Save Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre

December 6, 2016

08 September 2016 – Radio Fox supports the Hold Onto Our Hearts campaign to ensure that the Children’s Heart Unit remains at Glenfield Hospital. Click the links below to find out more and sig…

Source: Save Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre

Sportsmanship

November 27, 2016

David Ginola recently had a heart operation, and seems to be recovering well after a quadruple heart bypass. I wish him all the best.

My memories of him as a footballer, was of someone of the calibre of George Best, who had incredible skills as a dribbler, and could weave through defences with balletic ease. I remember watching him playing towards the end of his career, easy to pick out on the pitch with his flowing locks, carving through the opposition. Yet, every time he got anywhere near the penalty area, where he could have laid the ball off for another player, or fired off a speculative shot, he would come crashing to the ground at the slightest hint of a contact, always looking for a penalty. What a waste of such meteoric talent, and what a pity for anyone watching the game.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85-OLWTFrJE

In football, diving has become almost a recognised tactic – so much so I wonder if it is practised on the training ground – “Yes that’s it, brush past the defender and pretend to trip up, plant your face into the turf and roll around, look anguished, hands up in appeal to the referee, clutch your ankle in pain and pretend to hobble to your feet. Brilliant, now get out there on the pitch on Saturday and dive like you mean it”.

Yet in most other sports, generally, the highest standards of sportsmanship apply. A snooker player will always acknowledge the slightest touch of a ball, even if the referee didn’t spot it. Can you imagine a footballer stopping play themselves and acknowledging a hand ball, or querying the referee when a decision has gone in their favour? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnJdn9zqYQw&t=0s – this is from the climax of the World Championship final (Hendry vs White, 1995).

In rugby, there is hardly ever any faking of injuries – and the few cases that there have been have become infamous – the worst instance I can think of is the “Bloodgate” scandal where a Harlequins player bit on a fake blood capsule in order to be substituted https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uhh2ZS-kT0, but there is also Yoann Huget’s simulation against Bath https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QalzKWdpdyg or Brian Habana’s dive against Farrell (for which Habana graciously made a public apology). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3f4Tq7f0xec

In rugby, these are rare exceptions, rather than the rule. The commentator saying that “this isn’t football”, is surely telling.

Board games have become commonplace online. I enjoy playing Scrabble. One way of playing, which is quite enjoyable, is to actually help your opponent. You can chat to the other player as they are making a word, and if you choose to, you can improve their score. On Yahoo! Scrabble, one person replied, “I felt like you were rooting for me!” However, this (in my opinion) makes for a more enjoyable game, and helps you improve your own play. I used to play chess like this against a friend. She was a better player than me, but we would look at the position together, analyse the moves and work out the best play. We called it “non-competitive chess”; at first glance, this may seem like an oxymoron.

Quite often, in Scrabble, you come across someone using software to generate the best words – for example, Word Breaker (Scrabble Cheat) – Android Apps on Google Play It can be difficult to tell a strong player from a cheat, but one tell-tale sign of a weak player cheating is a disregard for the tactics of the game, yet a brilliant ability to solve anagrams. Scrabble is a surprisingly subtle game – you can defend a lead by closing down the board and not giving your opponent an opportunity to score, or you can attack when chasing a lead, by playing expansively and taking risks in order to get that elusive triple word score. But what does that mean for the enjoyment of the game – what is the point of simply inputting an anagram given to you by a computer?

I also enjoy long-distance running at an amateur level and the camaraderie of the running community is, in my experience, always superb. In the latter stages of the Leicester marathon this year, a fellow runner offered me their energy gel. I refused actually, partly because it was my legs, which felt like lead, rather than a feeling of having no energy, but partly because he may well have needed a boost himself in the last few miles. Still, I felt this was a really kind gesture.

Sport needs to be played fairly and competitively, otherwise there is no point. You need to be matched against an equally strong or stronger opponent, in order to improve your own game, and the most thrilling encounters are when evenly-matched opponents play to the best of their abilities. For spectators too, if cheating occurs, then the whole integrity of the sport can be called into question – as has happened in professional cycling, such is the extent of doping at a professional level – this goes right back to the earliest days of the sport. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_doping_cases_in_cycling

Priorities

November 23, 2016

Three hundred and sixty million? Cough, splutter.
For a fraction of that, I’d fix the gutter.
How many council houses could we buy?
Buckingham Palace, a modern Versailles.

Let Queenie herself pay for the job:
The Cullinan, that should fetch a few bob,
Empress of India, and all that palaver.
Empire long gone; old, stuffy cadaver.

In austerity Britain, we’re under the cosh.
While Royals claim yet more of our dosh,
Food bank queues only grow longer,
Working-class anger only grows stronger.

On Mark Serwotka, socialism and why we need ECMO

November 20, 2016

I read a very moving article in the Guardian on the plight of the leader of the PCS union Mark Serwotka. One of the most militant trade union leaders in the UK, he started his working life as a benefits clerk in the civil service.

Whilst taking his black labrador for a walk, the dog rolled in mud. He washed it down, only to suffer what he thought was an allergic reaction. It turned out to be a life-threatening virus. Two weeks later, it caused his heart to start beating at 220bpm, and an MRI scan found scarring on his internal organs.

After life-saving surgery at Papworth Hospital, Serwotka has been given a VAD (Ventricular Assist Device), which uses similar technology  to the ECMO (Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) machine, which keeps new-born babies who suffer from congenital heart problems alive. He had to keep himself plugged in to the briefcase-sized unit at all times, which did the work of his heart in pumping blood around his body. This technology was pioneered at the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, which accounts for 50% of the country’s ECMO capacity.

Last Saturday, I attended a packed rally at Socialism 2016, where PCS Deputy General Secretary and Socialist Party member Chris Baugh spoke in Mark Serwotka’s place. Chris paid tribute to Mark’s struggle, but also alluded to the struggle we have under capitalism to combat climate change, the need to fight for socialism, as well as Tory government attacks on the PCS union. This included the right to facility time for representatives, and the removal of automatically deducted union subs from payslips. All this because the PCS had dared to stand up against pension cuts, staff losses and austerity, and been one of the most effective trade unions in the country. The union had succeeded in recruiting 152,000 union members, which the government had effectively disenfranchised  and removed from the union. Their intention, starting with the PCS union, is to destroy the trade union movement as a fighting force to stand up for workers’ rights.

The reason Mark Serwotka could not attend in person, was that he had developed a blood clot. He now has to be given a constant supply of blood thinning medication, through an intravenous drip, meaning he has been confined to Papworth Hospital, while awaiting a heart transplant.

Like Mark and the PCS union, the Glenfield Children’s Heart unit which pioneered the technology which is keeping him alive, also faces a fight for its survival. Leicester Socialist Party, Green Party, Momentum, Keep Our NHS Public, the UNITE union, and parents of children who had been treated at the Glenfield Hospital, organised a 1,500 strong demonstration through the streets of Leicester, chanting “Save Our Glenfield, Save Our Kids”.

There is an online petition to Parliament, which I urge you to sign. It calls for a public review into the threatened closure of the Children’s Heart Centre at Glenfield Hospital, along with the Royal Brompton in London and Greater Manchester Children’s Heart Unit.

Let us keep the heart of trade unionism beating, let us keep children’s hearts beating and let us build a socialist society to protect a publicly-funded NHS and vital public services, without which Mark Serwotka would not be alive today.

On the destruction of the ‘Jungle’, Calais

October 29, 2016

bulldozers

cannot erase memories
obliterate hardship
pulverise poverty
demolish bigotry
bury hatred

fire

cannot consume wounds
burn away torture
scorch suffering
ignite crushed spirits
blaze uncertainty

politicians

sitting in comfort
start conflict
invade countries
bomb civilians
divide and rule

people

create society
comfort losses
heal scars
renew hope
start anew

Adrift

October 29, 2016

They came – a few hundred, not thousands as claimed
Fleeing fear and persecution – they should not be blamed.
Desperate people, not a swarm, horde or flood
The same as you and me, made of flesh and blood.

Ils sont arrivés – quelques centaines, ce n’est son pas des milliers  selon
Qui fuyaient la peur et la persécution – ils ne devraient pas être blâmés
Des gens désespérés pas un essaim, une horde, ou une inondation
La même chose que vous et moi, de chair et de sang.

The Express and Daily Mail bleat unsparing, vile attacks
Some people sadly taken in by lies of right-wing hacks.
You might think World War III was on its way
If you read the tabloid press – so we need to sway

 «Aujourd’hui en France>> avec des attaques viles, impitoyables
Malheureusement certains croisent les mensonges de la droite.
Vous pourriez penser que la troisième guerre mondiale était sur son chemin
Si vous lisez la presse tabloïd donc nous aurons besoin de tangeur

the balance back – fight for the oppressed and the poor.
Unify against bosses, politicians who waged war
which created refugees; dispossessed, homeless –
It was not poor people who got us into this mess.

lutter pour les opprimés et les pauvres.
S’unifier contre les boss, les politiciens qui font la guerre
Qui a créé des réfugiés; dépossédés, sans-abri:
Ce ne fut pas de pauvres gens qui nous ont mis dans ce pétrin.

Immigrants were not responsible for the financial crisis
While bankers rake in billions, the media divides us.
We need solidarity, not racism against fictitious “angry mobs”
Who are no threat in reality, just want the chance to get jobs.

Les migrants ne sont pas responsables de la crise financière
Alors que les banquiers râtissent des milliards, les médias nous divisent.
Solidarité, contre le racisme fictif «des foules en colère»
Qui sont pas une menace en réalité , ils veulent une chance de trouver un emploi.

But they cannot work, just get by on an Azure card
Not welcome in certain places. Bureaucracy gone mad.
The system treats the asylum seeker like a criminal
No independence, singled out – the message is subliminal.

Mais ils ne peuvent pas travailler, juste obtenir une carte Azure
Seulement accepté dans certains magasins. Bureaucratie devenue folle.
Le système traite le demandeur d’asile comme un criminel
Pas d’indépendance, persecuté – le message est subliminal.

And the police respond with Operation Stack
COBRA is convened: we are under attack.
The refugee is dehumanised, feared by all and sundry
But millionaires are fêted, when they come to the country.

Et les flics réagissent avec l’Opération Stack
Le comité d’urgence est convoqué: nous sommes sous la menace.
Le réfugié est déshumanisé, craint par toute l’humanité
Mais les millionnaires sont acclamés, quand ils viennent au pays.

Leaves turn red

September 9, 2016

Tired of working for cruel, intransigent boss;
Leaves turn red. It is not their loss
Of profit, sucking their lives dry
In the service of corpulent, bloated guy
For in this world, its nearly always men
Who profit from cheap labour, then
Swan off to convenient tax haven
Suck up souls of those who slave in
Modern day workhouses, pump and sweat
Leaves gather sunlight, yet
Get no reward for their toil
Our labour earns his profitable spoil.
Learn from leaves. In protest, cut
Gordian knot that binds us shut.
Join a union, organise and fight
For what should be ours by right.
Let the broken stump of capitalism wither
We cannot afford to dither.
Let us build and spring anew,
Let this autumn be our last,
Let the working class hold fast
Consign slavery to the past.
We cannot baulk at radical change
Socialist ideas, no longer strange.

 

little red little green

If you have enjoyed my poetry on this blog, my new collection, “Little Green Poetry” is now available from Lulu – – £4+P&P (paperback) or £2.50 (for e-book readers)

You can still order copies of my first collection, “Little Red Poetry” from http://www.leftbooks.co.uk or http://www.lulu.com – again for £4 (pb) or £2.50 (as a pdf for e-readers).

I hope you enjoy reading my poems, and, as always, all proceeds will go to help build the fightback against corporate political parties, to build a voice for the millions, not the millionaires.

To find out more about my politics, visit the website of the Committee For A Workers’ International, which is engaged in struggle in around 50 countries worldwide.

Hospital Closures: Campaigning and Winning

September 3, 2016

So important to join up campaigns against cuts to public services, our NHS is being privatised, and cut to the bone, our schools are being turned into academies and libraries are being closed. We all use and need decent public services; if the Tories and the Blairites have their way, these will be handed over as cash cows to the private sector.

Thoughts of a Leicester Socialist

Not a day goes by when our NHS is not under attack from the government. This explains why our Junior Doctors have been forced into planning further strike actions to prevent further dangerous ‘reforms’ to facilitate the mismanagement of our health services.

In recent months I have been campaigning alongside many others in fighting to stop the closure of the Glenfield Heart Unit in Leicester, but we are also demanding that no heart units should be shut down in other parts of the country too.

With a £22 billion funding gap in the NHS, it is little wonder that the government is pushing through dangerous closures, and in Leicester we have just been informed that plans are on the table to close down A&E services at the Leicester Royal Infirmary.

So today I travelled to Grantham and joined over a thousand other people in marching through the rain with our…

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We need to keep our E C M O

August 29, 2016

Tories, closing our heart units down;
I said, Tories, they’re making us frown.
I said, Tories, vested interests abound.
We need to get very angry!

Children, born with holes in their hearts,
Fragile babies, who need the best start.
You can go there, and I’m sure you will find
Surgeons with skills to repair you.

We need to keep our E C M O
We need to keep our E C M O
Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygen,
It can help save your life.

We need to keep our E C M O
We need to keep our E C M O
It can help you to breathe, pump your blood all around,
It can help save your life.

Families, stay with their loved ones,
I said, families, we were all young once.
I said, families, with support and love,
We need to be there for one another.

No man, does it all by himself.
Don’t let Tories, put our hearts on the shelf,
We can go there, to the Glenfield Hospital.
I’m sure they can help you today.

We need to keep our E C M O
We need to keep our E C M O
It can help you to breathe, pump your blood all around,
It can help save your life.

We need to keep our E C M O
We need to keep our E C M O
It can help you to breathe, pump your blood all around,
It can help save your life.

Tories – when they make you feel blue
I said, Tories, pick yourself off the ground,
They don’t care, that children are kept alive
Their hypocrisy is so jive…

That’s why, we need our NHS Trusts,
We say, no more privatisation and cuts.
We have technology, called the E C M O
That can start you back on your way.

E C M O, we need to keep our E C M O
It can help you to breathe, pump your blood all around,
It can help save your life.

E C M O, we need to keep our E C M O
It can help you to breathe, pump your blood all around,
It can help save your life.

E C M O, we need to keep our E C M O
Tories, they come in both blue and red.
I said, Tories, they don’t care if we’re dead.

E C M O, we need to keep our E C M O
Young child, young child, you didn’t have a good start,
Young child, young child, with a hole in your heart.

There’s a petition, you can find it online,
A petition, it won’t take you much time:
To MPs, although they are mostly scum,
But it might, just, get something done.

Sign the official Parliamentary petition here for a review into the closure of Children’s Heart Units, at the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, in Manchester and at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London.

 

 

 

Save Our Heart Units

August 29, 2016

http://petitionmap.unboxedconsulting.com/?petition=160455

Screenshot from 2016-08-29 12:07:21This is the map of a petition, which is calling for a review into the proposed closure of Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre in Leicester. There is a large number of signatures from Leicester and the surrounding areas, but the unit serves the whole of the East Midlands.

Also, this is not the only unit under threat – similar facilities in Manchester and in London are also being axed, if the government get their way. I would like to see similar blobs of support around these cities too!

This is a nationwide issue, as five other hospitals have been told to stop doing simpler operations on children’s hearts. Children will not stop being born with congenital defects, such as a “hole in the heart” – and we need local services in order to protect people, so anxious families do not have to travel hundreds of miles to the nearest unit. More information can be found here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-36737265

The NHS was founded to be a universal, comprehensive health service, to meet people’s needs, from “cradle to grave” – not to be cut back, fragmented and broken up, so profitable parts can be handed over to private companies.

Please sign the petition , and get involved in campaigns to save our NHS.