Tag Archives: poison

Doctors, Death and Diaries

I had my phone call from the doctor today and I will be picking up my replacement prescription tomorrow. We had a wide-ranging discussion, with him insisting that I’d had the prescription and me insisting that I hadn’t, and that his own receptionists had sworn blind to Julia it wasn’t on their system and we had never handed it in. After asking me if it was possible that I’d had the prescription and forgotten it (I said no) he conceded it was possible it had been mislaid around the practice.

He then laid into me for not following up on a year-old blood test which shows me have worryingly high levels of something I didn’t quite catch.

“When I rang for those results,” I said, “I was told it was all good and didn’t need any action.”

“Ah, we seem to have coded it wrong.” he said.

I’m definitely going to start keeping a diary of my dealings with the NHS from now on. It’s quite possible that at this rate I’ll end up with a letter telling me I only have 12 months to live, and a second one apologising for the 13 month delay in sending the other letter.

I’ve still not had satisfactory answers to the questions I asked about my two cancelled operations in 2017. I gave up on one of them and the other one promised to get back to me. I’m sure that having taken 30 months to compose her answer, she will have a really good answer when it arrives.

That, I think, will do for the day. Nothing much happened and my brain is slowing down. I probably need chocolate, but that, according to the doctor, would be the same as ingesting poison.

There are some days when, to be honest, a glass of hemlock seems very attractive.

The pictures are from a set of silver Britannia coins we have in stock – they were specially made in 2006 by the Royal Mint and have had an additional coating of matt-finish silver and highlighting in gold. They are handsome coins.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses

I’m sure I’ve used that quote before, so I apologise if I’m being boring. Here’s the full poem for those of you who want to read the rest. Like the days of wine and roses, it is not long. The title, in contrast, is longer than most haiku.

When I was looking for quotes on the swift passing of time, I couldn’t find one that felt right, so it was back to the reliable Dowson yet again.

The subject was on my mind on the way home today as it was definitely shirt sleeve weather and spring was in the air.

We have a number of domestic projects to get through this summer and I am aware that one sixth of the year has nearly gone. It’s a worry because this has happened before. One day it’s February and the next time you think about it, it’s September and we still don’t have the upgraded heating system or the new kitchen we’ve been promising ourselves for years

Today absolutely flew by, with plenty going on – parcels to pack, coins to sort and customers to serve. It was one of my more enjoyable days in the shop, which has been a bit grim recently. It’s nothing to do with the shop – it’s just that I still haven’t really adjusted to not being my own boss. Or to working with someone who gradually accumulates, and defends, all the stationery in the shop.

I had arrived at the point where I wasn’t really enjoying work and was giving serious thought to employing some of the knowledge gained from decades of reading crime novels. I’m just about to start a new book on my Kindle…

The Royal Art of Poison: Fatal Cosmetics, Deadly Medicines and Murder Most Foul by [Herman, Eleanor]

 

Some Duck Pond Photographs

I finally got my act together and found the lead to connect the camera to the computer. It had been hiding in plain sight masquerading as part of a reading lamp. There are just too many bits of wire in the modern house.

The flowers are starting to show now. I’m particularly captivated by the aconites because of their multitude of alternative names – aconite, monkshood, wolf’s bane, leopard’s bane, mousebane, women’s bane, devil’s helmet, queen of poisons, or blue rocket. Obviously the ones in the picture aren’t blue rocket, and to be honest I always thought that wolf’s bane was blue too. I may have to look into it a bit more.

Peter Livesey used it as a poison in one of his books – I forget which one – where a wife killed her husband by feeding it to him in a curry.

There’s a case on the internet of a gardener dying from touching wolfsbane. This gives me pause for thought because I used to work with it regularly in one garden I looked after, and never thought to wear gloves. I thought you had to eat it to poison yourself.

There seems to be something causing a glitch in loading my photos, but I’ve got round it by posting and then editing. If you’ve read part of this post and wondered why it ends abruptly, that is the reason.

I’ll end with a film clip of the Cormorant.

Book Review – Elements of Murder

The Elements of Murder: A History of Poison

John Emsley

Hardcover: 436 pages

Publisher: OUP Oxford; 1st Edition edition (28 April 2005)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0641823894

ISBN-13: 978-0641823893

It has everything I want from a book – science, history and murder. It’s not a book everyone would enjoy but to geeks like me it’s fascinating to know that a broken thermometer played a part in the development of photography. I’m also intrigued to find that Pope Alexander VI  was poisoned in 1503 after dining with his son (well, they were Borgias), and that “perpetual pills” were made from antimony. When swallowed, they would pass through the gut, and irritate the gut into clearing itself out. They would then be retrieved, washed and used again. I’m not surprised their use has died out. I still shudder at the thought of what happened when I swallowed one of my gold crowns.

If you prefer environmentalism to murder you can read it as a book on the damage done to humans, fish and the atmosphere, with examples from history and from modern times.

If science is your thing, there is plenty available, possibly too much.

The book covers the poisons Mercury, Arsenic, Antimony, Lead, Thallium and “Other poisonous elements”. There are other poisons available, but these are the ones in the book – the clue is in the word “element” in the title. If you want a book on poisons in general you need a different book. If, for instance, you were interested in general poisons  (and I am making no judgement here) you may be better with a book on plants.

It’s not an easy read because the detail is quite dense, and you have to concentrate, but it is interesting and informative.

I won’t lie, it’s patchy, and there are slow bits because some of the poisoning cases are well known (like Napoleon’s death by wallpaper) and because the science sometimes goes on a bit, but I like the history and there are hundreds of items of trivia to be gleaned from a reading of the book. I’m not going to criticise a book just because of my inability to process science writing.

It’s going back on the shelf for now, but after leafing through it for examples of trivia, I’ll be reading it again soon.

 

 

 

Tsundoku revisited

I’ve written about tsundoku before – the habit of piling up unread books. It was brought into painful focus earlier today when I opened up  a box of books that has been undisturbed for several years. For “several” you could probably substitute “ten” judging by the publication dates.

When I read The Elements of Murder  last month I was surprised at my familiarity with poisons and notable poisoning cases. Not only surprised, but quietly impressed with the breadth of my knowledge.

So when I found a copy of the paperback edition in the box today it was a bit of a downer. Not only is my knowledge based on reading the book ten years previously, but my memory is in fact so bad I didn’t remember buying the book twice.

It’s also a reminder that when I pictured the seven books in the photograph I was intending to review them swiftly. I’ve actually managed two and started two more. I haven’t even finished reading one of them. But I have bought more, and read several of them.

Ah well.

I suppose this officially the start of old age…