Monthly Archives: February 2013

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

The UK and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

I live in the UK with M.E..  Living with ME is difficult.  Everything becomes difficult.  Getting out of bed feeling unrefreshed is difficult.  Coping with fatigue and pain every day is difficult.  It is so often forgotten that every effort is affected – including breath and heart rate.  Most difficult of all is coping with life.

For starters the Government and NHS aren’t doing a thing about M.E. as a classified illness.  Currently once diagnosed – that’s it; there’s no specialists, no treatment, no hope.

The DWP won’t acknowledge M.E., it currently is not within the set of categories in the DWP or ATOS system… – they still use the old ‘CFS’ category which is a catch all of anything or any one with ‘Chronic Fatigue’ as a symptom – be it over work, Stress, Cancer, MS or other injury.

Under the current system ESA anyone with M.E. is unlikely to recognized as being unfit for work – regards of what the doctor’s say.  I’ve been signed off work for over a year and the I do receive full ESA yet as my appeal is stuck in the system.  This will only get worse as the rules change.

If I don’t starve to death, or lose my my house before my appeal; afterwards I will have go through the same thing all over again when the ESA rules change.  I don’t hold out any hope for the DWP and ATOS updating M.E. as a classified illness – the World Health Organization does; the medical profession has changed tack as well – wary of misdiagnoses claims since presentations to the house of commons and the house of lords  told them CFS was a fudge – and M.E. is a separate condition.

Statistically those of my age suffering from M.E. are mostly to die of undiagnosed Heart disease, undiagnosed cancer, or suicide.  The lack of support and follow up after the M.E. diagnosis is tragic – this is why secondary conditions are diagnosed too late to save the patient.  Lack of support and understanding – its no wonder suicide is the highest killer.  Note the death cause is recored as heart, cancer or suicide not M.E.   As I wrote above every effort is affected – including breath and heart rate.

It is sad that so little is done or recognized.

Legally there is no precedent to help sufferers.  Except one. Euthanasia; since a number of people have now been acquitted of murder charges (for assisted suicide) despite ignoring or failure to get some of the improved mediation available to M.E. suffers.  It is alarming the number of case which set precedent!

I ask you is normal in a modern society like ours, to recognize one illness and treat it or more than other – or ignore it altogether?

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Draven – Like it!

Draven Heavy Harmony Heavy Rock
Draven Eden

DRAVEN‘s debut album ‘Eden’ was released apparently to critical acclaim!  (I’m sorry I missed it guys – busy with the kid, marriage, wars, fixing planes, sinking submarines , ME/CFS etc.)

When I did catch up with Frank and James and the gang – “Draven”; which is as everyone knows is the name of one coolest characters to come out of comics or film in the last twenty years.  “Eric Draven” from “The Crow”.

Draven are twins Frank and Jim Paoli on guitar and vocals, supported by Alex de la Fuente on bass, with the drums knocked out by Danny Wood.  They have been playing together since 2002.

(It is also the name a designer of Rock and Skateboarding shoes and sneakers [no relation to the band] – which coincidently is exactly what I’m looking for my feet!)

The album Eden’ is cool – and really is growing on me.

Thumbs Up - I like it!
Thumbs Up – I like it! Draven Rocks!

I wouldn’t have thought it soundly ‘British’ but then again it was produced by Kevin Shirley (aka the Caveman) who has himself worked Russ, Bon Jovi, Divinyls, The Black Crowes, Dream Theater and  Iron Maiden, which is fairly international.  He took the band to L.A. to record.  (Some guys have all the luck!)

The sound is of the whole album is well balanced; the drums crisp and clear, the guitar never too overpowered just in your face enough to know they mean business.  The bass solid enough pulse wake the dead!

Draven came back from L.A. without a tan – but I guess looking suitably paler (if you go for that look) having laid down some brilliant tracks.

Draven's Eden, hot rocks!
Melts the snow in ya’ flares!

Not being able to put a finger on the sound makes it all the more interesting.  Each song is a style in its on without sticking to any one Genre of rock, all familiar – there’s nothing too dangerous and new on Eden’; it just rocks!  Clear vocals, harmony, well-constructed progressions alternating the loud aggressive chop of modern heavy rock with melody and lyrics with heart!

“Don’t cut yourself” brings back memories of many a mosh pit with shades of Iron Maiden, Metallica or even Cheap Trick; sweaty, jumping and sticky.  “I don’t Care!” is an anthem I’d like to join.  “Stranger” played twice, at over 8mins gets me home from work.  Once – if I crank the car stereo to the max!

On the title track ‘Eden’ I wonder if the boys are trying a little too hard but with time the track progresses, and 3mins 15 seconds into the track the invitation to Draven’s playground Eden’ is laid down like a challenge; then it’s ‘round and round’ you go!

Also here on ‘Eden’ , in one track, there is also the birth place of a distinctly new Genre of Rock – Spaghetti Rock.  “Itchy Finger”; It’s fun, it made me smile – if not laugh out loud!   A slanted homage to Clint Eastwood at his best.  Spaghetti western meets rock.  Spaghetti rock!   If you wonder why it is on an album titled and themed on Eden’ from ‘Paradise Lost‘; think about the attitude to death and survival in Clink Eastwood’s films: gritty bleak.

“I don’t think it’s right that you laugh at me; neither does my mule! We don’t see the funny side and now the jokes on you!” – “Itchy Finger”

….“No way!”

The Track Breath, may put you off guard with initial intro, literally thumped out on the piano with plenty of heart; but it resolves to a simple pulsing message, stop think “Breath”.   While the chorus is never going to win awards for lyrical excellence.   The message “Inhale, Exhale – Breath” gets me deeper each time I hear it.  Rock! Chill!

Eden Draven
Draven tempting new Eden

All the best



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Draven TV

China (1943) Alan Ladd Directed by John Farrow


China staring Alan Ladd and Loretta young is a 1943 Paramount film directed by John Farrow (also Renno and Round the world in 80 days.)  Set, pre-Pearl Harbor, in China in the late 1930′s.  At this China has been at war with itself – with several groups attempting to unify the country; at war with Japan for over tens years.  China was also still subject to control via the treaty port system which German, France, Italy and Great Britain controlled various ports and city’s to protect their commercial interests from the instability of greater China.

The film China features an American opportunist named ‘Jones’ and his partner Johnny are in China to sell oil to anyone on either side; Jones is currently selling to the the invading Japanese.


The Character Jones, is immediately recognizable by this brown Fedora and leather jacket; an image used by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg and others in Indiana Jones.  Here the comparison with the archaeologist Jones ends.  The Alan Ladd Jones is a business man; ruthless enough to put profit first in a hostile country.

Alan Ladd 'China'Alan Ladd ‘China’

Alan Ladd is cast as Jones the antagonist to the compassionate teacher and his partner.  Johnny accidentally adopts an abandoned child during a Japanese air raid, and is forced to give him up.  Jones is forced to help the teacher; who also hides her ‘charges’, a group school girls aboard his truck; eventually the antagonist Jones turns from ‘Bad-guy’ to ‘Good-guy’.

The inevitable clash with the Japanese occurs forcing Jones to make a choice, putting his live on the line.

The teacher played by Loretta Young, while traveling cross-country to Shanghai, meets with Jones during an air raid on dark rainy night.  Sparks fly between these strong-willed characters where they oppose each other balling nose to nose, with neither budging an inch.

It’s interesting to point out that Alan Ladd is only 5ft 5″, and long legded Loretta is 5ft 6-7″ without shoes.  Alan spent a lot of his career acting stood on the top of a box to kiss his leading ladies.

Throughout the well written film the dialog flows well and through excellent character acting the characters both come alive and develop to provided us with an engaging character driven story.  The screen  itself was based on the play “Fourth Brother” by Archibald Forbes.

Gritty and realistic, dark and deadly the film differs from adventures stories of the time and those which followed.  It reminds realistic right to conclusion, there is no hint of false optimism. This is possibly the best film John Farrow made, his others being mainly formula Westerns, Farrow obivously had a talent for direction and used it well in China.  Alan Ladd and John Farrow worked together again on the 1947 film – Calcutta.

Shanghai Triad Directed by Yimou Zhang

1995-shanghai-triad-poster1A subtle, but sometimes violent look a the turbulent social situation and how this affected the Chinese in the over populated – sometimes lawless – wholly divided – international city of Shanghai in the 1930’s.

A rustic boy fresh from the countryside sent by his poor family to a vaguely related Shanghai crime family, and his uncle who holds a minor subservient position to the notorious gang lord.

The simple country boy is awed and overwhelmed by the opulence and immense wealth he is suddenly surrounded by.

Set in cosmopolitan Shanghai in the 1930s with a background of crime, clubs, showgirls and jazz the boy is given the undesirable position of servant to the ganglord’s mistress, who also happens to be the singer at the boss’s night club.  She wastes not time in showing off her loathsome and selfish character.  To one of the shows other dancing girls “You know the rule – your ass is your own, but if you get fondled in here, the money is mine.”

The uncle plays on the fealty owed to his and the boy’s master the ganglord.  The allegiance is a strong bond of honor and debt in Chinese culture – taught and passed down by Confucian society, in the film this plays out not only through the family ties by their given surname, but also by the debt owned to the gang for ‘bettering’ their position in society.  Uncle “All the kids in our family want to come here to get rich, but you’re the only one I recommended. Don’t let me down.”

Both the boys fealty to the gang, and loyalty to his mistress whom he serves are tested by the violence of gang wars and the greed and duplicity of both Mistress and Master in their affairs.  The film’s conclusion takes us to the point that the boys loyalties to all are tested to the limits.

The splendor of the film is captivating, nowhere is production compromised by lack of investment and direction.  The Gang household is splendid and vast; the pace of the film perfectly captures the lonely feeling that puts you in the place of the boy.

The film is dark but also filled with richness of the Gangland and club society of the 1930’s.  The soundtrack and show music is splendid.  Featuring classic era songs.

The characters themselves are solid, having layers of light and dark which are allowed to develop with the pace of the film.

I’d highly recommend this film, as one of my all time favorites, as a good documentary piece for study  of Chinese side of Chinese in the 1930’s

Thumbs Up - I like it!

Thumbs Up – I like it!