Monthly Archives: February 2013

What’s in a Name?

Is the world a better place today, than say 600 years ago? If you think it is, consider the wisdom of the Old World.

The task at hand: the Renaissance, or the Reformation, or whatever hell the time it was – let’s call it a long time ago – was a period where people called a spade a spade. There was no political correctness, the good folk from times of yore, called it as they saw it.

Kings, Dukes, Lords and Nobles – in the days before TV and Twitter – needed to be known and recognised, to be fittingly lauded by the common folk. There was nothing worse than being the Big Cheese of the area, walking into the local 7/11, and having nobody recognize you (or in those days, the local VII/XI).

So the King (et al.) had to be accurately described so the serfs, servants and  subjects could grovel in the appropriate manner.

Still, it seems to me, in an attempt to be known, some of these rulers put their foot well and truly into the proverbial “the jokes on me”, poo.

Poland had its fair share of kings who were “Good”, Old” or “Younger”. The standout, however, was a little bloke (I assume) called Władysław the Elbow-High. But spare a thought (or not) for the poor Pole, known (or not) as “Bolesław the Forgotten”.

The French were past masters at accurately describing the Monarchy ; no less than four Kings known as “Louis the Fat”, sat (heavily) on the French throne: as did “Ebalus the Bastard” and “Charles the Lame”. I’m not sure if Charles just had a gammy leg, or simply couldn’t tell a joke properly. I hope it was the latter.

The Czechs had a well-known fellow: “Good King Wenceslas”. Wenceslas, as it turns out, was neither a king, nor particularly good. How disappointing.

In Russia, Ivan the Great was the doting Granddad to a cute baby boy, eventually known as “Ivan the Terrible”. What went wrong, Ivan Senior?

And while on the subject of “Great”, it loses a bit of its “wow” factor with Peter, Frederick, Alexander, Catherine, Alfred, William and even Canute (eh?) all thinking they were pretty damned good. Did none of them own a Thesaurus?  Peter the Magnificent or Alexander the Splendid – now there are two Blokes you might happily grab an axe for, and follow into battle.

There are some other names that like “Great”, just lose out through endless repetition: Wise, Bold, Fearless, Good, Younger, Older, Brave, Pious… blah, blah, blah.

Denmark & Norway (then united) made it remarkably easy: between 1523 and 1766 the kings were, in order: Frederick / Christian / Frederick / Christian / Frederick / Christian / Frederick / Christian / Frederick / Christian  / Frederick / Christian. There’s nothing quite like the comfort of knowing what name to start stitching onto the commemorative tea towels, when the old King is looking like falling off the perch.

But most of all I feel for the French King, Louis XVI. He was preceded by Louis XV who was known far and wide as “Louis the Well-Loved”. Louis junior was not so well-loved – He was guillotined in 1793. I guess the proletariat just didn’t like cake.


Hospital Blues

You know what’s a gigantic letdown for me? A hospital’s Accident and Emergency.

With a sporty wife, I have visited many emergency rooms over the years, patiently waiting for my wife while sprains and breaks are X-rayed, stitches and shots are administered.

I have spoken to many doctors, nurses, and orderlies – even cleaning ladies. I eat at the cafeteria, buy from the vending machines and wait calmly in the waiting room. I sometimes wander about, look behind curtains and sneak a look into half open doors.

Never, ever, have I seen anything resembling a television depiction of a Hospital.

It’s a tremendous disappointment for me. Hospitals are rather dull. Nobody is crying (patients excepted), no-one is discussing their, or anyone else’s, dubious moral values at the nurses’ station, and it doesn’t appear that everyone is/has/will be, in a shallow sexual relationship with 3 or 4 other people in the general vicinity.  In a word (or two), they’re boring.

The reality is you wait a long time before a Doctor comes out and fixes you up. There is a minimum of chitchat, and they send you on your way without discussing their problems. If you’re in Hong Kong, they hit you with a bill that will certainly make you cry, regardless of the pain medication you may be given. But there will be no drama. There will be no tension, and there will be no strange behaviour.

I recently saw an episode of a popular Medical drama. A heart surgeon started to cry during an operation. Now call me old-fashioned, but if your heart surgeon is discussing life’s problems and crying while up to his or her elbows in your chest, you have picked the wrong hospital.

Still, I do suppose a real life hospital drama might be a little weak.

“This week on ‘Suburban Hospital’, Nurse Cathy catches up on a mountain of paperwork while Dr. Rogers thumbs through a boating magazine. When a man with a broken arm comes in, Chad, the orderly, pages Dr. Rogers to the emergency room. Dr. Rogers finishes reading the article, then wanders out. He x-rays, then sets the arm. The man is sent home.  Nurse Cathy resumes her paperwork and Dr. Rogers goes back to his magazine. Chad cleans up the area.”

In Hollywood, (or Seattle), it would go more like this:

“This week on ‘Suburban Hospital’, nurse Cathy is in the supply room with Dr. Rogers. While they are busy “getting busy”, a man is rushed in with a broken arm. Chad, the completely unqualified former bodybuilding male model orderly, decides to operate. He has a flashback to the last time he wielded a knife; it was when he worked in a sandwich shop, and it was a butter knife. But Chad decides he can’t wait for the “busy” doctor, and amputates – the other arm. Later, a disheveled nurse Cathy is seen having a ciggy out front of the hospital, while a smirking Dr. Rogers adjusts his béret in his rearview mirror, and screeches out of the car park in his convertible BMW. He is off to pick up his new boat. Chad conceals the amputated arm in his locker, and hides in the female toilets – he really didn’t think this through.”

Yep, come to think of it, I’m glad I’ve never seen “TV Hospital” in a real hospital.


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