Dental Poverty

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Have you tried to find an NHS dentist lately? My god, I swear it would be easier to find a virgin on a maternity ward. In the town of Cwmbran, there is just one dentist taking on NHS patients, and that practice has a six month waiting list.

I haven’t had a dentist since I moved to Cwmbran, and I moved here in October of 2014. And the other day one of my teeth started giving me hell, luckily it passed, but I still put my name on the waiting list anyway. So I began shopping about to see if there was anything reasonably near. Nothing. Except private dental care, which costs a hell of a lot of money.

It got me thinking though, there is a really high correlation between those on low incomes and those with poor dental hygiene. Cheap food is laden with sugar, and those from low income backgrounds are more likely to smoke (another thing that rots your teeth) and whilst yes those on benefits will be exempt from the charges of NHS dentist’s (tabled below) those in employment with low incomes, especially young people, wont be. I mean if you work for 40 hours a week on minimum wage, it’ll cost you almost two thirds of weeks income to get some proper dental work done.

Band Treatment Charge
1 This charge will include an examination, diagnosis and preventative care.  If necessary this will include X-rays, scale and polish and planning for further treatment.  Urgent and out-of-hours care will also cost £14.00. £14.00
2 This charge includes all necessary treatment covered by the £14.00 charge PLUS additional fillings, root canal treatments or extractions. £45.00
3 This charge includes all necessary treatment covered by the £14.00 and £45.00 charges PLUS more complex procedures such as crowns, dentures or bridges. £195.00

And it really is a bar to employment, missing or crooked teeth are something that is probably going to put off potential employers, or hurt chances of promotion, and whilst I know how shallow that sounds, its actually been proven to be true, time and time again. But the associated costs of travel and time off from work are also a factor.

So how do we address this problem? Well ideally it would be to increase the number of NHS dentists in Wales, which means the Welsh Government need to cough up a heck of a lot of money to entice qualified dentists to Wales while also paying to train a heck of a lot more. And since one of the Welsh Government’s priorities is “Promoting positive health throughout life” and that they are actively trying to improve health and reduce inequalities in healthcare. maybe its time that National Assembly of Wales put their money where their mouths are.

30 Before Thirty (Comics & Graphic Novels)

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I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the Comics and Graphic Novels that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

Grant Morrison’s 18 Days


Camelot 3000


Miracle Man: A Dream Of Flying


All Star Superman 


Preacher: Gone To Texas


The Crow


Sandman Preludes and Nocturnes


Alan Moore’s: Saga of The Swamp Thing


Marvel 1602


Saga: Volume 1


 The Order: Die Mensch Machine

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The Complete Scarlet Traces 

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Button Man




Superman: Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow 


The Infinity Gauntlet 


Amazing Spider-man: Kravens Last Hunt


Promethea Book 1 


Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus 




Son Of Superman 


Hellblazer: Original Sins 


The Authority: Relentless 

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Hellboy: Seed Of Destruction 


Doctor Who: Emperor Of The Daleks

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Death: The High Cost Of Living  


JSA The Liberty Files 


Alice In Sunderland 


Daredevil Yellow


The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch


How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?

30 Before I’m Thirty (Films)

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I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the films that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

How Green Was My Valley 


Gentleman’s Agreement


From Here to Eternity


Gone With The Wind


Cat On A Hot Tin Roof


West Side Story


Lawrence of Arabia


Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf


Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner


Funny Girl


Fiddler On The Roof


All The Presidents Men




Kramer Vs Kramer


Terms of Endearment 


The Cider House Rules


An Education


The Wolf Of Wall Street


Guardians of the Galaxy 2


Moonrise Kingdom


Saving Private Ryan


Going In Style 


Wall Street


King Ralph


Planes Trains and Automobiles


O Brother, Where Art Thou?


The Monuments Men


Good Will Hunting


Good Morning Vietnam 


This Is Spinal Tap


How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?

Thank You For Smoking


At the moment I seem to have a sort of love hate relationship with smoking. I haven’t really smoked properly since my daughter was born. The last cigarette I had was after my brothers funeral about six weeks ago. Today however I found myself really, really craving a smoke, it isn’t often I get a craving for nicotine, but this afternoon I was ready to chop off a finger for a drag. I know, I know, they cause cancer, they cause emphysema and various other health complaints from raising the likelihood of a cold to lowering the chance of having children.

That being said however, there are many benefits to smoking that don’t always get a fair shake, I mean for the sake of impartiality, surely printed on the packet should be the words “may offset Parkinson’s disease” or “may cause you to look cooler”. Or now that smokers are subjected to pictures of black lungs, maybe they should also have a photo of the Courtney Love, because studies have shown that people associate smoking with being cool.

Other benefits of smoking mean approximately £12 Billion a year in taxation coming to the country a figure that certainly helps pay for the NHS (at last count the money brought in from tobacco revenues covers the cost of smoking related illnesses four times over). Not to mention all the money that tobacco companies give to charity and cancer research, as it really is in the cigarette companies best interests to find cures for things such as cancer, because callous as it may seem, for every life lost, they lose a customer.  The money that is brought in, does go to good use,  taxation on tobacco covers the downsides of the industry and then goes to help people, it pays for hospices care, for benefits, for pensions, for social security, for defence, for the police and for meals on wheels. Its what pays for our children’s schools and creates thousands of jobs. I suppose this is my way of justifying giving in to my occasional cravings, and probably smoking way more than is good for me when I’ve had a bit too much to drink.

And to the rest of you people with nicotine stained fingers and ever so blackened lungs I say thank you for smoking.

A Gentleman’s Guide To Dick Pics

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Don’t, that should be the only guidance you need when it comes to sending a picture of your junk to someone. Several months ago I received a text, from what I hope was a wrong number, the text said something along the lines of “hey baby, good to meet you last night” and then underneath it was a picture of a penis, a fairly small, particularly hairy penis. My response was to reply to the chap “I think you have a wrong number, however if you’re going to start a dialogue with a young woman by flashing your gentiles I would invest in a body hair trimmer, some decent lighting and make use of the zoom function on your camera.

It made me think though. Do women get this a lot? Why and how has this become acceptable behaviour? I mean to send an unsolicited picture of your gentiles is right up there with flashing someone on the street, the only difference is the overcoat. I mean I could sort of understand if the other person asked for a picture, but even then I wouldn’t go for it.

Surely people aren’t all that easy, surely there should be some mystery, I mean I don’t delude myself by demanding wine, roses and limousines, but I’d like to think someone would work a bit harder to see me naked than “send nudes”, I mean I know I would.

Putting aside the easiness of sexual morals that have come with the internet age, there are the practical concerns of blackmail and or revenge porn. Now by pressing send, an ex with an axe to grind could potentially ruin a career and a personal life all in one fell swoop. There are already a growing number of documented cases of suicides as a direct result of this sort of thing.

This is why it’s safer to avoid the whole thing, even if asked for, have some self respect and say no, if your charm and personality aren’t enough for your intended, chances a junk snap isn’t going to sway them over, especially premanscaping and with unflattering lighting.

Comic Review: Spiderwoman Shifting Gears Volume 1: Baby Talk

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I can’t claim to have been a massive fan of Spider-woman, my only real exposure to the character came from Brian Michael Bendis’ tenure as writer of the Avengers, where for the most part she was in fact a shape shifting alien impostor. That being said I did come across the character in the recent Spider-verse crossover event, and I was pleasently surprised at the way the character seems to have been developed since. So when I got an absolute fortune in Amazon vouchers for Christmas, I decided I would catch up with some of the latest exploits of Spider-man, and the various other spider related super heroes such as Silk, Spider-Gwen, and yes you guessed it Spiderwoman.

So when I picked up Spiderwoman Shifting Gears: Volume 1, Baby talk, and about 30 other different comics, one of the first things that struck me about this volume was that its very, very rare for there to be a pregnant superhero. Superheroics are not something that goes together with the idea of a pregnant woman. Spandex is not something that goes well with pregnancies, nor does the idea of acrobatic fight sequences with alien super fiends.

However, that being said this is volume is actually pretty close to my recollections of being around a pregnant woman, admittedly I’ve tried repressing those nine months of my life, but like a war vet with PTSD those memories just keep coming back to haunt me. Things such as the diabetes inducing levels of niceness that people subject pregnant women to, to the way being pregnant just seems to invite strangers to make all sorts of, way too personal and way too condescending, questions about the state of your life and how completely unprepared you are for this massively life changing situation you know find yourself in.

But if you discount what the story does get right, it does leave a lot that even superpowers wouldn’t explain away. Most glaring is the super powered fire fight with alien invaders just moments after going through a non anaesthetised emergency cesarean section. The mother of my child could barely lift a cup of tea for a week after receiving the above procedure, even after receiving a boatload of morphine, somehow I don’t think irradiated spider blood would do much to change the situation.

The writing, by Dennis Hopeless, is rather smooth and flows nicely, it doesn’t rely too much on established continuity, which is good for the casual reader like myself, it doesn’t really need you to have read every issue that Jessica Drew, our ersatz Spiderwoman, has ever appeared in, but it does have a few little treats in store for those that are devotee’s of Miss Drew and the wider Marvel universe.

Spider-Woman: Shifting Gears Volume 1: Baby Talk

The Art Provided by Javier Rodriguez is fantastic, its a lot less cartoon like than has become the norm in many Marvel books at the moment (Spider-Gwen I’m looking at you), colour wise the book seems to focus on some nice pastels for backgrounds which contrasts nicely with the sharp colouring used for the foreground and characters, it gives the book a whole vibrant look, that makes the action scenes pop and even lends something extra to the quiet character driven moments.

Overall I would recommend the book and would give it a 4.5 out of 5 starts. The only reason it does lose half a point is that the last issue of the collection, issue five (the volume collects issues #1-5), feels a little rushed, it seems that it is trying to set up a new status quo for the character before something new begins. The next volume may make the payoff of this more apparent, but until I read that, I won’t know, and that, is where I feel this volume lets itself down.

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.