Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Stockpiling for Doomsday? Paranoia or what?

       According to a recent article by Tom Rawstorne, highlighting a growing trend for freeze-dried foods, one man's paranoia is another man's marketing opportunity*
       Great idea for arctic expeditions and round the world yachtsmen, I'd have thought, but with sales increasing ten-fold over the last few months, freeze-dried foods are set to go mainstream as natural disasters, depleted resources, the fluctuating world economy and civil unrest create anxiety for many.

       Using an energy-intensive (and therefore highly expensive) process, culinary favourites such as curry and rice, chilli con carne and spaghetti Bolognese are freeze-dried, reducing weight and volume by as much as 90% whilst retaining flavour and up to 97% of nutritional value. And, as meals come in an air-tight tin and with a shelf-life of 25 years, they're ideal for stockpiling, providing, of course, you can afford to shell out over £2,000 for 72 tins - equivalent to a 12-month supply.

       But just who ARE the customers. What sort of people are prepared to pay the price?

       First to spring to mind, perhaps, may be 'end-time' fundamentalists who - convinced by Bible prophecies such as Matthew chap 24, Luke chap 21, 2 Timothy chap 3 and Revelation chap 6 - have long warned of a coming tribulation. It must be stressed, however, that genuine believers put their faith in a higher source than freeze-dried food suppliers. (After all, if God could protect and provide for over 3 million people in the desert for 40 years, one square meal once a day should be a cinch!)

       James Blake of Emergency Food Storage says the company gets "a lot of high-powered business people as customers. Most people buy insurance for their health, their house or their life - this is food insurance. Of course, we hope is never happens, but if there is a major catastrophe, then money is not going to be worth much after a couple of days. It will be food that becomes the most needed thing."

       According to Dave Hannah of B-prep, customers include bankers, spending an average of £3,000 a pop. Perhaps fuelling the current paranoia, Dave opines: "It makes you think, what do they know? When we've talked on the phone they've told me, 'This whole thing is going to go down.'"

       In his article Tom Rawstorne goes on to list events which, over recent years have exposed the fragility of our food supplies. From UK fuel strikes in 2000 and last summer's riots, to natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake and the horrific Japanese Tsunami - each catastrophe serves to remind us that starvation is just 9 meals away.

       No wonder foods such as the US Mountain  brand are attracting so much interest - in the past year alone, British sales have leapt by 350%! And it doesn't take much imagination to understand why. But for anyone planning to stock up their larder before Armageddon, here's a sobering thought: If people will happily loot for luxury goods such as 3-D TVs and designer clothing, how much more determined will they be for food? Not for the first time in human history, perceived ‘haves’ will be targeted by desperate ‘have-nots’ – a scenario that doesn’t bear contemplating.


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Locked-In Syndrome & Brain-Stem Stroke - How one man struck back

Winner of the 'Pride of Australia' Award for Courage (Western Austalia heat) and recovering stroke victim Pete Coghlan is now campaigning for ALL sufferers of Locked-In Syndrome to get physiotherapy.

Book now available in paperback or for Kindle!  (Links below)

See video promo:


       "It's hard to explain what it's like being in a coma. A coma is a weird place, like a dream but all messed up. I remember being sat in a chair in a big open room with a needle stuck in my arm and being starved of oxygen, feeling very weak and hearing my heart beating very loudly. People were walking past and ignoring me; I felt like I was slipping away and I was so afraid."
        Fear did not come naturally to Peter Coghlan, brown belt karate, jiu-jitsu and kickboxing enthusiast. At just 33 years old, this former soldier had already faced dangers few of us could imagine; mob violence in Northern Ireland, two attempted bombings and a serious battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
        Yet, having just moved to Perth, Australia with Jade, the love of his life, there was no time to dwell on the past as Peter enjoyed a pre-dinner drink on the patio with friends and family. The future on that hot, sunny evening seemed as bright as the weather until, suddenly, he felt tired and decided to lie down for a nap.
        "About four hours later, I awoke feeling confused and agitated. I walked out to my patio where my friends and family were sitting around my bar. I remember feeling very strange and said, 'I feel like I have had a stroke.' The others noticed I was slurring my words and they asked me to walk in a straight line up and down the patio. Shortly after this I apparently began vomiting in the garden, but I don’t remember this, nor do I remember taking a shower to make me feel better."
The journey to hospital was just a blur. The next thing Peter knew was being totally helpless, unable to move and very, very scared. After suffering a massive brain stem stroke, Peter was now imprisoned by his own body; totally paralysed by Locked-in Syndrome (LIS).
        Sometimes known as "disease of the walled living" this neurological condition is difficult to diagnose as, owing to their lack of response to stimuli, patients are often assumed to be comatose or in a vegetative state. Main causes are stroke of the basilar artery, brain haemorrhage or injury, damage to the pons area of the brain, and diseases that destroy the myelin sheath which protects nerve cells. Effects are devastating. Unable to move, sufferers retain their cognitive and intellectual powers but can only communicate through vertical eye movements - the only voluntary muscles still functioning. Even this ability may go undetected for some time, usually being spotted by regular carers or close family and friends.
        LIS is mercifully rare. Unfortunately, there is no cure or treatment to date, the only help available being assistive technology to improve communication. Despite this - just six months and one day after his stroke - Peter Coghlan left Royal Perth Hospital in Shenton Park, Perth and walked back into the sunshine. (See You Tube Link below).
        Peter is now well on his way to a full recovery, has been actively involved with charity events and has just tied the knot with Jade! And now, he's written a book based on his experiences which he hopes will encourage other sufferers of LIS.

       See sample chapter:

Peter and Jade



UK (UK) (Australia)

For paperback version:

Thursday, 18 July 2013


       Some years ago, no doubt in an act of revenge for the Boston Tea Party, UK’s then prime minister David Cameron threatened to teach Barack Obama to play cricket during a visit to the States. As far as I know, the former POTUS didn’t take up the offer, for which Americans should be eternally grateful!
       Boring enough when you can actually SEE it, this strange public school ritual is regularly brought to an agonisingly mind-numbing low by BBC Radio 4 every summer - for weeks without end. I would describe cricket as being utterly pointless but for the fact that it seems to have more points than any other sport, awarded for no obvious reason and with a total lack of logic.
     Which set me musing on further boring spectator sports:
(1) Top of the list has already been mentioned, i.e. cricket in which the main excitement is two men walking from one set of sticks to another set of sticks, holding a large piece of willow used to bat a ball into oblivion or into the hands of a mid-off or whatever to deafening roars of approval from the crowd. And it doesn't even bounce! Bowl a maiden over? Not this one!
(2) Golf. At least in cricket you get to see somebody running occasionally -and I must admit the players look very fetching in their matching white outfits and shin pads. But tartan trews and little woolly jumpers? Sorry, in the fashion stakes, golfers just don't hack it - unless they end up in the bunker, which is fun!
(3) Hockey. Now I must declare an interest here. At high school, me and my jolly old hockey stick were assigned to one end of a very cold, very muddy field while the rest of the team bashed everyone else's legs to bits at the other end. Being in defence, I can't remember seeing the ball more than a couple of times in all my years at school, and even then I'd have to battle with my own team's goalie for possession - the only exercise we got and probably the only time the opposing team were in with a chance!
(4) Snooker. Not only do the players not run, they hardly move at all unless it's to lean over the table to hit a little white ball. The most exciting it gets is when the players sip their beer or whisky or whatever and one can at least start wondering how long they'll stay upright....which probably explains why they're always leaning over!
(5) Bowling. No, not the kind you do in bowling alleys, but the genteel kind which is normally played on a velvet smooth bowling green. Again, competitors don't seem to move very much (if at all) but then most of them do have the excuse of being well over 80. Teenagers at our local green have tried to sabotage the game by hammering broken bottles into the grass, but nothing stops the intrepid team from pursuing their favourite sport. What that generation lacks in speed is more than compensated by sheer endurance!
(6) Darts. No excuse here, as anyone over 18 (the legal UK limit for drinking) can join in what is perhaps the only sport where spectators actually look healthier than the players! The beauty of this activity is, like bowling and snooker, you can be a champion without ever having to don a tracksuit, go running at dawn or cut out the carbs and the extra pint. A couple of sit-ups once a week and a good pair of spectacles are all it takes to be a world-class darts master. It must surely rank alongside snail racing for its sheer exhilarating thrill factor!
(7) Curling. This was a new one on me until the 2008 Olympics (or was it the one before that?) when the Scottish team actually won a Gold! Very pleased about that, the only downside being that I felt compelled to watch them as they swept their way to victory - reminding me that I hadn't done the vacuuming that day. Definitely toe-curling!

NB. Apologies for anyone not from the UK who may be unacquainted with any of these weird activities. No doubt you have a few national sports of your own you'd like to include, such as paint drying. If so, please tweet them to me and I'll compile an international list! But I still think, in this instance, Britain comes out on top!