Friday, August 30, 2013
When a TV reporter or other public figure looks awkward it's often because they don't know what to do with their hands.
ABC journalists have noticed Rudd uses a variety of gestures.
What's a "bommyknocker?", I wondered after looking at the Rudd Gesture Report.
Seems there are lots of "interesting" definitions, but this is probably one of the few any ABC person would use publicly:
This is a rod with a weighted knob at one end. It was carried tucked up inside the sleeve so that if you were assaulted you could loosen your hold on the knob and the weight would slide it down out of the sleeve so you could grasp it by the other end (smaller knob) and swing the weighted end to hit the assailant.
This is a rod with a weighted knob at one end. It was carried tucked up inside the sleeve so that if you were assaulted you could loosen your hold on the knob and the weight would slide it down out of the sleeve so you could grasp it by the other end (smaller knob) and swing the weighted end to hit the assailant.
Of course, Rudd did not invent the art of gesture - everyone has a gesture or two up their sleeve;
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Sunday, August 25, 2013
The introduction of above the line voting in 1984 seriously reduced whatever influence voters might be thought to have. It sucks, and was a cynical alternative to any kind of optional preferential voting.
By now, some of you will be aware the Victorian Senate paper will have to show the names of a record number of candidates. Because the maximum size of the paper is fixed, the names of candidates will be so small that voting booths will be equipped with magnifiers. This state of affairs lends a whole new meaning to the caveat that we should always read the fine print in any contract.
Above the line voting – an option used by around 95% of voters - is much simpler, but results in preferences flowing according to registered group tickets. The details of these preference deals are available to voters but complex and rarely consulted. Even I, possibly obsessive about the
weakness of democracy in Australia,
have never bothered to delve too deeply into the details of preference deals
[But then, that may simply be because I'm one of the 5% who insist on numbering every square. It doesn't bother me that I have to hog a booth for three hours while I check and re-check my ballot paper.]
In Victorian Upper House elections, a numbered ballot is considered formal if it has at least 10 candidates numbered in a proper sequence – preferences are required, but numbering every single box is not.
In Federal Elections, both above the line and below the line systems have, in theory at least, a validation effect on results. Even if the person nominated by me below the line as the least desirable is elected, I might ultimately contribute in some degree to their success. Above the line voting also means that the allocation of undesirable preferences legitimises results, creating the impression that a candidate has voter approval.
The only way to show disappointment with the calibre of candidates is to vote informal, with the informal vote then dismissed as an indication of voter incompetence rather than disaffection.
In 1984, when Peter Garrett represented the Nuclear Disarmament Party, he had ten percent of the primary vote in NSW but failed to get elected. This result is attributable solely to preference horse-trading for above the line votes – in other words, to the manipulation of votes.
During this 2013 election campaign, both Rudd and Abbott are pooh-poohing the notion that independents have any place in a parliament. Both claim that they will not do deals to take power if their party is not a clear victor in this election. This spits on the Constitutional and Traditional rule that the Prime Minister should be the person who has the confidence of the House. The claim they will not do deals is blatant hypocrisy: Both major parties will be using the flow of above the line preferences as a major strategy in their efforts to gain office, and to influence who else, not in their own party, will be in the house after the election.
The last election result has shown that it is possible an independent representative can have power outside the party system. It is possible for people to elect a representative willing to put their own electorate's needs and concerns before party politics. It need not be the case that blue ribbon seats will always be neglected because parties don't see them as a priority.
The influence of independents could grow as the parties become increasingly undifferentiated, but this will depend on what voters think were the pluses and minuses of having Julia cobble together a workable government.
Again, the changes in 1984 seem designed to limit the chances of any independent even getting their deposit back. "Ungrouped" independents are invariably slotted onto the paper on the extreme right hand margin. If someone does not 'come to the party', so to speak, they are usually fighting a losing battle.
Should anyone insist that this election is not about personalities as much as policies, I would strongly disagree. Whatever the policies of each party might be, on major issues the parties are largely undifferentiated.
One thing Rudd has said which does highlight a difference – and he deserves some credit for having the guts to be honest about his own plans – is that the Liberal Coalition refuses to say what it proposes to cut to meet the cost of its own pork-barrelling and its stated intention to quickly balance the budget.
On balance, the bundles of policies offered by each of the major parties – so far as we can know what these policies are – scare the crap out of me.
In personality terms, I'm not sure Rudd would maintain the confidence of his own party for long; I am sure the Rabbit is an incoherent
gaffe on wheels [in lycra]; and I'm absolutely certain that the idea of Joe
Hockey representing my country to anyone is ulcer-inducing.
In 1984 I repeatedly heard people collecting how to vote cards state that they were voting for Peter Garrett [even though he was not a candidate in
The reason they gave, repeatedly, was that he had the cojones to say what he thinks and this was quite refreshing in
politics. The issue of nuclear disarmament itself seemed a total non-issue.
At other elections, I have repeatedly heard people ask how they can vote for Fred Nerks, or Joe Bloggs. This is not a criticism of their level of understanding of [or even interest in] the electoral process, I'm simply making a point that personality is everything for a large proportion of voters. [I will happily concede that personal anecdotes are proof of nothing, and that I might simply be suffering confirmation bias.]
I don't pretend to know of any solution to these or a hundred other vexing things about our system of government. Really, I'm just venting a deep seated feeling of impotence, and wishing there were some way voters could show a level of disaffection that no politician could deny. Above the line voting and mandatory completion of an entire paper below the line, however, are both designed to conceal the level of disaffection, not reveal it.
*I dreamt I died and [everybody say oooh with a disappointed tone] was sent straight to hell without collecting $200.
The devil was waiting to greet me, and asked me which door I would like to stay behind for all eternity; door 1, door 2, or door 3?
His manner was friendlier and less evil than I'd expected as he offered to give me a peek behind each door before I made my final decision.
Behind door 1 there was no fire or brimstone, simply a crowd of people standing in a waist high pool of ka-ka.
Behind door 2, another crowd of people, only they were standing up to their necks in ka-ka.
It surprised me when I saw that behind door 3, although the pile of ka-ka was significantly more malodorous than behind the other 2 doors, the mess was only ankle deep. No surprise, then, that the crush of people behind door 3 was huge.
I quickly opted for door 3 and a few seconds later found myself in amongst the door 3 crowd. While I scanned the sea of faces to see who was or wasn't there, a whistle blew and then an announcement came over a loudspeaker: "Okay, break's over, back on your heads, everyone."
Saturday, August 24, 2013
Stop worrying about whether or not you are a bogan, and just take the test anyway. At least you'll know one way or the other and can stop worrying about it.
I only mention this because the latest ABC gem I've discovered online is a comedy called Upper Middle Bogan.
If you haven't seen it you might get a laugh – episode 1 was still available today [24th].
Cast includes Robyn Nevin, Michala Banas, and Glenn Robbins.
Robyn Malcolm [Julie Wheeler] is sooooo like Deborra-Lee Furness it's uncanny.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Warning you up front that this is a highly subjective post, here's my take on just one of the many election non-issues that makes me mad:
I've not read the recently released Obsessive Hope Disorder –a report into 30 years of Mental Health policies.
I know, I know… if I want to crap on about this topic I should read it first but, well, as an older fart in a stuffed economy I'm reluctant to shell out $66 for the lower-priced e-version – there are cheaper ways for me to induce sleep only to wake up feeling crappy. The summary version of the report [7 pdf pages] highlights the following:
In The Age [20 Aug] Prof McGorry argues:
has made important progress in the past 30 years, but that momentum has died.
The main changes have been closing asylums and bringing the treatment of mental
illness into the mainstream health system…
We have replaced the 19th Century models of care with a seriously under-done, under-funded and actually quite stagnant first pass at mainstreaming mental health care…"
From the Liberal Party's
All this EPPIC / headspace stuff sounds new, doesn't it?
What's it mean anyway?
What it means is set out on the current government's Department of Health and Aging Website and dated May 2013:
"The successful headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation will deliver the last remaining element of the Federal Government’s $2.2 billion national mental health reform plan – early psychosis youth services (EPPIC).
to deliver nine early psychosis youth services across all states and territories…
Initially, four ‘hubs’ will be established, building to nine over a three year period, with at least one located in each state and territory. The initial four sites will be located in: western
Sydney; south-east Melbourne;
western Adelaide; and north-east , with two to be up
and running by 1 July. [the rest within 3
“These sites will act as service ‘hubs'
“These sites will act as service ‘hubs'
24 hour home based care and assessment; community education and awareness programs; easy access to acute and sub-acute services; continuing care case management; mobile outreach; medical and psychological interventions; functional recovery, group, family and peer support programs; workforce development; and youth participation."
The Liberal policy continues:"better employment opportunities to those with serious mental health issues…"
Deranged laughter is better than none; I'm sure it still produces enough dolphins to elevate my spirits.
Last year, my shrink filled out a form stating I have a mental illness. Some Sennalink employee - who did not bother to let me know if she had any qualifications or what they might be – deemed I would be able to work at least 15 hours per week. [If only I could find 15 hours guaranteed work per week.]
Why am I cynical about the Sennalink assessment of my mental illness? The earlier experience of an in-law told me all I need to know:
Let me be blunt, the guy stands weird, thinks weird, behaves weird and does weird. He can't drive, but as a passenger in a car he is the world's best GPS. Go down the side of a side road off a minor road off a major road anywhere in Victoria and he'll not only know the name of the road, but how to get there, how to get back from there, it's name, when it was named and how the name was chosen.
"You couldn't possibly have Asperger's", concluded a Sennalink employee, "you have no trouble at all looking me in the eye."
However, as TO was not yet last year officially an OAP but was [and still is] bringing home the bacon, there were only two reasons for subjecting myself to this humiliation:
- to get a health care card of the Newstart variety
- to only be required to turn up at one of those ridiculous
employment services twice a week to keep my card.
The HCC saves me a bucket on non-PBS prescriptions.
I cannot tell a lie; I was deliberately working the system. To be honest, though, having someone semi-literate "fix" my CV while saying for the 5 millionth time "anyone can get a job if they really want one" probably wouldn't inspire confidence in many long-term unemployed people.
[I don't know where she's working now that the service she worked for has lost it's contract, but I'm sure she quickly got a good job because her attitude is so positive.
Karma's only a bitch if you are one.]
I wasn't applying for a disability pension; no one in their right mind could afford to / would voluntarily become a "bludger".
The blogosphere is awash with stories of how parents and children deal with Aspergers in the context of education
I do still have regular meltdowns [less severe now that I've finally got some help] but I'm fortunate enough to be surrounded by extraordinarily caring and supportive people at home.
This post is certainly not all about me:
· What about the many varieties of dementia?
· What about those who are homeless as a result of mental illness [now that we've closed all of those inhumane asylums].
· What about those who are born with or acquire a brain injury?
· What about the families who suffer violence at the hands of children /siblings during psychotic episodes?
· What about the social problems caused by those with mental illness who "self-medicate"?
I could go on … as some of you may have noticed… but the whole thing is too sickening.
Perhaps this example of a single amalgamated job description says it all:
The Hon Mark Butler MP, Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Minister for Social Inclusion, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Mental Health Reform, Minister for Housing and Homelessness
Monday, August 19, 2013
Politics is often a dirty business, but now the Ruddster is talking up the idea of politicians having consciences! Well, he only mentions consciences in the context of voting, and only on one issue, really.
It's an important issue. Probably not the most important issue, but what with the conscience bizzo and all, it's an interesting one.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Had planned to be biased about each "party"* in turn, and was disappointed so many had beaten me to the juxtaposition of Norman Gunston's shaving cuts with photos of the tweetmeister's face. Serendipitously, the following image was drawn to my attention:
*BTW is "political party" an oxymoron or what!
Friday, August 16, 2013
Thursday, August 15, 2013
We took TO's mum [MIL] out for lunch, to the Commercial Club Carvery. She pushed the food around on her plate, confirming a suspicion that as parents age they reverse roles with their children. MIL had always had a healthy appetite, but I suspect she is, like Aunty E, becoming a bit tired of late.
|Aunty E and TO's mum on a picnic last year|
TO had a tiny portion of something [the lap banding works], while I might have said I ate like a pig had I not seen the people around me taking advantage of the all-you-can-eat rules. At least I only take a small taste of those things I like… one snow pea and a small button mushroom from one salad and, oh, look, is there anything as yummy as a small piece of burnt baked pumpkin?
At the next table, a chap who didn't look overly huge hoed into three - count them, three - heaped plates of roast, fried rice and an assortment of other not so goodies. These he followed with three plates overloaded with pav, ice-cream, sponge, lemon meringue, on and on.
He came second in the race, only to his son? at least 160kg, who ate much more, garnishing each of his first three meals with a couple of slices of pizza.
The older, smaller chap coughed and ahemmed relentlessly throughout. How does someone who eats so much so fast stay so thin?
TO, not admitted to the school of medicine at the age of 41 because the cut-off age was then 40, is a frustrated GP at heart.
Her explanation of the smaller, older man’s appetite and size was sad.
As it says in the Gaviscon ad, if symptoms persist see your doctor.
MIL's fingernails had become Guinness World Record talons: A community volunteer visits the Jindera hostel at regular intervals, painting the nails of female residents. It’s a great thing to do, but perhaps she is prevented from trimming or cutting because she lacks a TAFE certificate and/or personal liability insurance.
TO cut her mum’s nails back quite a bit, but is not a manicurist and they were still too long, but after TO's attempt they were rough as well.
MIL was always proud of her appearance and, if the photos are anything to go by, deservedly so.
Day 2 in Albury, we packed her into the car and headed off for Centro Lavington where the local nail franchise people pampered MIL enormously.
Her nails were trimmed again [twice], Mrs Marshed, filed, buffed and cleaned, and her cuticles pushed back. Her wrists and fingers were massaged. Lacquer was applied to her nails, then two coats of polish in the colour she chose, and more lacquer.
Total cost, $25.
|Uncle D, TO, and TO's mum last week|
[couldn't find a picture of a camera to hide TO's face]
If baby boomers are ageing, their parents are heading towards ancient.
At what point should we stop actively intervening when there are major health issues? For me, this is not a dollar issue – the health of oldies is a reasonable investment if the active intervention is warranted.
It's certainly hard to assess someone else's quality of life when we can't read their mind. TO puts a lot of energy into finding ways to enjoy time with her mother while she can. With the manicure it was about the journey and feeling special, not the pretty pink nails at the destination.
MIL does not remember visits, but she still seems to enjoy them.
Some years ago I worked with a woman [mid-thirtyish] who went to visit her grandmother twice a day at the local hostel. Someone criticised her, saying it was ridiculous to visit all the time when her grandmother had no idea who she was.
"But I know who she is," my workmate replied.
It was a nice thing to overhear.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
In the same hostel at Jindera where TO’s mum lives, Aunty E resides across the hall. Her parents and TO’s grandparents were firm and fast friends, with the next two generations following.
|I think these are Aunty E's gran and mum|
[don't ask me why these photos are even on my pc I've no idea]
On the downhill slide to 101, E has become quite frail, though she remains relatively unconfused. It’s hard to believe just 3 years ago she was still living independently, growing vegies, doing her own washing, and feeding the family horses every day.
I go looking for her when we are visiting TO's mum, but increasingly find her asleep when I pop in to try and say hello.
Bugger other people’s problems, and bugger the pies – my greatest disappointment every time I meet up with Aunty E is that she has been stone deaf for years.
She and her husband were committed communists at a time when the world was a big unknown, except for common ideals. They were by no means committed to Stalinism, just to decent values in a world struggling with an Imperial War and its aftermath, followed by the dreadful, extended economic depression in
Somewhere, she has a stash of scrapbooks full of newspaper cuttings, letters to editors and more that constitute a living history of her husband's political activism.
Aunty E has always been an avid reader of non-fiction, and taken a great interest in the world and what makes it tick. During an extended stay at Franger a few years ago it was exciting to have someone about who was actually interested in reading some of my own weird assortment of books. We managed to communicate with regular shouting matches, but I can’t imagine how isolated her deafness has made her feel over the years.
I would give up pies forever if only I could sit and really chew the fat with Aunty E for a while. She is tired, but always smiling, never complaining, and she still gives great hugs.
Seriously, I think so highly of her that I've even forgiven her for giving birth to five sons who are all Collingwood supporters.
We stayed at Lovell's motel in Corowa last Thursday night. It's a rather old but clean, comfy and rather cheap motel. Most rooms have a kitchenette, so it was bacon and eggs for brekky, then off to visit TO's Uncle D, 84 years old.
At the moment he's doing well in his ongoing battle with prostate cancer, but recently had a horrible shock when one of his daughters collapsed in the main drag of Corowa and was dead a week later. Apparently she'd been suffering with liver cancer for yonks and it was way beyond metastasised.
No one knew; she was always visiting people and running messages for others, never once mentioning feeling seedy.
R, on hearing about her sister, set out from
to say goodbye only to get a call herself somewhere near Wang, to say her own husband had, a few
hours before, been killed in a road accident. Melbourne
When shit like this visits people in bucket loads, I can hear my own grandmother say "He must have killed a Chinaman in a previous life". [Got to blame someone, why not the Chinese?]
Cleaning out J's house, Uncle D has been shocked even further. J had had a touch of the family Aspergers, and was one of those extreme hoarders that fascinate me so on pay TV docos about hoarding. [50 is the new 40, water the new oil, and Asperger's the new depression?].
No, Asperger's is just a name we can finally use to gain insight into some of the odd behaviour on various branches and twigs of TO’s family tree. The hoarding thing - not necessarily something that afflicts everyone with Asperger's - should be a good hint in this family… now that we know. But I digress.
The house was chockers, dangerously so, and the dirt and dust and grief have exacerbated Uncle D's asthma badly. He'd filled two skips with rubbish before the housing commission finally stepped in and said they would take over - someone was desperately waiting for accommodation and they could do the job quicker.
TO had been unable to visit people because of her pneumonia and bugs, and had missed her own mum's 92nd birthday. We took Uncle D across to Jindera to visit TO’s mum, [his big sister] grabbing some pies and cakes from the bakery to share lunch together in the hostel dining room.
Forget other people's issues like cancer and death - I was disappointed with my pie! I'm not a great eater of pies, but mine had dried out for a week in the pie warmer from what I could see, and someone had tipped a packet of salt into it before putting the pastry lid on. I take back all the nice things I've ever said about Jindera pies.
After lunch at the hostel, TO pulled out lots of hitherto unseen old family photos. She'd recently met yet another bunch of cousins through Ancestry dot com [I keep wanting to call it Amazon.]
The photos are good for jogging TO’s mum’s long term memory, and distracting her from her confusion. It also gave Uncle D and TO’s mum a chance to discuss some elephants in the rooms of their past: Uncle D's story reads like Albert Facey's A Fortunate Life, and the photos prompted TO’s mum to help him fill in some gaps.
Yet what a lovely man Uncle D is, with not an ounce of bitterness about any of it.
Another photo of TO's grandmother.
Monday, August 12, 2013
Okay, I stole the title from an interesting article in The Age, where Beryl Langer suggests we may have freedom of speech, but no one is really listening.
Perhaps you are as torn as I am between a feeling that I must make the best of the democracy we have, and a sick feeling that this might be an onerous obligation.
Beryl’s article is interesting [i.e. I agree with her] but why bother reading when seeing is believing?
Let me try and make this election period as painless as possible for you, by offering you all the important, must-see moments.
At least you can be confident I am not biased.
No, really: Trust me.
What have you got to lose?
That James Diaz clip
Seriously, if they’re increasing company tax to fund parental leave at a rate way above the minimum wage, it’s just as well they’re also going to reduce company tax.
Let’s be fair, there is a plan;
Opening remarks in that debate 11 Aug 2013
This is a long clip. Suggest you start about 6.30 in, but don’t blink or you’ll miss it.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
The general response to Mr Rabbit’s boot camp suggestion has been as negative as the “man” who made it.
The current solution to subsidised unemployment - should the Clayton’s social support system SennaLink not manage to deter those in search of help – is the volunteer bullshit. This is complemented by government contracted advice from semi-literate fascists that we need help preparing CVs, and that anyone who really wants a job can find one.
No matter how good or bad Rabbit's idea might be, the current approach doesn’t build anyone up, it white ants them by denying their reality.
There are too many reality TV shows providing images and stories about spoilt brats [usually in the
who need a foot up the Khyber being sent to boot camps. They are based on the
same model as all those tired post-war movies of GIs having their self-esteem
shattered and their personality stripped away so they can then be moulded into
willing cannon fodder. U.S.
If this is Rabbit's version of a boot camp [and one assumes so as his idea of popular policy is necessarily negative] heaven help the tired and poor.
Perhaps the greatest problem with suggestions like this one is that they are presented as half-baked ideas without an ounce of detail.
Some youth might actually benefit from having their personality nourished and some self-esteem built up.
This might actually be achieved if the “camp” provides an environment where they are neither attacked personally by dysfunctional, incompetent parents/adult figures, nor given a whole heap of vacuous praise for totally insignificant pseudo-achievements.
Let’s get over our obsession with specialising people out of jobs, or replacing people with “more efficient” technology.
Replacing meter reader jobs with “smart meters”, for example, is only efficient if the definition of efficient is controlled by dickheads who don’t care about people - by dickheads who don't factor humans into their "bottom line".
Fair suck of the dingo’s donger,
let’s China tweet give the poor buggers something worthwhile to do, and the
guidance and tools they need to do it. Call it what you will, but don't put the boot in.
With respect to asylum seekers some people, politicians and voters alike, are failing to separate the boat issue from the obligation to protect people from genocide and the like.
Who sez the candidates or the media should frame debate in such a limited way?
Rudd’s goal is to create a disincentive to boat travel. It is an admirable goal, but his solution is not the best. PNG may well be a threat from our own privileged and more informed viewpoint, but to those who are desperate, PNG is a chance because it is a relative unknown. It certainly fails the protection test.
As for Mr Rabbit’s solution – getting the navy to get tough is downright impractical and innately stupid. Perhaps Joe Hockey’s bellicosity is even more infectious than I had already feared.
As much as I disliked Gillard, she had one idea in common with Malcolm Fraser, in that she felt for people who lacked the means to travel by boat.
Fraser has recently reminded us of his response to the fall of
We must create a queue.
We must create a queue because for many people the reality is that there currently is none.
The promise of a queue and the expectation people must wait their turn might provide a disincentive to boat travel, but its greatest virtue is it will remove the inequity inherent in placing the richest refugees here, before placing those without the means to beg, borrow or steal a boat ticket.
Having created a queue – e.g. with a “local branch” in
let’s take people from a
far wider range of camps to provide a more balanced and diverse intake. Indonesia -
Sorry Rudd, your ‘solution’ sounds as desperate as the
solution, the only
difference being that you did your homework first. Malaysia
The Greens, it has been said, can afford to have more generous policies because there is no practical way they will ever have the means to implement them nor will they ever be held to account for them.
The notion that we should provide 30,000 people in one year with temporary visas and the right to work is utterly over the top.
Forget the government-dictated definitions of unemployment – there is a 15% unemployment rate already amongst current citizens. We don’t need the competition.
On the other hand, Human Nature will always prevail. Where people do not have the right to work, a black market of one sort or another will emerge.
Black markets by definition contribute nothing to tax revenue.
I’m torn between concern for myself as a jobseeker, and concern for what is morally desirable for refugees, but Human Nature will always prevail. I can’t help but feel that currently offered government policies must, to some degree, create a divide between “us” and “them”.
There, I’ve outed the elephant.
No I do not propose that we stop taking anyone in, but that we get our act together and start planning realistically for asylum seeking as a fact of life, and planning realistically for a higher population density, and planning to let people do jobs that might not be high tech but which benefit society as a whole.
The date for the
bollocks ballot has been set at September 7. The only thing I
know for sure is that I will be signing up to vote early, or vote by post. None
of these nongs is worth queuing up to vote for.
Friday, August 2, 2013
Never, ever let your private health insurance lapse. You may well find yourself homeless as a result of the high cost involved, but at least you’ll get a free bed [eventually] if you need one.
If you must get sick, do so during business hours.
Avoid Emergency Departments on Saturday nights.
If you ignore rules 2 and 3 above, adopt the aggressive and abusive behaviour of someone suffering a drug and alcohol induced psychosis. You will be strapped down onto a bed quicker than you can say “Sectioned”.
[Don’t worry – you live in
It is rare for anyone to be sectioned here, whether they need it or want it or
Network. Go to the opening of every envelope or fridge possible, and build medical connections.
When you feel dangerously ill, try to get an ambulance. If you do manage to get an ambulance, do your darndest to convince ambos you need urgent medical care. If you go to hospital by ambulance this can save up to 8 hours in the ED waiting room. Sure, you’ll be stuck in an ambulance for four hours waiting for a bed, but at least you will be bedded down and cared for while you wait.
[One shifty person I know was recently gasping for air and looking deathly pale. The ambos arrived and quickly administered oxygen. She never stopped talking the whole time they waited for the oxygen to help – sneaky or what? Still looked like crap when it was time for them to make a decision!]
Don’t get old. If you are both sick and old all of your answers to medical questions will be dismissed as the whining of someone with an irritating personality.
Once you have been triaged into an ED bed, as you wait, and wait, and then wait some more for someone to actually attend to you, do not try to work out the rank, name or serial number of any hospital staff. Doctors, Div 1 Nurses, Div 2 Nurses and PCAs wear a mixed assortment of scrubs and uniforms that make no sense at all.
If you are a nurse yourself, don’t make the mistake of asking the crabby woman playing with a pc if she is a nurse. She will assume your name is Jan and let you know in no uncertain terms that she is not happy.
While waiting to be seen by a doctor, do not watch Nurse Ratshit. If you do you will notice that she can seal a full sharps container, go fetch an empty container, fiddle with a pc, rearrange desk furniture, remove used kidney dishes and other paraphernalia, take patients to the toilet, open and close curtains, put rubbish in a pedal bin by lifting the lid with her hands, fetch steps for patients to climb in and out of bed, pick her nose and more but not sanitize or wash her hands once.
Try not to laugh nervously [or with delight] when the young man with piercings in the next bed finally gets sick of being ignored. He will stand up and assertively tell Nurse Ratshit in a Wesley College accent that he arrived 6 hours ago, was told to go to a GP, gave the GP $85 only to be told by said GP to go to the ED at the nearest hospital where he was dumped in the “malingerers’ ward”, and has since been ignored for 5 hours. He won’t raise his voice or use one rude word – except ‘shit”, and then only once – but when he says he is checking himself out and going home Nurse Ratshit will seize on this decision as proof there is nothing wrong with him.
While waiting in the malingerers’ ward, use your contacts [see Rule 5] to organise your own private hospital bed as early as possible, and have a chat with the specialist under whose care you propose to be admitted to the private hospital.
Grovel to Nurse Ratshit whose nose you so innocently got up earlier [before she picked it] and pray a doctor will see you before midnight. After midnight a doctor will be reluctant to call your nominated specialist [see rule 12] to see if said specialist will really accept you as a private hospital patient.
Treat any suggestions you will be sent for imaging by ED staff with suspicion [i.e. stifle the urge to treat the suggestion with derision]. Should a trip to an imaging section actually happen, pray you will be returned to the malingerers’ ward before midnight [see rule 13 above].
If a doctor finally agrees to refer you to the care of the rule 12 specialist, ask him/her to cancel the patient transport he has just arranged – you could die before it arrives. Hitch a ride with a friend/partner or crawl, if necessary, to your nominated private hospital. If you can’t crawl, run.
On arrival in the safe haven of a private hospital, let the rule 12 specialist examine you, listen to you, and send you for imaging him/herself, because the public hospital will rarely have any results from their own imaging.
Please God you will be given a bed further from the car park than any other bed in the whole hospital. God knows, your partner probably needs the exercise.
If you really do have pneumonia and a collapsed lung, preparing for a week in hospital will require quick – albeit serial – thinking. You will need someone to fetch clean jim-jams, slippers, dressing gown, a pen, reading glasses, a book, a mobile phone so you can ring home and give Aunty yet another list of the things you need, the charger for your mobile phone, a full range of toiletries and hand creams, a supply of plastic shopping bags, and your iPad [with charger] to take advantage of the free wi-fi.
You will also be keen to provide clear instructions regarding everything extra hospitale from poo patrol* to checking the post office box. Request a specific brand of lozenges and a supply of tissues. [Apparently free wi-fi does not affect the private hospital’s bottom line half so severely as the provision of tissues.]
Try to be clear when giving instructions about who to ring and what to say to each of the ringees.
Do not bother to watch any of the free movies available on demand. You will be interrupted at some climactic moment and will never know who dunnit, how dunnit, when dunnit or why.
At some point you will need a visit from two schnauzers. It’s called pet therapy. Use the little air available in two lobes of left lung to sneak out into the cold night air of the car park and sit with them awhile.
It is okay for dogs to sit on their own blanket in a pre-heated car on a cool night. If you don’t believe me just ask them – ask them to get out of the car and go inside any time in any weather and you will get the ‘no thanks I like it here get out of my face’ stare.
Ask all visitors and or staff members to take snaps of you with your iPad while you look as pathetic as you can - mask on face makes a great prop. Discuss the haute couture of your pyjama collection on facebook.
If you plan your visual storyboard well, you will be sent a bouquet of real flowers from real friends in
Beg, wheedle and cajole with all the kitchen staff you’ve known for yonks until you have half a dozen tiny serves of fruit salad for your visiting partner [each night].
When your specialist tries to re-cannulate you, grimace for the camera and exclaim “Jesus Christ!” in a blasphemously loud voice. Your specialist will be Jewish, and will remind you that while Jesus was Jewish he was not the Messiah and so there is no need to apologise for your outburst.
*the back yard. What, did you think I was Henry Plantagenet's groom of the stool in a previous life?