Food and things


Flexor Tenosynovitis Chic

I’ve sprained my left thumb (flexor tenosynovitis no less) and have to rest it and rub gel on it for six weeks. Easier said than done. I had no idea how much I used it till this week. Everything I do seems to involve it, even though I’m right-handed.
I am allowed to go the the gym (which is where I sprained it in the first place) but I have to avoid lifting weights directly with my hands and – um – I’ve been forced to wear a gym glove.
As you may know, gym gloves are normally only worn by hardcore laddish types who grunt a lot and do free weights. So I feel like a complete prat, prancing around wearing it in the cardio area where the feeble people go.
But I must admit it does look quite cool on a good day.

me, lifting a large dog while wearing my gym glove

Health Update

I’ve just had my annual heart check-up and my new aortic valve is ‘looking very nice’ (medical term). Hurrah.

A Bifidus is a Bifidus is a Bifidus…

…to quote Gertrude Stein, sort of.
I’m seething.
I got all excited recently when the Danone yoghurt ads started going on about Bifidus Actiregularis. I was thrilled at the arrival of a new friendly bacterium. It seemed like a positively jolly bacterium too, with a purposeful and uplifting name.
But then I looked it up. And I discovered that it’s exactly the same as Bifidus Digestivum. Bifidus Digestivum has basically just nipped out to the microbe deed-poll office and changed its surname.
It made me apoplectic to then discover that both Bifidus Digestivum and Bifidus Actiregularis are made-up brand names for Bifidobacterium Animalis.
I for one will make a point of openly calling it Bifidobacterium Animalis from now on, as its unique hexose metabolism passes through my phosphoketolase pathway.

My First Black Eye

I have my first black eye.
It was caused not by a fight – you’ll be disappointed to learn – but by stupidly bumping into a shelf in the kitchen. Thanks to my annual hayfever, I was a bit befuddled this morning and my balance wasn’t at its best.
I immediately applied a packet of frozen organic garden peas from Waitrose, but they didn’t do the trick and so I now look like a deranged panda – but also quite cool, even if I say so myself.

Peruvian Asparagus

The English asparagus season is upon us and so I scuttled off to Waitrose to buy a ’round of grass’ as it’s correctly called. Imagine my horror when I looked at the label and it was from PERU – 6,320 miles away.
It’s wrong to buy food from Peru. They eat guinea pigs and they evicted Paddington.
Asparagus should come from Worcestershire – preferably from the Vale of Evesham. And so off I tootled to Tesco, only to discover that their asaparagus was from WARWICKSHIRE.
Has the world gone mad?

Paddington in Peru

Heart Update

I’ve just had a check-up at Harefield, almost three years after my op, and they told me my heart’s ‘in very good nick’ (a medical term I believe). I even watched my new aortic valve opening and closing like a small door on the echo scan.

Brain Update

My brain’s fine too, three years after my neurological drama. My sense of balance is still pretty terrible and I’d still look drunk if I didn’t take extra care while walking. But there are worse things to worry about in life than being a bit wobbly.
The sporadic attacks of double vision are still happening and I had a scary one yesterday morning for a couple of hours. It didn’t even get better after I had a sleep. Double vision is completely nightmarish. You open your eyes and see two versions of everything, wobbling vaguely in a sort of amorphous jelly. You just can’t control it. Your brain’s on the blink. The whole world’s gone very wobbly and distant. You feel totally removed from reality, as if you’re retreating into some kind of weird coma. And you can’t help morbidly thinking this is what it all comes to in the end. Just fading away.
But I was seeing normally again by lunchtime. Hurrah.
My friends were fantastic and kept texting and phoning to see how I was. Thank you. I’m fine again now, apart from the odd fairy light flashing on the edge of my vision, but I’ve been told to lie low for a day or two.

Oral B Movie

I was watching the TV at the gym yesterday (with the sound off) and an advert came on for Oral B toothrushes.
There were several tiny Lilliput-type people inside a huge mouth, with giant, blobby, multi-coloured bacteria floating around in the background. The bacteria were about 20 times the size of the people and were pulsating in a frightening manner.
And then a subtitle flashed up. It said ‘dramatised’. What a relief. I was sure it was real.

All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth

I have a sore tooth and – because of my peculiar heart which is prone to wibblings and is easily influenced by my other parts – they’ve put me on antibiotic pills the size of sausages.
They’ve also booked me in to have the tooth removed in hospital next week. Just as well it’s next week, as I’m doing a corporate voiceover this week and don’t want to sound like a deranged person with random dentures.
I’ll keep you posted on this exciting pre-Christmas drama.

I Left My Tart in Ecclefechan

I blame M&S. They started it with ‘This is not just a carrot. It’s an M&S Distressed Albanian Carrot from Tirana, smothered in richest Tashkent Gravy’.
Now Waitrose and Sainsbury’s are at it. Even Asda, where the poor people shop. The latest outrage is the Sainsbury’s Christmas Tart, hand-crafted by Scottish peasants in Ecclefechan. Ecclefechan? Ecclefechan?
Ecclefechan has haunted me for days, so I decided to research it this morning.
According to my Scotland guidebook – ‘Ecclefechan has a slight feel of somewhere rather left behind by history, bypassed by both the A74 and the M74. Local people call it ‘Fechan’.’
Robert Burns visited Ecclefechan once. ‘I came yesternight to this unfortunate, wicked little village. In fact, I have been in a dilemma, either to get drunk, to forget the miseries, or to hang myself.’
But Burns was inspired to write ‘The Lass O Ecclefechan’ –
Gat ye me, O, gat ye me,
Gat ye me wi’ naething?
Rock an’ reel, an’ spinning wheel,
A mickle quarter basin:
Bye attour, my gutcher has
A heich house and a laich ane,
A’ forbye my bonie sel,
The toss o’ Ecclefechan!
It doesn’t even make sense when you translate it into English.
Got you me! O, got you me!
Got you me with nothing?
Bobbin and reel! And spinning wheel!
A big quarter basin!
Moreover, my grandfather has
A high house and a low one.
All besides my lovely self,
The toast of Ecclefechan!
Other literary trivia? The writer Thomas Carlyle was born in Ecclefechan but sensibly left when he was 13.
Just when I was losing the will to live, I stumbled on a relevant fact. According to my guidebook – Ecclefechan is famous for an ‘old Scottish tart, earning well in the market place.’ I wish her well.
In fact it really is a tart. A bit like a cross between a mince pie and pecan pie. And apparently utterly delicious. I’m off to Sainsbury’s to buy one and will review it at some point soon.

My Giddy Aunt

There’s been outrage this week in Daily Mail circles at the trivial reasons people are giving to claim incapacity benefit. Over 8000 Brits apparently stay off work because of dizziness! The bounders!! How very dare they???
Well, I suffer from chronic dizziness – caused by cerebellar infarcts – and it’s no joke. OK – I’m not in pain or anything and I’m thankful for that. But it is an effort to walk in a straight line, so a long walk’s pretty exhausting. Imagine feeling extremely drunk all the time, even when you’re sober. Imagine having vision like a wobbly amateur video film.
I fell over at the gym the other day. And I lurched sideways and fell over on the stairs at Chatham House last week when I was with someone important. Two years ago, the dizziness was so bad I had to use a stick.
Yes – I go to work and I’m learning to use my eyes to compensate. But I have every sympathy for people who feel just too dizzy to cope. I have less sympathy for the wobbly values of tabloid hacks.

Herb Horror

I had a terrible crisis last night. I accidentally put a pot of fresh basil in the fridge and it died. This meant I had to eat my Waitrose vine tomatoes without basil, which no human being should have to do.

Basil is wondrous. The French call it the royal herb. Some Africans believe it protects you against scorpions. Greek Orthodox churches use it in holy water and around altars (according to tradition, basil was found outside Christ’s tomb). And in India, basil leaves are placed in the mouths of the dead to ensure a safe journey into the afterlife.

Basil Fawlty

Basil Rathbone

St Basil the Great

Basil Brush