In praise of Stephen Sutton

This is one of my shortest blogposts.

I just want to pay tribute to Stephen Sutton, the teenage cancer fundraiser, who has died at 19. It’s heartbreaking to watch and hear today’s archive recordings of him. But what breathtaking maturity and wisdom.

His parents deserve huge thanks for raising such a credit to humanity. At a time when there are so many examples of man’s cruelty to mankind, Stephen’s example and legacy will live on.

John Snow, Soho and the battle to defeat cholera

The replica of the Broad Street, Soho cholera pump

The (replica) Soho water pump that killed hundreds from cholera

Thousands of tourists pass through London’s Soho every day. Few glance at this Broadwick Street water pump. Yet it tells the amazing story of how Dr John Snow solved the mystery of why thousands of Londoners were dying of cholera in Victorian London.

Snow rejected the accepted view that cholera was spread by polluted air. That view was disastrously influencing government policy. In the 1848/49 cholera epidemic, poor law commissioner Edwin Chadwick ordered that sewers be flushed into the Thames to clean the air in poor areas. Yet large areas of London took drinking water from the river – so Chadwick’s policy condemned thousands to death by cholera.

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Proud of the NHS

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Llandough hospital in the snow

Today has been a stressful yet wonderful day.

My amazing 84 year old mother has had a major operation at University Hospital Llandough at Penarth, just outside Cardiff. It followed months of health worries – with my 86 year old father bearing the brunt of the worry.

We were concerned that today’s snowfall would lead to the operation being cancelled – but Cardiff & the Vale University Hospital Board and its staff did a magnificent job keeping things going.

Mum will spend a long time recovering from today’s operation. But we’re so glad to see her tonight sleeping peacefully on the ward.

Dad and I thoroughly enjoyed a pint of HB tonight at Penarth Yacht Club, followed by dinner washed down by a fine bottle of Rioja. Dad even reminisced about his 1930s childhood, in particular how deadly dull Easter Sunday was. He also remembered how his father listened to the football pools news on Saturdays on Radio Luxembourg – once winning £70! A lot of money before the war.

A pain in the back

The human back is a delicate thing. I’m writing this on my way to the chiropractor after injuring mine last week.

I’d like to claim I was engaged in extreme sport at the time. The truth, however, is mundane and ridiculous. I was turning on my Mini’s hazard lights. I must have twisted awkwardly. Ouch!

This is simply the latest example of the farcical things that cause me back pain.

The first time? Running up a spiral staircase after overseeing a TV interview in 1988. This was followed by sneezing (1997) and picking up a spoon (2006).

The spoon incident happened in the beautiful Czech town of Český Krumlov. My poor wife had to drive all the way back to Britain. It struck me that (up till then) the incidents all happened nine years apart. I was fearful about what might happen in autumn 2015. But the latest incident came three years early!

Touch wood, I’ve made a swifter recovery this time. But then I got to the chiropractor within seven hours. Did that make all the difference? It seems like that tonight. But time will tell!

NB: I’m being treated by the Amersham Chiropractic Clinic. Highly recommended.