Nutty World

I’m a fan of Gordon Brown’s govt. and I’ve no shame in that, but the sacking of the chief drugs adviser Prof. David Nutt drew my fingers to a keyboard.

Prof. Nutt has made comments that are steeped in common sense but when skewed make him appear as some kind of demon.
He’s alleged that tobacco and alcohol are more dangerous than certain hard drugs such as ecstasy and LSD.

If you have a knee-jerk reaction, which some people do, it looks absurd, but when you you look at it realistically, he’s right.
Why?
The simple fact is that tobacco and alcohol are drugs too – legal ones that earn the govt. money and because they’re legal there’s less taboo about their consumption.
I neither drink, smoke or take recreational drugs (I’m as boring as they get), but I  know that statistically the smoker or the drinker is more likely to die which is why there’s been aggressive campaigns at getting people to quit smoking and consume alcohol in moderation if they must.

While I’m no expert on LSD or ecstasy, the number of stories about deaths on these that have reached the news or indeed just local community gossip is far smaller.
I don’t think Prof. Nutt was that interested in comparing the like-for-like chemistry of chemicals rather than being very open about the risk of drink and cigarettes due to how socially acceptable they are and the fact that responsible drinking for those who do is becoming a minority.

Prof. Nutt also alleged that taking ecstasy was more safer than horse riding. Again, I’m no expert on horse riding but the numbers are there to show that the latter, due to its legality and popularity, means it’s more likely to take a life. That’s not to say people shouldn’t horse ride but they shouldn’t be in the dark about the risk.

Nowhere did Prof. Nutt endorse any drug, but he made valid comments that it’s pointless hunting for cannabis users whose risk for mental illness is in general minuscule than that of the ‘happy’ big weekend drinker. The key word that describes Prof. Nutt’s stance is perspective.

For Alan Johnson to sack him may appease some people and make Labour look like moral saviours, but the fact of the matter is they’ve just brushed the issue under the carpet.

In my network of friends and their friends and family I can count quite easily the mortalities of those on drink and tobacco. And I can count too those on hard drugs, but it’s much less because less people do them. Public education has informed most people not to try them, and if they do, with caution.

Too much of anything is bad for you, and unless the govt. recognise this (what were they thinking when they allowed 24/7 pubs and putting large health warnings on cigarettes but ‘still’ selling them? Oh, cash, of course.) they’re just going to go round and round in circles.

Another tragedy – that I agree with a Lib Dem MP on – is that even if Prof. Nutt was indeed ‘wrong’ (science evolves anyway) and universally abhorrent, he still shouldn’t have been sacked as he’s meant to be independent. The politicization of the role is wrong in itself. Debate is the order of the day. And we won’t have anymore if we now get a yes man.

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Back where the Poundland is

As you might’ve guessed I’m back home in strangely mild (but initially cold) London. I came back a fortnight ago.
Though I enjoyed myself in the latter half of my stay, I was happy to see a black cab again (which took me home) and big red buses.

Why am I writing today? Well, just a few things. First of all, to those biting their nails about my vitamin D result (I like to think people have nothing better to do :)), I’m still waiting on that. The result was delivered to my GP but not to me. I aim to get and post it on the relevant part 2 post next week.

I also noticed recently that the site in Portobello road that used to be a Woolies (Woolworths, if you want to be formal), and then briefly the shoddy ‘Bello Market’ (replete with cloth banner sign in a tacky fuzzy font) is now a Poundland.
I have no idea why this excited me (I admit it did to a fair degree), but when I walked in I became further glad it took over ‘Bello Market’ as it kind of resumes where the old Woolies finished by stocking many similar items, some different, and all for just one golden coin. So, yeah woo Poundland!

Now, to rescue my credibility, I’m going to share a brief review of  DSCF0152Live At The (HMV) Apollo last night with two friends. It was free gig of 2 recorded-for-TV shows that are to be televised on the BBC and Dave. It was the first time I’d been to the venue, which was nice and comfy (had a regal red theme that reminded me of the Royal Albert Hall) save for a big glaring light between performances.

And it was my first comedy gig. The show featured an on-form Al Murray as the Pub Landlord introducing the first two acts. The first one I thought was a bit funny, but didn’t hold my attention that well (and I haven’t registered his name – sorry, mate). The second was Tim Vine whose jokes bordered on cheesy but were so rapid fire that he really did win me over.
The next show after an interval featured a different host and then Michael McIntyre who just stole the night with all his material, voice and moves.

Some celebs were there too: The footballer Lee Dixon (who got loads of boos), Esther Rantzen and The Hamiltons (“cash for questions” Neil and his wife Christine).

Also, though I needed the toilet once myself, I noticed two mass exoduses of rows (to quote my friend) for either the toilets or the bar – which looked and sounded strange all at once (the clacking of chairs etc.).

I’d like to see more comedy events in future, so I’m glad I broke the ice there. One day I’ll see Harry Hill as I love his TV Burp. It’s perhaps the only thing on TV I will watch other than the news.

I’ll leave you with one Tim Vine joke I can remember off-hand (hope he doesn’t mind this?):
“I saw a sign saying
‘hairdressing for men’ (as it’s spoken). Inside I saw a rabbit (hare) trying on clothes saying ‘do I look good in this?’ and the men nodding and saying yes.”

Oh, and one last thing. Anyone who was offered the music software Sonar LE 8.5 was initially asked to pay between, it seems $10-30, depending on their location. But it was found out the software was meant to be free, which explained ordering problems for many.
Before I found this out before an email from them as after a futile order attempt I noticed Cakewalk’s e-store having links for it from 0, $2 or $10…Very strange.
But hey, I love the software they make and will forgive this booboo – but will point it out, as I have!

Bomb-bay(?)

I’m not in India (and even so Bombay is now called Mumbai), but I think various cities in Pakistan could compete for taking the former name, modified as per my subject.

Of course what’s been happening here hasn’t been funny, particularly for those involved. But I can’t take too seriously that a number of blasts happened when I finally arrived here. Firstly Islamabad while I was in Lahore, then Lahore when in Islamabad. And no this wasn’t my doing. Either way I saw nothing first hand and things looked more terrifying on TV news.

I’m due to fly back home to London on Monday. I did have some big problems adjusting (heat, poor local language adaption, stomach problems attributed to what I thought would be good for me: mineral water (stick with fruit juices here)) and homesickness, but right now I’m comfortable in my room on my netbook.

I achieved what was needed here (boring personal stuff I won’t go into) and also came to enjoy the sights and sounds. Islamabad was easier to deal with as it’s a very modern city which is also more cooler, weather wise, than Lahore. But I haven’t taken any video or photo here (yet) as there’s not much to document.

In Lahore however I went to four main historical sites: Shahid Mazjid (the first time I’ve ever been to a mosque as I’m not from a very religious family) which is a spectacular structure, the super-regal Mughal era Shalimar Gardens, Minar-e-Pakistan which is a tower structure so old that it has pre-partition Hindu scripture on it. Not far from it is where Sikhs come for their pilgrimage.

The sight I liked most though was the India-Pakistan border ceremony at Wagah. Compared to London’s changing of the guard, this is much better. More drama in it and it commanded a packed crowd. VIP seating meant I was just a stone’s throw away from India. I recorded the whole 30mins on my portable vid cam and will put that up on YouTube or something soon. A very good video if I say so myself.

I also met some relatives who should’ve been Indians were it it not for the partition. Always nice to meet family. I didn’t make any new friends (or enemies) but I found people here friendly, maybe overly so.
Though I didn’t venture in poverty stricken areas I was saddened to learn how little some people work for, and how cheap many things are.

I’ll be returning here (that is, Pakistan) next year and now that my stomach has hardened and I’m not so terrified by the difference to England (in some ways it’s been liberating) I actually like it. I regret loosening up a bit late. I didn’t need any malaria things too.

Anyway, approx. 500 words is enough to write. I’m well aware that I bored someone with a very long email about my sightseeing a few days ago; sorry!
So, that’s it. I’ll amend this post with photo and vid next week as it would take too long right now…But I’ll leave you with one from the border ceremony.

DSCF0105
21 October 2009: My top 40 snaps are on Flickr.
26 October 2009 (last update): Video of the entire border ceremony (30mins) on YouTube. Also look here for one Lahore/Islamabad montage:

Dishonesty

Perhaps Dishonesty is an apt name for a music project I’m in because it seems my last post before flying isn’t actually.
This certainly will be as there won’t be time tomorrow.

This post really is just to vaguely promote that page as I’ve paid a bit of money to make it a pro profile for a little while so we can host all six of our demo tracks.

Since the profile was first made, earlier tracks have been re-uploaded with their levels tweaked a bit. However, there is a small disparity between the volume levels so you will need to fiddle with the volume dial. I’m also ashamed to say that the waveforms are brickwalled but they however don’t feature unwanted levels of distortion, at least to my worn out ears.

The six tracks were completed over six weeks, which was a short amount of time but they seem decent. The actual sounds are good and I can only excuse the allowable bits of sloppiness as adding to a live feel. I can’t say that we’re 100% proud of this but we think it’s better than a lot of well made stuff we hear even if I do say so myself.

All tracks are free to stream and download. It’s the only way to compete and my musical partner agrees it’s better a lot of people can hear and keep our tracks than having a few friends generate £5 for us and not getting it across further.

We haven’t really done a lot of promoting of this, so if you like it send us a comment good or bad and pass the link on.
When I return, we plan to start considering live shows and perhaps recording the 5 remaining songs of our album’s worth.

So I’m leaving you with this before I leave.

And vitamin D fans – unless I get my vitamin D result tomorrow it won’t be up for a while unless my local hospital generously email the figure. But anyway, I’m sure it’s more than 76nmol/L and that’s fine.

During October, novel editing will be what keeps me busy when not doing other things.

Innocent Abroad

It’s 12:34 AM on October 4 2009 and I’m two days away from heading to Heathrow to go far, far away from here.

This is possibly my last post for a little while, or maybe not (definitely from here anyway).  So I’m saying goodbye but not for forever.
I’ve found out I can get broadband in the hotel, although you’d think I’d fret more about sightseeing…And WiFi(?)

My subject is a title of a song I got from the solo album of an ex-drummer of a famous band from the 80’s. A kind of early childhood hero in fact. He’s even signed and sent copies of his first (or sort of second) album to all purchasers, so even though I expected it, it was nice to get a very personalised copy of the album.

It’s a decent album. I’d reserve it for more relaxing occasions but it’s certainly well crafted in rhythm (majorly so) and melody. And I think the title in my subject will be the song for when I touch down in Lahore then Islamabad.

My local pharmacist – another Brit Asian, of course – told me that I can expect to be shocked at how European the place is. And perhaps not just due to the UK style power sockets but for for the buildings and amenities (many American contracted), which means I can also taste local cuisine like…Kentucky Fried Chicken.

I’m slightly nervous about going but also excited. Not because of news associations with the Taliban or the War On Terror etc (the modern cities there are very progressive and of course the country was never meant to be an Islamic republic but became so during the successive reign of dictators), but because I’m an Englishman through and through, so I don’t know how to behave, I think.
Of course people don’t see me as an Englishman in the Hugh Grant sense, but then they shouldn’t because that’s just an illusion you see in souvenir shops. I’m just saying, because my Newcastle based cousins got made fun of when they first went.  But that was years ago.

Anyhow, I have no idea what the plot of this post is. Time for bed. I shall return, but not too soon (or, I might).