Sunday, June 03, 2007

We want more NHS clinical psychologists

Tell that to number 10

Add your name to the petition here:

Saturday, June 02, 2007


1. The community spirit behind sectarianism on both sides
2. We beat England 1-0 and made a song about it
3. We have 5 seasons; as well as Autumn, Spring, Winter and Summer we
have the riot season (also known as marching season)
4. We have more terrorist organisations than the middle east
5. The home of Harp; the pint we call our own
6. We are so good, the English ripped off the look we call steek/milly
and called it chav
7. The home of the petrol bomb
8. The only place where you will have your car stolen and thieves will try and sell it back to you
9. The only country where people will fight over Rangers and Celtic and
not know any players in the teams
10. Our riot squad are so good that they train the English police riot
11. The average teenager can make at least 3 different types of
12. The only country Germany are afraid of

Friday, May 18, 2007

WTF you doing?!

I started a new job this week in a learning disabilities team. I like working in learning disabilities - it keeps life interesting.

Thus far, I've met with lots of other professionals...and each time, I've been told horror stories about the ways in which care staff behave towards the people they care for. I have no doubt that the stories are true and that such outrageous occurances happen frequently. I've worked in this area before...I know...

Typically what happens is that care staff (the people who work with the person every day) find the person difficult to deal with, refer to some outside professionals, who go in and think "OMG, WTF you doing?!" and tell the care staff to get their acts together, whereupon the professional is dismissed with "You don't work 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week and clean up shit so you don't know what you're talking about."

But it makes me wonder, what happens to people when they work in institutional environments that makes them behave in outrageous ways? Sometimes it makes me think about Zimbardo's prison experiment and how ordinary students took so easily to the roles (prison guard and prisoner) assigned to them and became torturer and tortured. (If anyone wants an unsettling but deeply relevant read, Zimbardo's new book, 'The Lucifer Effect' is an excellent account of the prison experiment and exploration of current horrors such as Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq from a psychological point of view.)

Anyway...from Abu Ghraib back to the local residential homes for people with learning disabilities. What is it that makes people who go into this job to care (and I've no doubt that the vast majority of care staff start with compassionate motivation) that turns people to do dangerous, stupid, thoughtless and, at times, abusive things? What is it that fuels the us and them mentality between care staff and the people they care for?

Or perhaps even more importantly, what is it in my work that turns me from someone who wants to be compassionate and empowering, into someone who oppresses and disempowers? What is it that I do that I cannot see? What is it that creates an us and them mentality between outside professionals and on the ground care staff?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter stories

And the son of man hatched from a chocolate egg which dropped serendipitously on to the lap of the Madonna as the easter bunny hopped by.

Well, Somerfield got it wrong ;)

(For those who don't know Somerfield is a UK supermarket chain.)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

When work comes home

For the last year, autistic spectrum disorders seem to have become a running theme in my working life. I worked as an assistant psychologist in a learning disabilities service where there were lots of people with autism. My first placement as a trainee also had a special focus on autism in children. (Apparently, my next placement will be continuing in this vein.)

That's great - I like working with people with autism. Its interesting - and its certainly different! Although, I must admit, ADHD is still my passion, increasingly so as I've recently met some people who are engaged in some really constructive dialogue which seems to go far beyond the shallow "Is it real, is it made up?" fighting that seems to dominate the field sometimes.

However, I have found out one of my cousins is being assessed for autistic spectrum disorder. This is a big family secret, so naturally, everyone knows. Of course, everyone is forbidden to talk to me as I "know too much". Consequently, the phone has been ringing of the hook.

It does feel wierd to be giving "advice" to family members - especially when its all such a great big secret. Apparently, I did not email my aunt lots of reading materials to pass on to my other aunt. No no no - she found them on the internet somewhere, definately not from me, because, I do not know.

I love my family - everyone talks about the elephant in the room to everyone else, but pretends no-one else knows about it. Honestly, family therapy with my extended family would be an absolute raucous, perhaps I will suggest it.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Partner dude left me alone for the weekend - apparently a stag weekend was more important than me :(.

I decided to cook him a roast dinner as a surprise for when he got home, a major surprise as I seldom cook roast dinners. However, that might be about to change thanks to Nigella.

I made this little beauty - beautiful because it takes about 5 minutes preparation and then you forget about it while it cooks for 2 hours, filling the house with the scent of lemons and thyme, finally to be rewarded with the most juicy, tender chicken pieces when it is time to eat.

I also managed some perfectly roasted potatoes thanks to Delia, although I used olive oil rather than lard or dripping and didn't bother putting the baking tray over the hob - I just put the potatoes in and coated them quickly!

Some lightly steamed fine asparagus on the side made it just perfect.

Now I'm eating the left over chicken and beautifully sour/bitter lemon pieces for lunch. Perfect. It feels like spring is here at last!

The recipe, from Nigella online.

1 chicken (approx. 2-2.25kg), cut into 10 pieces (I used 4 big chicken breasts)
1 head garlic, separated into unpeeled cloves
2 unwaxed lemons, cut into chunky eighths
small handful fresh thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
150ml white wine
black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 160ºC/gas mark 3.
Put the chicken pieces into a roasting tin and add the garlic cloves, lemon chunks and the thyme; just roughly pull the leaves off the stalks, leaving some intact for strewing over later. Add the oil and using your hands mix everything together, then spread the mixture out, making sure all the chicken pieces are skin side up.
Sprinkle over the white wine and grind on some pepper, then cover tightly with foil and put in the oven to cook, at flavour-intensifyingly low heat, for 2 hours.
Remove the foil from the roasting tin, and turn up the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6. Cook the uncovered chicken for another 30-45 minutes (I checked mine after 20-25 minutes and the breasts were done - perhaps they do more quickly than other chicken pieces, so I just recovered it with foil while the potatoes finished off, to keep them from drying out - the lemons were carmelised at the edges too), by which time the skin on the meat will have turned golden brown and the lemons will have begun to scorch and caramelise at the edges.

Serves 4-6

If anyone else has a go at this, let me know what you think!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Norn Iron

I lived in Norn Iron (known to the rest of the world as Northern Ireland) for the first 18 years of my life. There are a few things I miss. Firstly, spelga yoghurts. Secondly, dale farm ice-lollies. Thirdly, Maud's ice-cream (suddenly I see a theme...)

However, mostly I miss the Northern Irish sense of humour (aka craic), particularly that provided by The Hole in the Wall Gang. (And, btw, Patrick Kielty was absolutely hilarious before he went to was all downhill from there!)

In fact, partner dude and I got to know each other because he had caught an epidsode of Give My Head Peace late and night and I decided to join him for the next installment. Nothing like laughing at Uncle Andy to get you in a romantic mood...(hmmm, perhaps not.)

Now, thanks the the wonders of youtube I can have a regular intake of Ulster's finest humour, and so can you...enjoy

Part 1 of a whole episode

Part 2 of a whole epidsode

Part 3 of a whole episode

Derek stops a bank robbery

Derek prevents a terrorist attack

Derek argues with God

Derek solves the Arab-Israeli conflict

Derek raises the dead