London In Colour: 1972

Fifty years ago, an American tourist went on a trip to London and took lots of photos. In 2016,those photos were discovered, and put in an online article. Sadly, the photographer was not named.

Denmark Street. This is known as ‘Tin Pan Alley’ and was the home of many record companies and shops selling musical instruments.

Underground public toilets in Great Marlborough Street.

Carnaby Street, the place to shop for fashion at the time.

Caledonian Antiques Market, Bermondsey.

Oxford Circus at the junction with Regent Street and Oxford Street.

The famous Selfridges department store, Oxford Street.

Piccadilly Circus.

Police officers near Whitehall. Check out the trendy uniforms of the policewomen back then!

The Serpentine Cafe, by the river Serpentine in Hyde Park.

Strand, close to Charing Cross Station.

A snack bar window. See how cheap the sandwiches were 50 years ago!

Thailand’s Tourist Boom

Thailand is legalising the growing and sale of full medical grade Cannabis from next month. I anticipate a tourist boom.

Some quotes from various sources in Thailand.

Authorities are also exploring the idea of a “cannabis sandbox” that would allow tourists to visit the country while recreationally using cannabis in select areas, to help create destinations synonymous with the drug.

Linn is optimistic that the bill will help Thailand rebuild its economy post-Covid. “Nothing as small as marijuana use can save [an economy], but I think it could provide a spark,” he said.

Kitty Chopaka, an independent cannabis advocate based in Bangkok, says “industry people” from places including Australia, the UK and Canada are already contacting her about plans to visit Thailand following the announcement. “People are going to come to Thailand trying to find cannabis,” she says.

Cannabis is Thailand’s ‘secret weapon’ to lure back tourists after Covid, public health official says.

Amsterdam had better watch out. There’s a new kid on the block.

Ambulance stories (1)

The un-snippable turd

Sometimes, ambulances are called by other agencies, and not by the person in need of help. Railway staff make frequent requests for ambulances, whether in underground stations, or on the main line system. When you consider how many people are travelling on both systems on any given day in Central London, it is understandable, to some degree.

So, when we received a call on the radio to go to Paddington Station, it was not particularly unusual. We had added information, that a female was in a collapsed state in the toilets, in great pain, and unable to move. On the way to the job, with siren blaring and blue lights flashing,  we were in the habit of considering what we might be going to encounter on arrival. Using the basic information and diagnostics supplied by the caller, we could presume a whole number of things. Young female, toilets, great pain, cannot move. This could be a back injury perhaps, or maybe a gynecological problem. The pain of appendicitis, or kidney stones, could be very severe, and might impair movement. We would have to establish if the female was pregnant, as that could open up a lot more possibilities. Fortunately, Paddington Station is only a few yards from St. Mary’s Hospital, one of the biggest and best in London, with a very good Emergency Department, (which I prefer to call ‘Casualty Department’) so we would not be travelling far from the scene of the crisis.

On entering the station, we were met by staff, who quickly showed us down to the female toilets. They had thoughtfully closed that particular facility, to allow us to work in peace, and to leave room for the equipment we carried down, in case we needed it. It was soon apparent we were in the right place. Loud screams could be heard coming from a cubicle, and a worried-looking female Railway staff member advised us to ‘hurry up’. It is not easy to work inside a toilet cubicle that is already occupied by a sitting female, as I am sure you can imagine. Squeezing through the small gap available, I made a full assessment of the scene facing me. A shouting, near-hysterical young woman, aged about 25, was sitting on the toilet, legs splayed, bracing on the sides of the adjacent stalls. She was not wearing anything below the waist, and was yelling in a strange mixture of French and English combined. I have enough French to get by, and I managed a rough translation of her dilemma. ‘Get it out, quick, I can’t get it out, you do it, it hurts.’ She confirmed the location of the problem by raising her left buttock, and signalling between her legs with an agitated hand motion. I wondered what it could be. Perhaps she was trying to deliver a baby, not uncommon in toilet areas. Could she have sat on something sharp, or even been attacked, and have a foreign object impaled in her person? I managed to calm her down, stopped her screaming, and finally got her to co-operate. I gently lifted her from the seat, her arms around my neck, and I peered behind her, which given the physical restrictions of the situation, was not an easy feat.

What I saw, was a dark, hard stool, protruding from her backside to a length of some four inches. Or was it? It could have been a Mars Bar, or a Picnic, a Double Decker, or similar turd-like confection. It occurred to me that she may have been inserting it into her anus for personal reasons (not as unusual as you might suppose) and it had stuck there, unable to go all the way in, or come back out. But no, it was just a turd. Further questioning established that she was at the end of a short break holiday to London, she had become constipated, and tried to relieve herself, before travelling back to France. The recalcitrant bum-muffin had a short look at the outside world, viewed its fate, and decided to stay where it was. No amount of flexing of her young French sphincter would budge the first effort; it was literally un-snippable.

I decided that manual evacuation would be the only option, and handed her a latex glove, with instructions given to her in French to grasp the offending object, and snap it free. She refused, stating that it was too painful to contemplate. There was nothing left but to don the glove myself, and attempt the tricky manoeuvre personally. With no assistance from the panicking Parisienne, I was forced to crouch on the toilet floor, place my chin on her thigh, and reach around the rear of the toilet seat. This placed my face dangerously close to her arched pelvis, as she struggled to gain height from the bowl. No sooner had I come into contact with her stool, with no more than a brush of my hand, as light as a butterfly’s wing, she resumed screaming, and crying out that the pain was unbearable. By now, my temper was fraying. Her worried friend was yelling at me to leave the girl alone, and the Railway staff were asking how long would it be before they could re-open the toilets. I had to concede victory to the turd, and take it, and the girl, to the hospital.

I was far from happy. Although I am sure that it must have caused some discomfort, to have called an emergency ambulance to this nonsense was unacceptable in my view, and I told the Railway staff exactly what I thought of their actions. We had to wrap the girl in a blanket, place her into our small carrying-chair, and get her upstairs to our vehicle. She yelled all the way, as if we were deliberately hurting her, gaining the sympathy of the dozens of people on the main station concourse. There was increased volume as we transferred her onto our trolley bed, for the one minute journey to the Casualty Department. I handed over to the head nurse, unable to hide my annoyance at what I considered a complete waste of all our time. Luckily for the patient, nurses are unusually sympathetic by nature, so she was cooed over, and put into a comfortable cubicle. As the nurse unwrapped the blanket, to examine the girl’s nether regions, we could see the outcome of being carried upstairs in our chair, then transferred to the trolley. What had once been a proud, firm digit of a stool, now resembled a quarter-pounder burger, squashed flat against the young woman’s bum cheek.

I later found out that she had been given a laxative, and had manged to pass the rest of her package. Makes you feel all warm inside, for a job well done…