Here is the beta version of my strip on chiropractic therapy. It's a little rough and will need proofreading from those of you with eyes sharper than mine. All comments welcome. This is, of course, a chapter of my upcoming Science Tales book, which will be out from Myriad Editions next year. Each chapter of the book will come complete with references and acknowledgements, including this one.
The old people's residential home, where I work two days a week, is under severe pressure from the squeeze on funding, caused by the government's cuts. It's one of a dwindling number of homes run by the council in this area. Many council run homes have been shut down already and more are planned to be closed as the government's cuts bite deep.
This particular home has had to shed staff already to save money, which has increased pressure on the remaining people who work there in what is an extremely demanding job to begin with. Working with elderly people who are all in various states of dementia is not an easy task. It is work that tests you both physically and mentally. Many of the residents are unable to feed themselves and therefore have to be assisted. This feeding process takes time and patience. Time, which I fear, is not always available to staff when there are not enough people around to do the work. These days office staff and management, and even the cleaners are having to chip in and help at meal times.
The knock-on effect of the added pressure of an overworked care staff has had a disastrous result. Currently there are six members of staff off sick. An unheard of number to be ill simultaneously. Do I think that these people are ill because they're overworked and exhausted? You bet I do.
I'm lucky, because I'm agency staff, and therefore get to pick and choose when I work and how many shifts I do. But the regular staff don't have this option. Care-workers get paid not much above the minimum wage. That's how much both residents and workers are valued in this society.
The government are desperate, of course, to ultimately shove all health care into the private sector. A state run health care sector is anathema to the free-market fundamentalists who are currently in power. They degrade public health sector deliberately so they can point to its failings and have the excuse to shut it down.
This would be all well and good if we could trust private health care to be run in our interests, but it won't be. The disastrous US model of private health insurance is not something we in the UK should be moving towards. As imperfect as the NHS is in this country, it does at the very least put patient care first, and not profit.
History is moving forward at breakneck speed. We live in tumultuous times. The Euro crisis, the US debt crisis, the News International phone hacking scandal, the Arab spring, the UK riots, and an impending second financial crash.
Meanwhile, I'm having an excellent year. I've been to New York where I had a meeting with a publisher in the Flatiron Building, I spoke about my work, along with other cartoonists, at the Latitude music festival in front of hundreds of people, and I was interviewed on radio four's All In The Mind programme (which caused Psychiatric Tales to be a best seller on Amazon).
Assuming society hasn't completely broken down, and we don't find our selves living in bands of roving cannibals, I will have two further books out next year: Uncle Bob Adventures, (from Blank Slate), and Science Tales (from Myriad Editions).
Not bad for someone who, only a few years ago, was unemployed, on the verge of homelessness, had crippling debts, and was suicidal. At the time I could see no way out. Yet somehow I've blundered on to create this new and very interesting life. I wouldn't have thought it possible, but it has happened anyway.
I'm very grateful to all the people who supported through that time. Thanks everyone.
Here's a little stop-motion piece I made, using a set of Russian dolls.
People say there aren't any political dimensions to these riots, but it's worth noting that we only have civil unrest in the UK when the Tories are in power. A reaction, I think, from the bottom of society to the Tories more callous and authoritarian approach to government. And if you think that by writing this, that I'm in support of people who burn down local businesses, then you're quite wrong.
The big difference between Labour and the Tories is that the current government are monetarist fundamentalists with no social or moral responsibility. The severe cuts, which have been like nothing in modern times, have thrust the knife deep into the poorest and most vulnerable in society. I work on the front line in health with elderly people, who suffer dementia, where we've had staff cuts beyond the point where it's safe. I see things first hand. So don't tell me the last government was as bad as this one.
I've seen a few calls for the military to get involved in the rioting. How is that supposed to help? Any time soldiers are used in civil disturbances, it usually ends with unarmed civilians being shot. Soldiers aren't trained for this kind of work. This isn't Syria. Is this really what we should be aspiring to? Be careful what you wish for.
How about creating an economy with jobs, and making it easy and cheap to get an education, instead. It worked well enough in the past. Any long-term solution to society's problems that doesn't involve stopping the financial sector sucking the life out of the rest of us, doesn't interest me.
I'm working on the last third of my strip on chiropractic therapy. Hoping to have this beta version online in the coming week. I'm steeling myself for the inevitable hate mail I'm going to receive as a result. Of course, I'm very aware of the Simon Singh case, and because of this, I'm checking and rechecking my facts. Having said that, I doubt very much the chiropractic profession will be embarking on any other lawsuits soon, after the colossal bill they were stuck with after that court case failed.
Had the strange irony this week of having my own book recommend to me by Amazon. Another irony, developed slight back pain while working on my chiropractic strip. Nothing to do with moving and handling. I'd been sitting with my back to the open window during the hot weather, and the ever so slight breeze caused a crick in my back. How feeble my body is these days.
I'm still on course to hit my late September deadline with Science Tales, for publication in the spring, 2012. After the chiropractic chapter is finished I'll be starting work on the final, and summing up chapter, which will be about the science denial movement generally.
The full list of chapters are thus: electroconvulsive therapy, the Andrew Wakefield MMR scandal, homeopathy, the supposed NASA Moon hoax, climate change, evolution, chiropractic therapy, and science denial.