Nothing New

No new blog today, I’m pretending that I have a social life.

Organ Piece: Reprise


A little over a year ago I wrote a piece on the newly introduced opt-out system of organ donation that had come into force across Wales, now a year on I take a look at how the whole system is shaping up.

For those that don’t know, the Welsh government introduced regulations that meant when a person dies the NHS assumes consent for posthumous organ donation. People can opt out of this at any time and families can say that they don’t wan’t to go ahead with the donation, but otherwise when possible, healthy organs will be put to use for the benefit of as many people as possible.

So here we are a little over a year later and where do things stand?  In the last year there have been approximately 160 organ transplants in Wales, with almost 25% (39 transplants in total) coming from presumed consent. On the face of it, that sort of growth from any government scheme is a marvelous result, but in actual human terms that is 39 people who are alive today because of presumed consent.

As an idea I was a little bit dubious as to how it would play out, but I am quite happy to see that my cynicism was unfounded only about 6% (approximately 180,000 people) of Welsh citizens have opted out of the system, many of which are for religious purposes as opposed to pure selfishness. If for whatever reason you feel that you do not wish to donate your organs after you pass on, you can register your decision here.

On a personal note I do feel that this is the way forward, as a society we should be promoting this sort of model to the rest of the United Kingdom and then be pushing it further, to all parts of the earth. It isn’t just Wales that is benefiting from this new system however, many surplus organs are being sent to hospitals within England, for use by patients, that otherwise would have been stuck on waiting lists, possibly for the rest of their lives.

I know it is a tricky thing to navigate, especially as families may not wish to discuss it, the subject of death is never pleasant, but you should make your wishes known, especially if you want to help people, and especially if you want to make your death mean something.


Drinking Games & Why They’re Stupid


Drinking games play a big part in the social lives of many people in this day and age, from ring of fire to beer pong, and quarters to buzz and the dreaded never have I ever. Many of us have taken part in that bit of fun. But it hit me the other day, when for some reason, when Marianna was staying with her grandparents, I was drinking with several 19/20 year olds (on a school night as well, no less) and the subject of drinking games came up (namely who wanted to play one). I must admit my objection was bordering on the vehement, and I wasn’t sure why. Then it struck me, that I have outgrown drinking just for the sake of getting drunk.

Back in the days when I first started going out to pubs and clubs when I turned eighteen *ahem* fifteen *ahem*, I would drink with the sole purpose of getting drunk, because the feeling was new and it was a novelty. But as I’ve grown up alcohol has become more of a social lubricant, I no longer intentionally drink my self into an absolute mess (note intentionally), I no longer use sentences like “a pint of snakebite and your strongest cheapest shot.” Now my taste in alcohol is judged on actual taste, not solely on alcohol content.

So this is why I find that drinking games are best to be avoided, and that isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy a game whilst drinking,  a couple of hands of poker, a game of foosball, darts or a couple of racks of pool all help a nice tipple to go down well and are vital parts of male bonding. But playing a game whilst drinking, where the point of the game is drinking, seems a little bit redundant and if I’m honest a little bit stupid, I mean if I wan’t a drink I’ll drink, if I wan’t to play a game, I’ll play a game, if I wanted to get trousered its within my means and knowledge base to get absolutely gazeboed, without prescribing to the convoluted rules and whims of those controlling the game.

Postnatal Depression In Men

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Postnatal depression is something that affects as much as 10% of new mothers out there, however what they don’t tell you is that it doesn’t only effect women, it can effect men just as badly. It may be difficult to tell if you are suffering from Postnatal depression because some of the symptoms are just symptomatic of life, especially when you’ve just had a child. symptoms such as tiredness, trouble sleeping at night and feeling tired during the day seem like par for the course when a new baby comes along, and this would go hand in hand with problems concentrating, making decisions and a lack of energy and feeling all the time seems like it would again be part of the lack of sleep. The common symptoms of PND (postnatal depression) in men are:

  • a persistent feeling of sadness and low mood
  • lack of enjoyment and loss of interest in the wider world
  • lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
  • trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day
  • difficulty bonding with your baby
  • withdrawing from contact with other people
  • problems concentrating and making decisions
  • frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby

What causes postnatal depression in men is not entirely clear from a sociological and an anthropological standpoint factors could include

  • a history of mental health problems, particularly depression, earlier in life
  • having no close family or friends to support you
  • a poor relationship with your partner
  • recent stressful life events, such as a bereavement or job loss
  • financial difficulties

however from a biochemical standpoint however childbirth does some pretty crazy things to men’s heads studies in animals and people show that new fathers experience an increase in the hormones estrogen, oxytocin, prolactin and glucocorticoids, according to a recent review of studies by psychologist Elizabeth Gould and colleagues from Princeton University.

The research shows that contact with the mother and children seem to induce certain hormonal changes in fathers. In humans, fathers who show more affection toward their children also tend to have higher levels of oxytocin (the hormone responsible for bonding with children), the effects of this change in the chemical soup that makes up a human being could lead to hormonal imbalances that in turn could lead to depression.

If you do feel that you are suffering from postnatal depression as a dad there are many things you can do about it.

If you want someone to talk to anonymously you can call the Samaritans free on 0117 983 1000 from any UK mobile or landline.

Alternatively you can speak to your doctor who will recommend various forms of treatment for you such as antidepressants or counselling based on your needs. Most importantly you should talk to your partner, tell them what you are going through, they may be feeling the same and you can act as a little two person support group for each other, or by simply unburdening yourself to them they be able to help a little bit while you try to get your shit together. It is hard work and I speak from experience, I suffered through the sleepless nights and lethargic days (to the point where I had to have a sit down half way through washing the dishes), I suffered the mood swings, the obsessive behaviour and the constant tiredness. It got to the point where I barely recognised who I was as person anymore, and then finally it hit me, that moment of clarity, that I needed help, I went to my doctor and asked for a big pile of antidepressants, I started taking my daughter out more and more, seeing friends and just doing small things until now over the last few months (bearing in mind my daughter will be two next month) I have finally started to feel like myself again. I give a shit about how I look again, I care that my house is a mess, I do occasionally go out and have fun with my friends. And a big part of that is because I asked for help.

The mother of my child would joke that our roles were reversed after the pregnancy. I was the one who had the baby brain and the sleepless nights, I could drive a tractor through that bedroom and I wouldn’t have woken Jessica up, whereas Marianna farting in her bedroom will often wake me up to this day (even if I fall asleep on the sofa). But this made me think that if I were going through this sort of thing how many other men were out there, going through the exact same thing and not getting the help that they needed?  Men and mental health issues can be tricky minefield to navigate at the best of times, because by admitting that we need help, we are wired to believe that we fail as men, that we should be the strong silent type, but this sort of thing is not healthy, yes I know that there is a stigma around mental health, but there shouldn’t be, especially at a time when we as men really are at out most vulnerable. If you need help get it, if you had a broken leg, you wouldn’t leave it untreated (at least not for longer than it takes to sober up), if you had cancer you would get chemo, if you caught the clap you would take some penicillin, if you were stupid enough to mess around with power tools while under the influence, you would go to the emergency room. So why on earth wouldn’t you take the necessary treatments to combat depression and make your self well again? If not for your sake then for your child’s. They deserve a father, not just the shell of one.

The Lazy Ramblings Of A Lazy Guy (On Getting On In The World)

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I was recently introduced to the Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow by Jerome K Jerome. The book consists of 14 essays on 14 topics

  10. ON BABIES.
  14. ON MEMORY.

Jerome K Jerome is pretty much me down to a tee. He’s lazy and just writes whatever comes to mind. He doesn’t care who he offends, and I often felt that he may have been somewhat high when he picked up the pen. But Mr Jerome has inspired me, so I am going to be writing a series of posts on the topics that Mr Jerome turned his hand at. (I know I’m ripping the guy off, but quite frankly I don’t care)

On Getting On In The World

The easiest of ways to get on in the world is to act as though you are already at the highest peak of human achievement. To act as though you own the world and deigning to look upon it is a blessing that you choose to bestow, a shining example of your benevolence. People are really a herd race and like cows or sheep tend to follow those who seem to know where they are going, why for centuries have people followed the aristocracy, because being told all your life that you are going to run the world generally serves to make you feel as though you could.

Act as though the rules don’t apply to you and people generally write you new ones to accommodate (note rules not laws), act with enough confidence and certainty and people will be sure to gravitate towards you, after all confidence is attractive, not just as a desirous trait in a potential mate, but also in terms of friendship.

confidence will get you far in life, confident people get jobs, get promoted and get laid. It is difficult to emulate confidence (especially without seeming arrogant) however I have found that often the most arrogant and insufferable excuses for men and women have often gone the furthest. The trick to seeming confident is to first become comfortable with yourself, which is no small task. To look at me currently I am fully aware of how amazing I am, its up to other people to keep me interested, if I go to a job interview I try to switch it around and go in with the mind set that my I’m not there to convince my interviewers to hire me, I’m there to be convinced to take that job. The same goes for dates or social interactions, if people can’t keep me interested I’m going to move on. And that is how you get on in the world. Or at least in theory.

This is the sixth in series of posts ripping off the work of Mr Jerome K Jerome and his seminal piece The Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Man.

Supreme Prerogative & Dreams Of The Republic.


So who’s been watching the court proceedings over the Brexit vote? No one? Well whose been reading the key points of the appeal in the papers or online? The whole key point over this trial and appeal nonsense is whether or not its illegal for Theresa May’s government to push through Brexit without consulting parliament.

The method by which Ms May’s government could circumvent parliament is through the Royal Prerogative, according to English Common Law the royal prerogative is loosely defined as:  “the name for the residue of discretionary power left at any moment in the hands of the Crown, whether such power is in fact exercised by the reigning Monarch or by their Ministers.”

The royal prerogative is not an unlimited power and it is up to the courts to decide whether the prerogative exists.

This however raises many questions, both legally and constitutionally. Key in my mind however is this. If the supreme court find in favour of the claimant, and the royal prerogative is seen as illegal, does this spell the beginning of the end for the monarchy?

On the face of it I would say no it doesn’t really change anything in terms of what the monarchy can and can’t do, after all the royal prerogative has actually been decided at the courts prerogative since the 1600’s. But I do feel that with the way things are in the current political climate, if the court were to say that this last vestige of royal power was in fact illegal, it may well form a rallying cry for the republican movement in Britain.

When I speak of the republican movement, I don’t speak of the political party that President Elect Donald Trump managed to simultaneously represent and alienate. I in fact speak of the movement that wish to abolish the monarchy (opinions on how vary from a peaceful referendum to a guillotine).

I do think that a lot of the constitutional questions that arise from such a trial are being overshadowed by the narrative which is being portrayed in the media, the left leaning press focusing on the need for parliament to be consulted and the shameful actions of the government in trying to bully this policy through, and the far right press is focusing on the outrage that the will of a narrow majority is being questioned. Its almost as if certain right wing media outlets are suggesting that the supreme court is trying to overturn the Brexit vote, rather than simply iron out how it is implemented, but that’s their prerogative, if they wish to mislead their readers and politicise the judiciary it is their right. But it still over shadows the real questions that need to be asked.

It’ll be interesting to see if the  verdict is held up after the appeal has ended.

It Must Be Sunday

It must be Sunday, I’ve eaten too much and have no desire to do anything other than lie on the sofa and do nothing. This is all whilst knowing that its the dreaded Monday tomorrow. Monday, the day that if it had a face, would walk about with a constant black eye.

Knowing this still hasn’t inspired me into activity though, I did my ironing out of necessity, but other than that I really have just lazed about with a book listening to music. I can’t even blame it on a hangover, that would suggest that, at least for last night, my life might in some way be interesting. That however is not the case, after I bathed my daughter and put her to bed I listened to music on the sofa, whilst rereading a Terry Pratchett book (The Wee Free Men before you asked).

I must say that in many ways I miss having a life, but in other ways I really don’t, if I were out with friends I probably would have been in some crowded nightclub or sleazy bar, paying for overpriced, watered down beer while the ever increasing decibel level and ever decreasing personal space would have just had me longing for my bed. It’s not like the old days where I would go out get tiddlywinked, go home with whichever girls let me and then wake up fresh as a daisy the next day, and in many cases would go home, shower and change, and then go straight to work. These days if I stay out past 1 I live to regret it, I look like a zombie for the next 3 days, and feel like death would be a mercy for most of that time. I actually went out earlier in the week and got the last train home at 1 am. As you can guess the next day I looked like an 8 x 10 of Dorian Gray, I was shuffling around like an extra from a George A Romero film

Its reasons such as these that I am dreading the upcoming season of Christmas parties, I suppose it isn’t as bad as back in my free lance days, I totaled 21 Christmas parties that year, how I lived to tell the tale I don’t know. But it certainly has made me thankful for only having 3 to go to this year, you have no idea how happy this has made me.