The Anonymous Widower

Liverpool Calls In Volunteer Student Doctors

BBC Breakfast has just run a report about how student doctors at Liverpool University are going to be used to help out in local hospitals.

According to the BBC report, two hundred students have volunteered.

The BBC also interviewed a senior Professor, who was very happy about it all.

I suspect other medical schools will volunteer and there are reports, that Cambridge already has, but I do think that this is the way to get better doctors.

A Personal Story

A few years ago, I was in a teaching hospital after suffering a collapse.

A  senior tutor approached me and asked, if I would mind, if I was used for interview practice by final year students.

I hope the students benefited as much as I did, whilst they sorted out what was wrong with me!

Conclusion

We should look upon COVID-19, as something that will make us all better people and doctors.

Is COVID-19 for my generation and those younger than myself, our Second World War?

 

March 18, 2020 Posted by | Health, World | , , , | 1 Comment

Could Modern Energy Systems Have A Secondary Role?

Close to where I live is a small heat and power system, that I wrote about in The Bunhill Energy Centre.

I first went over the centre during Open House.

Several of these modern systems are very good demonstrations of the principles of maths, physics and engineering.

So do these innovative energy systems do their bit in educating the next generation of scientists and engineers?

Some of the modern systems, that are in development like Highview Power’s energy storage using liquid air would be ideal for a secondary education role!

Most too, are very safe, as there are no dangerous processes or substances.

And in the next few years, there will be more systems all over the country and many in the hearts of towns and cities. Some schools, colleges and especially universities, will have their own innovative energy sources.

Liverpool University already has a system, which is described here.

January 16, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

University Of Birmingham Leases HST For Alternative Fuel Tests

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

This is the first paragraph.

A High Speed Train is being leased by the University of Birmingham to help analyse and test what alternative fuel could be used to power long-distance passenger or freight trains.

It will be interesting to see what results from the research.

A few of my thoughts.

Suitability Of A HST For Research

It must be suitable for research purposes, otherwise the University wouldn’t have obtained the train.

If you look at the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education web site, they list the Research Areas.

  • Railway Control and Operations Simulation
  • Data Integration and Cybersecurity
  • Condition Monitoring and Sensing
  • Centre of Excellence in Digital Systems
  • Power Systems and Energy Use
  • Aerodynamics
  • Climate Change and Weather Impact

There must be a lot of scope for the use of a real train, especially one which has a lot of free space in the engine, where test equipment can be mounted.

Porterbrook’s Interest

I can think of several reasons, why Porterbrook might need to partner with the Research Centre, for sound commercial reasons.

Most will probably seem small in the eyes of the general public, but might be based on Porterbrook’s feedback from customers about their extensive fleet.

Understanding The HST’s Success

The HST or InterCity 125 has been an undoubted success with passengers, drivers, staff and train companies for forty years and understanding the reasons could be invaluable in improving rail transport in the future.

Education

I suspect too that the train will be used to educate students, especially those, who want to work in train or railway design.

When I left Liverpool University with my Control Engineering degree in 1968, I was one of the few, who’d worked on bg heavy machinery in a factory environment.

These days, with Heath and Safety rules much tighter, I doubt, today’s students can gewt the same experience.

Conclusion

I do hope that Porterbrook and the Research Centre, when they look back in a few years, feel that this venture has been a success.

September 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On eScooters!

Consider.

  • This article on the BBC is entitled Emily Hartridge: TV Presenter And YouTube Star Dies In Crash. It is an extremely sad tale and it has led to the inevitable call to ban electric scooters.
  • There is also this article on the BBC, which is entitled Iris Goldsmith: Teenage girl dies in ‘quad bike’ accident. This is another extremely sad tale and many are questioning, what a teenage girl was doing, riding a quadbike.
  • And then there’s this article on the BBC, Which is entitled Govia Thameslink Fined £1m Over Gatwick Express Window Death.

Young people and some older ones too, often do stupid things.

Many also crave danger and go mountaineering, riding on the tops of trains or jumping into rivers from a great height.

Doing things out of the ordinary is a natural reaction and is one of the reason, why humans are the most successful species on this planet.

I think the problem is the way we bring up children.

  • My parents let me do anything I wanted up to a point.
  • They also taught me lots of skills.
  • From about twelve, I used to cycle all over London.
  • I spent endless hours in my father’s print works doing things that would be frowned upon now, because they are too dangerous.

A couple of months ago, I was interviewed by a sixth-form girl student, in the volunteering I do at Barts Hospital in giving experience to prospective doctors.

She had lived in an over-protective environment and hardly left home on her own.

It was almost child abuse. She didn’t say, but I suspect she’d even been driven to and from school.

When it came to our own children, C and myself were fairly liberal and it was strange how, two became very street-wise and had the occasional scrapes, whereas the other was generally well-behaved.

Perhaps, we didn’t get everything right, but I like to think, we gave them a good appreciation of risk!

And that is one of the mot important things to learn in life, as often, those that ca’t assess risk, come to unfortunate ends.

I do feel my youngest son’s unhealthy lifestyle was a factor in his getting pancreatic cancer, especially if he was coeliac like me! But then he wouldn’t get tested!

His daughter though, seems to have a good appreciation of risk, but then if your father dies, you probably do!

To return to the eScooter, which is where this post started.

They Look Fun!

They certainly look fun and I constantly want to have a go on one.

Remember, I have crashed a twin-engined aeroplae and ridden horses in the Masai Mara.

At seventeen, I also sat on the back of a motorcycle, the wrong way round and went through the Mersey Tunnel.

Was I wearing a helmet? Of course not!

Are They Dangerous?

The risk depends on where they are used and how competent the rider is!

Ask any A & E doctor, what sport causes the most injuries and they’ll say something like rugby or horse-riding!

When A & E doctors start complaining about eScooters that will be the time for action.

Would Training Help?

Training isn’t the important thing.

However experience, especially that gained in a safe environment is important.

But to legislate that training should be mandatory will only have the reverse affect.

Conclusion

It’s a difficult problem, but we must teach everybody to appreciate risk.

When I joined ICI in 1969, I went on a formal Health and Safety course.

It has proven to be invaluable all my life an I haven’t worked on a chemical plant since 1970.

July 17, 2019 Posted by | Health, Transport, World | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A College For Train Drivers

One of the successes of Crossrail has been TUCA or the Tunneling And Underground Construction Academy in Ilford, which I wrote about in Open House – TUCA, after my visit in 2012.

Since then a couple of other specialist colleges have opened to deal with other skill shortages in the rail industry.

So now another college is to open that will train drivers, replacing the rather ad-hoc system that currently operates.

It is reported in this article in the Daily Mail. They summarise the plan as follows.

 

  • National academy will establish an apprenticeship providing train driving skills
  • It is hoped the move will create more recruits to lower reliance on overtime
  • Rail services have been hit by industrial action, leading to staff shortages
  • Transport Secretary Chris Grayling could announce the plans next week

 

The Times also has details and their article says.

  • The college will establish an apprenticeship to A-level standard.
  • There will be classroom-based courses using simulators.
  • Hopefully, it will cut train delays, as according to the Office of Rail Regulation, crew shortages are responsible foe one-in-ten train delays.
  • Chris Gibb’s enquiry into the problems at Southern, called for a driver recruitment program to reduce reliance on overtime.
  • The academy will be led by the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and the Institute of Rail Operators, the professional body.
  • Funding will be from the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
  • It is supported by the union; ASLEF.

It certainly sounds like a well-thought out plan, that should have happened some years ago.

A steady supply of well-trained drivers, might mean that certain train companies would change their method of working, to improve and increase services.

Stepping-Up

If you look at the Victoria Line on the London Underground, method of working called stepping-up is used.

The driver of a train arriving at Brixton or Walthamstow Central stations doesn’t change ends, as they would do on many commuter lines. Another driver gets into the other cab and drives the train to the other terminus, when everything is ready.

The first driver, then walks to the other end of the platform, takes a break and then gets ready to step-up for their next scheduled journey across London.

The process obviously works well, but it does mean that you need more drivers than trains.

Some of the intensive services proposed by new train operating companies will probably need more services will be operated in this or some similar way, which will mean more drivers.

Two Drivers On A Train

In Would It Be Better To Run Some Suburban Trains With Two Drivers?, I’ll admit I was speculating, but I did have an e-mail from a driver, who said it would certainly increase services on the route they worked, without needing any more trains.

Conclusion

I can’t see any drawback to this College for Train Drivers.

 

October 1, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

The Electorate Has Changed

Rod Liddle, in a piece in The Sunday Times yesterday started like this.

The British public are not stupid, then. Everybody else, however, is. The politicians, pundits, commentators, psephoologists, me.

He then gives a series of tales of those who got it wrong.

But I think, on the whole the public have thought that the coalition had done a good job in sorting out the mess. So many people, who I would have thought sensible, said to me that they’d wanted a box on the ballot paper for the coalition. Simplistic maybe, but it shows the inherent conservatism (small c) of much of the British public.

The electorate has changed with each generation since mine, being more likely to get a good education and/or go to University. And at University they learn more than their subject. So we’ve probably got the most politically-educated population ever! They also understand about business and economics.

It is also likely that perhaps ninety percent of people in this country, has a close relative, who is well-educated.

Over the last couple of decades, there has been a massive expansion of the self-employed and ideas, and especially ideas disruptive of large monolithic business have proliferated. How many of the children of the so-called working class, are using their brains to earn money, even if as yet it’s not enough?

But many of this educated generation are ambitious and aspire to be rich.

Much of the offerings from politicians didn’t really stand up, but persuasive arguments from nationalists and little-Englanders appealed to some.

But many people looked at the candidates on offer and then voted with their brains rather than their breeding.

I wonder how many life-long Labour supporters, looked at Miliband’s London-centric left-leaning offering, decided it wasn’t for them and voted for someone else.

MacMillan, Wilson, Thatcher and Blair won elections because they gave the people hope that they would have a better life and might even end up well-off by their own efforts.

Miliband’s message to the aspirational for example, was that if you make a fortune by inventing a better mouse-trap, we’ll tax you to the hilt and steal your pension. Well, not quite like that, but he didn’t promise anything worth working hard for.

And to cast everything in stone, was the sort of thing that we might have done at University in the 1960s, to have a laugh in Rag Week.

No wonder Labour lost!

 

May 11, 2015 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

No Cars At The School

There  are two Primary Schools in my road; one State and the other Roman Catholic.

I walked past them yesterday just before nine and was surprised to see that there were no children being brought to either school in a car or taxi. There were lots of little scooters and many parents were dragging empty ones back home.

I wonder how few schools are the same as children turn up in the morning!

September 10, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

Return To de Bohun School

de Bohun School was my Primary and Junior school.

It looks like it could do with a lick of paint. But it’s still very much as I remember it!

September 1, 2014 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Next Year It’ll Be Fifty Years Since I Left Minchenden

It was in June or July 1965, that I walked out of Minchenden Grammar School in Southgate for the last time.

A lot has happened to me since, some of which is in this blog. Although some tales have been left out to protect the squeamish and the innocent.

I wonder if anybody is organising a fifty years reunion for the Class of 1965 from Minchenden?

Surely, in the true spirit that we learned at the school, we should make 2015 a year to remember!

August 31, 2014 Posted by | World | , | 3 Comments

We Have Ways Of Making You Learn

I’ve just read a report in The Times, which says that Munich Technical University, one of German’s best, is going to teach Masters courses in English.

It reminded me of a story told by a Frenchman, who had immaculate English and worked for I think IBM.  He went on a company course in Germany, which as participants were from all over Europe, was being conducted in English by a German.

On reaching a concept that some on the course found difficult, he addressed everybody with “We have ways of making you understand these things!”

Somebody had to explain to him, the laughter that followed.

July 26, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment