hours, with no chance to warm up in the hospital at an appointment in the middle, had its own serious consequences on my health. (The poor circulation issues came into play here.)

    Aug 29, 2019, 4:34am

    >272 -pilgrim-: The third-world incompetence you chronicle is amazing. This might be the norm in the Congo or somewhere, but aren't you in a country where results matter?

    Aug 29, 2019, 5:01am

    What everyone else has said. Appalling is too lame a label.

    Aug 29, 2019, 9:28am

    >273 hfglen: I was thinking the same thing.

    Aug 29, 2019, 11:33am

    Just want to add my voice of support. I can't believe what you are going through. Your perseverance is inspiring.

    Aug 29, 2019, 8:04pm

    I think >271 haydninvienna: summed it up. There are no words at how utterly disgusted I am by everything you've had to go through.

    Do you have to use the ambulance service? Is there anything like Uber in your area? Ride share might be more reliable at this point.

    Edited: Aug 30, 2019, 4:44pm

    The chaos continued.

    My chemotherapy was re-booked for yesterday. The entire process resulted in a 12 hour day away from home.

    Ambulance collected me at 8.30 for a 10.30 appointment, as they were collecting another patient after me.

    Spent the entire journey facing backwards, perched on the attendant's seat, hanging on grimly to the single armrest to try to limit getting thrown forward out of the seat every time the driver braked, which results in the seatbelt cutting into my breast. Since I was already nauseous (as I had told the attendant when he asked how I was feeling), this did not help!

    Meanwhile the attendant lounged in the most comfortable seat, chewing gum and playing with his mobile phone (and doing nothing to stop me sliding). His rationale: that seat would be required for the next patient (who turned out to be an elderly lady who appeared less impaired than me, but who was being patronised even more than I was - much to her irritation!) I had a friend travelling with me, but they were seated too far way away from me to be able to help.

    The attendant made no attempt to help me out of my seat (the part of my journey that I had explained I might have difficulty with (as I struggle with chairs without armrests) - I had to rely on my friend to do that. The only "assistance" that he proffered was to grab (without asking, and painfully) the arm with which I was leaning on one of my crutches, and tried to pull it upwards so that I could no longer support myself on that crutch and had to struggle not to overbalance.

    Hence arrived with a painful shoulder (he was grabbing the arm with the tumour in the lymph nodes) and increased nausea.

    As it was my first time, the head nurse spent some time explaining the procedure, and explaining that it would be a good idea for me to have the "cold cap", as this would prevent hair loss. I agreed, and he marked it on my forms.

    The nurse that I was assigned to then told my friend that the procedure would take about half an hour. When she was about to connect the cannula, I asked about the cold cap (since I was told that came first), and she said she knew nothing about that - and that this would lengthen the process by 2 hours.

    Since no one had told the admin assistant either ( apparently), this meant that the ambulance crew arrived while the injection was still going in! (They went away again.)

    After the procedure, the admin assistant phoned the PTS to request an ambulance for the return journey. After 2 hours, the day unit was closing, so the nurse phoned the ambulance service, and was told that the call had been logged, but no ambulance would be available for another 2 hours.

    So I had to be transferred to the ward to wait for the ambulance. Both the nurse who moved me, and the staff on the ward, said that 4 hour waits were not unusual.

    When the crew finally arrived at 7.30pm) the friendly driver (whom I have had before) told me that they had only been notified about me half an hour earlier (and then found when they looked me up that I had been waiting since 3.30pm.) He was great, even volunteering to lend me his phone, so I could let my friend know what was happening. (Because of the postponemt, my friend had another appointment, and had had to leave me at midday. Having been told I would be finished in half an hour, then had assumed they could not get back to hospital in time for the return journey and planned to meet me at home.)

    And they tell you "relax, take things easy!"

    >277 Narilka: Thank you for the suggestion, but Uber is problematic as you cannot predict the type of car that will arrive, and the drivers definitely will NOT have training on how to appropriately assist someone out of a low slung seat (not that the supposed training helped much this morning!)
    (Also, my current situation is a significant financial burden, and taxis to a different town are a non-trivial extra expense.)

    I have also tried approaching my neighbours for help, and have been firmly informed that a 3 hour bus trip, involving 2 bus changes, is "perfectly easy". (And that I am lying about the time it would take - as predicted by Google maps - because when they last did it by bus, 10 years ago, it didn't take that long!)

    So, I think I am stuck with the vagaries of the PTS, even if, as a volunteer service, they do make it so very clear that they are doing you a favour by getting you there at all! (The nurses mutter darkly about them, but are careful not to speak to them with anything other than fawning gratitude.)

    I forgot to mention earlier perhaps the most offensive medical decision made by the PTS - a couple of years ago I was refused transport to a breast cancer screening appointment, on the grounds that "we don't cover elective procedures. If you want to go, you will have to make your own way, like to your dentist or GP". (The young man appeared to think that mammograms don't need to be carried out in a specialist unit, but can be covered by a home visit, like a GP does! I tried to explain, but he was adamant.)

    I apologise to anyone who thinks this a rant It is not intended as such. But this is reality; I wanted to record it somewhere.

    Aug 30, 2019, 12:47pm

    I think you're perfectly entitled to rant. Hugh said above that the third-world incompetence was amazing. I've just remembered that a few years ago my wife and her daughter went to Uganda and Rwanda to see the gorillas. Walking down a rough bush track she slipped, fell and dislocated her shoulder (not for the first time). In considerable pain she had to be carried out of the bush and then treated in a village hospital in Uganda, and afterwards had nothing but praise for the care and gentleness of the hospital staff. In other words, your NHS trust's treatment of you is worse than third world, for at least one value of third world.

    I almost feel like I have to defend the NHS, although I well know that even worse stuff than this happens. FWIW, my wife has had a couple of ambulance trips within the Oxfordshire NHS Trust, and has found nothing to complain about other than the usual delays in getting seen at the A&E.

    Aug 30, 2019, 2:09pm

    >278 -pilgrim-: Rant away; you deserve to let off steam after so much appalling treatment and frustration. I am horrified at what you're going through and astonished (perhaps naively) at just how bad your NHS Trust seems to be. I'm glad you have a friend to come with you to the hospital at least as it sounds like the staff are too busy to have time for more than perfunctory kindness.

    Aug 30, 2019, 4:48pm

    >278 -pilgrim-: That whole situation is ridiculous and I hope it improves! Have they heard of IT support over there?

    Edited: Aug 30, 2019, 5:37pm

    >278 -pilgrim-: Nothing wrong with venting. It's what is happening in your life. Sometimes typing it all out helps. We're here for you.

    Edit: It's too bad rideshare is out. Right now just having one thing go right, like getting to your appointments in a timely manner, would be an improvement.

    Sep 1, 2019, 10:28pm

    >248 -pilgrim-: I've just seen and caught up with this thread for the first time. What a horror story. Several kinds of injustice have been committed against you, both in the short term and in the longer term, as you put your life on hold for others and waited your turn, only to have it snatched away by circumstances and by some careless, callous, and inept holders of institutional trust. To endure without bitterness would be something close to superhuman. And yet you do sound to me as if you were doing a very fine job of holding onto yourself despite great adversity.

    Wanting to accomplish something meaningful in the time you have is something I think many of us aspire to--most of us not knowing whether we have a lot of time or a little. You are reminding me of what I think is Kurosawa's finest movie, Ikiru, about a man who knows he has only a little time, and he decides to use it to accomplish one thing that will outlast him, using the skills and knowledge he has gained during his bureaucratic career.

    I have no idea what I would do in your place (or anyone else's). I hardly even know what I would or should do in my own place. But one thing that occurs to me is to document, document, document, and to make sure that my (your) story reached the hands of a trusted reporter or news medium in due course. Possibly that might really do some good.

    Your situation has taken up a place in my mind, and I hope that good, sympathetic thoughts from the community here will give you some comfort and strength.

    >177 haydninvienna: I had a very instructive experience a few years ago when I was suddenly having a lot of trouble with a bad knee. I took my husband to the hospital for some tests, and I ended up borrowing a wheelchair for myself because I was unable to walk those long halls. I went in the wheelchair to the hospital cafeteria, and I found out there (a) that if you're in a wheelchair, you're invisible, and (b) that it is very difficult to navigate with a self-propelled wheelchair while balancing a cafeteria tray on the arms.

    Around the same time, I went with my son to the Dutch Masters exhibit at the De Young museum in San Francisco, having bought tickets some time earlier. We borrowed a wheelchair and he pushed me around. People addressed him on my behalf and spoke as if I were feeble-minded. One woman even told him, speaking across me, that he could bring me on a Tuesday morning for a special showing "for people in her condition." People with a sore knee? Egad. I found myself dutifully taking care not to react in a way that might embarrass her.

    Sep 3, 2019, 7:16am

    >238 Sakerfalcon: Thank you, Meredy. Yes, the support and kindness of the people here at GD helps a lot.

    I do feel the urge to document this, but I have little hope ofit having any real effect.

    I have been disabled for a long time now, and have been able to watch the way my perceived value has vanished with my physical functionality (My closest friends have for many years been saying how, "in your situation", they would rather kill themselves than "be a burden on society").

    So I am well aware that my physical limitations will give carte blanche for the ignoring of anything I try to say.

    Example: last week I received an email from my financial advisor to the effect that they would insist that the guy who helps with my shopping and cooking be present at my meeting - as "given your medical condition we have a duty of care to ensure that someone is present to explain to you the implications of our advice" AND had notified him accordingly.

    Apparently breast cancer suddenly makes me less capable of understanding my own tax affairs than a foreign national with no higher education qualifications and recently arrived in this country - and also removes my statutory rights to client confidentiality!

    I have been offline for the past 2 days because my phone company added my new data plan on Saturday, and then removed it on the Sunday (also leaving me without the ability to make any but emergency calls). Without Internet access, it proved non-trivial to resolve.

    Edited: Sep 3, 2019, 8:32am

    This message has been deleted by its author.

    Edited: Sep 3, 2019, 8:52am

    >284 -pilgrim-: I'm trying to offer what comfort and solace I can, but it's not easy to find appropriate words. Please just know that I, along with everyone else in the GD, is sending all the best thoughts and wishes possible.

    As I've mentioned before, I have some idea about the way able-bodied people refer to those in wheelchairs or with other physical disadvantages. The fact that's it's due to ignorance rather than malice doesn't make it any easier to take. No doubt all the other stuff with the phone company is incompetence rather than any deeper cause. That doesn't make it any easier to take either.

    "My closest friends have for many years been saying how, 'in your situation', they would rather kill themselves than 'be a burden on society'"!!! The most I will say in answer is that you have some remarkably tactless friends.

    Sep 3, 2019, 9:26am

    >286 haydninvienna: No doubt all the other stuff with the phone company is incompetence rather than any deeper cause
    Of course. The problem is that their "solutions" presume mobility. (They cut off my ability to communicate, then ask me to contact my bank to confirm details of payment, and so forth.)

    I have now received the "explanation" that the data was "removed from my account automatically because it was purchased before previous plan expired, so it was automatically deleted at expiry time of old plan". This, despite my specifically having contacted them to ask how to purchase new plan, given that I would not have Internet access AFTER it expired, and simply following their instructions.

    And I have just discovered that their "solution" today has consisted of simply aking the payment off my credit card for a second time - thus making me pay twice (for doing what previous advisor told me to).

    It would all be trivial. Except that it left me with no way to buy food, communicate with clinic etc. So, for me, it is not.

    Sep 3, 2019, 12:47pm

    >287 -pilgrim-: While not in your league--I've never heard of anyone with a case as [euphemism]ed up as yours--my husband has been struggling to find the right treatment for 5 months now. Something happened on April 2, and his life basically became one long bout of pain and struggle to breathe. He's lost about 40 pounds and doesn't do anything much besides sit or lie down.

    Our subscribed healthcare system has changed radically since December, and we don't know how to navigate this new organization or work the system. Today I will be on the phone once again, trying to make arrangements and get him connected to the right person. It's incredibly frustrating and demoralizing, never mind a constant reminder of institutional indifference.

    And that's without any difficulties around phones, internet, transportation, banks, or grocery shopping, right in the heart of Silicon Valley. I don't know how you are not screaming like a madwoman.

    Sep 3, 2019, 7:29pm

    >288 Meredy: I am extremely sorry to hear that your husband is suffering like that. I know how debilitating chronic pain can be, even when not accompanied by other physical weakening factors.

    He must be very glad to have you by his side, with the energy to do the fighting for him that he needs.

    I got my first diagnosis on 1st April. It seems that the cosmos is playing a bad joke on us.

    >286 haydninvienna:, >287 -pilgrim-: Please don't think that I am implying that you are unsympathetic, Richard.

    My post was meant to demonstrate that it does not take malice - even low-grade, ill-informed malice - to cause problems. It is just that the way official procedures are set up assume a functioning body.

    Even healthcare providers are set up to assume that there is nothing wing with you other than the condition for which you are currently being treated, and have no mechanism to cope with the fact that arrival of illness A does not result in a miraculous cure of illness B.
    - Hence the breast care nurse who told me I was "being ridiculous" to suggest that the surgery that would have disabled my right arm (and left me in permanent, excruciating pain) would in anyway affect my mobility and independence.
    (In her worldview, it appears that having breast cancer somehow magically cures all other illnesses, since rendering me no longer able to use the DOUBLE crutches that I rely on will leave me with no mobility issues!)

    A lot of the practical problems that I am facing arise because I can't take the "simple" action - such as "pop along to your bank" or "log in via another device, such as your work computer" or "drop in at your local library" - that I am expected to do.

    E.g. Amazon delivers a parcel I did not order. "No problem, just post it back to us". I can't get to a Post Office. "Well, we don't collect. If you fail to return it, the bill stands".
    So I either pay someone to take it to the Post Office for me, or I pay for unsolicited goods that I never accepted.

    These are the hidden costs of disability. Dealing with routine levels of incompetence is not routine.

    So, my limited functioning time is whittled away by these problems.

    Sep 4, 2019, 3:22am

    >289 -pilgrim-: FWIW I never thought you were suggesting that I was unsympathetic. I agree that the cosmos seems to be playing a bad joke. A really, really, really bad joke. I also agree that it's not necessary to assume malice or even incompetence—indifference is often enough. But of course indifference and incompetence are often hard to tell apart.

    I find your assertion that "Even healthcare providers are set up to assume that there is nothing wrong with you other than the condition for which you are currently being treated" quite believable, even though I cannot understand the mind-set that leads to the assumption. Human bodies are complex, delicate mechanisms (for want of a better term) and there is plenty to go wrong with them simultaneously. Didn't such people ever have a car that needs both the brakes and the radiator fixed?

    The Amazon example is of course the result of a deliberate choice. Amazon's position is that either you return the mis-sent package or you pay for it. How you return it is up to you and Amazon isn't interested beyond that, and the customer service person has no discretion (deliberately) in the matter. As far as Amazon is concerned you are an edge case and that's just your hard luck. Indifference, in other words.

    >283 Meredy: One woman even told him, speaking across me, that he could bring me on a Tuesday morning for a special showing "for people in her condition." The response to an inquiry "and what condition might that be, do you think?" might have been illuminating.

    I mentioned somewhere else that my late father in law referred to his daughter Marcia as his attack dog. He was joking, of course. That was in the context of a reasonably caring and responsive health system, and he had an excellent support network among his children and grandchildren. But he still needed an advocate at times.

    I'd better post this now—it's taken me far too long to write.

    Sep 7, 2019, 6:26am

    I received a visit from a palliative care consultant this week. Her main concerns appeared to be
    a) to discuss pain level
    b) to try (very hard) to persuade me to sign a DNR form.
    She made it very clear that she is strongly against attempting to resuscitate me in the case of a heart attack, it breathing difficulties etc.

    (I made it very clear that I am not yet at the point where I agree with her.)

    She also explained the actions and attitude of the surgeon who chose to withhold from me access to treatment (as I described above):

    Under the NHS, you do not have the right to treatment

    I am still getting my head around that one.

    It seems that my friends (as mentioned in >284 -pilgrim-:) are not alone in considering my life to be of zero value.

    Sep 7, 2019, 7:58am

    What a terrible person, to make you feel that way.

    Count me as a friend, though far away. And I’m saying you are a valuable person.
    Your presense enriches the pub.

    Sep 7, 2019, 8:07am

    >291 -pilgrim-:
    What Busifer said in >292 Busifer:.

    It sounds like you should be talking to a journalist and a solicitor. Politicians appear to be useless at the moment.

    Sep 7, 2019, 8:43am

    Hugs from me, too, -p-. I value you and our time here on LT. It's been a privilege to read your thoughtful words even though sometimes it's been painful on both sides. Whatever you decide to do or how the course of your disease goes, that will never change. You matter.

    Sep 7, 2019, 9:26am

    >295 haydninvienna: Who on earth are these people? I just can't compute any of this. I am starting to agree with Peter: you need a solicitor and a journalist.

    Sep 7, 2019, 11:20am

    >291 -pilgrim-: I can't even. Sending support from afar. I'm having trouble even processing that update.

    Sep 7, 2019, 11:30am

    >291 -pilgrim-: This is Kafkaesque. Everyone has a right to treatment—and respect! Hugs to you and wishing you strength.

    Sep 8, 2019, 12:12pm

    >291 -pilgrim-: My life has been enriched since you started your visits to this pub. It is possible that if you had never posted here, I would not know what I had missed, but since you did, I have been blessed. Your honesty in reporting your struggles are incredibly difficult to read, because I want to fix them. To solve them. Yet there seems to be very little I can do from here.

    You remind me to be careful and loving to those I meet each day, not knowing their struggles. Also to come alongside anyone I know who is dealing with medical bureaucracy while they navigate the catastrophic failure of their health.

    Edited: Sep 14, 2019, 2:26pm

    My heartfelt thanks to you all. I am firmly of the belief that online friendships can be as real and valid as any other (the stern advice from a certain priest to the effect that "no online friendship can be considered real, regardless of the number of years of its duration" notwithstanding!)

    I have been mulling over the advice given here.

    Being an intensely private person, going to a journalist is not a move that I would ever have considered. I am well aware that being a divorced woman of a certain age makes me an automatic figure of fun in certain quarters, and the equation of disability with "welfare scrounger" is also firmly established in the popular mind (thanks to much current political rhetoric).

    I am not a child, nor do I leave behind dependents who will be deprived by my departure. I fear that the majority would share the view of those friends who felt that those of us who do not contribute directly to the economy are a "burden on society" - and the sooner gone the better.

    Sep 8, 2019, 12:47pm

    >299 -pilgrim-: No system should be putting you into categories, no matter what your situation. Don't think for a minute that you are a burden to society, there's no society at all if we think that way.

    Sep 8, 2019, 1:31pm

    >300 Karlstar: Emphatically seconded.

    Sep 8, 2019, 2:01pm

    >300 Karlstar: Unfortunately my own self-image has very little relevance here.

    I find that stereotyping is endemic among busy professionals - and they are the ones with the power here, not I.

    As the palliative care consultant has unambiguously told me: if I should require recussitation, she will be recommending against it.

    Her priority was to get the contact details of my (distant) next of kin. When I pointed out that his perspective was firmly in the "life at all costs" camp, she switched to trying to persuade me to sign that DNR form.

    I had a similar conversation when my late mother was in the ICU. I had daily pressure from the consultants to authorize switching off her life support on the grounds that having recently lost her husband "and main carer" it would be "what she would wish". In reality, she had devoted her life to the nursing of a chronically sick husband, had been in good physical shape until that illness, and if they had not been keeping her anaesthetised, would have been able to piquantly express her views on their assumptions. But she had white hair (since her 30s!)... so they switched the life support off anyway (since "resources are finite and she is not a high priority case").

    My description of her bodily lifting my father did nothing to prevent him described as "her carer" in every conversation with every medical professional that I had. He was 3 times her size, and solidly built, so it was "evident" to them that he "must" have been the one who was looking after her.

    Why let the facts interfere with a good stereotype? The only complicate a decision that the doctors had mentally made already.

    It is not MY perception of my value that is relevant here. (Nor your perception, my friends, either. Unfortunately.)

    Sep 8, 2019, 8:55pm

    Just catching up after what seems like a incredibly long lapse in reading everyone's threads. I was horrified as I was reading yours. I am so sorry for your situation. (And yes, I think a solicitor and a visit with your local media might be a move in the right direction.)

    Sep 11, 2019, 1:37pm

    I'm so sad you are going through this. YOU ARE VALUABLE, don't let those monsters tell you otherwise.

    Sep 14, 2019, 2:32pm

    Thank you again for all your support. If I an sometimes slow to reply, it is because this is not something that I can always manage to talk about calmly. But your words are all appreciated.

    Both Peter and Richard have suggested contacting a solicitor. I am not clear what a solicitor could do to help here.

    As the palliative consultant said:"As you have just discovered, no one has any right to treatment under the NHS'.

    Edited: Sep 16, 2019, 12:05pm

    My thanks to Sakerfalcon, who first posted about the Chihuly exhibition at Kew. I spent a lovely afternoon there yesterday.

    I did not see as much as I could have wished, and the 2.5 hour bus journey each way was exhausting. But I am still very glad that I went.

    The staff at Kew were extremely helpful, providing a courtesy wheelchair which much improved the rate at which I was able to get around.

    The sour note was on the way back, when the bus driver refused to recognise that the bus pass issued by my borough council is annotated for a companion assistant, and tried to charge my helper for their fare.

    ETA: I contacted my local council to make s complaint, and discovered that my local library DID issue me with the wrong card! Whilst telling me that they were issuing me with a pass that was valid for me + helper, they appear to have intact given ME the card that they should have issued to the helper!

    Today I had an unexpected delivery of equipment, recommended by the occupational therapist, that had been due to arrive on Monday last week. (As requested, I spent the previous weekend making a room ready to install it.) When nothing arrived, I phoned them to ask what was causing the delay, and was told that someone would ring me back. No one did. But the delivery arrived today, unannounced. And the guy making the delivery had not been informed that the previous furniture would require removing (which the OT had said that this crew would do).

    Since I moved to this area I have yet to have a single interaction with bureaucracy that has gone smoothly!

    Sep 17, 2019, 7:23am

    >306 -pilgrim-: I'm so glad you got to enjoy the Chihuly! Especially as I never got around to sharing more of my photos. I wish LT made it easier to post them. But now you've seen it for yourself which is even better.

    Sorry your day was soured by the mix-up on the way home. It does seem as though your local area is out to jinx you in every way possible.

    Edited: Sep 20, 2019, 3:53pm

    >307 Sakerfalcon: I admit that I have never worked out how to upload photos to a LT thread (as opposed to linking to pictures that already exist elsewhere). Otherwise I would be tempted to upload a few photos of my own (even if they are not up to the standard of our resident GD photographers, such as Bookmarque. It has been a long time since I have seen such striking pieces; I particularly liked those in the Temperate House.

    My jinx continues: my journey back from the oncologist today included a wait of 4 hours for ambulance transport (despite the maximum wait being officially 2 hours). I had an ambulance allocated for 11am, then deallocated, and another was not allocated until 2pm. So I have just got home from my 9am appointment at 3pm. (Not that I reached the appointment on time, of course - the ambulance that was due to take me there did not come to my house until 9.10.)

    Sep 17, 2019, 11:36am

    >308 -pilgrim-: I admit that I have never worked out how to upload photos to a LT thread

    You can't. The pictures have to be hosted somewhere. The secret is that you can host the images on LT by uploading them to your Member Gallery/Junk Drawer which you can get to through your profile page.

    Edited: Sep 20, 2019, 6:46am

    >309 jjwilson61: I herewith attempt to follow jjwilson61's advice on how to add pictures:

    Edited: Sep 20, 2019, 6:50am

    Herewith attempting to follow jjwilson61's advice:

    Sep 18, 2019, 12:42am

    >310 -pilgrim-: & >311 -pilgrim-: I'm not seeing any pictures.

    Sep 18, 2019, 12:57am

    >312 NorthernStar: Me either.

    -pilgrim-, it appears you are placing the images in your member gallery. Try uploading to your junk drawer instead & then link that URL to display the image in message threads. Here is a screen-grab of the Upload Image screen...

    I hope this is helpful.

    Sep 18, 2019, 9:45am

    Also, the img tag isn't closed. Maybe the browser is able to handle it anyway but it isn't correct html. Either add </img> after the img element or just change the element to

    <img src="//www.librarything.com/pic/7117506"/>

    Edited: Sep 18, 2019, 8:38pm

    The source URL for the photos needs to be fully qualified within your img tag so you'll need to add https: to the front to make it look like....


    Edit: When I right click and choose view photo I can see them. Love the glass :)

    Sep 19, 2019, 4:04am

    >315 Narilka: Thanks for the tip! I was able to see the photos too. Great work capturing the beauty of the glass and the foliage, pilgrim.

    Sep 19, 2019, 4:48am

    I can see them with a right-click too. Great photos!

    Sep 19, 2019, 7:07am

    Nice cheese pictures.

    By coincidence I received a breaking news story this morning from a French friend. It was about an explosion in a French cheese factory. Nothing left but de brie.

    Sep 20, 2019, 6:51am

    >310 -pilgrim-: was me loading to the junk drawer, and >311 -pilgrim-: trying again, using the Members Gallery.

    I can't see the pictures either. I wondered whether having my profile set to "private" was the problem, so I thought if I tried the member's gallery, at least I would know whether they CAN be visible to other people.

    My SRC is in the form Narilka suggests, and I have corrected the closing of the tag, as per >314 jjwilson61:.

    I still can't see picture, so I am feeling really stupid.Can anyone/everyone see the pictures as loaded to the member's gallery?

    Sep 20, 2019, 9:11am

    Lovely pictures. I think the problem might be that you are copying the page address not the image address. Try right click on the actual picture to find the code.

    Edited: Sep 20, 2019, 3:50pm

    >320 calm: Trying your suggestion; it works (for me at least). Thank you!

    These two, and the one in >320 calm:, are all from the Temperate House.

    "Sapphire Star", by the Victoria Gate.

    All from the Chihuly exhibition at Kew Gardens.

    Sep 20, 2019, 3:50pm

    >321 -pilgrim-:

    Super pictures.

    Sep 20, 2019, 8:45pm

    That worked :) Love that green sculpture among the plants.

    Sep 20, 2019, 11:03pm

    It worked, nice pictures!

    Sep 23, 2019, 10:02am

    So pretty!

    Sep 23, 2019, 11:38am

    Great pics -pilgrim-. Chihuly has been here in Doha too. So now I'm very much regretting that I didn't go.
    This topic was continued by A pilgrim marches on.