Let's bring Today in to the picture for a moment

I will bring you up to date with the whole story, I promise, but using the blog in a 'diary' function (how novel), I just want to jot down a few "How are you feeling?" notes. None of this will make much sense because I haven't explained the inuries yet, but I mostly started writing this up to give myself an outlet for *moaning like a grumbly old bastard* to be frank. Because there's only so much Twitter-moaning one feels one can subject one's friends to on a daily basis. Not to mention email lists and other friendly outlets.

So. How am I feeling?

Well for the last two days the rebuilt 'flap' ankle has ben hurting like a viper. Why? I have several theories, one of which may be true.

  1. Healing means nerve endings that were numb a week ago are no longer numb
  2. I have an infection
  3. I'm overdoing it and it's complaining
  4. I've had codeine at a 30mg level for nearly three weeks and I've got too used to it

What is it? God knows, but the official dose for Codeine is 30-60mg 'if needed'. Before now, 60 in one go made me go verrrry doolally. So, I thought well, how about taking 30 every couple of hours as opposed to taking a massive dose every 4? I've been suffering slightly from the peaks and troughs of pain relief cycles so, a more constant stream of the lower dose? Seems to make a difference. A bit. 

Shattered though. An afternoon of pain. Still. The District Nurses came earlier on and I noticed when the main nurse was wiping down a particular bit of 'the injury', the feeling of numbness was very slightly reduced. I've been in the position of feeling nothing on the open surface, but I could feel pressure from about a centimetre and a half in. Really odd. That sensation was far closer to the surface. So. potentially good news. Who can tell. About the only thing I can tell is that this is going to take a long, long time.

Feb 17th: A&E becomes slightly surreal

The paramedics had been on the scene for... well, an amount of time which was not short. It's very difficult to have a full grip on reality when you're experiencing the 'now' through several filters. Extreme pain and morphine, not to mention varying degrees of raging hormones.

I'd fogotten, yesterday that there was a point, after the paramedics arrived when I talked about my kids - they were keeping me talking, for obvious reasons. And for the first time, I cried. I cried because of the effect this would have on them. That I wasn't going to be putting them to bed and snuggling up for a night time kiss, and what it would have meant to them if I was dead right now. And, my 'watching this all from above' objective self told me that the adrenalin might be wearing off a bit, leaving a giant emotional hole in its wake, waiting to be filled with tears.

...but no time for weeping and wailing. Off I went to hospital and was deposited straight in to their 'most urgent' setting, at Kings College Hospital in Camberwell. I had time to look at the Paramedic who had been looking after me and told her "You were awesome". Because I'm an internet citizen, of course, the A word must be used. And she was, she really was. I have a mind to drop off some Christmas chocolates to the Paramedics at Kings every year from now on. 

The Docs took the neck brace off thank god and then a most peculiar and eyebrow raising event occurred. A lady leaned over me to talk:

"Hello, Cait? Channel 4 are filming the A&E at the moment and I just wanted to know if it's alright if they film you"

"Uh? What? Er... yeah, whatever". Remember, this is morphine talking.

So this is what was happening. Channel 4 at present produce a show called "24 Hrs in A&E" which is filmed at Kings. They are  - or were, in February, filming the new series. After the Doc who had asked my permission left, I noticed that there were cameras embedded in the ceiling, on the sides, you name it. Shortly afterwards, a bloke appeared, looking like 'practical I work in media' (ie: cameraman type) and put a variant of a tie-mic on the cabinet next to my pillow! It was Insane. I was told I could withdraw my permission afterwards and the TV people shrank in to the background. 

I've been on TV, just by way of context for this bizarre occurrence, *far too much* for someone who does not have a career in television (or want one). Quiz shows as a kid, Top of the Pops when my Dad worked there, Sky News Internet Expert (woohoo) back in the days when I had blonde hair and was a size 12. I even appeared on ITV News at 10 reading out the court judgement which had arrived by internet on whether Louise Woodward was inocent or guilty. Not by choice, I might add. So, I tend to walk in the other direction when I see cameras. They have a nasty habit of picking me out in crowds. And here we are, with the inside of my body being revealed to the Ch4 audience. Bizarre, but also in my case, one of those 'fate' like coincidences that happens a little bit too often.

And Mackay! Mackay came. He was there. My God I needed him. Well, actually, by then I was so doped out of my mind I was chatting away merrily to anyone who would listen. But him being there meant things felt more solid. I heard the Policeman on the phone saying precious words: "Non-life-threatening, Non-life-transforming" to the station, or local press, or... someone. Meanwhile, the A&E guys had a quick look at my leg to try and tart it up a bit. I had not looked and would not look. Poor Mackay had to look because it was... there, really. At a point, they lifted a paperish dressing thingy off my ankle and I saw Mackay go green and utter tranditional minor swear words at whatever lay undereneath. I was slightly more concerned by the point that it HURT LIKE A BUGGER to even lift a tiny piece of paper off my leg. I asked him to take a photograph, because I thought, in six months time I might be able to look at it, through my fingers.

At various points, McK and I were left alone for a few moments and we talked. I have a feeling that I sounded fairly normal, because the morphine was so hefty but of course, I have yet to see the Ch4 footage. I may be laughing my head off half the time. Who knows. I will give an update to this section when the programme is on. They told me they'd send me all the footage on DVD beforehand. I'll believe it when it happens.

They put a temporary plaster of paris cast on the leg with some sort of splint type bit at the bottom, holding my foot in place because as it turned out, there was a hole by my ankle that was deep, and apparently made my bones visible. Hence Mackay went green.

Operation in the morning so they could assess what the hell was salvageable, meanwhile I was packed off to a spare bed - Women's Gynae, would you believe. Mackay left (and it turned out, took several hours to get home because the doors to the hospital were locked) and I crashed in to sleep.

February 17th, 2012. 2 seconds later

So there I am, lying under a lorry, with my leg having been dragged along the road by a braking tyre, with said tyre on top of said leg. And I'm not dead. And My God, it hurts. I've never felt anything like this in my life. I've had two kids, braying like a donkey in agony and I've never felt pain like this. And I'm awake. 

"HELP ME! HELP ME!" I'm screaming out. Pretty pointlessly really, obviously but partially I think I was thinking that I need to let them know I'm not dead. People's legs start appearing. I don't move because hey, I've watched Casualty and ER. Best thing to do is not to move, right? A woman appears to be crying somewhere to the right. Thank you for that but good god get that lorry OFF MY LEG. I can't quite describe what the pain was like. Three different elements going on. 1) My leg is injured at multiple points 2) My body has decided to release VAST tranches of adrenalin, which presently are causing my whole leg to go in to cramp. Thank you so much, body! Stop this now! And third. The lorry. My God. Sorry, I keep envoking a non-existent deity here but it's a traditional way to express the inexpressible. I mean it's not the whole weight of the lorry, just the amount that's channeled through one set of its wheels. 

That's a lot of weight.

"GET IT OFF MY LEG!" I'm screaming. I don't really scream very often. I apparently scream pretty loudly. After an amount of time (I have no idea) the lorry driver reversed, pretty slowly ie: carefully, off my leg. Please note, I am merely stating what happened here, I make no comment positively or negatively. Christ, that felt better. In fact, that was pretty stupid of me, medically speaking. All kinds of crap could have happened as a result of releasing the pressure on the leg, so, if you're ever in that position, please don't remember what happened to me and imagine it's a good idea. But it felt better. BETTER.

I couldn't feel my leg to move it. I thought it was gone, frankly. There was a really odd pain on my knee which was like it had been mashed up, and weirdly, squished in to the floor like someone was standing on top of it. I could sense blood all over the place. I don't really know if it was. Oh yes, Mr Adrenalin bloody gland. I thought the general idea was that you were supposed to be pumping me with so much adrenalin that I felt no pain? LIAR!

Then a woman came along and looked after me. She was called Denise and I LOVE THAT WOMAN. Thank you, Denise, you are beautiful. You deserve every good thing. Seriously, I send you flowers from my heart on a daily basis and if I could give you a luxury break in Italy I would. All women (or men) who do what Denise did need huge rewards. I'll tell you what she did. She dropped everything, she held my hand and she told me what was going on. She gently took the piss out of me being so shouty to keep me talking. She started explaining what injuries she could see ("I can see some fat cells on your bum I'm afraid" Me: "Don't want to know! Don't want to know anything you can see".)

I'm going ahead of myself slightly. Denise arrived as I was doing the following. Yelling my family's home phone number out over and over because I feared I was going to lose consciousness and my lovely husband wouldn't know what the hell was going on. It was Denise who rang the number. Unfortunately, it was at the time of night when, if I'm going to be late home, I phone to say godnight and I'll see you when you're in bed, to the kids. So Nora answered the phone. 

"Is your Daddy there?" I almost thought it was funny. In an "Oh no" kind of way. I attempted to shut my trap and not be yelling in pain in the background. Then I could hear that McK was on the phone. The "She's ok" phrase was envoked. Apparently he could hear me in the background. What was I doing? Moaning? Shouting? God knows.

Then after an unknown amount of time, the paramedics arrived. Halleluyah. "Give me morphine, please" were the first words that came from my mouth to the BRILLIANT paramedic who took over from Denise in the handholding stakes. they couldn't give it to me straight away for some reason so I had to have gas and air! Which made me inwardly amused, in a way. I bit the mouthpiece as if I was going to bite through the damn thing and sucked that horrible crap in to my lungs. To be honest, it didn't make a lot of difference. The other paramedics started cutting off my grey trackie bottoms. I don't think they were grey anymore. 

"Here, look, I can move the other leg" I said, waggling my right leg around. And then, astonishingly, I found that I could move my big toe on my left leg. Oh Wow. They had cut through the laces, taken off my shoes and cut off the socks (sorry I was wearing two pairs. They were thin). There was my toe, on my apparently 'gone' leg - moving! The morphine arrived, in injection form. First lot made no difference that I could feel. So I had some more. the max amount I could have. To tell you the truth, it still hurt, a hell of alot. 

We were going to be on the move. I suddenly had that addict's need to know that my phone was alright. I could see my bike, which looked... bizarrely still bike-ish and not a mangled wreck. "My phone! It's in the back pocket, behind the saddle". Someone, bless them, grabbed my helmet and shoved the (still working!) phone, my keys and the oyster card holder from my bike's bum-bag in to the shell of it. The Police must have taken it with them in the ambulance. I can't remember what I said about the panniers but of course, I was worried about my Air, I mean f'gad's sake! Priorities!

"Cait, we're going to have to put this collar on"

"There's nothing wrong with my neck" I explained. But it's protocol, just in case. And let me tell you, those neck braces are extremely uncomfortable. They had to get me on a stretcher. I knew it would be bad. It was. The paramedics put some kind of covering over part of my leg. I nearly hit the roof. And then, bang, we're in the Ambulance.

The only thing I remember about the ambulance was the coppers. Two lovely guys. They asked me basic questions and they talked to McK on the phone to let him know where we were going. By this point, the morphine had made me alot more comfortable. It's odd stuff. I could still feel the pain, but I could rise above it. Felt reasonably happy. I thought about how lovely the two Policemen were being. Sincerely decent, and the brilliant, clear, supportive wonder of the paramedics. This wasn't morphine talking. This was the truth. We are so lucky to be paying for people who don't just do the job, get their training and get paid. These folk were decent, lovely people. I had a little moment of being proud to be paying taxes. 

Then I was in A&E. No waiting for triage for me!


February 17th, 2012. The crash

I'm not quite sure what I should say about the crash, and the circumstances of it, because we have engaged with solicitors and I am VERY VERY ANGRY and I HURT. A LOT. So here's a sort of 'sanitised' version, I suppose.

The location was just past the railway bridge cycling in to South London along the blue cycle highway on Southwark Bridge Road. It involved a lorry, and I was cycling in the...er... blue cycle superhighway. So. that's it for detail. 

It hurt. A lot. Next up, what happened next!



So guess what happened: I was nearly killed!

Hello! I'm waving wildly because I'm about to embark on the most activity this blog has seen in *donkeys*. And I'm soooo pleased to announce it was because I was nearly killed. On Feb 17th, coming home from work. 

THere's a hell of alot in this to write about, obviously. The most important thing to say to you is that I wasn't, of course. And that in the long term, my injuries are so much more limited than they could be that, well it's easy for me to frame statements as if I'm downplaying them, whereas in fact of course, it's all pretty astonishingly nasty and very hurty. So, what I'm going to do is try to break it down in to lots of hopefully not too long entries. With diagrams! But no gore I'm afraid. If *I* am having problems looking at the internal workings of my left leg, I think that level of literal intrusion can stay private. When it's better, perhaps.

So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the somewhat Not Good story of the night I nearly died, and what is happening next....

Steve Jobs died today

It's difficult to take in really.

Apple meant so much, as I grew up. The first computer I ever used had a mouse. It was a Mac Classic. It was 1990. Jobs and Apple made computers so much more than purely the functional, dull objects that they would have been otherwise. His powerhouse, take no prisoners personality, and the incredible company he built around him changed the way we viewed computers and chip driven hardware. It was Apple that drove things forward, pushing computing toward everyday people, but with the cleverness to understand that everyday people wanted beautiful computing, that really worked.

And he supported Pixar, when they were almost just an idea. Always worth remembering that, if you love really wonderful, clever, modern animation. An apparently very different side to Steve Jobs, but managed with the same, vigorous love of ideas and innovation.

Cancer is an evil, dreadful disease that wastes so many millions within it's grasp. So much potential, snuffed out. 56. Damnit, that's just not bloody fair.

I'm not sure exactly if you want to rest in peace, Steve. I hope your family can recover, in time. 

(Slight update)

I just wanted to point you to my friend Dan's post. There are alot of people writing similar things today, but yes, there is a giant sized ideas and energy cord between Steve Jobs and Douglas Adams. I nearly met Douglas and I try hard not to regret my uselessness in not just saying hello but... it was Douglas! I mean, the man wrote my middle childhood. 

I will relate a short incident which links these two men. Douglas Adams adored Apple. He took the original Stephen Fry job of being totally over the moon at just about anything Apple produced, and talked about them, for all the reasons we know. Every year, there is a Douglas Adams Memorial lecture on behalf of his favourite charity, Save the Rhino. I went one year with Yoz, who had worked with Douglas and continues to celebrate him when he can. After the lecture was an auction of various nice bits and pieces but there, in the middle of the auction, was Douglas Adams' Macintosh. Not just any Macintosh, but I think it was his first - the first Mac bought in Europe? Yoz, help me out on the detail? It was certainly a special limited edition one of which there were only five ever made or something peculiar.

Seeing that object, my mouth was agape. Did they know what they had? They said they'd gone through everything on it, but that was not the point! My God, it belonged in the British Library or something. Yoz and I desperately looked at each other - could we club together and buy it to keep it safe? But we were young, and stupid and we didn't. We watched this priceless object being sold for mere hundreds to 'someone or other' and I've remembered the incident with horror ever since.

I hope whoever bought it is taking good care of it, and wasn't just 'someone or other'. Let me know it is safe if you were the one that did. 


Hello. Are you there?

Well. Yes, hello. I'm in semi-retirement at the moment. It's the blog speaking, here. Somehow, well I keep nagging at her but she doesn't seem to notice. I wonder why she won't talk at me? What's  wrong with me, that's what I want to know. Did I do something wrong? Zoonie?

I really don't know what to do with myself at the moment. I've taken to looking around other people's houses. Every so often, someone asks for me. The Google drags me out of the house and I mean it is really insistent (in a slightly irritating way, if I'm honest). Why won't it leave me alone? But there I go, standing in a line up, feels like we've all committed crimes sometimes but I tell you, on the QT you should see some of the other blogs I have to stand with. There are people who sell their blogs for those silly little vermin around the edges. Adverts. Yes. Scratchy, vile things, screeching at me. I saw one blog last week, I thought it had some kind of disease. I could see its latest post, hiding but it was covered in that awful pox. Poor thing, carrying all that around with it. I offered to help, I said Zoonie wouldn't notice anyway, she doesn't come to see me anymore and it tried to throw an advert for 'One weird tip' at me. The Google wrenched it away and threw a whole new set of blogs at me (or did it take me away? One gets so used to being buffeted around, it's difficult to know when the Internet is dragging or dumping one). I suppose I'll never see it again. It seemed so sad but at least it wasn't alone.

I wonder what the weird tip was?

Will you come back to see me? I can tell you all about when Zoonie was pregnant, or when the children were very young. Life was different then, she came to visit me nearly every day.

You will come again, won't you? Hello? Are you there?

Our house is a Star Wars house

If there's one way to affirm or have your own private thoughts on any family film denied, it's to show them to your kids, who have had no background noise, no hype and no understanding of the apparent cultural significance of any 'old' films that you adore.

I have written in the past about how much they both loved the Errol Flynn Robin Hood film within a couple of minutes of the speculative viewing being on screen ("Don't turn it off!!!"). They're not so hot on Laurel and Hardy talkies, which turn out, now I look at them, to have a hell of alot of Tom and Jerry-esque cartoon violence in, which I would have simply accepted at the time, given that Tom and Jerry were children's TV staples. In these C-Beebies driven days, where you have to pay extra to get cartoon channels (so we don't), there is no concept of cartoon violence. So it jars.

After Errol Flynn came Harry Potter. The two of them gorged themselves on the first film, which I have to admit, with all the clunky acting from the kids, which I can forgive, there's n'ere a note wrong in the whole enterprise. It's a delight. Harry Potter 2 ie: the Chamber of Secrets... now that's proper scary. They're both a lot more wary of it. Regardless of Nor having read on until she has reached her own natural stopping point at about half way through the Half Blood Prince (Nora! it's < muffled voice >!). A huge bloody great snake pursuing Harry and the SPIDERS! Good God.

But something else entered our world in between the two films: "Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope".

Having to sit through those three films with the kids has been fantastic. They really *were* great. Exciting, timeless, emotional, epic, legendary. There is so much wrong with them but on a basic level, the simplicity of the stories in each film keep the children gripped. It is clear who is good, who is evil. There is no doubt, no confusion. Darth Vader wears an insane shiny PVC black suit; Luke and Leia wear white tunics. It is that simple. I already feel slightly jealous of friends whose kids aren't old enough yet for the lovely excitement of watching the films with their kids for the first time. For every clunky line there's a shot like the stunning long shot of Vader's head as he wrestles with his thoughts, watching his son being killed. It's a crazy shot. The man's wearing a complete head mask, and yet, with that brilliant music, the angst really is visible. Nor was devastated that Vader died after his redemption, and cried hard empathetic tears at his ritual funeral. Heady stuff.

The kids being seven and four watching "Return of the Jedi" has helped me come to terms with it. It makes so much more sense, seen in quick succession after the first two. "The Empire Strikes Back" had Nor in bits, and I'm not surprised. My recollection of Jedi was of a slightly embarrassing, twee film with a bunch of cute furry toys in, which didn't work and was all a bit daft. Well, yes, there are cute furry toys in, but it holds together pretty well with the action parts of the film, which are suitably epic.

...and so, having watched the three films - and by that, I mean the films that Lucas revisited with CGI and made some agonisingly dreadful changes to, the fact that the first three films exist in the world - that it's possible to find out who this Annakin Skywalker was, plus the fact that today's Star Wars is all about the clone wars, man, we had to watch "The Phantom Menace".

Yesterday, I showed the children the original trailer and I remembered, wistfully, the desperate downloading of two versions of that original trailer: one, the official one but the other, a rough and ready video from a cinema recorded by some guy. The *incredible* hairs on the back of the neck excitement at the gorgeous reworking of the Lucasfilm logo, all sparkling and precious and that roar from the cinema audience... I can still remember watching it, with some other folk, all clustered around a work desk, wanting to clutch each other, grinning like mad people... and here were Nora and James watching the same trailer saying "Who's that, is that Annakin? Is that Padme? Wow, that's fast... oh, is that the Emperor?" all excited questions which I refused to answer. I watched their wide eyed faces. "Again! Can we see it again?" Oh yes. And the debates we had at the time it was released sprang to mind. We'd forgotten, this was a film for kids, just like the originals. We were expecting too much. Well maybe watched through the lenses of childhood, it might not be quite the disjointed, terrible disaster area that I remembered?

Here is a measure of how good Episode 1 is: Nora has almost no idea what went on in the film, beyond the extreme basics of the Annakin journey. James nearly fell to sleep and was bored mindless. It was only sleepy inertia that kept him from leaving the room to come and read a book. They *loved* that C3PO and R2 were in it, and they seemed to desperately cling to any scene they were in. Particularly C3PO, who even with the limited script he was given, still had enormous warmth of character through Anthony Daniels' fantastic work. They blanked Ja Ja Binks completely. They just didn't care. The whole Padme/Amidala confused mess was totally lost on them, and they had no idea what the hell was going on there.

Speaking as the adult interpreter, having now seen this film for the second time only (that's how much I loathed it first time round), more than ten years ago I was gaping at how dreadful the film was. Sitting with the kids laid bare the horrors that awaited and made me cringe. The beginning of the film, you're thrown in to a confused, distancing trade dispute which could only mean absolutely nothing to the kids. Who were these things that looked a bit like sea creatures, that hadn't been in any of the first three films? Who, even worse, spoke with totally featureless faces in really heavy accents? Ah, here's the Emperor... and it's not explained that he isn't. Liam Neeson is magnificent. All heart. A real actor trying his best to make his character real. Ewan MacGregor is so wrapped up in getting his terrible, awful accent right that he seems almost entirely distant from his part. It's like watching a cardboard cut out. The kids really didn't like his character at all, and what a dreadful thing, for the film to do that to the legend that is the wonderful, all-heart decency of Alec Guinness's older man? For a short while, when the film moves to Tatooine, it makes sense. It makes sense because the film suddenly becomes small, no huge vistas and complicated business. Just the story of a little boy (and Annakin is played really well. Very sweetly). Both Nora and James were totally engaged throughout this sequence, including the pod race - my lord, they loved the pod race. They loved the Padme character's smiley loveliness and slightly awkward spikeyness. I realise now, one of the reasons these sequences work is that Ewan MacGregor isn't in them!

On Tatooine, the overdoses of cgi weren't in fact, as much of a problem. The characterisation of the slave owner isn't too bad, and the nasty pod racer guy... a lot of thought went in to their physical shapes. Nora and James 'got' these two completely. After the characters leave this planet though, a whole mess of blank faces for quite a while. Ultimately, complete non-interest until the big showdown with Darth Maul. But even in that, I was left thinking in astonishment - what the hell was the business with the red force field doors? Never explained, they simply let it happen as a shambolic answer to the question: How do we separate Obi Wan from Qui-Gon Jinn? (why the complicated name with such short screen time? If I asked the kids, they would have no idea what Neeson's name was). No exposition, no desperate droid led fight to take the shield doors down... *anything* would have been better than the stupidity of the half solution. And yes, Maul does look fantastic, pacing up and down, waiting. And yes, the fight is *fantastic*. So, the film claws back a little something and the kids are re-engaged, albeit briefly. Only for that engagement to be squandered at the badly handled Annakin-in-space-accidentally-blows-up-the-big-ship episode. Sigh. They really didn't understand what the hell was going on.

I haven't really mentioned the horror that is Jar Jar Binks and his race, have I? I can remember the jaw dropping mortification in the cinema, in Streatham in a majority black audience, cringing in my seat at the Rasta accent debacle. But, there's a much more important point to make (although it's very contributory). Binks is not played by a decent actor, and his character fails through a combo of Uncanny Valley-ness but also simply bad scripting, and bad story. He's all over the main characters like a bad rash, gumming up the works with dialogue so superfluous you desperately wish him off the screen. Face it, if the entire underwater race were expunged from the film, would you miss them? The Naboo could easily have been the opposing army in the big fight. Why do we even need these creatures that do nothing but expose the limitations of cgi? Was he supposed to be the main comedy character? Nothing he says is funny. Nothing. His most supposedly amusing scene, where his tongue is numbed and he can't speak? The kids didn't even smile briefly. I'm not simply projecting my adult view, he really does not work. On any level. ask yourself, why does Yoda stand out so fantastically, despite being a model? Why does C3PO? Because they are read by excellent character actors who give them heart. The only impression we're left with for Binks is a garbled accent which must have taken weeks to perfect.

Phew. So. If you look at the difference between the original film and this, the evidence is stark. Lucas ballsed it up. It doesn't work as an adult film; it doesn't work as a kids film. If you sliced back all the tedious trade cobblers and made the film concentrate around the story of Annakin, then yes. A tight hour and a half of an action film that at least might live up to the originals part of the way. You'll notice I haven't even mentioned the explanation of The Force. What. Were. They. Thinking. Blank faces all round at home. Symbionts? What? And the question I ask myself - if we had started watching the films in the 'right' order, ie: started with this film, would the kids have even been interested in watching episode 2? It trades so heavily on the future action, watching these films second is the only thing that makes sense and certainly, it would be the only reason to keep watching, rather than consign this misconceived space opera to the dustbin of time.

I'm quite sad, that it turns out it's really Not Good, still. Somehow, I hoped that in the years since its release it might have somehow matured in to an 'alright' film, from the mess I remembered. I hope the kids don't want to re-watch it but of course they will, because the Annakin story and Neeson somehow hold the creaking ship together. We have the miserable prospect of Parts 2 and 3 to come. 2 was so bad, I have never even seen part 3. Imagine that: Lucas did so much damage to his own vision, I couldn't bear to put myself through the very film in which Annakin turned to the dark side?


Wikileaks / Assange

...Weirdly, I have realised that I have called Mr Assange Nicholas throughout this ramble. What was I thinking about? Changed now!

In a sense, the hounding of Wikileaks and Julian Assange has sorted this out for me, from a moral perspective.

I don't suppose my opinion is adding much to the pot, but: do I like Assange and the Wikileaks bunch? Well, I can't answer for the the rest of the Wikileaks crew, but I can't say I find myself particularly fond of Assange, who seems to have the single minded focus of someone who is slightly too fond of his own voice. If you were a firm supporter of him, you would probably say that he has 'missionary' zeal. I'm not so sure. Meanwhile, however, do I support the existence of Wikileaks? Hell yes. Hell, Yes.

Do awful things happen in war? Yes. Do terrible, morally dubious things happen which are covered up by major govts? Yes. Must there be a culture where whistleblowers feel that if they see things which are morally abhorrent, they can and should step forward to state publicly that bad and terrible things are happening? YES YES YES. At all levels.

What do I mean by all levels. I was making a link from the macro to the slightly more micro recently, where NHS whistleblowers, attempting to stand up and shout that malpractice has taken place have instead of being congratulated been hounded out of their jobs, despite govt assurances that support for whistleblowers has risen. It's the normal, every day story of the 'powers that be' saying one thing in public, to reassure, and doing another thing in private, to avoid the scandal of having missed opportunities, employed the useless, etc. So... if the official whistleblower channels are not to be trusted, where are people to go? In this country, we have the fantastic and solid gold wonder of "Private Eye" which of course every sensible human being should subscribe to. It's a pretty good outlet for anyone spotting malpractice, but it has its own agenda obviously so there's no guarantee that they'll cover problems until you become a juicy enough story (eg: you have complained locally and been dismissed!). The point though is that not only does it exist, but it is taken seriously as a source for legitimate follow up by fellow journalists. At least there's the chance of something.

On a macro scale, is there any trusted whistleblower third party? Marta Andreasen famously published her thoughts with regard to the legitimacy of the EU accounts (ie: they're not) after being hounded out of her job by a succession of high ranking officials (including, according to her, Neil Kinnock) when she attempted to show the gigantic holes, and went public after being ignored internally (well, that's her story, anyway).

Now we come to Wikileaks. What is becoming increasingly clear is that the current batch of leaks, being shared via The Guardian amongst others, are not simply the light hearted whitterings of a bunch of diplomats. Here for example, is an American newspaper responding to the news that the US attempted to cover up an emerging story that the US Security company, DynCorps held a party for Afghani police recruits. Including the human horror story that is "Dancing boys". Not sure what these are? The practice is one of the central tenets behind the lauded Afghan novel "The Kite Runner". It is the forced selling or abduction of very young boys for sex with high ranking Afghan warlord types. Duties are to dress up as sexy young girls, and dance, before being routinely raped. This is outlawed, but in a country with barely any laws being enforced (for those with influence), that's not really important. Here, RAWA, the self professed Feminist charity working out of Afghanistan republishes an article on the BBC's film about Bacha Bazi parties, earlier this year. More here, and here, and here, if you can bear it.

Did this, amongst other highlighted documents, deserve to become public? As much as previous scandals involving UN soldiers ignoring or condoning trafficking and other horror. But because this is the US, not the UN, the security services in the States have gone predictably nuts (ask the readers of the Houston Press what they think). Assange's arrest on sexual assault charges has been called politically motivated. I have no opinion on that, but I do have an opinion on the hounding of Wikileaks, which  - here's the thing. If we were, in fact, the civilisation which we espouse, then there would be no need for Wikileaks, would there. But there is. There really, bloody is. The vast majority of these leaks show harmless opinion of worldwide politicians. The US is ultra defensive given that at present, their role as apparent leaders of the 'free world' (whatever that means) is diminishing. Anything that encourages derision must be stamped upon.

But, there must and always must be a place for legitimate whistleblowing of appalling, significant human rights abuses, incompetence on a grand or granular scale and major problems in command/control. There must be. Tolerance of whistleblowing comes as part of the long march toward civilisation. The US, in its current reaction to Wikileaks, shows how far from that tolerance they really are.

So. We must support Wikileaks. That's it.