Bill’s Blog

Alleged street betting at Nantwich

This report appeared in the Northwich Guardian on Tuesday 27th September, 1910. I’ve missed out what happened for the time being – as I’m interested to know if you think the defendant is guilty or not?

At the Nantwich Petty Sessions on Monday, Joseph Stephenson, butcher of Wrenbury, was summoned for having on August 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 27th, 30th and31st and on September 2nd and 6th frequented Welch-row for the purpose of betting. Mr. J. P. Whittingham defended.

P. C. Lawrence said at 12.30 on July 27th he saw the defendant riding a bicycle up and down Welch-row and he saw him stop and have a short conversation with various men. At 12.50pm he saw the defendant standing at Wood Street and the two men passed and gave him pieces of paper. On August 23rd he saw defendant going up and down Welch-row on his cycle between the hours of 12.10 p.m. and 12.50 p.m. Defendant would ride his bicycle a short distance and would then get off and hold a conversation with men and something would pass between them. On August 24th he saw the defendant riding his bicycle in Welch-row, and at l2.40 he saw him at Wood Street end. He saw men pass along the street and hand to him of slip of paper, and the defendant’s bicycle stood on the opposite side of the street. At 12.15 on August 27th he saw the defendant ride off the square, and stop and speak to several men. The defendant left bicycle outside the gas office and at 12.50p.m. he saw him standing at the end of Red Lion-lane. He again saw men pass the defendant and hand to him pieces of paper which the defendant placed in his jacket pocket. On August 30th. between 11.30 and 12.15, he saw the defendant walking up and down Welch-row with his bicycle, and on that occasion he held conversations with different men, and saw slips of paper pass between them on the river bridge. At 11.30a.m.on the 31st of August, he saw the defendant ride off the Square and he was going in the direction of Welch-row. He stopped to talk with different men, and something passed between them.  Defendant eventually went down second Wood Street. On September 2nd at 12.30pm he saw the defendant leave the Black Lion lnn, go to the bridge and converse with men there, and something passed between them. Defendant then went down the street. mounted his bicycle outside the Gas Works, and rode away in the direction of High-street. On September 6th, at 12.15 pm , he saw the defendant riding his bicycle in Welch-row and he rode a short distances, then dismounted, and spoke to different men. At one p.m., he saw him standing at the end of Wood-street, when witness saw three men pass and hand him slips of paper. Defendant  then went across the street and entered the Black Lion Inn. As he left a few minutes later witness said to him “I want you.” Defendant said “What for ?” and witness replied “I will tell you when we get to the police station. He  said “Well, you will find nothing on me.” At the police station he found on defendant £9 1s. 6d and the coupon (produced relating to football betting. The money consisted £7 in gold, £2 1s and 6d. in silver and 6d. in coppers. Of the gold £5 was in a belt which the defendant wore round his body The other money was in his pocket. After the defendant had been searched said “You can prove nothing me, only verbally.” He charged him with frequenting Welch-row for the purpose of betting in the various dates mentioned and defendant replied “I am not guilty.”

Mr. Whittingham (cross-examining): Have you got here any of the numerous men whom you say you saw handing slips to the defendant? – Witness: No.

Further examined, witness had been at Nantwich for some years. He knew most of the men, and one of them he  saw on July 27th was Thomas Tilley. – Cross-examined as to the other men whom he saw on July 27th witness was asked to say where was when he saw them. Witness said he would write the information down for the magistrates but he would not disclose his whereabouts publicly as had pledged his word of honour not divulge – The Clerk said it had been held such information need not be given. – Continuing to answer of questions of cross-examination, defendant said he did not know the man whom he saw pass slips of paper to the defendant on the 23rd of August. On August 24th from his place observation in Welch-row he saw Thomas Page, one of the men whom he saw, pass a piece paper to the defendant The people who stood usually at the end of Wood-street could see what passed if they looked. On August 27th he saw Page and a man named Scragg hand a paper to the defendant as they passed him. On August he saw two men, one like a factory hand and the other like a stable man hand slips of paper to the defendant on the River bridge. On the occasion when the defendant left the Black Lion Inn and went on the River bridge he did not know the men defendant spoke to.

When you put your hand upon him, did you say “I  want you a minute”? I said “I want you.” Did he say “what for” – He did.

Did you say to him “The boss will tell you what for?” – l did not.

Did he say to you as you walked along “What is your idea today, Lawrence?” – No.

Continuing, witness said he did not ask defendant to account for money found on him, nor did defendant say the money belonged to his master. He believed that from the time he left the street and went into the Black Lion the slips were disposed of. He did not tell him the name of a single man whom he had seen passing slips to him. At the Police Court, the Superintendent had to go away, and witness called for Sergeant Piercey and after talking to him they asked him to go in the office.

Why did you ask this man take his shoes off? – For the reason that I had seen men hand defendant slips of paper and I thought as I could not find them they might be in his boots.

Superintendent Farnworth: having seen slips passed the defendant on several dates and particularly on that morning you expected when you brought him to find these slips and when you did not find them you  considered it right to go deeper into the search? – I thought it necessary to remove his boots and search in his stockings.

To your knowledge was I on leave of absence that day?  I do not know. – Did your hear me give instructions  for Sergeant Piercey to be sent for? Yes.

Superintendent Farnworth said he was on annual leave absence this day but did not go away until later in the day. After ordering the man to be searched he asked him what was employed at. He said “l am out of employment at present.” He said when he was employed was doing a bit of buying and selling. He said he had been out of work for some time – for about nine weeks. He bought for Mr. Cliffe, his cousin, of Wrenbury. He also said he had not bought anything lately. Witness gave instructions to the man to be admitted to bail.

Sergeant Morgan said he had ascertained that the defendant last worked Gilberts’ boot factory,  Nantwich. He was discharged from there and since that time witnesses had had him under observation. He  found that he did not work and that he was in the habit of leaving the house of his cousin Richard Cliffe, with whom he resided soon after nine o’clock in the morning. He had seen him go on his bicycle to Wrenbury village, Wrenbury Canal Wharf and occasionally he had gone to the station at Wrenbury.   Then he would depart towards Nantwich. This practice had been going on for the last four months and he had never seen the defendant buying or selling.

Pence wise, pounds foolish?

Daily graph of glucose levels from Freestyle Libre sensor

I’ve had Type One Diabetes for most of my life. As I’ve stated earlier here,  one of the biggest things I’ve discovered to help people with diabetes is the Freestyle Libre glucose monitor.  So I was delighted to hear last year that this item could be available on prescription from the 1st November 2017.

I contacted my GP to arrange getting this on prescription.  He suggested I speak to a nurse who specialises in diabetes. She said I should speak to a doctor in the New Year, as a decision (I think by the clinical commissioning group in Cheshire) hasn’t been made. I’m still waiting to get this on prescription…

So why is this important? The reader cost me nearly £50, but it’s the sensors that cost me about £3.80 a day that are the real issue. Since these devices became available to me, in the summer of 2015, I’ve spent nearly £4,000 on them.  As my salary is around the living wage, this is quite a significant cost.

Why do I spend all this money, and why should I expect the NHS to buy this for me? The consequences of badly controlled diabetes are horrendous. A significant proportion of the NHS budget for England and Wales is already spent on diabetes. This site estimated that the cost in 2012 was £14 billion pounds a year, or over £25,000 being spent on diabetes every minute!

As a person with diabetes, if I don’t control the disease, I am more at risk of complications. For instance, I am potentially more at risk of having kidney failure. The average cost of dialysis is £30,800 per patient per year. I am potentially more at risk of heart disease.  Cardiovascular disease is estimated cost the UK economy (including premature death, disability and informal costs) £19 billion each year. I am more at risk of many other serious complications, like needing amputations and going blind.

If my blood sugars go too low I can quickly go into a coma, potentially requiring an ambulance. If my blood sugars are too high, I can also go into a different sort of coma, and I’d be wrecking my own body. Since using these monitors, I now have a much better idea of what different foods are doing to my blood sugars. I now have 24 hours a day surveillance of my blood sugars, and know whether they are going up or down, and can hopefully avoid problems.

The total cost of diabetes to the country is far higher than what I’ve hinted above – when other costs, like absenteeism, early retirement and social benefits, are added. So I regard the cost of these sensors is a small price for the NHS to pay to try and avoid far more expensive complications. Far more is spent on dealing with the complications than treating the disease – so I consider not making these devices available on prescription is penny wise, but pounds foolish.

I note that Theresa May, who also has diabetes, uses this device. This site suggests her salary is over £150,000, but that’s only a tiny fraction of the total perks she gets. So I suspect the cost of another sensor for Theresa May is probably not a major consideration for her, whilst others go without completely….

Underinvestment in Railways

Level Crossing

I’m a big fan of railway transport – it’s greener, it’s generally safer than by car, and enables those that can’t drive to get around.  However I wish more of our politicians were regular users, as I think there are a lot of changes needed.

The cost of HS2 is currently estimated at £56 billion.  I think this money would be much better spent improving the existing network.

Take my local station, Nantwich:

Nantwich station

for instance.   The old station buildings are now an Indian restaurant, and there’s no proper station car park. The only shelter is very small.  So when there are 80 people waiting for a delayed train and it’s chucking it down, the majority will get wet.  The operator (Arriva Trains Wales) has ancient rolling stock (see here).  The newest of their fleet are 17 years old, and some of their trains are over 40 years old.  It’s a steep step onto some of their trains, which would be awkward for elderly or disabled passengers.

The screen announcing train times is a joke, and regularly gives inaccurate information (the savvy know to look at their mobile phones, to find out what’s really happening).  For instance there was a tragic fatal accident affecting a Nantwich to Crewe service, when a train hit someone near Shrewsbury just after 5:30am.  The service was due at Nantwich at 06:07.  At 06:18 the screen was still saying that the train was expected at 06:16, and only later decided that it had been cancelled!

I think Arriva Trains Wales is by no means the worst operator.  Why would they make significant investments when their franchise is scheduled to finish next year? At least they’re not using the Pacer trains made from modified buses!

A new feature in Rail News has some rather disturbing stories from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.  I’ll pass over this story, about how a locomotive ran away and travelled 880 metres when the driver was unable to stop it!  There was another story about how a train travelling at 73 mph almost collided with a tractor and trailer at Castle Cary.  The tractor driver had been given permission to cross the track, and mistakes were made. But why, in the 21st century, do we have a situation where the signaller doesn’t know where exactly a train is in a 15.2 km long section?   If you look at the report here, the crossing looks like an accident waiting to happen.

The small boy in me is excited by the prospects of the fast travel potentially offered by HS2.  In reality, like first class travel, it will probably be too dear for me to use regularly.  I  think the £56,000,000,000 cost would be a lot better improving the existing network.

Veg Crisis

Empty fruit and veg shelves in a supermarket

Apparently we’re having a veg crisis!

My local supermarket had empty shelves and a sign explaining why it had happened:

Sign explaining the lack of fruit and vegetables is due to flooding in Spain

However when I went to my local market the next day, it was a different story!  Both of the excellent fruit and vegetable stalls had full displays:

Fruit and vegetables in Nantwich marketIt was also the same story at my lovely local greengrocer (which I’m very fortunate to still have):
P & J Salmon Greengrocers in NantwichThe only reason why there’s a gap in the display is that a customer had just chosen a cauliflower, but I know the display will be topped up soon.

How has this come about?  The problem with the supermarkets is that because they operate on a huge scale they cannot deal with small producers.  My local specialist shops frequently deal directly with the growers, or even grow it themselves.  This means they can be cheaper and sell better quality produce.

My local shops also tend to sell what’s in season.  It’s a delight to look at their colourful displays which change continually through the season.

Eating runner beans from Africa, and asparagus from Peru, in the middle of winter is both damaging to the environment and your bank balance!  It’s sad that, as a result of poor education, many people don’t even know what should be in season!

I’ve got a new site to help you here:
http://eatseasonalfood.wordpress.com

Amazon Dot – a cheap way into voice activated Smart Home control

Before Christmas I didn’t even know I need such an Amazon Dot, now I use it all the time! It’s relatively easy to set up, I was soon up and running.  However I am still learning about the more advanced features.  It works with Alexa voice recognition and the Alexa app – which integrates well with other things.

If the voice recognition mishears you, you can try again (with different words) and give feedback via the app.

alexa-screenshot

In less time than it takes to get my phone out, I’ve asked my Echo what the weather forecast is, and what my commute is like. The Echo reminds me of appointments, and I can dictate items on shopping lists whenever I spot I’m running out of something.

It’s turned my elderly HiFi into a voice operated Internet radio. As I happen to have a Nest thermostat, I can also ask my Echo to ask it to turn the heating up or down. As soon as smart light bulbs become cheaper, I’ll be telling it to turn the lights on and off!

I’ve only had it a few days, but I can see that using it with If This, Then That (https://ifttt.com) I will be able to use it with all sorts of things.  It would be particularly useful for people with failing vision, for instance you can turn a radio on and select stations purely by talking to it.

It amuses me how many say they can’t see the point of such a device. I remember when TV remote controls first became available, my parents were shocked that people would be too lazy to get out of a chair to change channels. I suspect many of us wouldn’t be without our TV remotes and predict that devices like this will soon be thought of as indispensable.

Nantwich Tales by Susan Church

nantwich-tales

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to attend a talk by Sue Church you’ll know already that this book will be a thoroughly good read!

It’s well researched and easy to read, I can’t put my copy down! There are tales of murder and madness, but also some very positive tales about people who’ve lived in this wonderful South Cheshire town.

So if you want to know more about Wesley Knowles (the armless signal man) or the Nixon sisters (who lived with their dead mother for several years) I thoroughly commend this book.  You can buy a copy in Nantwich bookshop or Nantwich Museum.

Bill Pearson \ Nantwich History

Bill Pearson’s Home Page

Funding the NHS

red-cross-first-aid-icon-optimized-300px

In the news this week (see here) I learnt that the NHS in Cheshire and Merseyside are spending £300,000 on fees to Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) to cut frontline services.  There have been many similar stories up and down the country.

I’m well aware that, thanks to wonder drugs like statins etc, we’re all living longer.  As a result costs for healthcare are increasing. However I’m getting concerned about how much money is being spent in the wrong areas.

Take the Stafford Hospital scandal for instance. I’m a big believer in a NATIONAL Health Service and wonder how much money has been wasted setting up NHS foundation trusts?  Stafford Nurses at Stafford were struck off for falsifying information to avoid breaches of targets.  Why would any nurse want to do this?  I suspect pressure was put on them by managers and their accountants.  Some services were transferred elsewhere, which may have saved that hospital costs – but may  not help the NHS as a whole, if the costs simply go to another centre.

There seems to be an increasing emphasis in paying highly paid people to run our hospitals as businesses, rather than trained healthcare professionals looking at preventing ill health.

I’m very proud of our NHS, and accept that I may have to pay more for it in the future. I’m fed up with politicians (and others) meddling with it.  If I’m seriously ill I want a consultant with medical qualifications looking after me, not a consultant who’s an expert on Balance Sheets and Net Worth.

Today I heard here that a nurse took her own life after becoming stressed from work.  I hope that even the accountants will realise that that is a cost that is too high.

Obesity – a time bomb that’s already going off

There’s been a lot in the press about obesity and health recently, with an NHS body controversially proposing to restrict obese patients (and smokers) from non-emergency surgery.  It made me think why would so many people get themselves into such a state.

Bad diets

The NHS recommends added sugar should not make up more than 5% of the total energy we get from food and drink each day.  However the National Diet and Nutrition Survey tells us that we are having far too much. Children aged 11 to 18 years are getting 15% of their daily calories from added sugar!

We’re not eating enough fruit and vegetables – over half of us intend to eat five a day, but only 14% regularly eat the rcommended five a day (see here).

What are the consequences of this?  Diabetes is thought to cost the NHS about £10bn, once the cost of treatment, including amputation and hospitalisations for life-threatening hypoglycaemic attacks, is included.

Obesity is a major cause of heart disease.   Three-quarters of people are unaware being overweight increases the risk of developing 10 different types of cancer, Cancer Research UK has said.

This article in the Guardian tells us there are now one million morbidly obese people in Britain. Trends suggest that without effective intervention nine out of 10 adults, and six out of 10 children, will be overweight or obese by 2050.

Who’s fault is this?  It’s easy to say it’s the fault of individuals who are eating a bad diet and too many calories – but people who are eating healthily are becoming a minority.

Better Education

It must start with better education – there are many families now where the parents don’t know how to cook properly and so the children don’t know how to cook either.  Cookery lessons in most schools are, in my opinion, a joke.

If cookery was taught in an engaging way in our schools, it would be also be a great way of improving the skills of our children.

As a small child I gained numeracy skills whilst I learnt about weights and ratios, whilst baking with my mother. I had an introduction to biology, when dealing with poultry giblets (which sadly typically are no longer included – as people prefer to buy more expensive pâté).  I already knew about acids and alkalis when I did chemistry because I’d made cakes and used baking powder, or mixed bicarbonate of soda with lemon juice and vinegar.

I also learnt about home economics – food waste was minimal in our house, and dishes made with left overs were some of my favourites.

Today families rarely cook together, but the country watches cookery programmes like MasterChef whilst eating a microwave ready meal on their lap, or munching a bag of crisps.

Politicians and the Food Industry

The food industry must take a lot of the blame.  It’s highly profitable to sell fat, flour, salt and sugar (with artificial flavouring and colouring to help disguise what you are doing).

For too long the food industry has had too much influence on our politicians. That’s as clever as putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

As recently as 1979 45% of the British population smoked, but this has dropped to under 20% by 2013.  The politicians can learn from this.  The politicians need to implement bans on advertising for junk food and drinks, and have much better rules on food labelling.  Sponsorship of sporting events etc. should not be allowed by the pedlars of our bad diet.

Some taxes on unhealthy food and drink could also help.  This report tells us the cost to the NHS, and to society, of obesity-related illness is predicted to reach £50 billion by 2050.  With better education, and more controls on our food industry, I’m sure we could reduce this if we wanted to.

Traceability and local food

It always surprises me how many people regard shopping as a chore! This weekend I got most of what I need from our local market.

My first stop was for some bread. My supplier is Charles Ormrod, who (when he’s not selling bread) is a professional pianist. He’s got interesting views of all sorts of things, so I’d like to chat for longer – but I don’t like holding up his queue. The bread comes from London Road Bakery in Stoke, which is one of Britain’s last coal-fired bakeries. Their loaves are hand-moulded and baked each morning in their 130-year-old ovens. Their GI bread is good for you, and lasts well (if you don’t eat it first)!

The next stop is Stuart Hornby, my fishmonger.  There’s always a long queue for Stuart – because he popular, and also he spends ages preparing your fish (and removing bones if you want). He drives down from Fleetwood and knows exactly where his fish comes from. Although there is a queue you can usually have an interesting natter with other customers, and we always have a laugh with Stuart! I often buy off Stuart some of Ray Edmondson’s Morcambe Bay Potted Shrimps.  Here’s a picture of Ray’s shrimping boat:

Shrimping boats

Ray’s other customers include Adrian Edmondson (no relation), Hugh Fearlessly Eats It All, and Rick Stein.

At the cheese stand we had a chat about the Appleby family – who make the best Cheshire cheese you can buy. She’s very happy to let you have a taste – as she knows you’ll buy more! They also have some nice blue cheeses:

Shropshire blue cheese

I bought some Longley Farm Jersey cream – which tastes wonderful and keeps well.

Next door to them is D & K Welch Poultry.  You can get your old egg boxes refilled here – which cuts out waste. I bought some of Brian Bennion’s beef here. I know it will be tender – because Brian looks after his animals. I often buy chicken livers here (a lot of supermarkets either don’t sell them or only have frozen ones). They’re incredibly cheap here (and tasty). When I’m not using them in a risotto, I’ll make pâté. Yesterday I was feeling lazy – so I bought some of their own home-made chicken liver pâté (with Cointreau) to try.  The cost for quite a big container was just £1.50. I know it will taste good (because another customer told me).

We’re spoilt for choice with butchers in Nantwich (there’s one at the other side of the market, two excellent shops in the town and a superb farm shop just off the bypass). I try and give them all a bit of my trade – the stiff competition keeps them all trying hard.

carrots and cauliflowers

There’s three fruit and veg stalls in the market, and another great shop in the town.   At one a lot of stuff is home grown. Unlike the market traders of my childhood (who had good stuff on display but filled your bag with more dubious stuff hidden below) the quality is top notch. They’ll tell you which fruit is the sweetest and which has the best flavour.

I often keep meeting the same people at different stalls, because those in the know often shop in the same places.

Occasionally I do go to the supermarket. I can normally do my shopping their faster than I can get through the tills! My hear sinks when I hear someone bleating on the tannoy “will all till-trained staff please go to the checkouts” as I know the company accountant has decided they’d rather save money and have queues!

Supermarket shopping does keep you brain alert though. Is that item in the same buy three things you didn’t want three of and only get the cheapest item free as the other items?

You may have the “privilege” of a machine to serve you at the check out. Here, in the close to mugging experience, the machine may bark at you “have you got a loyalty card” so that it can learn how to extract money out of you more efficiently. When it’s finished not recognising items it will have to ask you how many bags you’ve used – as it’s not that bright!  I usually prefer to find a staffed till, where members of the staff (who’ve just been on a marketing course) may even compliment you on your purchases! There’s no normally jokes here, but I always mange to smile wryly when the youth serving you asks what sort of fruit or veg you’ve got. Presumably it doesn’t look like that in Mcdreadfuls!

I don’t feel shopping at local shops is a chore, it’s more like meeting up with friends!

Web: http://goodfoodshops.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/nantwich-market.html

Blood testing for people with diabetes

3 readings

I was rather concerned to hear today that there are more than 3.3 million people with diabetes in the UK – an increase of nearly 60% in the last decade. There’s a clear link between Type 2 diabetes and bad diet, and it worries me that many youngsters have unhealthy diets which could lead to them getting this disease.

I’ve had Type 1 diabetes for 35 years. The perfect balanced diet for me – plenty of fruit and vegetables, but low in fat and avoiding highly refined carbohydrates (and especially sugar), is a good one for everyone to follow. I am very well aware of the consequences of not having a good diet – diabetes can cause blindness, heart disease, kidney failure, and result in gangrene and amputations.

I’m writing this post to tell you about what I consider to be the one of the biggest things I’ve discovered to help people with diabetes in 35 years – the Freestyle Libre glucose monitor. Now I know exactly what is happening to my blood sugars 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  The system involves me applying a sensor to the back of my arm:

Freestyle Libre Sensor

You wouldn’t normally see it, as even a short sleeved shirt will hide it. To check my glucose levels I merely hold the reader over where the sensor is.

Scanning glucose levels using Freestyle Libre monitor

In a second it shows the current glucose reading, the latest 8 hours of glucose data and a trend arrow showing if glucose levels are going up, down or changing slowly. The trend arrows are particularly useful – a reading of 4.1 and going up is within the normal range,  but a reading of 4.1 and going down could mean I’m about to go into a coma (if I don’t take any action).

I can see trends:

Daily graph of glucose levels from Freestyle Libre sensor

and already I’m changing my diet to improve my control.

If this sounds like a commercial, I can assure you I’ve received no money from the manufacturers. I think it’s an exceptionally well designed product, it’s very easy to use and there’s good support from the manufacturers (see the videos here).  My biggest complaint about this product is the cost (it costs me nearly £4 a day). I’m hoping the price will come down, as more people use it, and also that the NHS might provide some help – as I believe it’s helping me to avoid all those undesirable complications….

Web: http://www.freestylelibre.co.uk