Patient Pathway

PATIENT PATHWAY

The patient pathway now for Mr Edwards

Is on to a trolley down that long corridor

And into the morgue. With improved direction management

Attainment of his aspirational journey goal

Is 98.6%. After that there is a handover

And, being task-oriented, we move on

As, indeed, Mr Edwards does.

It used to be thought, by the way,

That he would be taken to the banks of a river

Or triaged for his final destination,

But we don’t think that way now.

Off he goes.

Image

copyright Simon Banks 2014

Advertisements

An unseasonal poem

Image

Well, the whole New Year mythology pretty much leaves me cold: 1st January 2014 is the day after 31st December 2013 and the next day is 2nd January 2014. By the way, most computers seem to try very hard to impose the American date system, which is bafflingly illogical: a date consisting of day, month, year is a combination of three measurements of which the day is the most specific and the year the most general, so there are two logical ways of presenting it – day, month, year or year, month, day. We Brits do it the first way. Americans set it out as month, day, year – a bit like an address going Bristol Road, 97, Gloucester.

That rant over – on to the next one. Supermarkets have many advantages, but the busy crowds and the noise (including tinny music too loud) make me want to get out of most of them as soon as possible. Over the Christmas period the music is dominated by a few Christmas songs we’ve been hearing dozens of times in a few days and in the rare event the song seemed good to start with, it sounds horribly trite the twelfth time. It’s interrupted by an announcement that starts by wishing shoppers a happy/merry Christmas before immediately suggesting they buy a lot of stuff on special offer. I suspect I’m not the only one to mouth something not very polite – not because I lack a positive attitude towards Jesus Christ, pagan midwinter festivals, wine, whisky and Christmas pudding (this ignorant spellcheck objects to WHISKY, which is the only correct spelling for the Scottish or Welsh stuff, and wants to change it to whiskey, fine if I was talking about the Irish drink) but because I sniff an intention of equating happiness and goodwill with buying their products, specifically the ones they’d hoped to shift days earlier.

So – am I a Scrooge? Judge for yourself (but the final decision is mine: after all, I take full responsibility for myself).

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Merry Christmas, shoppers!

As usual there are brilliant special offers

Why not try…

Why not cry

The tinny music’s loud enough to drown, don’t fear,

An inconvenient noise amid Christmas cheer.

His Dark Refreshments

Image

Here’s another old poem I haven’t posted before. This one is not very serious and it’s based on the experience of half-hearing an indistinct announcement on the public address system at a train station. Most of the announcements are rather indistinct and it’s easy to mishear. The language of these announcements is very stereotyped and stilted: for example, for example, passengers always “alight”, not “get off”. If you’ve got an imagination like mine, even if you guess it correctly, you toy with things you could have misheard it as. That’s what happens in this poem. There are references to Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials”.

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
X-NONE
X-NONE

st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) }

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-qformat:yes;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}

HIS DARK REFRESHMENTS

 

The next train to arrive on platform three

Will be the 9:07 to Liverpool Street

Cold snacks and light refreshments there will be

Available on this train

 

The next train to arrive on platform three

Will be the 9.07 to Liverpool Street

Hot slacks and slight refreshments there will be

Available on this train

 

The next train to arrive on platform three

Will be the seventh to a Liverpool tree

Hot snacks and dark refreshments there will be

Available down the drain

 

Provided by our dedicated staff

Of maddened macho bears, with great aplomb

And custard. In First Class there are installed

Facilities for gods to start a war

 

Or video conference while eating lunch.

The dragon next appearing on platform three

Will carry your liver up a poplar tree

Gold sacks and snide detachment there will be

Available in the rain. 

Now on the mystery lines: the last one was by William Blake and the clue “Innocent? Or experienced?” related to his “Songs of Innocence and Experience”.

Next one:

She dreams a little, and she feels the dark

Encroachment of that old catastrophe,

As a calm darkens among water-lights.

CLUE: Braveheart writing in the woods.

The Smiling Fox

How full of smiley faces our world is.

Advertisements sometimes amaze me.

Image

Some are clever and amusing. We come across so many in the U.K. advertising no-win, no-fee lawyers for personal injury cases, that I had to laugh when football and acting hardman Vinnie Jones introduced an advert with “Had a work-related accident recently? Be more careful.” Mind you, I have no recollection of what the advert really was for.

A well-known beer is advertised with figures of smiling foxes dressed in human clothes. The beer is excellent, by the way. But this kind of representation of animals is very common, and not just for children. We show animals smiling and speaking when we’re selling their meat. Foxes are hunted. I’ve seen several representations of foxes as huntsmen. This is not a post against meat-eating or even hunting, but there is something in the psychology of showing a victim smiling that makes me curious. Here’s a poem about this.

THE SMILING FOX

The figure is of a standing fox,

Smiling, in huntsman’s jacket and cap.

The bloody hunt is turned to laughter.

The fox can ride, the fox can talk,

The pink pig smiles above the pork,

The smiling baby needs a nappy,

We should all buy, and will be happy.

The guards on the computer screen

Were much too slow, and they have been.

We zap the losers, keep a score,

The country’s power’s the country’s law.

The fox can ride, the fox can talk,

The pink pig smiles above the pork,

The smiling baby needs a nappy,

We should all buy, and will be happy.

The soil is falling from the rocks,

the wood is crumbling from the sap,

And what was now, and what is after?

The fox can ride, the fox can talk,

The pink pig smiles above the pork.

The smiling baby needs a nappy.

We should all buy, and will be happy.

 

Copyright Simon Banks 2013

Book Review: Will Self, “The Butt”

No, this is not pornography or a learned American treatise on the gluteus maximus. The butt is a cigarette butt. The book is a kind of dark if sometimes funny fantasy, but with the realistic elements stronger than in much fantasy. Apparently it’s won a humorous writing prize. I didn’t laugh a lot, but it is very well written.

The story starts with Tom, a middle-aged tourist in an imaginary country, deciding to give up smoking and throwing the butt of his last cigarette from his hotel balcony. Unfortunately it lands on the head of an old bald man below and medical complications follow. It turns out that the old man, though an “Anglo”, had by marriage become a member of a tribe whose traditional law was based on the idea that nothing happens by chance – so whatever ill the old man suffers, Tom is fully responsible.

Will Self is a British columnist on a British paper, so I initially assumed Tom was British, but a few things such as a mention of a “cell phone” in his conversation with his country’s honorary consul made me think he was American. After a while that didn’t seem to quite fit either. Tom is from an English-speaking rich country with a Western culture, but we’re never told which. We’re never told his job either, just some of his family relationships, which include a marriage which seems to be struggling and a withdrawn, computer-game-obsessed son.

The country they’re in is a strange mixture. “Anglos” are one ethnic group among many. The law of the land incorporates various traditional tribal laws. It’s fervently anti-smoking except that some tribes in the hinterland allow smoking. There is an insurgency going on in the hinterland but most people seem to ignore it or take it for granted. It isn’t a realistic land, but if you suppress disbelief in the original premises, things follow quite credibly.

The case against Tom goes on and on. The rest of his family go home. Tom finds himself having to journey into the interior, into the area of the insurgency, to pay reparations, guided by messages from his local lawyer and the honorary consul (neither of whom he trusts), a fellow offender called Prentice and a wordy anthropological tome by a German father and son duo.

Some of the physical description – of scenery, of illness, of squalour – is altogether brilliant. Self also handles descriptions of violent death in a way which emphasises the pointlessness and gracelessness of it. Various strange things happen which make Tom – and the reader – wonder if things are really as they seem. As with a detective story, we start to look for clues to some hidden motif. There is indeed one, and it’s clever and nasty.

I have to stay vague to avoid giving too much away, but the thinking behind the book is strong on philosophy. The politics is totally incredible – some things just wouldn’t work – but I said you needed to suspend disbelief.

The blurb said the book would grip me. It didn’t, though I was interested. I think the reason why I stayed detached was that I couldn’t quite believe either in Tom or in the country he was stuck in. The fantasy fell somewhere between the total fantasy of, say, Gormenghast and a realistic if unlikely thriller. But the bigger problem was Tom. He was a credible character – a little self-centred, mainly well-intentioned, decidedly passive – but I’d have liked to have a real nationality for him, a home, a profession. After all, he has to stay ages in the country and he’s worried about money yet we’re never told if his absence means he’s lost his job. He could have been more grounded and realistic and then his stepping into nightmare would have meant more.

Sprouting Wings

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
X-NONE
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-qformat:yes;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}

 

I’ve sprouted wings, I don’t know why,

I’ve risen up and I can fly.

I’m not too pleased if this is death:

I hadn’t finished that last breath.

If it’s a dream, I’d like to wake

And call the whole experience fake.

I haven’t taken something bad,

But if I’ve died, I wish I had.

I see the world is all at peace –

Bad news for journalists and police.

I stand before a golden throne

And moan and moan and moan and moan.

Ceramic angels gather round

My falling form: I hit the ground.

I’m quite alive, though I have bruises.

My smart-phone tells me what the news is.

 

 

That Open Mic

Why not “Open Mike”? Search me. People pronounce it “mike”. It is a mike. Yes, the full name is “microphone”, but “mic” should be pronounced “mick”. Is someone trying to imply an Irish connection?

Oh, I’m first on. Finished the beer, half-way through the tea. By the time I’ve placed the saucer over the teacup to keep the tea a bit hot, the opening applause has faded away and they’re beginning to wonder why I’m not on my feet at the front.

Here goes. Wow, this is going well. I’m fired up and communicating (whatever that passionately obscure poem “Estuary” means or the almost as obscure “Dark Lady”. In fact it was brilliant and the inspired guy with the guitar came up afterwards and spoke about a possible collaboration.

This all happened at FirstSite in Colchester. Don’t call it “First Site”: that isn’t artistic. Many thanks to James for organising.

Well, maybe I should post the poem I read that I haven’t posted before here. It was a response to the poetry group challenge of the word “magazine”.

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
X-NONE
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-qformat:yes;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}

MAGAZINE

 

This is a belt buckle – quite common round here

People may drop rifles or lose helmets

But don’t take off their belts in battle, so – imagine.

This magazine, twisted, discoloured, but recognisable

Is two-thirds used. Imagine. Here’s a metal water-bottle

Look here – interesting – initials have been scratched on it

And here a bullet hit it. On that occasion he was lucky.

No, bones don’t last well in this soil

And the plough breaks them up anyway. Want a break?

Coffee and biscuits over there.

Copyright Simon Banks 2013.

 

 

Well,

The Master of the Atmosphere

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
X-NONE
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-qformat:yes;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}

You may recognise some phrases in this poem that are shared with “We have Changed War”. I suppose it’s taking the ominous irony of that poem a bit further to imagine (or how far is it real?) a power that pretends to the reach and rectitude of God. Is that power external, or do we participate in it? Is it the limitless power of Man (humankind) and should Man’s power be unlimited?

Some phrases are borrowed from religious, especially biblical, sources – for example, “there will be no more sea”.

THE MASTER OF THE ATMOSPHERE

 

I am the master of the atmosphere

Here in a glass case

Is the stuffed falcon that rivalled me.

I plan the growing of the trees.

 

I can tell you what you will want to buy

I can enslave the free and tell them why they’re happy

I am the ever-watching beacon.

 

When I have tidied up the awkward interface

Between the land and sea, an inconvenient place

There will be no more sea but what I make to flow

Truth is what I make it. I make history.

 

If out beyond the reaches of the last gaseous particles

Another law, another pattern rules, another right

We’ll soon change that. This is the longest day

But after day comes night.

Copyright Simon Banks 2013

 

We Have Changed War

 

 

“We have changed war,” she said

“No longer push of pike,

The intimate connection by a hooked iron blade.

We can destroy our enemies on computer screens

They look like simulations of human beings

Until they are wiped out

We make our own truth, we make history.”

How truth got in the programmes is a mystery.

 

I’m a Poet

I’M A POET

I have anger, sore opinion,

Nudge it and I go vermilion.

I am special, I’m a poet,

Folk revere me. You should know it.

These are my words on the paper:

Worship them, you brainless gaper.

What I hold you must not question,

Not by statement nor suggestion.

I am special, I’m a poet…

Keep your bile bottle. Stow it.

Copyright Simon Banks 2013

Written after an exchange on a LinkedIn discussion group!