Friday, 30 August 2013

Ten Day You Challenge - One Picture

One Picture

Me, nearly 40 years ago.  What happened?

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

GCSEs - Are they still worth it?

Last week saw students receive their GCSE results, a couple of weeks ago it was A-Level results being received.

The daughter of an ex-colleague of mine was awarded 12 GCSEs, a mixture of B, A and A* grades and I know that she worked hard for these so well done to her, and well done to everyone else who achieved the grades they wanted/needed.

But it got me thinking, 12 GCSEs?  For those old enough to remember them, can anyone imagine having the physical ability, never mind mental ability, to have sat 12 O-Levels?  Most exams were two and half to three hours long and some subjects had two or more exams to sit, for example my Home Economics O-Level consisted of three separate sittings which combined to give the grade of a single O-Level.

To sit 12 O-Levels you could be looking at 40 hours of exams which would be a nightmare to even timetable, let alone study for and sit.

I attended an independent fee-charging grammar school where we were considered to be more intelligent than secondary school attendees (not necessarily always the case, it just meant that some parents were richer and could buy their way in, thanks to my entry exam scores, I was granted a bursary due to my family's low income) and the maximum number of O-Levels we were allowed to sit was 9. 

O-Levels did not have coursework either, apart from a few very rare exceptions, CDT being the only one I can think of, the grade was purely based on the exam(s) for the subject.  I received 4 Bs, 3 Cs, 1 D and 1 E.  At the time this was classed as 7 passes and 2 fails as anything less than a grade C was considered as not passing, these days I am guessing this would be classed as 9 passes as none of them were graded U.

Before writing this post I sat an online mock GCSE maths exam, without using a calculator I scored 81%, yes I could have done better, but I am pretty sure that this score would have been more than enough to pass. 

The list of subjects is far longer for GCSE than it was for O-Level, I stopped counting at 50, I think at my school there were 20 at the most.  Now you can sit 1 or 2 English exams, we HAD to sit 2, Chemistry, Physics and Biology were 3 separate subjects, now they can be combined to just 1 (you can still sit this as separate exams but I guess the majority of students will sit them as 1).

PE was something we had to do every week, in fact 4 of the 45 weekly periods were devoted to PE (groan) but I don't recall being able to take an exam in it (I may be wrong, I may just be trying to block the memory).

I do think we need a shake up in the education system and I have my own ideas of how this should be done, but my ideas should probably remain in my head!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Sunday Night Mash Up

Well this week has been very busy at work, out of a department of 8, 1 was off sick, 2 on holiday, 1 on secondment and 1 post is vacant.  It has been an education to say the least.

I recently started using Lee Stafford hair growth treatment, it is supposed to make hair grow longer and faster.  I was not expecting this to happen, after all hair grows at a rate and that is it.  But, my hair does feel thicker, it is definitely softer and the grey hair, of which there is a fair bit, no longer feels like wire, consequently it seems to blend in more and is less obvious. It's not cheap at £7.99 a pot, but currently at Boots it is on offer at 3 for £12.  I bought 6.

Nothing much else has happened this week.  We took Bess the dog to Kingsbury Water Park again today, no duck incidents this week, nor did I nearly end up in the water myself at any point.  But why do dogs have to poo in the long grass?  It makes it so hard to clean up after them?  And why do they always go at the furthest point from the poo bin?  I had to smile today when I disposed of the offering, there was a big sign on the bin declaring that 'there is not a dog poo fairy', I know there isn't, in the same way that there is not a laundry pixie or a housework elf.

I saw 'my car' again on Thursday, I am still saving for the deposit and thanks to William Hill, I have another £150 to add to the pot!  Yeay!  Although knowing my luck, as soon as I have the deposit the car will be sold.  The monthly repayments will not be a problem as they are less than my bus pass costs.

So now I have a question to ask.  I don't know whether to call it a strange, weird, perverted or downright disgusting question, I have written and deleted this about 20 times now, but here goes.  Has anyone ever felt like they have orgasmed after having a bowel movement?  The whole wobbly legs, wide eyed, WOAH feeling?  Is this weird? Am I as odd as I feel?

Ok then.....

Just a 4 day week to look forward to, and next Saturday we are all (me, Mum, Dad and Bess) off to the seaside.  Hopefully it will be a nice day.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Ten Day You Challenge - Two Songs

Two Songs

1.  Don't Stop Me Now - Queen.  This song is guaranteed to get me up, dancing (badly) and singing (even more badly).  If I ever get round to having a party, for any reason, this will be played.  Loud.  It has the power to wake me up, it has the power to cheer me up.  It is probably my favourite Queen track.

2.  Someone Like You - Adele.  I couldn't decide which other song that I love to include here so I have gone for the song that I hate the most!  I am not a fan of dirges anyway but this is dire.  I have stopped listening to radio stations simply because they insist on playing it.  If it does come on the radio I have to switch off.  If it is on in the office I will choose that time to go to the toilet.  The song just makes me want to smash things.  At the risk of offending people even more than I probably already have, this would be the song that would tip me over the edge and send me on a killing spree.  You can tell how much it affects me as I have written twice as much about this as I have about my favourite song.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Vaginismus, what's that?

This post has been a long time coming, ha ha (if you laughed you either already know what this post is about or you just have a dirty mind) and is probably not suitable for younger readers.  Vaginismus is a very personal problem, and unfortunately you don't know that you have it until the worst, and most embarrassing, moment.

Vaginismus is described by the NHS (link available here) as when the muscles around the vagina tighten involuntarily whenever there is an attempt to penetrate it.  There are two forms, Primary Vaginismus - where the sufferer has never been able to have sex, and Secondary Vaginismus - where the sufferer has successfully had sex in the past but due to some trauma or incident can no longer do so.

I have Primary Vaginismus.  I did not discover this until the first time I tried to have sex, even penetration with a single finger was impossible.  Luckily I was with a very understanding man who even helped me research the problem, we didn't know at the time what the issue was, we just knew that I had a problem which he had never come across before.  Finding out that I was not the only one facing this issue helped me feel less of a freak, after all, wasn't sex supposed to be natural and easy?  Whenever girls/women get together and discuss losing their virginity this muscle issue is never raised and when I bring it up I always have to explain it, no-one ever says 'oh I have that, I thought I was the only one'.

Someone said recently that if you have enough alcohol the muscles will relax, but it is not that simple.  The muscles actually have to be torn, which is as nasty as it sounds, and then have to be prevented from closing up again whilst they heal.  This is done with dilators and a LOT of lubrication.  

I believe the dilators are available on the NHS from your doctor, but I bought mine privately.  There are five in the pack, the smallest being 7cm long x 1.5cm diameter (about the size of a tampon) and the largest 16.5cm x 3.5 cm (apparently the average penis size), also included is, for want of a better term, a handle which fits all the dilators.  You work through them starting with the smallest, using them every day to prevent the muscles from healing too quickly.  Mine are silicone, but there are glass versions too, and they arrive in a discreet little toilet bag.

There is blood involved but the bleeding stops once you have achieved successful repeated use of the largest dilator as it is at this point you stop tearing the muscles and are allowing them to heal, but not shrink back. 

In the worst cases, sufferers can be operated on, the muscles are cut under general anaesthetic, only the largest dilator is used after this as there is no need to further tear the muscles.

At this point, if you start having regular intercourse, the muscles will remain in their extended positions, if you don't then after a matter of weeks you will be back to square one and have to start dilating all over again.

Vaginismus and Smear Tests

Vaginismus does make it difficult, sometimes impossible, for sufferers to have a gynaecological examination and medical records are likely to show that they have never had a smear test.  In a lot of cases this will not matter as the sufferer will probably still be a virgin and therefore statistically much less likely to get cervical cancer, although this is still not impossible.

I will hold my hand up and admit that I have never had a smear test.  I didn't lose my virginity until two years ago, and after a week of very unsatisfactory sex, have not partaken since.  I know I am still at risk considering the number of partners he had had but I just cannot bring myself to go.  Maybe if I can find somewhere that can perform the smear other than my own doctor's surgery I might consider it.

In a strange twist of coincidence as I originally wrote this post some weeks ago, a fellow blogger has posted about the smear test and what happens when you attend, so for those of you who still cringe at the thought of a smear, read it, it is comforting.  I have obviously watched and read too many horror stories featuring rusty metal speculums and stirrups.

So with the permission of London Beauty Queen you can read her post here.

Vaginismus and Child Birth

Vaginismus may present some challenges during pregnancy, but will not normally stop the vaginal delivery process, although it may cause issues for pre and post-natal checks.

Natural hormones activated during delivery cause the body to involuntarily dilate, ignore any vaginismus impulse and automatically proceed with the delivery process.  The uterus and vaginal openings dilate with natural prompting and open up naturally. As a woman pushes the baby, it moves through the vaginal canal with no adverse effect from vaginismus. Epidurals or other pain relief would be available if required.

If anyone has any questions please ask and I will try and answer.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Sunday Night Mash Up

It has been another very quiet week with nothing much going on, on the other hand, nothing has kicked off this week so there has been nothing for me to miss.

I did see a car for sale that I was quite interested in, fortunately the garage was shut at the time so I couldn't get carried away and sign my life away, I think I need to save a bit more yet.  I did check out the insurance prices though and that left me a bit confused.  Third Party, Fire and Theft has traditionally been much cheaper than Comprehensive, after all, it is covering you for less, but my quote for Comprehensive was nearly £400 cheaper than TPFT.  I know I have been out of the insurance game for a while now but have things really changed that much?

The paperwork for my next block of ACCA tuition has been sent off.  This time I have booked hotels for my weekend study. Getting to Birmingham and back is little problem in the week or even on a Saturday, but Sunday is a different matter altogether with trains starting too late.  I was fooling myself when I looked to see if I could find a hotel with a pool but in the end settled for a Holiday Inn, so if anyone will be in Birmingham on any of these weekends and fancies meeting up, let me know.

Took Bess to the park again this morning, as the water was clear I let her go in.  The first time she got scared by some ducks (vicious dog breed that she is supposed to be) and hurried out of the water as fast as her little legs would let her, the second time I slipped and nearly went in with her.

And that really has been it for this week.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone!

Silent Sunday - 18/08/13

Friday, 16 August 2013

Ten Day You Challenge - Three Films

Three Films

I would warn that this post contains spoilers, but the films are so old it is really unnecessary.

1.  The Breakfast Club - '....But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain... and an athlete... and a basket case... a princess...  and a criminal...'  Considering that a good 90% of this film is just five people in a room it is one of the best films ever and everyone should see it at least once.  Having Judd Nelson in it didn't hurt either.  I am glad that is has never been remade as it would just ruin the memory.  

2.  Drag Me To Hell - a pretty dire film it has to be said, but I love it simply because it does not have a happy ending, boy does not get girl, girl gets dragged to Hell.

3.  Tremors - I guess this could loosely be termed a B Movie.  A western town is being terrorised by giant worm like creatures which apparently predate the fossil register (according to the Seismologist who just happens to be in the area).  There were 3 sequels made, in each the worm evolved to more sophisticated creature.  Tremors 3 was not that bad either.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

My experience at the hands of a PUA Student

For those of you who are unaware, PUA stands for Pick Up Artist.  There are various online providers of PUA courses and they also arrange meet ups and parties, there are books and other materials available too, it is big business.

Not long after I became aware of these materials I happened to catch School For Scoundrels on the telly one Sunday afternoon, the original version with Terry-Thomas and Ian Carmichael, and I thought how similar it seemed.

As I understand it, it was originally thought up to help men attract women who were out of their league, after all, who doesn't want a beautiful partner?  It also helped shy men who struggled to speak to women overcome their obstacles and live happily ever after.

All this is very commendable, I would certainly like to learn how to have enough confidence to speak to men outside of work/college.

However, it soon become a tool for amusement.

Men who had no problems in getting women, some of whom were actually in relationships already, would choose a woman in whom they had no interest whatsoever and then make them fall in love with them.  All the while laughing at them with their friends, and even girlfriends or wives.

This is what happened to me.  He had links to PUA sites all over his social media page but at the time I had no idea what this was so took little notice.  He said all the right things, we seemed to have the same tastes in films, books and music.

We used to speak every day, first thing in the morning and last thing at night.  Had he asked, I would have given up everything to be with him.  As far as I was concerned, he was 'the one'.  I know that at the time we were both working shifts, but I realise now that it should have been much easier to arrange meet ups.

All of a sudden, all references to PUA had been deleted from his profile, all the posts, videos, events, all gone, he had met the woman who was to become his long term partner.  I don't know whether he used his techniques on her, but she seems to be able to forgive him anything, she still, 4 years later, seems to be as smitten as I had been.

Has anyone else had any experience of this?

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Sunday Night Mash Up

Evening All!

I didn't do my normal round up last Sunday as I wasn't in a good place and I didn't really have anything to say.

This week on Thursday I received my exam results, I was sent a text at midnight.  Yes midnight.  After making me wait over two months I am sure that another few hours would have mattered.  I had passed my Tax exam but failed my Audit one, so have already booked and paid for my resit, unfortunately I cannot resit it until December which is when I will be sitting my next two exams.

On Thursday I also had my review with my doctor.  She is pleased with my progress now that she has doubled my medication. She has also given me a prescription for daily Vitamin D tablets that I will have to take once the super strength ones I take have finished.  Slightly scary was the way the screen flashed up red with a 'Severe Depression' warning when she issued my double dosage anti-depressants.

Thursday again.  I wasn't able to play bowls this week due to my appointment with the doctor, but apparently it all kicked off. The rules governing what you can and can't wear to play are a lot more relaxed in the league we play in, or so we thought.  Up until now, as long you are decent and are wearing flat shoes anything goes so during the hot weather it has been mostly long shorts, tshirts and flip flops.  The team we played Thursday, who we have already played once admittedly when we were all wearing about five layers, decided that two of our players (one an 8 year old) were not dressed suitably.  After a somewhat heated discussion the game did not go ahead.  And I missed it all!.

Thursday evening, yes Thursday again, I developed a cold sore, over the course of the last couple of days it has spread pretty much across the whole of my top lip, and boy, does it hurt.

You may have noticed a new tab at the top of my page, I have started another blog.  Well less of a blog, more of a collection of Urban Legend stories and their variations.  I have always been fascinated by these sorts of things and I used to be an avid reader of The Fortean Times until they changed the format of the magazine a few years back.  Radio 4 Extra are currently running a series of Fortean type stories with the Rev Lionel Fanthorpe, and listening to those has brought it all back into the forefront of my mind.  I may keep this new blog going, or I may not, it depends on the reception it gets.

Not sure what is going to happen this week, hopefully if it is exciting I won't miss it this time.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Ten Day You Challenge - Four Books

Four Books

1.  The Swish of the Curtain by Pamela Brown.  I loved this book and the tv series that followed, the book cost me 75p when I bought it which was a fortune back in the day.  It is about some very posh children who set up their own theatre company in a derelict hall for which they raise money to repair themselves.  It is very much of its time and probably would not be appreciated by today's youngsters.

2.  The Hal and Roger Series by Willard Price.  A very un-PC series of books that were bought for me by my Grandad, which probably was one of the reasons I loved them so much.  It was about two young brothers who travelled the world trapping animals for zoos and private collections.  They faced danger in every book from cannibals to sharks but always came through.

3.  The Famous Five.  Who hasn't read the Famous Five?  Julian, Dick and Ann, George and Timmy the dog.  I always imagined myself as George, a complete tomboy with a dog.  I would have loved to live on the coast and have my own boat and island.

4.  The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett.  I can read these again and again.  In these books I see myself as Granny Weatherwax, Susan Sto Helit or Lady Sybil rather than Nanny Ogg or Sergeant Angua, certainly not Mrs Palm.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

How easy is it for you to see your GP?

I don't mean to see a specific GP at your practice, but any GP.

I am old enough to remember the days when you just arrived at the surgery at the opening time, walked into the waiting room and asked who was last for Doctor XXXX?  Everyone was seen on a first come first served basis, no-one pushed in or demanded to be seen first.  If someone came in with a poorly child then everyone automatically let them go next.  The receptionist's role was simply to decipher the buzzers to let the waiting patients know which doctor was free.

Then came appointments, you could call in or phone for an appointment, sometimes being seen within minutes.

When my last GP retired (he was the sole doctor at the practice), I moved to my current practice.  The appointments system was still in place, but it was generally easier to call in than phone up as the phones always seemed to be engaged.  

An online booking system was briefly introduced but it was very shortlived, as was the self check-in system once you got to the surgery, I never got to try any of these and do feel somewhat deprived.

The latest system, and this has now been in place for some time now, is this.  Should you need a GP, you have to phone the surgery (good luck, the phones are still almost constantly engaged), once you have got through your name is added to a list. The doctor on triage duty will then phone you back AT SOME POINT and discuss your issue over the phone.  If the doctor then decides you need a prescription or a sicknote, you then have to go to the surgery to collect it.  If the doctor decides you need a face to face appointment you have to phone back to reception to make one.

So, as I don't really want to discuss my problems over the phone whilst sat at my desk, or stood in the corridor outside my office, or on the bus to or from work, I potentially have to book a day's annual leave.  My last appointment to discuss my current medication was made by letter!

Does anyone else have the same issues?

Friday, 2 August 2013

Ten Day You Challenge - Five Foods

Five Foods

1.  Patatas Bravas.  I love these and have them at least two or three times when I am in Spain.  I have tried making them myself, but they just do not taste the same.

2.  Chocolate and Churros.  Again, something I have in Spain, particularly good very early in the morning, not been able to find an equivalent to have at home.

3.  Strawberry Gateau.  Guess where this is from (and no, it is not Dagobah).

4.  Fresh home made bread.  I had to stop baking bread as I would just eat almost the whole loaf straight from the oven.

5.  Hummus.  I had to stop eating hummus as I developed a sensitivity to it, or at least one or more of the ingredients, I have it now and again, but only in very small quantities.