We went along this morning to the local clinic to have flu jabs. One of the perks of being an old fogey is that you can have this inoculation for free. Someone must have worked out that this is more economical than treating lots of old biddies who actually catch flu. Younger people have to pay to have a needle stuck in their arm.
Later I was reading about cortisone, the discovery of which earned a group of scientists the Nobel Prize for Science in 1950, and which has since been routinely used by sportsmen of almost every kind. Or so it seems. Cycling has been undergoing investigation and soul searching since the Russian Fancy Bears hacked into and revealed the medical records of the likes of Bradley Wiggins.
Apparently the known side effects of prolonged cortisone use include osteoporosis, cataracts, muscle weakness, mood swings and psychosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, ulcers, necrosis of the hip and thinning of the skin. So is it really worth taking the risk for a moment of glory? Maybe I am just not sufficiently driven by the will to win.
As I read about the powers of cortisone to help fight fatigue and increase endurance, I wondered in passing, and somewhat tongue in cheek, why nobody has offered it to teachers. After all, it has been recognised that they work longer hours and take their work home with them more frequently than most other professionals. (I know my brother used to go on and on about the so called short hours that teachers work - the school day finishes at around 3.30 after all - and those looooong holidays but he never lived with a teacher and, besides, he really only said it to wind us up!) And then there are the nurses who also work silly hours and, after all, could probably access the stuff ore easily than teachers. But, no, just sports people apparently! The rest just have to rely on coffee.
On the subjected of working conditions, here's a link to an article by Jay Rayner about the trials and tribulations of the people who work in restaurants cooking food for us. Basically, he says, they are underpaid and exploited. I often wonder how Spanish restaurants manage to keep their prices down, and Portuguese restaurants even more so. One answer is that food is cheaper in those two countries. Another is that they often employ family, which means that their staff are even more underpaid and exploited. And, of course, if you set about it, you will find restaurants in Spain and Portugal which are just as expensive as those in the UK and where they put a mark-up on the wine in exactly the same way. I just don't go to those. However, I feel that in the UK we are lacking the small restaurants where you can get a good menú del día at a reasonable price. That's all!
Some time ago I wrote about appeals for women to boycott the women's chess championship in Iran. Here's a link to an article on the same topic by a woman called Goncheh Ghavami. She talks about her own experience in Iran:
"My personal experience might be helpful to other chess players considering whether or not to follow Paikidze’s example or to support her position. Two years ago, I was detained in my home country Iran by the morality police for not adhering to hijab standards. I was transferred to a detention centre, and what I saw there took me by surprise.
Iranian women are not afraid of these detentions any more. They are usually released within a few hours, and afterwards they go back to the same loose, half-hearted form of hijab they were wearing before. The morality police have been defeated by the daily actions of millions of ordinary Iranian women, and this policing is failing to bear the fruit its founders had hoped for. Women have challenged the official standards of hijab promoted by the government and have pushed boundaries by simply refusing to keep out of public."
It's worth reading the whole of her argument.