Ten years

Ten years ago today Sarah and I got up worried and early to begin one of the longest days of our lives. We travelled to the Royal Hospital here in Liverpool, to the Rapid Diagnosis Clinic, to find out what we found out.

And ten years later part of me finds it hard to travel back to what Sarah has written here. But most of me is immensely relieved, and grateful, that she is alive to write it. And that the years have in no way dimmed her fire and passion for our National Health Service, or her determination to keep it safe from officious predators, as you’ll see when you read on.


22nd February 2007

This is me on the 22nd of February 2007. It is the day after I was diagnosed with breast cancer, age 43.

So today, the 21st of February 2017, marks ten years from that diagnosis. There is no whoop of delight, no fist pumps here. No, this is not a celebration. It is a mere observation of a fact, a fact that I am still here to observe. And of all the questions I asked that day ten years ago during the hours in the hospital, the main question, the one I remember the most, was when I said, ‘Will I die?’

But thanks to modern medicine and surgery, some great doctors and surgeons, a hefty dose of luck and some of my own tenacity, I did not die of breast cancer. At least, I haven’t so far. Continue reading “Ten years”

Harry’s Last Stand

“Though I am not an historian, I am history.”

As you may know I don’t generally review books on here. In fact I question the value of all reviews, our tastes in all manner of things being so different. But I do want to briefly recommend something extraordinary that I’ve just finished reading, so here goes.Harry Leslie Smith

‘Harry’s Last Stand’ is a 91 year old man’s testament about growing up in the great depression of the 1920s and 30s, fighting Nazism in the Second World War, and finally creating a green and pleasant land in Britain with the NHS and the social welfare safety net in the 1940s and beyond.

And how that all began to be unravelled from the 1980s onwards. Continue reading “Harry’s Last Stand”

Food in the 1960s: Actually it was quite good.

A joint post today by two of the boys from Mr Keith’s class in 1965.

Sparked by lots of comments on here and on Twitter about the awfulness of blancmange a few days ago, even involving the band Blancmange themselves in the end, I thought it might be good, in a perverse sort of way, to do a post about the general awfulness of food in the 1960s.blancburn-vinyl1new_med

So I got in touch with Barry Ward, hero of the 1963 birthday party incident and one of my boyhood best friends, and suggested we both dredge through our food memories. Which we duly did.

Only to come to a conclusion that surprised both of us. Food in the 1960s was actually quite good. Continue reading “Food in the 1960s: Actually it was quite good.”