Maplehurst Ramblings

1) Richard Thornton's Puppies.
Richard Thornton's JRT bitch gave birth to a litter of cracking little pups a week or two ago. I don't know what arrangements he has made for selling them but they are well worth looking at if you want a working dog to bring on from young.

Burns portrait2) Burns Night
I hope you all enjoyed Burns night which, for some obscure region, seems to be celebrated as much over this side of the border as it does up in Scotland. It must be something to do with the English love of masochism in listening to all that dire "poetry" or perhaps it has got something to do with the (less than romantic) fact that Rabbie Burns was actually a Westminster Government revenue Inspector much of his life who fathered many children out of wedlock!!
Anyway, we had an authentic haggis which was quite delicious followed by several bottles of malt. I spent the next day languishing in an armchair in a darkened room......

3) Dumped Fridges
If you know of an abandoned kitchen appliance for the council to get rid of, please call their fridge hotline on 01403 215494* and ask for them to come around. If my experience is anything to go by, it should only take around 3 weeks for them to fill all the dockets in, distribute the necessary chits and get an "operative" to drive round to make an inspection before they actually do anything. At least now I know where all my Council Tax goes. 
* Horsham Council don't actually have a fridge hotline, but this number gets you through to the waste disposal department, which is the next best thing.

4) Winter vomiting
A lot has been written about the current "Winter Vomiting" bug that is stalking the land (I love the phrase "stalking" - it give germ infections an air of gravitas!) here is an article culled from one of the Broadsheets recently:-
From Scotland to the South Coast, offices and schools have been left half empty as the vicious, airborne stomach infection - characterised by projectile vomiting and diarrhoea - has "cut like a knife through butter". Sufferers are urged to stay at home and not to inundate doctors' surgeries and hospital outpatient departments. One leading London GP said: "There isn't very much any doctor can do. Victims are best advised to just let it
run its course, unpleasant though it is. "First detected in Stirling a week ago, the virus has reached as far as Hertfordshire, Sussex, Hampshire and Dorset. Symptoms of the gastric flu include sudden projectile vomiting, diarrhoea and fever, and it can kill the very young and very old. "It is often mistaken for food poisoning because when you are sick you really are sick and it comes out like a torrent," said Dr Mike Painter, head of Manchester's infection control unit. "It must be stressed that this is very, very infectious and will go through a place like a knife through butter. It is very common and many of the cases aren't reported. "It doesn't take much of the virus to affect anyone close by, and although it starts hitting people in ones and twos, it then explodes because enough
people have been affected." Simon Gregor, of the Public Health Laboratory, said: "It is estimated there are between 600,000 and a million victims every year - which makes it the biggest cause of gut infection. It happens all year round, but it peaks in winter.
"It is an unpleasant disease but it does not pose other complications. The best thing to do is to stay at home and weather the storm. The main thing to do is to keep drinking fluids to avoid dehydration. It usually clears up on its own after a couple of days." 
Dr John Cowden, a consultant epidemiologist in Glasgow, said: "We are not talking about feeling a bit dicky and chucking up in the toilet bowl -people can vomit straight out for about a yard."
The airborne virus can pass from person to person with ease. Some of the first reported cases were in Scotland's Forth Valley, where 56 staff and patients were affected in two hospitals. Fowey Community College in Cornwall said 535 pupils were suffering from the flu, while in East Sussex whole year-groups had to go home from Newhaven Tideway secondary school because so many of their teachers were off sick. Almost a quarter of pupils and 25 teaching staff at the Wey Valley School in Weymouth, Dorset, have the virus. Head teacher Marcia Headon said the outbreak was putting enormous pressure
on the school. The number of people in hospital with the infection is expected to rise.
Twelve hospitals across Scotland have been affected. Health chiefs at Glasgow's Victoria Infirmary, which has been worst hit, today revealed another increase in cases. The bug's official title is the Norwalk-like Virus, after the town in Ohio where it was first identified. While it is rarely life threatening - with almost everybody affected recovering completely - it costs the NHS huge sums every year because of outbreaks in hospitals.

What the winter bug does to you The bug is commonly known as the small round structured virus in Britain, but its more official title is the Norwalk-like virus, after the town in Ohio, in the United States, where it was first identified.

It causes unpleasant symptoms such as projectile vomiting and diarrhoea and fever for between 24 and 48 hours. "We are not talking about feeling a big dicky and chucking up in the toilet bowl. I am told that people can vomit straight out for about a yard," said Dr John Cowden, consultant epidemiologist at the Scottish Centre for Infection and Environmental Health in Glasgow. The virus is airborne and can pass from person to person with ease, for example through coughing and vomiting. It is often found in hospitals, schools, or places such as cruise ships. Restaurants can also be affected, as the bug can be food-borne. The bug is rarely life-threatening, with almost everybody affected recovering completely. However, it costs the NHS huge sums of money every year because of hospital outbreaks.
Health officials say the number of reported cases is the tip of the iceberg, as many people suffer the illness but do not contact their doctor. Research conducted by Dr Cowden has shown that for every case recorded in official statistics, there are about 1,500 cases which are unreported. There were 1,951 laboratory reports of the virus in England and Wales in 2000 compared with 208 in the same year in Scotland. Scotland reported 328 official cases in 2001. The Department of Health estimates that the bug affects up to 1% of the British population every year.

5) Street Party for the Jubilee
Is Maplehurst going to defy the current national malaise and hold a street party to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee? I hope so. There are few things more fun that unashamed patriotism, particularly when it is combined with a damn good booze up. Does anyone know if anything has been organised yet?

6) MacDonald's.
McDonald's CorporationYum, yum. Well actually, no. I am going to throw caution to the wind and stand in the way of the UK libel laws! I must admit that I am not at all convinced by the current MacDonald's adverts featuring Paul Gascoine mincing a quality piece of steak. The inference here is that this is what MacDonald's actually use in their "beef" burgers. I reckon the truth of the matter is a little different, particularly given the "mechanical" meat recovery methods used by burger processing factories. Undoubtedly prime steak features somewhere in the burger (otherwise MacDonald's would be misleading us and we all know that couldn't possibly happen - right?) but I am a little skeptical as to what else is in them.

The reason for this diatribe is that while having a beer in The White Horse last week I learned that permission has been granted to convert a collection of disused buildings at the petrol station in Buck Barn crossroads into a MacDonald's Drive-in. I can't wait for yet another sell-out to big business is now on the cards. Can anyone tell me what benefit it will bring to the local area?
The only legacy of this will be gangs of car-borne youths converging on their new-found amenity, litter discarded from departing vehicles and even more light pollution from garish yellow and red neon signs. Still, if the facility is built - enjoy your meal if you go there and please keep an eye out for litter!

7) Dave Carter Logs
I got a load of logs delivered by Dave Carter recently. 3/4 of a ton of prime ash cut to my required length. He does three load sizes, from 40 up to 120 ( I think) and the wood has kept us going for some time. Ash is one of the best woods to burn on an open fire as it doesn't spit and it burns with an even flame with intense heat. If you need logs in the future, give him a call on 01403 710955.
This has set me thinking, perhaps we could develop the classified adverts section on the website and have a section solely promoting small businesses that serve the neighbourhood - a sort of "Local service for local people", if you know what I mean. I don't think it would take up too much precious server space. Does anyone have any thoughts on this matter? (It is possible to place classified free ads on the site at present- see link on the left. Several people have asked me whether they can advertise separately. I may consider doing this for small charge to offset the cost of the forum to me. No one has made a contribution so far for this. DT)

8) Our Dear Leader
And, no - I don't mean Dave Toye. Late last month saw the official re-opening of livestock markets in the UK. Business has been brisk and farmers appear to havePrime Minister - MMR article welcomed the resumption of trade universally. Sadly, this re-birth seems to have been accompanied with nothing from Whitehall apart from a raft of rules, regulations and red tape (the the 3R's for the 21st Century!!). Apparently animals cannot even be handled unless done so by someone wearing full protective clothing. Perhaps the most disappointingly predictable aspect of the "Official" silence is that our dear Leader Anthony Charles Lynton Blair has been so busy on foreign "jollies" that he cannot find the time to even say a few small words of encouragement about buying British meat and supporting our farmers. I suppose it would be asking too much for the man to show his face at a livestock market, then again he might just be lynched if he did! 
It doesn't take much effort to promote something British Mr. Blair, or do you prefer up-front payments, as in the case of Lakshmi Mittal and Ispat International?????

9) Perils of The Tube.
Here is something for commuters who use the London Underground. It was sent to me recently:-
During Autumn of 2000, a team of scientists at the Department of Forensics at University College London removed a row of passenger seats from a Central Line tube carriage for analysis into cleanliness. Despite London Underground's claim that the interior of their trains are cleaned on a regular basis, the scientists made some alarming discoveries. The analysis was broken down. This is what was found on the surface of the seats:

4 types of hair sample (human, mouse, rat, dog)
7 types of insect (mostly fleas, mostly alive)
Vomit originating from at least 9 separate people
Human urine originating from at least 4 separate people
Human excrement
Rodent excrement
Human semen
When the seats were taken apart, they found: 
The remains of 6 mice
The remains of 2 large rats
Previously unheard of fungus
It is estimated that:-
By holding one of the armrests, you are transferring, to your body, the natural oils and sweat from as many as 400 different people.
It is generally healthier to smoke five cigarettes a day than to travel for one hour a day on the London Underground. It is far more hygienic to wipe your hand on the inside of a recently flushed toilet bowl before eating, than to wipe your hand on a London Underground seat before eating. Within London, more work sick-days are taken because of bugs picked up whilst travelling on the London Underground than for any other reason (including alcohol).

Now go and enjoy your next Tube journey!!!

10) Websites of the weird and wonderful:-
If you want to impress your friends at the pub, or have a sporting chance of
doing well in the next quiz I set then you could do a lot worse than checking out this website , there are some excellent stories and reports from the last 10 years, detailing all aspects of paranormal and supposedly inexplicable phenomena. One story (concerning the
layout of the Pyramids) was actually made into a fascinating documentary about 3 years ago. The website is definitely worth a visit on a cold and rainy night!
There is even a section on my own personal object of annoyance, namely the cult of Crop Circles!

11) Beer on sale at The White Horse in Maplehurst in the coming month:-
The next four weeks sees an interesting rotation of beers at The White Horse.The following libations will be presented for your attention:-

Hogs Back Brewery
Rip Snorter 5.0%
Traditional English Ale 4.2%

Harveys Brewery
Best Bitter 4.0%

Hop Back Brewery
Cellar Nectar 5.0%

Flower Pots Brewery
Diggers Gold 5.0%
Pots Ale 3.7%

Weltons Brewery
Pride and Joy 2.8%

Itchen Valley Brewery
Wykehams Glory 4.3%
Ladies a Tramp 4.2%
Pure Gold 4.5%

Horsham BreweryWoking
Horsham Best 3.8%
Red River 4.8%

I am also informed that Simon Johnson, Landlord at The White Horse will be attending the International Beer Competition in Birmingham later this month as an invited guest. This is a particularly rare invitation to receive and Simon is apparently looking forward to it with great relish. As long as he remembers enough of the event to pen a few column inches for us next month then we will all be very happy. 
Apparently Bill King will be having his Best Bitter and Red River Ale judged at the event - fingers crossed for a result on that.

Simon  McClean 18th February 2002     last months MR's


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