Monday, September 20, 2004

a weekend in the UK
Sometimes there is nothing better than to be in the place and with the people you know the best. The long weekend I have just spent back in my home town of Eastbourne certainly drove that point home.

My main reason for the visit was that my niece Alexandra was having her 4th birthday. As you can see, they don't come any more girly that Alex. She seems to be moving into purple for the autumn season, but pink is generally her favourite colour. At home I walked into her bedroom and nearly fell over. There was so much pink everywhere you could hardly distinguish the pink bed from the pink walls or the pink carpet... or the pink doll that got between my feet.

Her and her friends love it though, and she certainly seems to have enough of them. The little terrors were hanging off my legs and arms at her birthday party, wanting to be thrown into the air, swung around, tickled and generally kept in a state of additive fuelled amusement for 4 hours.

At the other end of the life spectrum, I made a visit to my ailing grandfather Gordon who has been in hospital in Brighton now for over six weeks. The poor old stick is 89 and his various organs are all complaining, except for his mind that is. He has always been sharp as a samourai sword, and even on the verge of the great unknown he was cutting through our waffle and getting straight to the point. He looks exhausted with his ordeal and generally seems mighty fed up.

You know, this guy is 89 years old and has been on dialysis for over 4 years now. This care, given three times a week, has been completely freely supplied by the National Health Service. The hospital ward I visited him in on Saturday was so clean and smart as to look like it could've been designed by Ikea.

I am sure there is room for improvement, but the NHS is without a doubt one of the best things about the UK. Yet it is always being condemned in the media with bad reports. There must be a thousand good stories for every one where something went wrong, yet we only hear the bad news.

The railway network also comes in for a lot of criticism, but they seem to have got rid of the really old trains now and replaced them with mega smooth and comfortable expresses. I was standing on the platform at Gatwick and one went whilstling by at such a rate I jumped a foot into the air with surprise. I can tell you, those who complain, that that sort of train behaviour compares to the Japanese network.

Things genuinely seem to be improving in the UK.

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