(or it might be a Delilah – I’m not good on flours).
Here’s Tinkerbell having a rare snuggle on the bed. Then she gets disturbed by The Finger.
These are the summer weeds of our garden, colonising the gravel drive and open spaces. This one grows against our neighbours’ wall and has passed its best with the petals starting to fade.
There are two terms I hate with a passion in relation to death.
The first is “passing”. This has become a trendy euphemism that seems to have seeped into the popular discourse from the sewer of spiritualism. The transitive sense of the verb to pass is movement of something from one place to another. Even arguing that it’s passing out of life won’t wash, because the implication is that it’s out of life into something else. I’ve even heard atheists and humanists use the term, as if it’s somehow become more socially acceptable and compassionate than dying. Death is our ultimate finality; there is nothing beyond it for us as individuals. Euphemisms that detract from that finality remove the acute sense of ending that comes with death. Perhaps that’s why we shy from the term, it’s easier to suggest some sort of ethereal hope of reconnection when we speak to the bereft and grieving, rather than acknowledge the finality and completeness of their loss.
The second object of my bile this morning is “battling with cancer”. There is a scientific and societal battle with cancer, but there’s bugger all an individual can do who’s got cancer than seek out the best medicine available in terms of cure. In terms of mental wellbeing, then there is much a patient can do to live with the reality of the disease and the possible outcomes. There is always an implied criticism in the use of the verb battle for those who die from cancer; obviously they didn’t try hard enough. I consider this to be offensive and objectifying of cancer patients as either winners or losers when no-one would dream of using the same language for, say, pneumonia. But, again, I can understand that when someone is very sick, it’s comforting to say to one another “she’s a fighter” as if it somehow casts a spell of recovery over the patient. And perhaps that’s why we do it; to persuade ourselves that this dreadful thing isn’t going to take the ones we love and place the onus of their own fate on the person least able to change it.
And in the last, here’s a warning to my family. I’ve got as good a chance as anyone else of dying of cancer. And if any one of them refers to me battling bravely or passing or other similar bollocks, I’ll break all the rules of the universe and come back to haunt them.
I went to Christina Mackie’s exhibition at Tate Britain when I was down in London last week. I’ll post a couple of photos and some thoughts in the next few days. The image above was manipulated from a photograph of the banner advertising her outside the building. Continue reading
At the end of last year we had our beloved Nish put down after eighteen years of companionship. Helen planted this peony over her grave and it’s come out with a single magnificent flower. I’m not normally a fan of peonies, but this one seems to be doing well on the bones of an old cat.
These steps lead to the Terrace Restaurant at the National Theatre in London.
I attended the CIEH Assembly of Representatives today, and it was good to see the work that the professional body is putting into identifying and meeting the challenges of the future. The profession can be proud of the people who work for the CIEH and their commitment to keeping environmental health relevant in the face of stringent and biting cuts in local government finances in UK. One of the tasks we were given was to describe a vision for environmental health in ten years’ time. This is what our table came up with:
Honest: speak truth to all without fear or favour
Holistic: engage with all the determinants of health
Beneficial: to society, our communities, the environment and those in government
Engaged: ever-broadening the scope of the profession to include all those whose work affects the public health
Active: to do things that make a difference and are visible to people
Global leader: to learn from the world and provide leadership in environmental health science and practice
Expert: building the professional knowledge base and sharing the learning
Influential: being visible and unavoidable in the public discourse
Responsive: identifying emerging issues and providing a prompt and effective response
There were many other contributions to the same task and this is only the subset of our own small table.
I suppose if you can’t get gas outside the kitchen, you can always bring it inside. Not a solution I’d recommend.