Xmas Round Robin

Far too busy to send Xmas cards, but plenty of time to write a personal essay about your wonderful life? Check out the Xmas Round Robin, first one just received…


The Annual Xmas Round Robin

Well, what a year it’s been! We’ve all been so busy and no time for any of that keeping in touch malarkey so here’s the usual Round Robin you all look forward to receiving from us so much.

Dipping back to the end of 2014 it was fab fun to see in the New Year with Barack and Michelle and the kids at the White House with the flypast and everything and then to jet across to ‘Frisco with the rest of the gang in Air Force 1 to do it all again because of the time difference. Needless to say we were all a bit jetlagged catching our next flight to Honolulu for a well-earned couple of weeks on the beach and “her indoors” caught a few gnarly waves surfing for the first time in the competition (nice 18-carat trophy and $3000 (US) cash prize for the Macy’s sale too. Can’t be bad.
Blighted Blighty

Okay, so back in blighty (mid-Jan) and planning the exchange with our charity team in southern Africa ahead of the auction. Bit of a shock to get such a great donation from Bill and Melinda but all for a good cause and Steve J would’ve been so proud. But that was all down to junior’s efforts on his UN ambassadorial visit with the Dalai Lama the previous September. Not entirely sure how he found the time to take that trip, write “the” book and complete his joint honours (he *only* gone and got a first with distinctionz!

Meanwhile, child #2, who shall remain nameless (you know why people!) completed the ascent of Kilimanjaro and raised $13,546.23 for Mme Tussaud’s as well as organising the Everest base camp litter pick for the Easter weekend (which went well, the Coke cans alone weighed in at 14 tons (or should that be tonnes?) and paid for a new defibrillator for the orphanage in Laos.

After much deliberation, I finally accepted the joint consultancy role with Moscow and Nusa Penida and hope to have the R&D team up and running on the sustainable energy and water retrieval scheme by July of 2015, we should be able to irrigate at least 30,000 hectares annually while allowing the Wellington office to maintain its ethical stance on horsemeat. Thankfully.

Uncle “Tyler” passed away (#sadface). It was quite a shock as his halitosis had responded well to the surgery, but in the end it was the Epidermophyton floccosum that did for him in the end at the end.
Tripping out

We only squeezed in the two trips to “the holiday home that shall not be revealed” this year, but you know, sometimes I wonder why we don’t just make the Carib’n (shh) our permanent home. It was wonderful to catch up with Bob’s kids and to have a bit of a, ahem, jam with Zig and the band as always.

Before I forget, those of you from the old “club” will be well aware of the 150th anniversary that’s coming up so don’t forget to organise your ramekins (hint, hint) and make sure nobody lets on to Syd’s crowd until the night before. There’s so much more to tell you, but I’m running out of time (another flight to catch ahead of the 2016 “launch”, don’t tell Branson, by the way, you know what he’s like), so suffice to say, we’re all doing “ab fab”,everyfing is tickety boo and Xmas greets from all at “The Towers” (Heh, heh! One in the eye for Teresa)

Suspending the sprays, sidestepping side-effects

UPDATE: I kind of simplified what I was actually doing for the sake of the blog post, but you’re right and maybe I should add a warning to others not to follow my example. I’ve been weaning myself off the dose for a while, my GP was happy for me to do that and I have a pending thyroid test. Last one was fine, didn’t show any depression of T etc. I have, however, noticed the side-effects I reported as diminishing somewhat over the last couple of weeks.

WARNING: This post does not constitute medical advice, please talk to your GP before setting out on any self-revised prescription…

People rarely read the patient information leaflets that come with their medicine…well, I say that, I have no evidence for it other than anecdote and the fact that I don’t. Well, I have occasionally, but hadn’t for my asthma meds (a combined reliever, preventer called Symbicort that contains formoterol (long-acting beta-agonist, LABA, reliever) and the corticosteroid budesonide (the preventer). I’ve been on this medication for a couple of years because my previous preventer (beclomethasone) was giving me a really dry throat and adding far too much huskiness to my singing voice.

It’s only recently, however, that I’ve been wondering whether some symptoms I’ve been experiencing this last year or two might be down to the inhaler. So, I checked out the list of side-effects for the Rx and sure enough there are probably 4 or 5 things listed from which I suffer sporadically and with no apparent pattern. I had started to put some of them down to the morning-after-the-night-before type effects and more painfully, simply getting on a bit, I am soon to depart my fifth decade after all, but now I’m half worried that I’ve been poisoning myself all this time with my asthma treatment.


I wonder whether these various problems are due to my regular daily dose of corticosteroid and I’ve decided to stop taking the preventer/reliever for a few days to see whether any of the “side-effects” dissipate. Of course, it’s the worst time to do a personal clinical trial as Xmas is almost upon us, I will hopefully not be spending much time at my desk and may even have a few glasses of the hard stuff, as well as being exposed to at least a couple of relatives’ cats. So, it’s always going to be personal anecdotal evidence,and not double-blinded and certainly not controlled.

But, I’ve had enough of my extraneous, idiopathic symptoms, which could be due to the reliever or the preventer, or both, or neither (who knows?) and having read that there are growing concerns about long-acting beta agonists, even when used in parallel with a preventer, I’m going to take a leap of faith. The ENT specialist who checked out my vocal cords (more properly known as vocal folds) when I was getting all husky suggested I should wean myself off the corticosteroids anyway, so here goes. If I don’t end up being hospitalised having had a serious bronchospasm episode, I’ll let you know how I get on. Breathe easy…


I remember in junior school, Mrs Nancarrow’s class, I was aged 10 or thereabouts, that I got told off for using some silly expletive and she saying that swearing was a sign of a poor vocabulary. I posited at the time that I actually knew all the proper words and the swear words so didn’t that mean I had a bigger vocabulary than those who didn’t swear? Needless to say that didn’t go down to well, although I’ve actually blocked the subsequent caning from my memory or she took my point…

Now, at last, I am vindicated by science! My saviour. In a paper entitled “Taboo word fluency and knowledge of slurs and general pejoratives: deconstructing the poverty-of-vocabulary myth“, Kristin L. Jay and Timothy B. Jay prove my point. “Taboo word fluency is correlated with general fluency,” they found.

So, you know what you can do now Mrs Nancarrow? Huh? Huh? Well, you can go and…and…have a jolly nice day.

Thanks to Richard Stephens for highlighting this paper in BPS Research Digest.