Sunday, 28 July 2013

Basingstoke Booze, Belle de Jour, Boris and his Blue Cock


Our VC came to spend some time with colleagues at last Fridays, School Congress and School Development Day. It was good to see him, and he had warm words of thanks to share with colleagues for the way in which the School delivered consistently against all our performance targets. The School Congress usually begins with me presenting an analysis of our internal environment (changes we need to consider as a School brought about by changes in the College or wider University) and of our external operating environment – our world as I like to describe it. The latter is usually the consequence of spending time scouring the latest policy documents, thinking about notes I've made at ‘ideas meetings’, Twitter chatting, and Google searching contemporaneous words or phrases to see what is being said about health, health care, social care in a post-modernist society.

This type of search throws ups many interesting bits of information, some I can use and others that for various reasons wouldn't be as appropriate for a School Congress presentation. But I keep it all, just in case. This week’s blog draws upon some of this 'just in-case' information, and as my Mother is in hospital recovering from an operation, and unlikely to read this week’s blog, I don’t need to warn her that you might need to be over 18 to read it.  

Now it appears that Basingstoke Hospital, (part of the Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) are considering making wine and other alcoholic drinks available to their private patients between the hours of 10am10pm, 7 days a week. Whilst this wouldn't appeal to my Mother, who is in Welsh hospital (no not the one said to be dangerous by its own consultants this week Dad), and whose annual intake of alcohol usually consist of a small sherry on Christmas Day, but I guess it might appeal to many other patients. Donna Green, the Trust Chief Operating Officer, apparently quick to reassure critics, notes that patients would only be served alcohol if it was medically appropriate. You can see the guys at DSM5 licking their lips with yet another medically determined disorder to add to their growing list of the bizarre.

However, it was a non-medical Doctor who caught my eye last week, one Dr Brooke Magnati, to be precise. She has studied anthropology, and mathematics and has a doctorate in forensic science. She was also once known as Belle de Jour, and if you haven’t read her books, you may well have seen her TV programme staring Billie Piper. Regular Telegraph readers will of course know her writings, and it was an article last week that caught my attention. She was responding to David Camerons declaration of war on internet pornography. It appears he wants internet companies to ban all porn from their sites unless individuals opt in to view such sites (presumably at a cost).

In her article, Dr Magnati successfully challenged the assumption that it was likely to be only men who would want to opt in to these sites as its only men who watch porn. Using statistics from Google, she was able to show that women seek out such material too. Although the search terms used are slightly different and men slightly outnumber women in making searches, what the statistics clearly show is the way in which the internet has helped remove the stigma for women who seek out erotica. However, whilst having to provide ID to access such sites is unlikely to deter men, Dr Magnati suspects it will put women off, and they will simply go back to the lo-fi option: the paperback shelves.  

Thanks to all those who sent me links to the chicken story of the week – much appreciated as I did not pick it up on my radar – the story was about our favourite Mayor- Boris, who last week presented the latest exhibit of the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square‘it’s a ginormous blue Hahn Cock’ he said after promising no ‘double entendres’- and it is too. The 5 metre tall vivid blue cockerel represents regeneration according to the German artist Katharina Fritsch who created it. I thought it was stunning, however, Boris like me, thinks that unfortunately, if you were to try to Google it in the future, Cameron’s new internet porn policy would probably stop you from finding it!  And Mum, I know you will have read this post, so get well and feel much better soon.