The Anonymous Widower

Speak Up And Help Beat COVID-19

The title of this post, is the name of a research project, which is described on this page of the government web site.

This is the first paragraph.

We are seeking volunteers to take part in a study at the forefront of new and emerging science and technology.

Basically, you’re asked to record a few sounds including a cough and then AI attempts to decide, whether you have the dreaded covids or not. As you are invited to take this test soon after a full test for the covids, it’s quite easy for any intelligent computer, as she will look you up in the database.

The idea, is to see whether diagnosis is possible from a cough.

But then doctors have been asking Army recruits to cough since Wellington’s time.

Do they ask ladies to cough or is that now considered transphobic?



October 29, 2021 Posted by | Computing, Health | , | 1 Comment

A Mysterious Attack On My Body

Last Friday, I went to Birmingham and looked at the extension of the West Midlands Metro to Fiveways and Perry Barr station before it is updated for the Commonwealth Games.

I also took a detour to Wolverhampton station to see how the new transport interchange is progressing.

I had travelled between Euston  and Wolverhampton on my least favourite trains – Alstom’s Class 390 trains.

  • The seats don’t align well with the windows.
  • The trains are cramped because of all the tilting mechanism.

These trains must a nightmare for anybody taller than my 1.70 metres or heavier than my sixty-two kilos.

But the biggest problem of these Pendolino trains is that Alstom updated the air-conditioning a few years ago for Virgin a few years ago and I find the air inside too dry.

I am glad to see that Avanti West Coast have ordered new Hitachi Class 807 trains for running to and from Liverpool.

In my few hours in Birmingham, I didn’t have much to eat or drink.

  • I had a hot chocolate from a stall outside Wolverhampton station.
  • I also took a box of Leon’s gluten-free chicken and a lemonade onto the train home.

I was fine until I got to about Watford, but about I felt a need for the toilet. I waited until Euston and then it seemed everything in my body went down the toilet in the station.


I had slept well on Friday night going to bed after the ten o’clock news as I usually do.

I spent a very quiet Saturday mainly watching sport on the television and not leaving my house.


After a good night’s sleep, I noticed things seemed to have gone a bit wrong with my left hand.

  • I couldn’t get my left arm to co-operate with putting on a shirt.
  • I had trouble opening a yoghurt pot, by gripping it in my left hand and ripping the top off with my right.
  • I couldn’t tie my shoe-laces and had to use a pair of slip on shoes.


  • At no time was I having any balance problems and bathed successfully,
  • I did manage to get to the shops at the Angel to get a few bits and pieces I needed.

In the end I phoned 111 and they decided, I should be looked at professionally in hospital.

Royal London Hospital

Once in A & E at the Royal London things started to get better.

  • A CT-Scan had shown no problems.
  • I had a negative Covid test.
  • They did a few blood tests.
  • They told me that I had an infection.

But remarkably after an hour or so, my hand had started working normally.

The only reason, I could think, was that the air in the hospital was fully climate-controlled, whereas at home, it was just hot and dry.

They kept me in overnight and after a couple of human-based checks in the morning sent me home in a taxi.


The whole episode does seem so like an incident I described in A Couple of Days in Hospital.

May 12, 2021 Posted by | Health, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

How Cambridge University Test Students For The Covids

In Tom Whipple’s excellent article in The Times today, which is entitled In Search Of A Less Painful Route Through The Long Covid Winter, there is this paragraph.

They also point to a different, smaller-scale, test. In the summer, Cambridge University decided to go its own way on testing. Each “bubble” of students put their swabs to be tested together. If they contained a positive — validated through a far more effective laboratory test — they were each retested. At the start of the autumn term, the university experienced the usual run of cases. In the final week, when other universities were seeing mass outbreaks, all 10,000 students were tested. There were zero positives.

Could this simple method, speed up mass testing of residential areas, care homes and other universities?

December 24, 2020 Posted by | Health | , | 1 Comment

One-Hour Covid Test Approved For Rollout

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in The Times.

This article is more than the title as it details four testing methods, currently being rolled out.

After reading this article, I would not be surprised to see an affordable COVID-19 testing device being developed and available for non-professional use in the coming months.

Getting it right, will bring the team so much of a financial reward, they’ll make Dyson look like pauper. No wonder organisations like Cambridge University, Imperial College, big pharmaceutical companies and hedge funds are backing development.

As these tests are often about measuring the intricate properties of both human and virus DNA, I wonder how many other collateral benefits will aid diagnosis of diseases like cancer.

May 23, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 4 Comments

Is My Local COVID-19 Testing Centre Going Walk-In?

I took these pictures as I walked past the car-park, that is used as a COVID-19 testing centre at week-ends.

It looks to me, as if, they’re going to allow people to walk-in for testing!

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment

The Government’s Terrible COVID-19 Statistics

In an article in The Times today, Sir David Speigelhalter lambasts the Government over their collection of COVID-19 statistics.

I have been involved in the analysis of several very large databases and four factors improve the quality of the answers you get.

  1. The more records or in this case tests you have, the better. So I back David Speigelhalter! We should stop people on the street and test them!
  2. The more fields or pieces of data in each test you have, the better. So perhaps each test should be linked to your NHS record.
  3. The quality of the data is important. In my experience NHS scores about two out of five for quality as a lot of medical staff, often fill it in badly. In one case, I was looking for reasons for low birth weight babies and in many cases, the field was filled with 9.99 Kg.
  4. And then there’s the output of the data. I was taught how to display data for idiots, by the former Chief Accountant of a FTSE 500  company, who was working as the Chief Management Accountant of a Clearing Bank. He had found showing scatter diagrams with each branch as a single point on a large sheet, really got Branch Managers to think about what they are doing, if they weren’t running with the herd. These diagrams made problem branches stand out like the sorest of thumbs!

So where are the scatter diagrams for all of the Health Authorities in the UK, so everybody can see how their area, is doing against everybody else?

By the way, I trust Sir David, as we have the same birthday and share it with James Cameron, Jeff Thomson, Katherine Hamnett, Lawrence of Arabia, Menachem Begin and Madonna.

May 11, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , | Leave a comment

COVID-19 Testing In Dalston

As I walked to Marks and Spencer, this morning, they were setting up a COVID-19 testing site, in the car park near Dalston Junction station.

Note that when I came back, there were a lot of cars queuing to get in.

May 2, 2020 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On The COVID-19 Testing

I must first congratulate all those involved in organising and carrying-out the tests.

As someone, who has analysed many large databases for patterns of perhaps marketing information, product recalls or criminal activity, 100,000 tests per day or million in ten days, is a very large amount of hopefully reliable data, that I believe can be used to answer a lot of relevant questions about the progress of this pandemic and our very boring (For me, at least!) lockdown.

I hope, that the tests collect all the right data to go along with the physical data.

But I suspect that some important scientifically-correct questions won’t be asked. For instance.

  • What is your place of birth?
  • What is your BMI?
  • How much exercise do you do every day?
  • What is your religion?
  • How often do you attend a religious service?
  • How many in your household?
  • How many generations in your household?
  • Do you have a pet that needs exercise?
  • Do you have any drug habits?
  • Do you have any allergies?
  • Do you smoke?
  • How much alcohol do you drink?
  • Are you vegetarian?

Only by collecting a full database alongside the testing process, will we get maximum value out of the testing.

May 2, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Health | , , , , | 4 Comments