Friday 23 March 2012

Fabrice Muamba lives on aided by CPR

Like most people in this country, I find it absolutely astonishing that Fabrice Muamba is still alive and on the long road to recovery after being effectively dead for 78 minutes.  Is it right to say that it is almost unbelieveable?

I could sit here and re-iterate the comments made in the media about the hard work of both clubs doctors and the hosptial staff, but that would be pointless.  My point is about the CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) that was administered by those professional in the immediate time after the Bolton player collapsed.  It is clear that having those people present meant all the difference to whether he lived or passed away.  What would have happened if there wasn't anybody close by who hasn't received that training nearby is unthinkable (very unlikely given where it happened, but please bear with me on this).  That is why I consider CPR and First Aid a vital life skill.  As I said in the First Aid post, it can probably be one of the most important training courses I have ever been on and will definitely encourage anybody to do it.  It isn't a hard course to do and is very worthwhile.  My thinking is that we can never have too many First Aiders in this world.  You never when you might be needed.

As part of my last refresher course I was shown how to use a Defibrillator.  They are becoming more and more available in public places such as railway stations, shopping centres and the likes.  Again, these aren't anything to be frightened of as they are programmed to talk you through the whole process.  Don't worry, you don't have control of those big electric pads that you see on Casualty and Holby City!  It is all done from a small carry case with all the equipment in.

As I say, it really isn't anything to be frightened of.  If just one of you who may come across this blog post become persuaded to look into First Aid training, I think it may just have done what I intended it to.

Thursday 25 August 2011

'Take on an Empty Stomach'

Take on an Empty Stomach or an hour before food - a statement which appears on a number of medications.  I had never been able to find a definitive answer as to how long it takes for a human stomach to digest a meal.  So when I was prescribed a course of Antibiotics last Friday, I was confused and annoyed all over again.

The Internet seems to have numerous theories about this subject, some being way different than others.  Previously a Doctor at our surgery told me that an hour after a meal would be fine.  However, some sites claimed that you should go four hours without food.  I was also confused about the consumption of hot drinks as they contain milk and will start the digestive system off.  Another Doctor claimed that this was taking it too far.  This was creating one great big head scratching moment for me.  All I wanted a defnite answer as to when I could enjoy a brew and my lunch.

In the end I've gone with the official NHS Direct guideline of waiting two hours after eating/drinking (water is OK as it doesn't start the digestive system unless there's something in it I think) and an hour before food.  I've now been following this for nearly seven days now.  I do want the medication to work at it's best so I'm best taking the tablets as suggested.

The food aspect isn't so much a problem, in fact it would probably be a help (well you don't earn the nickname of the Human Dustbin by not eating much do you?!).  The prospect of only drinking Tea and Coffee at certain times of the day has been driving me nuts though.  I don't seem to have a set time when I make a drink, just when I fancy one (which is numerous times during the day).  So when that is curtailed, it is so hard not to flick the kettle on!

Thank heavens for 17:00 tomorrow then, an hour after my final tablet.  I can back to drinking numerous cups of Tea per day and feeding my face when I want.

Incidentally though, abstaining from booze over the last seven days has been no where near as problematic.  Perhaps the patchy headache and nausea I had at the start of the treatment has got something to do with it.

Thursday 21 July 2011

Dear Mr. Murdoch

I love the fact that Roger Taylor is re-issuing his song 'Dear Mr. Murdoch'.  It's probably the only positive thing to come out of all this phone hacking mess which the general public has been a spectator of for the last few weeks.

As he says, I think you'll find that the updated lyrics speak for themselves.


Thursday 10 March 2011

True Faith and Other Cover Songs

So, True Faith by New Order has been covered by George Michael then.  I'm purposely trying to avoid it as most people have had negative views on it and I do not want to spoil my views on the original.  Yes it intentions are to raise money for Comic Relief, even though as fatmancunian states, it is a serious cover, rather than a comical one.  Matthew Rudd raises a valid point about actually being allowed to dislike it, even though it is a charity single.  We have been trained to think that we should buy them, even though they aren't musically brilliant.

The negative views towards this track got me thinking about other cover songs in near and distant past.  Were there many that were actually any good?  As I was struggling to come up with many, I put the question out to Twitter.  Surprisingly, I was wrong.
There are a number of good covers out there including I Second That Emotion by Japan, Burning Down The House by Nillson and Crying In The Rain by A-Ha.  Some of the tracks mentioned I mistakingly took them for original tracks, Wherever I Lay My Hat and Love of The Common People by Paul Young for example.  I put my lack of knowledge down to not being old enough to remember the originals.
There are a plethora of bad covers too and it isn't hard to think of them.  How's about Love Is All Around by Wet Wet Wet, Here's Where the Story Ends by Tin Tin Out, Srawberry Fields Forever by Candy Flip an Baker Street by Undercover?

What is it that makes or breaks a cover song then?
The most iconic covers tend to be complete reworkings of the original tracks, think Jeff Buckleys version of Hallelujah.  In covering Leonard Cohens original, he has actually managed to switch the song into a different genre, and not done a bad job of it neither.
The other key factor to note is making the correct choice in a song to cover.  Should this track be covered or not is the question that needs asking every time.
To be frank there are a number of tracks that shouldn't be covered.  Some of these have actually been recorded.  True Faith falls into this category.  God knows what possessed Depeche Mode to allow The Saturdays to cover Just Can't Get Enough.  This being the latest in cover songs from the past that have switched genres but for me aren't even a patch on the original.  Did The Saturdays actually think it was a good idea to folow in the footsteps of Girls Aloud, who covered a staggering four tracks?!

To finish off, I'd thought I'd leave you with one of my favourite covers.  This in fact switched genres and proved to be sucessful.  Also, it is an excellent track performed live as I saw here.

If you wish to add to this list of good and bad covers, please feel free.

Monday 14 February 2011

'Yes, this fear's got a hold on me' #6

Last nights White Lies gig at The O2 Academy in Leeds was the latest to pop up on my radar.  Having seen them 5 times previously, I had an idea that this would be too good a concert to miss when the tickets went on sale back in mid November.  Yes it meant sacrificing other bands I haven't seen yet (finances dictate only a handful of gigs these days), but after hearing their single from the 'Ritual' album I had an idea it wasn't going to disappoint.

Once I had carried out my share of 'dad' duties and remembered to pick up the tickets, I set off for Leeds, picking up my fellow gig goer on the way.  The rain and slightly windy conditions made for an interesting journey across the M62, but nevertheless we made it into Leeds for just after 20:15.  Prior to leaving the house, I had checked my Twitter timeline and found that the main support act was on at 20:30 until 21:00, with Harry and co getting on stage at 21:30.  That obviously meant that the 22:30 curfew would be kept right?

We had our customary glance at the merchandise booth en-route to the bar to get a pint of what can only be described as fizzy tasteless lager aka Tuborg before we got in position, just before the main support act 'Crocodiles' came on stage.  Musically they were quite enjoyable but the lead singer however, annoyed me.  He came on stage with a pair of Blues Brothers style sunglasses on, danced around a bit daft on stage whilst holding onto the mic stand and sung in a style that I can only liken to Morrissey.  In my book, that never should be done because you'll never be as good as him!  Towards the end of the set, he picked up a guitar and lost the Morrissey impression.  This was where they turned it round and they went from annoying to being quite enjoyable.  They have been added to the list of acts to try on Spotify.

After they departed and half an hour filled with stage setup, pushing, shoving and getting a bit cramped (well it was a sell out after all), they entered the stage to a theatrical but really simple spot light show.  The set began with 'A Place To Hide' from their first album 'To Lose My Life'.   A good start and a track which the little niggles with the Sound Mix could be ironed out with.  Reasoning with the choice in opener maybe?
'Holy Ghost', the second single from the new album followed, which reaffirmed to me that they really can perform live and are backed by first class Sound Engineers.  All the White Lies performances I have seen have been superbly produced, with the sound being really clear, in a variety of different venues.  At this point I remembered a comment made by a work colleague who attended the Leeds Met gig with me in May 2009.  As one of his favourite venues, he claimed that they were the best produced act he'd seen there, and trust me, he's seen loads of acts at that Students Union.

Anyway back on subject.  The title track from the first album followed which saw the crowd begin bounce and jump around in enjoyment slightly.  The obvious pattern of alternating between an old and a new track was beginning to shine through.  Old favourite E.S.T. was interlaced with new offerings such as Strangers, Peace and Quiet and Streetlights.

From here we got to the livelier part of the set with Farewell To The Fairground, again one of the live favourites amongst the fans.  The first track from Ritual, 'Is Love' came next which I was looking forward to hearing and lived up to my hopes.  The more laid back 'Bad Love' again gave the excitable crowd a bit of respite before the final track of the set was announced.
I had my money on Death being the final track of the encore as I wasn't sure any other track would work.  However, it appeared as the last track of the main set, much to the surprise of the majority of people around me.  Undoubtedly their best track live track had it's desired effect and the whole floor was bouncing up and down.

The 3 track encore consisted of Unfinished Business and the slower paced The Power and The Glory before ending on the current single Bigger Than Us.  Although a great surprised, I think that it worked as an encore, albeit in a different way to Death.  But then the whole second album differs from the first so that doesn't stand stand up as a comparison really does it?

Even though I've seen these 6 times, I still don't get tired of their live performances.  Harry is an excellent lead singer who really lets the music do the talking.  The band aren't about gimmicks or messing about on stage.  They just seem to be pleased that people enjoy there music.  You could see this in the bow they all took at the end of the gig.

Another memory of the evening is how many people older than me were at the gig.  I'm 31 and expected to be one of the oldest there.  However, there were couple who seeemed to be older than me dotted about.  It still makes me smile that one stood close to me decided to check if the liquid she had been sprayed with was lager or not.  Clearly she doesn't attend many gigs!

As for the next gig, I don't have any booked.  There are a few I would like to attend but I'm either working or being dad coupled with cash flow issues.  However, it still doesn't stop me from being envious of others who will go.

White Lies played:
A Place to Hide
Holy Ghost
To Lose My Life
Peace & Quiet
Farewell to the Fairground
Is Love
Bad Love

Unfinished Business
The Power & The Glory
Bigger Than Us

Friday 28 January 2011

What now for Sky Sports, Keys and Gray?

Unless you've not turned on a Television or Radio over the past week, you will have heard about the whole Richard Keys and Andy Gray sexism saga.  The off-air conversation between the two about Sian Masseys knowledge of the offside rule has been big news for the majority of the week.  I never thought that it would become as bigger story as it has done.  Even my father-in-law who detests football with a passion was asking my opinion on it!

To repeat what Keys said in his interview with TalkSPORT on repeat for most of the hour, what he and Gray said was wrong.  It shouldn't have been said and has possibly tarnished the excellent work made by the various governing bodies in football to involve women in the modern game.  There is no place for it in my opinion.

Judging by what I have seen in the last few years and this blog entry from someone who claims to be an employee or ex-employee of Sky Sports, Keys and Gray have been allowed too much of a free rein and letting them get away with it.  For the past 20 years the pair of them have taken live football to a new level with how the shows they were involved with have been presented and the technology used.  Gray's analysis of the game has proved to be second to none over the years.  In it's early years his own show named 'Andy Gray's Bootroom' with the use of Subbuteo in the middle of a mock dressing room demonstrated his flair as a broadcaster.  As many an armchair football fan like myself know, this went onto become a major feature of Monday Night Football, updated with the light pen on the screen and a stack of video tapes.  This seems a far cry from the latest incarnation with the touch screen and the iPad!  Keys was essential in that he hung on every word that Gray said and made up a formidable partnership.  The trouble is that they knew it, got too complacent and have run the show for a good few years.

If the New Statesmans blog is to be believed, and Keys comments on TalkSPORT about 'dark forces being at work here' along with the release of the anonymous video clips on Youtube, it's obvious to me that someone has wanted them to go from Sky Sports.  They have been presented with the opportunity to put them in a bad light and then added fuel to the situation over the course of the few days that followed.  For this reason, I do think they've been stitched up.  However, they shouldn't have given whoever released these clips cause to release them.

The fact that Keys and Gray will no longer be working for Sky Sports leaves a few questions unanswered in my eyes.  Who will replace them at Sky (that is of course if they need to be replaced)?  How will there football coverage go forward from this?  Finally, what now for Keys and Gray?

The question of replacements and the shape of the output form hereon in is crucial for Sky and how much football coverage they will retain when the contracts are next up for renewal.  Do they try and keep the style and format pioneered by Keys and Gray?  If so, who would be able to carry it off?  I don't think that this can be done as they were unique in what they did.  Anybody who tried to copy it or emulate it, tried and failed.  Remember the dreadful Tactics Truck with Andy Townsend on ITV's The Premiership?
Certainly for the foreseeable future, Sky will revert back to a host and guests/pundit format in a studio at the ground where the live game is being played.  They already have good solid hosts on the books in the form of Dave Jones, Ben Shephard and Jeff Stelling who could make it work.  I saw earlier today that Jeff was the bookies favourite as the permanent replacement.  However, having read Jeff's book, I don't think he'll want to do it long term.  We will unfortunately be stuck with Jamie Redknapp for the time being.  There's plenty of other pundits which they tend to use who can appear also.
I do believe that Sky may have to try and come up with something new and innovative long term though, if they are to be successful in retain the amount of Premier League rights they have.  If they do, will they look outside of Sky for the on screen personnel to implement it?  I see this as a fundamental development, if they are to retain the rights that they currently own.

This leaves the question of filling the co-commentary gap left by Gray.  How best to fill that role?  There aren't that many co-commentators who I consider to be as good as him, or even offer a great deal more to the game we are viewing.  Therefore I think that Sky may struggle here.  Naturally I think that Alan Smith may step up, but I find that he can only work with the right commentator at the side of him.  Otherwise, the voices of both seem to make the broadcast dull and boring. 
Another candidate I see is Davie Provan who has worked on Football First games and Scottish Football.  An articulate co-commentator who talks a good game and isn't too controversial.  Or will they look outside of Sky again for a replacement?

Keys and Gray are now seen as controversial characters and I suspect that many broadcasters will not even entertain the idea of employing either of them.  It is rumoured that they are in negotiations with Al Jazeera to front their coverage.  Won't they tied into a contract with their various hosts they already use such as Gary Lineker and Angus Scott?  Money won't necessarily be an use for the Middle East outfit though will it?

As you can probably tell, I've thought about this alot over the last week.  I've taken an interest how football is broadcast for many years, and this makes the whole story all the more fascinating as the knock on effects of their departures unfold.

Thursday 13 January 2011

First Aid Training

Firstly, let me wish you all a Happy New Year.  I've not posted for a while so I thought I'd best put in an appearance.

I've been a First Aider for most of my 12 years service with my employer and today I completed a two day refresher course.  Provided by our Occupational Health Service, we have to attend for two days every three years and complete an assessment to keep our certification up-to-date (originally gained by attending a four day course).  I think it is by far one of the best courses I have completed as it is such an important skill to have in your life, not just at work.  I'm also lucky in the fact that I've done it through my employer free of charge.

To most people, it seems really frightening to be able to administer first aid and this is why they are reluctant to come forward and volunteer to be a First Aider.  I can assure you that it isn't.  It is really simple and the majority of it is just plain common sense.  Most First Aiders will probably tell you that as you go through the course and refresher courses, you do retain alot of the knowledge.  This was my fourth refresher course on top of the original four day course and the attendees were more or less telling the instructor what was needed in each scenario.

If you are unsure about whether you would like to attend First Aid training, please give it a try.  You never know, it might come in handy one day.

I've included this clip from the British Red Cross about one of the fundamental parts you would come across on any First Aid training.

I'll get down off my Soap Box now.