I had a great weekend.

On Saturday, I went out with the London Ambulance Service for a twelve-hour shift. It was very interesting.

las_ambulance

We did nine ‘jobs’, as they say.

We picked up a Bangladeshi minicab driver who had been punched in the face by a drunk.
We went to a motorcycle versus pedestrian and took the back-injured ped to the hospital.
We picked up a woman suffering from hyperglycemia.
We helped a paralyzed man back into bed. He was paralyzed from the neck down after being hit by a ricochet in a nightclub.
We picked up a Spanish woman who had been hit by a car.
We picked up an elderly woman who had fallen in a department store. She was a survivor of the holocaust and a beneficiary of the Kindertransport.
We picked up a man who had passed out in the Underground.
We picked up a woman who had tripped and fallen on her face while racing into a pub to avoid the rain.
We picked up a man who had passed out and fallen whilst getting out of a car in front of his house.

In between, we had tea at the hospital.

Afterwards, I walked around London for several hours. I ended up in a pub near the rail station where I was recognized by a nurse from the hospital where we had dropped off most of our charges during my ridealong shift. I had a lovely time chatting with the group of several nurses. They were very relaxed with me after they realized I was not ‘at large’ and included me in their very entertaining conversation about the love lives of various coworkers.

We did briefly talk about differences between the NHS and US systems. They were surprised to hear that an injured person in the US would have an MRI within a half-hour or so of entering the hospital as opposed to waiting a week or so in the case of an emergency or six months or so in non-emergency cases. I kept many of my observations to myself, though, as it is obvious that the healthcare professionals in the UK, despite the relative lack of resources, certainly do not lack in compassion.

Later in the evening, I had a chat with a male supervisory nurse about the problems with terrorism; he started it. He clearly expected me to be anti-western-civ and was surprised when I agreed with his positive assessment of how Blair and Bush are handling the war on terror. He said that the UK is ‘getting tired’. He also said that he fears that the UK will slide into National Socialism (e.g., Nazism) due to public irritation with the terrorists and their refusal to appreciate the benefits that democratic western societies have extended to them. I found that to be an interesting perspective, one that certainly seems plausible. In any event, none of the other nurses had any disagreement with him on his views on the war or anything even slightly negative to say about the US. I was rather surprised since the UK media, much like the US media, would have one believe that public sentiment is in favor of acquiescing to Islam, and that the average UK citizen hates America. That certainly has not been my experience either among my UK coworkers or the healthcare workers I spoke to.

The pub landlord, a friend of the group of nurses, bought me my last two pints; I thought that was very nice.

When I left to return home, the nurses gave me a packet of ‘Nobby’s Nuts’ to give to my wife (, I’ll give them to you when you get here).

On Sunday, I got up and went flying with Mr. Hazel. I was rather nervous. After takeoff, he let me fly the Yak to the practice area; it was interesting since I’d never flown anything with a stick, only aircraft with yokes. It wasn’t hard, though, and I had little difficulty keeping the thing straight and level.

We went to his usual practice area but had to leave when we saw another aircraft doing aerobatics. We avoided fairly abruptly with a very steep turn away; I was not as freaked out by the maneuver as I would have expected and so started to relax somewhat in anticipation of the actual ‘aeros’ we were getting ready to do.

We got to his secondary place; the sky over a now-closed B-52 base. We started out with some steep turns to ‘clear’ the area; to make sure there were no other aircraft around. Then we did a loop. The loop starts with a steep dive to build up speed; the top of the dive was rather unsettling. The loop itself was fine although the g’s were more than I was expecting. The sky whirling about and the view of the ground directly above was quite entertaining, though I must admit that I was still rather rattled.

We then did a roll. That was interesting and took no time to complete.

Then we did a Cuban, then a reverse Cuban. These are both similar to loops except with half-rolls in them either just before the start of the loop or just after. By the end I was feeling fairly comfortable, rather ebullient, really. We did another roll and Mr. Hazel invited me to try a roll of my own; I did not feel up to attempting one yet so declined. I did open up the canopy and rode back to the airport with the wind rushing by which was rather exhilarating.

After landing, Mr. Hazel dropped me off at the train station. I took the train back to London and spent an hour at the Imperial War Museum. I had been trying to get to the museum for the last two years but things keep coming up. I had remembered it as very interesting from when I visited as a seventh-grader and was not mistaken in my recollection. An hour was not nearly enough time; a day or two would be easily spent. As it was, I spent forty-five minutes in an exhibit on escapes from WWII POW camps and fifteen minutes rushing through a few other things, mostly WWI in nature.

I walked around London for a while longer after the museum closed, ate dinner, and came home.

Yesterday I tried to do some laundry… My clothes are now locked in the washer/dryer. As a result, I’m wearing mismatched socks. I changed apartments at the end of last week (my old one did not have a shower, just a tub) and the new one lacks instructions for the washer/dryer.

Here are a few pictures…

This ominous box is near Parliament.

airmeter

It claims to be a pollution meter; it’s the only one I’ve seen, though. It’s proximity to the seat of government prompts me to wonder what kind of pollution it is metering. It seems to be prone to vandalism, though; despite the cage, the device includes a glass collection chamber that any vandal with a stick could break.

Here is a bit of graffiti from around Reading.

dwarfs

The ‘seven whatevers’ bit appears in several places; this is the only iteration I’ve seen updated as shown.

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