Larry’s Book: To be published April 2016

Originally posted on Revise, Revise, Revise:

Eighteen months ago I set out to tell a story, a story I thought was important and becoming more so with every passing day; a story about palliative care. My idea for this story was to show palliative care physicians at work with their dying patients. I wanted to illustrate, in a piece of long-form journalism, the immense difference palliative care can make in the quality of life of dying patients. Because it’s one thing to be told that palliative care can make a difference, it’s quite another to see it demonstrated for yourself. That’s what I was hoping to do: demonstrate that difference, by showing readers that difference.

Life, as it often does, had other plans for me, and other plans for my story.

One of my first instincts, when I set out to tell this story, was to contact Dr. Larry Librach. Larry co-founded the Temmy Latner Centre…

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Bands with similar names

I have been noticing this phenomenon for many years. When a particular band becomes popular, often there are other bands who are popular at the same time with similar names. Some examples:

Yazz | Yazoo – both popular in the 80s

U2 | UB40 – both big 80s bands

Steeleye Span | Steely Dan – late 70s

Radiohead | Portishead – both became popular in the mid-nineties

Hot Hot Heat | Hot Chip – rose to fame early 2000s (followed closely by Hot Club de Paris!)

Blur | Pulp | Cast – there are a whole heap of 90s bands with 4 letter names

Kasabian | Klaxons | Kieser Chiefs – all in the mid 00s.

Wheezer | Wilco – formed mid nineties

There are many others who I can’t remember right now. I’ll come back and add them when I remember, but you can add them in the comments.

I have two theories to explain this, both of which probably have some truth to them:

  1. There is a fashion to band names. There are a lot of bands from the early 00s who had “the” in their name. This probably explains a lot of the similarities.
  2. I also think there might be some cases where one band name is confused for another, so that one band becomes famous on the back of another because people get confused about which ones are being hyped. I have no evidence for this!

Another interesting thing to consider is that bands of similar genres have similar names – most of the bands above share genres.

Can you think of other bands who have similar names? What about similar named songs popular at the same time?

Chav

In England there is a word “chav”, which according to Google means:

a young lower-class person typified by brash and loutish behaviour and the wearing of (real or imitation) designer clothes.

Interested in the origin of this word I did some research. The word comes from the Romany words “chavo” and “chavvy”, which mean boy/child. There is also a suggestion that it links to the place name “Chatham” (in Kent). Wikipedia says:

 There is no connection between its current use and its historical use in Romany history

quoting this article as its source. The article, published on the BBC, doesn’t in fact support the claim in Wikipedia, it merely suggests that it has been:

reactivated it in recent times

The OED lists the first reference as a Usenet forum in 1998. I grew up in Kent (not that far from Chatham) in the 90s and I am sure I remember this word being around before 1998. I remember having a conversation with my mother about my indiscriminate use of the word “chav” and the word “pikey“; she was keen to point out the difference: A pikey is a gypsy.

To me (and my brother) the difference between a chav and a pikey wasn’t obvious – they looked the same, they dressed the same, they spoke the same, which is undoubtedly a sign of our ignorance, but perhaps it also explains how this Romany word made a leap from the Romany word for boy, to its modern usage.

Let me try to paint the picture in more detail, which trying to avoid defaming gypsies, who I have a lot of respect for. The modern day “chav” seems to take a lot of things from what is perceived to be gypsy culture; lots of gold jewelry, a big brash attitude, a very strong regional accent, a lack of education and a disregard for the law.

Please note at this point that I am giving my understanding of some of the prejudices that existed in the culture I grew up in, I am not saying that these things are true.

It is really interesting that the word chav was misappropriated from the Romany word for boy, in order to describe a new culture that was in many ways trying to imitate. Firstly, many gypsies are of a Romany origin, so it is likely that they would know this word and use it among themselves. I wonder if the word actually comes from its use as an adjective – “chavvy”, which may have been used to mean “childish”. I can see it taking a leap from this use by gypsies themselves, to others like myself, taking it on but misunderstanding it to mean “gypsyish”. I certainly remember “chavvy” being used as a pejorative term, although by the time it reached me it definitely had connotations of “poor” and “classless”.

Another interesting detail – I met my wife in 1998, and she grew up in the West Midlands. She had never heard of the word before meeting me, which leads me to suspect that this word had its origins in Kent.

What’s the earliest you remember this word? Did you grow up in Kent?

Wood burning stove

When we moved into our new house, the thing we were most intent on adding was a proper wood burning stove. We had a log burner or fireplace in most of our previous house; I get cold easily, and since warmth is one of Maslow’s fundamental needs I like to be able to provide it.

I believe in burning wood as a sustainable and renewable fuel; it can be carbon neutral and it is very low tech, which makes it a good step towards self-sufficiency.

The house came with this “delightful” gas fire:

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I removed this with help from my son, and managed to get a fair price for on ebay. We also removed the block-work around the fire to make the wall flat.

The gas fire out, the next step was to fit the stove and install a twin wall flue.

For the stove we chose a Clearview Solution 500. As we live in a smoke control area, our choice of stove was limited to the list of DEFRA approved stoves but I think we’d have chosen this stove even if we weren’t in a smoke control area.

For our flue installation we worked with Dean at Warm Knights; he did a really great job, as the photos testify!

The finished result:

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The stove outputs 8kW, which is on the large side, but the convection casing and the eco fan means that the heat is distributed nicely around the house. We don’t need to use our central heating at all any more.

The flue has an excellent draw, so it is easy to light a fire, and quickly gets hot. The stove is very easy to control with independent up-draft and down-draft controls. This is a really nice change from previous stoves we have had, which have been hard to light and impossible to control.

tl;dr: get one.