Thursday, October 25, 2007

RWC Reflections

As I suspected, there were no great fireworks in the Rugby World Cup final last Saturday. England huffed and puffed, but couldn’t blow South Africa’s house down. In a game of kicks, they lost 15-6. Many England fans and commentators have been lobbying for tries to be allowed whilst one foot is in touch; but the rule hasn’t been changed yet. They could always move the line out a bit though.

To round the tournament off, here are my ‘Six Nations’ and ‘Rest of the World’ teams picked from the form players in the RWC.

Six Nations
15 Jason Robinson (England)
14 Sean Lamont (Scotland)
13 Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)
12 Yannick Jauzian (France)
11 Chris Patterson (Scotland)
10 Johnny Wilkinson (England)
9 Andy Gomarsall (England)
1 Andrew Sheridan (England)
2 Raphael Ibanez (France)
3 Phil Vickery (England)
4 Simon Shaw (England)
5 Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
6 Martin Correy (England)
8 Julain Bonnaire (France)
7 Thierry Dusaustoir (France)

Rest of the World
15 Chris Latham (Australia)
14 Vilimoni Delasau (Fiji)
13 Seru Rabeni (Fiji)
12 Luke McAllister (New Zealand)
11 Bryan Habana (South Africa)
10 Juan Martin Hernandez (Argentina)
9 Fourie de Preez (South Africa)
1 Rodrigo Roncero (Argentina)
2 Mario Ledesma (Argentina)
3 Martin Scelzo (Argentina)
4 Patricio Albacte (Argentina)
5 Victor Matfield (South Africa)
6 Nili Latu (Tonga)
8 Sisa Koyamabole (Fiji)
7 Juan Smith (South Africa)

Player of the tournament – Fourie de Preez
Game of the tournament – Wales vs Fiji
Unluckiest team – Canada

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rugby Notes

Wasn’t at Ebbw Vale’s 15-12 win over Bedwas on the weekend, but you can read all about the win on the Ebbw Vale RFC website or in the South Wales Andrex.

Ebbw are now second in the Principality Premiership. Next up its Cardiff at home on Saturday.

Basball Notes

Phew. Boston made hard work of it, but has eventually made it through to the World Series. They beat the Cleveland Indians 4 games to 3 in the best of seven series, having been 3-1 down. Pitcher Josh Beckett was deservedly named man of the series for his two wins.

Boston faces the unbeatable Colorado Rockies (they’re won 21 of their last 22 games) in the best of seven final which starts tonight at Fenway Park. Coverage on NASN and five.

Dilbert Quotes

Here are some quotes from the people who put the ‘duh’ in ‘Induhvidual’, culled from the Dilbert newsletter:

"There's more than one way to peel a cat."

"That woman uses olive oil like it grows on trees."

"He'd give you the arm off his back."

"You play ball with me and I'll scratch yours."

"We do not have a smoking cow at this point."

"It's our golden goose. We better figure out how to make her purr."

"You are in the top one hundred percent."

"She has four kids, and she's pregnant with her third."

"He'd still be alive today if he hadn't died.”

"How many quarters can you cut an apple into?"

"Why don't they just put the water back in the lake when it's been through the generator?"

"Is your nephew a boy or a girl?"

This Week's Stuff

Link of the Week

James Blunt, the mushy singer-songwriter and rhyming slang, appears to have a sense of humour. He appeared on Sesame Street, and sang a version of You’re Beautiful, about a cute, furry triangle.

“This shape was brilliant / This shape was pure / I saw three angles, of that I am sure...”

See the video on YouTube

Website of the Week

This bizarre website is in the Sion Barry category of splendid waste of time blogs. In this one, Running from Camera a man sets his camera timer to two seconds, and runs:

Old Joke of the Week

1) Just been to my first Islamist birthday party. The musical chairs was a bit slow but boy, pass the parcel was quick.

2) Two aerials got married. The service was nothing special, but the reception was fantastic.

DIY Notes

Found the shower leak! A bit of dodgy grouting was the cause. A good dollop of sealant has fixed it - for the time being anyway.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Update on Wisdom Teeth

Remember a few weeks ago when I blogged about my experience at Prince Charles Hospital when I has my wisdom teeth out? Well, the Western Mail has picked up on the story, and it became part of their front-page story last Saturday.

As the feature says, Paul Hollard, interim chief executive of North Glamorgan NHS Trust, will investigate the issues that have been raised. When (if?) I get a reply I’ll post it here.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Travel Notes

Enjoyable – Travelled to London for a conference yesterday. Had to up at a godforsaken hour to catch the 6:55 train from Cardiff. I was pleasantly surprised by the train. It was a shiny new carriage with comfy chairs and smiling staff. My toasted sausage sarnie and a freshly ironed copy of The Times (OK, not ironed) was a perfect start to the day.

But then when the first class return ticket costs £241, I guess it’s no more than I should expect. I’m just glad that work was paying for the ticket.

Aggravating – The return train trip home. The platform number for 4:45 train was announced at Paddington and all heck breaks loose. The stampede to the train was quite a remarkable sight. In the end there’s standing room only – paying over £200 clearly brings with it no guarantee of a seat in first class, or anywhere. Thankfully I was at Paddington sufficiently early to grab my seat.

Eventually, past Swindon, the numbers thin and there’s enough room for everyone to get a seat.


The conference was at Wembley Stadium. Lots of concrete and metal, and at first glance quite similar to Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. It hasn’t got a roof, and the slope of the seating is a lot more gentle than in Cardiff. Its in the middle of an industrial estate whist the Millennium Stadium is … Ahh.

Got to sit in the Royal Box. I have to say that it’s nothing special, the seats are a bit more spaced out and have some padding but there’s nothing special about it at all. No different to the other seats on that tier. Also used the loo nearby. Or throne room.

Art Notes

Went with Cath to the Chapter Arts Centre for a quick bite to seat after work on Tuesday. Whilst tucking into my venison sausages (see, it isn’t all knitted tofu and veggie burgers) I had a chance to read their What’s On leaflet.

This is what’s on this coming Saturday (and no, I’m not making this up):

Jeong Geum-Hyung performs a brilliant duet between a woman and a vacuum cleaner, and
Neil Davies in an intimate and introspective self portrait carried out in silence on a carpet of salt.
I’m sure that tickets will still be available. Bring your own hoover and saxo.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Running Notes

I’ve been a little lax in congratulating some of the Ebbw contingent who took part In the recent Swansea 10k race. The veteran (in running terms) Dai Evans did it in 45:55, Ian Janes (EyeJay) in 54:47 and Dai Roberts in 1:06:22. The full set of results can found here.

I missed it this year, having done it every year since I turned 40. To make up for this, I’m going to do the Wyvern Christmas Cracker 10k on 9 December. It starts and finishes on Weston-super-Mare’s beach. I know - when the tide is out you can easily do 10k just running from the promenade to the sea and back. If anyone wants to enter, here’s the organiser’s website.

Anyway, that’s the target, now for a bit of training.

Beaufort House Notes

It’s a bit of a sad day. My old house in Canterbury Road, Beaufort has finally gone on the market. Since I moved down to Pontypridd a couple of years ago I have been renting it out. But now with a baby on the way we have other financial pressures and so releasing the cash would be very useful.

It’s on the market with Darlows in Brynmawr and the Halifax in Ebbw Vale. Very reasonably priced at £139,995, especially when compared with another (albeit extended) house a few doors up going for £175,000 and a dorma bungalow on sale in Hereford Road for £152,000

You can find all the details on Right Move, the estate agent website, by clicking here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

This Week’s Sign of the Apocalypse

Getting off the train at Pontypridd station around 6:30 on Friday evening, I found a cordon of police. They had set up an x-ray scanner and were searching anyone they thought might be carrying a knife.

So that what the average youth takes with him for a Friday night out in Pontypridd. In my day the most lethal thing you came across on a Friday night out was a dodgy kebab.

The police decided that I didn't look shifty enough to warrant being searched. So you can tell how shifty the others must have looked.

DIY Notes

OK. Does anyone know how to diagnose where a walk-in shower is leaking? A drip from the ceiling in the hallway is emanating from the shower, so a few hours were spent on the weekend re-sealing the shower tray and the rest of the enclosure.

This morning was the first shower since and there’s absolutely no difference.

It could a bit of dodgy pipework, which would be a major task. Argh!

Baby Notes

Cath has made it to 26 weeks, and started to look enormous. Without any training she has skilfully adopted the “pregnant woman getting out of chair” choreography.

We already have a pram and a car seat (holiday purchases from the US of A), and we have been promised a crib. A bit of decoration is now required to transform the spare bedroom into a nursery. A trip to the dreaded IKEA is probably in order to get a changing table, and then we’ll be all set.

Now, where’s that baby instruction manual?

WRC Rugby Notes

It’s the nightmare scenario for all rugby fans outside of England who have to listen to the supposedly British media bat on about how wonderful “we” played and how “we” deserve to be in the World Cup final.

Yep, England just about edged out France 14-9 due to a fortunate first minute bounce and a dominating pack. Still no sign of life outside the front nine, but that doesn’t seem to matter.

On Sunday, there was a proper game of rugby. Well, it was a good game for 60 minutes or so until South Africa ran off with it, in the end well beating Argentina 37-13. Argentina’s pack gave the Boks a game throughout, which doesn’t bode well for next Saturday’s final.

Expect to see of lot of huffing and puffing; more piano movers than piano players. Hopefully the Springboks can get enough ball to actually play some rugby and quite down the press for a while.

Ebbw Rugby Notes

A fine 24 -17 win for Ebbw Vale at Premiership table-toppers Neath on Saturday. Considering Ebbw hadn’t won there since 1999, I did not travel optimistically. Indeed, I had considered giving the game a miss. But a couple of 23 – 23 draws between the sides swayed me into thinking that it could be a good game.

And what a game. Best this season by a country mile. Four tries meant a bonus point as well.

More details on the Ebbw Vale RFC website, and various reports of the game can be found here and here.

Ebbw Vale now go third in the Premiership. The table is on Graham’s website. Next weekend Ebbw are home to Bedwas.

Scorers: Four tries, all scored by backs: two for wing turned centre Jamie Lewis (son of ex-Ebbw Steve Lewis, onetime WRU chief exec), one for wing John Rees Williams and one for Dragons loaned outside-half Gareth McCarthey. Two conversions, one each for McCarthey and sub Bryan Shelbourne.

Highlights: Best crowd of the season, and best game of the season. Ebbw’s pack outplayed Neath, and everyone tackled their hearts out.

Lowlights: Very few, but to be picky we missed a bunch of kicks which kept Neath close and could have cost us dear. A few mental mistakes too: restarts straight into touch, and Nio got pinged a few times for not binding in the scrums.

Man of the Match: Tough call, it could have been anyone, but I’d just about give it to Aaron Bramwell, who had a great game at centre.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Things that Welsh rugby can do to save itself

This is a copy of an article from the South Wales Echo by Delme Parfitt. I don't know the chap, but he seems to be the only one in the Welsh media with even the slightist clue.

THE inquest is in full flow, the bitter recriminations have only just begun. Where now for Welsh rugby after the humiliation of the first ever World Cup exit at the pool stage of the professional era?

Well, contrary to some thinking, it does not start and end with the appointment of a successor to Gareth Jenkins as head coach, though that is obviously key. No, there are a whole host of things that the Welsh Rugby Union and the Wales team has to address if we are not to be crying into our Steinlager come New Zealand 2011.

Here’s 10 of the most pressing issues in my book:

1. GO OVERSEAS FOR NEW MAN: No disrespect, but there are simply no suitable candidates among the Welsh regions at present, which in itself says a lot.

There is potential in Phil Davies and Dai Young. Davies would play hard to get at the moment, testing the water to see how the public would take to his appointment, but he would love to do the job. However the chances of the WRU going back to Stradey Park are almost nil. People will scoff at Young, even though he has turned things around at the Blues.

The fact is neither man is the right man at the moment. Gareth Jenkins’ regime was always seen as being infected by West Walian baggage and any Welshman would be at risk of something similar.

This Wales team needs a big-hitting, proven, authoritative, figure who will not suffer fools, someone who will grab hold of the dressing room and lead by example with a rod of iron, someone well in touch with the modern game and the modern player.

In other words, not a Welshman.

2. A WELSH UNDERSTUDY: There’s no point just bringing in an overseas boss if there is no plan for any sort of succession.

The ideal scenario has to be a Welshman coaching Wales and therefore the WRU must insist a Welshman understudies any new appointment with a view to taking charge in four years time having been groomed by his superior during that period.

We cannot be left in the same position we find ourselves in now – with no real idea of where to go for a new leader.

New appointments invariably want their own people by their side. Fair enough to a certain extent, but the union has to put Welsh rugby’s needs first.

3. FOUR-YEAR CONTRACT: When Jenkins was appointed, he was given just a two-year contract which suggested caution on the part of his employers. That caution was eventually proved right because Jenkins wasn’t the right man.

This time the WRU has to be absolutely certain it has the best fellow for the job and that certainty has to be borne out with a contract that runs until the 2011 World Cup.
And if the guy they court won’t commit for that long then they should say “thanks, but no thanks”.

Wales has gone through five different national coaches in the last nine years. The chopping and changing has to stop. The public and the Press will swallow a few disappointing results along the way, so long as there are signs of progress which were so absent under Jenkins.

4. NEW YOUNG CAPTAIN: You could almost write a book on the mess Jenkins made of the captaincy. Quite frankly he couldn’t make up his mind who he wanted to lead the team and because of that the team suffered.

Gareth Thomas won’t play again and so Stephen Jones and Dwayne Peel are the obvious candidates. I’d go for neither, instead plumping for one of the younger members of the side who is clearly going to be a focal point for years. Alun Wyn Jones or Ryan Jones are two that spring to mind.

The team is crying out for a fresh start, and Jones, great guy though he is, wouldn’t represent that. What’s more, you have to wonder how much longer he will be around.
Peel? He’s under too much pressure from Mike Phillips to be certain of his place, and I can’t see that changing for a long while.

Like the coach, the captain has to be appointed with a long term view. One team, one captain.

5. CENTRAL CONTRACTS: This is an unlikely development because of the competing vested interests of the WRU and the regions, but it is the way forward. Not so long ago the relationship between the two parties was being hailed as the envy of England, but more recently there has been squabbling over World Cup compensation for the use of players and other matters.

I wouldn’t advocate going down the Irish route where the very best players barely play at all for their provinces. But the bottom line is whether we in Wales want the game to be geared to the benefit of the national side. If so then central contracts would ensure players are better prepared for Test rugby and also spread the best talent around the regions making more of them competitive in the Magners League.

For example, would the WRU have allowed Mike Phillips to understudy Justin Marshall at the Ospreys?

6. REVIEW OF BACKROOM TEAM: Here’s a question: what was the point of the Wales team’s psychologist John Neal? He was paid hundreds of pounds a day and barely used by any of the players. The point being that the WRU has to look at precisely what it needs surrounding the head coach.

Any new man will have his own ideas of course, and experts in forward play and defence are part and parcel of modern Test rugby management teams. But appointments have to be monitored. Jenkins went out and brought in a clutch of vastly inexperienced guys, placing their loyalty and potential above anything else.

It didn’t work – and the same errors must not be repeated.

7. SORT OUT ELITE PERFORMANCE DIRECTOR: I can’t remember when this post was advertised it was so long ago. And yet still nobody is in place.

Apparently the delay is because the preferred candidate has one or two personal issues to iron out, but we can’t wait forever. This role is going to be one of arch-overseer and is therefore of crucial importance. Before anyone else is appointed, this position has to be filled and to do anything else would be pure folly.

The EPD has to stand at the apex of Wales team command.

8. IMPROVE MAGNERS LEAGUE: Just how you go about this is almost imponderable, but it goes without saying it requires the commitment of the two other Celtic nations as well. In many ways it’s a double-edged sword because if you commit to the Magners League it is bound to be at times to the detriment of the national cause. But it could all start with greater co-operation between the WRU and its Irish and Scottish counterparts about taking the competition more seriously.

Particularly Ireland, whose disdain of the league up to now did their national team little good at the World Cup.

9. REVIEW THE WELSH PREMIERSHIP: We always get James Hook thrown at us whenever the usefulness of this league is questioned, but we have to look deeper than him. The Premiership is supposed to be a feeder for the regional game and thus the national team, but is it functioning properly in that respect?

Some sides are young and developing, others throw more money at it and value success far more. There has to be more uniformity and clarity of purpose.

And if that means bringing in stricter rules on the use of players with the criteria being age or experience then so be it. When it was first established the WRU wanted the Premiership to go on rival New Zealand’s NPC.

It’s nowhere near it at the moment.

10. BETTER COMMUNICATION BETWEEN REGIONS AND WRU: If players spend 70 per cent of the season playing in a certain position or style and are then asked to change when they link up with the national team, how are we ever going to succeed? Yet in too many instances that is the case, with the examples of Hook and Henson at the Ospreys arguably the most glaring. It’s up to the national set-up – for that is what must come first – to spell out how it would like individuals and regional teams as a whole to play and then for the regions to buy into it.

That way they can hit the ground running when Test match preparation comes around. You can only get to that situation through better communication

Blogging Notes

As you can see in the right hand column here, I’ve set up a label cloud, which shows the tags I’ve used to describe my various rambling and ranting. If you want to copy, the code (that’s IT-speak) is from this website.

Glamorgan season review

There’s no point in me writing a piece when Third Umpire has done such a great job. Well worth reading. There’s a whole bunch of cricket related links there too.

It’s a shame that for the first year in 20 or more years I didn’t see a single day of Glamorgan cricket - a combination of bad weather and shockingly bad cricket.

Baseball Notes

Got most of the Divisional series wrong. Just picked one out of three. Thankfully, it was the Boston Red Sox that pulled through for me and the rest of Red Sox Nation.

The Red Sox, Rockies and D-backs all swept their best-of-five divisional series, and it took the Cleveland Indians 4 games to see off the Evil Empire (or New York Yankees as they are known in some parts).

So the Championship series, starting on Friday, will be contested by:

AL – Boston Red Sox v Cleveland Indians
NL – Arizona Diamondbacks v Colorado Rockies

I'll take Boston and the Rockies.

Dearee me!

Is it just me, or does Wales acting-Coach Nigel Davies look just like actor Alan Cumming.

I’m not sure which of the two has the better coaching credentials either.

Rugby Notes

OK, so I got Saturday horribly wrong. But then again I guess that most of the world outside of the most optimistic England and France fans got it wrong too. Australia’s pack let them down yet again in the big game; they need to find themselves a couple of big props if they’re going to win anything. As for New Zealand, a lack of mental preparation. An ad on New Zealand’s eBay is runs as follows:

“Used All Blacks: re-conditioned earlier this year, fully mobile and working, but with the choke stuck on full.”

Normal service was restored on Sunday, but not without a few worries for both South Africa and Argentina.

So this weekend, the line-up is:

Saturday 8pm – England v France
Sunday 8pm – South Africa v Argentina

I’m taking France and Argentina, but then what do I know?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Movie Notes

Went to see Michael Clayton on the weekend at the local googleplex at Nantgarw. Sitting in the dark for a couple of hours is about all I could manage (see Wisdom? post below).

The reviews were only average or just above, but I thought the boy Clooney was excellent as an NY law firm's fixer – there’s a good future in this acting game ahead of him. It’s a nice change to see a movie without gratuitous car chases and ludicrously high body counts (although there were a few). It was intelligent and well worth a few hours at the pictures.

Astronomy Notes

It’s back. Having been cancelled part-way through last year, the community outreach programme of the University of Glamorgan’s Centre for Astronomy and Science Education has started up again. The course is Alien Worlds and is being held at Garth Olwg’s lifelong learning centre.

As well as the course every Monday evening, there is an occasional series of public lectures at the University. The programme is here.

Baseball Notes

So after 162 games the MLB regular season is over and the post season starts tonight. The match-ups for the best-of-five divisional series which start tonight are:

Anaheim Angels v Boston Red Sox
New York Yankees v Cleveland Indians

Colorado Rockies v Philadelphia Phillies
Chicago Cubs v Arizona Diamondbacks

Colorado got in after a tiebreaker playoff against the San Diego Padres. Two terrible calls in the game – the home run that wasn’t given and the play ay home plate when the runner was clearly out yet called safe. They even out though.

All the games will be on NASN and occasionally on five, and there’s lots of preview stuff on MLB’s website.

My predictions? Almost inevitably, it will be the Sox against the Evil Empire on the AL, and I reckon it’ll be the Cubs and Phillies in the NL, unless the curse strikes again.

Rugby World Cup Notes

All of last weekend’s big pool games at the Rugby World Cup went as I expected. Tonga weren’t strong or disciplined enough to do for England, going down 36-20.

Local interest note – Tonga scrum half Sione Tu’ipulotu (pictured) turned out a couple of times at centre for Ebbw Vale a few seasons ago when he was on the books of the N**port Dragons.

Scotland just about clung on against Italy 18-16, who gave away enough penalties to lose the game.

Argentina looked like a force to reckon with in comprehensively beating Ireland 30-15. Their half backs (Pichot and Hernandez) looked as good as any in the RWC, and the pack (especially number 8 Longo) were awesome and will be a match for anyone.

And as for Wales, well Fiji deserved their 38-34 win in one of the best international rugby matches I have ever seen. Neither team seemed very interested in “keeping it in the pack” and as a result a see-saw game saw nine tries and thousands of Welsh broken hearts.

The Fijian centre pairing of Rabeni and Bai tore through Hook and Shanklin at will, and Wales were regularly turned over at ruck and maul. The Welsh back row were completely out-played – I’m not really surprised that Martin Williams has announced his retirement from international rugby. I expect a few others to follow suit in the next few weeks – Charvis? Alfie?

Gareth Jenkins got sacked the next day. The Western Mail clamoured for Jenkins when Ruddock was appointed as coach and then jumped for joy when he finally got his chance. But it didn’t take long for Jenkins’ true coaching colours to show through and the Western Mail must have pulled a muscle jumping off the bandwagon that it had ridden for several years.

So next weekend it’s the quarter-finals:

Saturday 2pm – Australia v England
Saturday 8pm – New Zealand v France
Sunday 2pm – South Africa v Fiji
Sunday 8pm – Argentina v Scotland

My picks (for what they’re worth): the four top seeds and an all-southern hemisphere last four – Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina.

Rugby Notes

Ebbw Vale, playing in their Monmouthshire-blue away kit, gained a fine win at Aberavon on the weekend, 22-17.

The pack went well without Nelly (suspended) and dominated throughout. The backs, however, looked somewhat disjointed and makeshift outside-half Aaron Bramwell failed to get the back line going consistently. Nevertheless, a good win which was wrapped up well before Aberavon had centre Darren Ryan sent off late on.

As always, the latest news is available on the Ebbw Vale RFC website. The Western Mail’s report is here, Graham photos of the game are here, and EyeJay has even posted some YouTube clips here.

Scorers: Tries for Alistair Lyon, Kristian Owen and Andrew Bevan, a conversion and a penalty by Bramwell, and one penalty by Andrew McLaughlan.

Highlight: Some fine rolling mauls, quality scrums and great defence against one of the biggest packs in the league.

Lowlight: Poor atmosphere. The ground would have been deserted without the usual horde of travelling Ebbw Vale fans. The ten minutes of stoppage time at the end was played in an emotional vacuum.

Man of the Match: The front row as a whole – Alistair Lyon, Richard Wilkes and Mark Jones, as well as subs Matthew Williams and Anthony Lott.


The lull in activity here has been caused by me having been in hospital having my wisdom teeth removed. I clearly must have had all my wisdom removed as I went to Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr Tydfil to have the operation.

Quite an experience that, going back to a post-war Soviet health service. Here's my story. You can decide whether this health service really should be the envy of the world:

1. I had to go to hospital at 2pm on Tuesday afternoon even though the operation was not scheduled until Wednesday. I was told that this was to “safeguard your bed” (real quote). I did suggest that we could have a bolster and some snoring sound effects in lieu of me actually being there (Ferris Bueller-style), but that just got a blank look from the nurse.

2. The operation was scheduled for the Wednesday morning list, so nil by mouth from 10pm on Tuesday evening. I finally get the call to go to the operating theatre at 4pm on Wednesday afternoon. That was a fun Wednesday that I won’t forget in a hurry. In all, I was waiting in the hospital and unnecessarily occupying a bed for 26 hours before the operation.

3. My ward, Ward 6, was a mixed ward. Yes, in this day and age, we still have mixed sex wards. Wow.

4. Sleep was impossible. Our bay of six beds had the good fortune to be adjacent to the nurses station. Which meant talk and ringing phones well into the early hours. This combined with some forthright snoring from the next bed meant no sleep. I asked the nurse if earplugs were available on the NHS, and again got a blank look. In the end I managed a couple of hours kip in a chair in the day room.

5. There were food leftovers abandoned on trays in the corridor and the day room overnight.

6. There was blood on the patients’ toilet seat. This was reported twice and yet still there the following morning.

7. Just before I was due to go down to the operating theatre some of the lifts broke down. More specifically, the only lifts large enough to fit beds into. Which meant that patients couldn’t get from the theatre to the ward. I volunteered to walk to the operating theatre but was given a wheelchair so that I could use the regular lift. Thankfully, by the time I came out of theatre at 6pm the lifts were back working (intermittently).

8. When I get back to the ward, the thought uppermost on my mind is that I don’t want to spend another night in the hospital. So Cath tactfully asks what hoops I need to jump through to be discharged that night. I’m told that I must eat, drink, wee and walk (in no particular order). Now, the tricky bit here is the eating bit. The nurses tell me that the evening meal has already been served and the catering staff have gone home. So it’s a bit of dry bread from Cath’s sandwich washed down with water. Perfect for dodgy gums.

9. The hospital pharmacy’s closed by this time too, but I have contacts (House-style) and so getting hold of painkillers isn’t an issue.

Anyway, I finally get home around 9pm, and sleep like a baby in my own bed.

I should say here that the treatment from the nurses was very good, and the senior house officers in particular had time to talk and explain the procedure. It’s just the system that is broken. I was packed off with a cheery “if you have any problems, go talk to your dentist”. Here’s a proper post-op set of instructions.

Six days on and most of the chipmunk-cheeked swelling and bruising has now disappeared. But I’m not exactly surprised to find out that I have developed an infection, and my GP has today put me on a course of antibiotics.

Here’s a fellow blogger's story (with photos) telling a better story.