Posting the Pangolin

(For the sake of not risking misinformation: this is a joke.  I am yet to meet anyone in the UK walking a pangolin).

413px-Pangolin_borneo source wikimedia commons photo credit Piekfrosch copywrite to attribution
Pangolin. Source: Wikimedia Commons; Photo Credit: Piekfrosch

New advice issued today on COVID-19 precautions made several unaccountably missed recommendations.

The advice, issued by an unknown government office, told people that they should not stroke unknown pet pangolins.  Those walking pangolins are requested to keep them on a short lead and not to allow them to get too close to strangers.  “You should be socially distanced, your pangolin should be socially distanced,” the spokeswoman for this unknown office said.

She also stated the advice that, when passing in a narrow space, one party should walk on their hands while the other stayed on their feet.  “It’s a good way of not breathing over the other person.”

The IftPoAaIL welcomed the propositions, saying that it did not understand why these recommendations had not been implemented weeks ago.  However, some pangolin owners were bothered by the possible effect on animal welfare, drawing attention to the difficulties of providing the animals with adequate exercise on a short lead, and possible future difficulties with the socialisation of younger animals.

The advice regarding passing in a narrow space has been welcomed unusually unanimously, with the institute of clowns offering online classes in walking upside down.

Cherry Foster


IftPoAaIL: Institute for the Promotion of Absurd and Impractical Laws.  As far as I know, it doesn’t exist, though it may be one of the ancient and seldom used collective names for those who meet in the Palace of Westminster…  😛

An academic and an administrator walk into a bar…

An academic and an administrator went into a bar and got talking…

The administrator asked the academic a question about their discipline.

The academic said, “oh, that’s really simple,” and she summarised it in one crisp sentence.

The administrator looked blank, because the academic might as well have been speaking a foreign language.

“Oh these academics,” she said in the office the next morning.  “I felt I was about an inch high.”

A few days later the administrator and the academic met again.  This time, the academic was complaining about the difficulty she was having filling in her tax forms.

“There’s forty pages,” she said, “and it wants all sorts of random figures from different pieces of paper, none of which I can find, and it uses all sorts of terms that don’t really make sense, plus quite a few which don’t seem to match with my situation at all.  It’s just impossible.  And they penalise you horribly if you get it in late.  I’ve been up all night wrestling with it, and it’ll probably take me several hours more.”

“What,” said the administrator, “you mean the income tax form?  They’re easy.  I just ran through mine in half an hour.”

The academic looked blank.

“These administrators,” she said to her colleagues over coffee and integrals the following morning…


Cherry Foster

To be sung as a Communion hymn to the tune of “Reductio ad Absurdum”?

(Let it be noted beyond doubt, I am not serious: I would be delighted to find that no one else was either…).

Petal-art for Corpus et Sanguis Christi 2019 beside an outdoor altar.


Author of Life Divine,

Who hast a table spread,

Furnished with poisoned Wine,

And sweet plague-ridden Bread:

Thou art not now the way to live,

Professors’ models we shall give

More credence as the way to live.

We know now more than Thee,

What appertains to Life.

Thou art not necess’ry

When faced with earthly strife.

So strengthened by our human ways,

So strengthened by the world’s masked ways,

Let us go forth – and sing Thy praise!

Cherry Foster (a pastiche of Charles Wesley’s hymn)



Resurrection_(24) Photo credit Surgun source Wikamedia Commons no copyright
Resurrection – this icon shows Christ bringing Adam and Eve up from Hades. Photo credit: Surgun; source: Wikamedia Commons




N.B. Lest I cause confusion: I do not in fact mean this as an insistence that people cannot catch things from receiving Communion.  That is an interesting question on which I have no strong opinion, except that I believe we should take all legitimate precautions when receiving, by way of not putting God to the test.  What I am sure of, is that from the eternal perspective which we are supposed to be learning, receiving Communion can only ultimately bring about death rather than Life (for ourselves or others) if we are unfaithful (possibly not even then).  Nor would I reject science’s help – for which I am in fact extremely thankful – as long as it does not demand a loyalty beyond that which can be given to any human thing.

And remove cap?

When health and safety defeats its own point

I have a certain amount of trouble swallowing tablets, and a tendency for them to make me feel sick, with the result that I sought out a soluble form of an over the counter medication I take on a comparatively frequent basis.  However, I didn’t appreciate the fact that it fizzes (whether for cosmetic reasons or for some medical reason) and the pharmacist suggested, that, instead I take a dose of the suspended liquid formulation usually intended for children, which is slightly less horrible.

I do not have the slightest trouble opening normal childproof bottles, such as the caps on the top of bleach.

I spent ages trying to get the cap off this medicine bottle.  By ages, I mean that I spent some time on at least three different nights trying to remove the cap, before (on all but the last occasion) giving up and resorting to the fizzy formula.

It took a pair of scissors, a pair of pliers, and a hacksaw.

The instructions say, “shake the bottle for at least ten seconds and remove the cap.”  Nothing more.

There is a diagram on top of the bottle suggesting it should be pushed down and then screwed round.

I tried this.  It had no effect at all.

I cut the bottle seal by slipping scissors up inside the edge.

It went round and round, click click click, but went nowhere.

I forced scissors up under the lid and cut a slit in the cap.  It took a lot of uncomfortable force, but it was possible.  I broke the outer cap off.

The bottle comes with a syringe, and it says that there is a hole to put this through.

But what I had exposed looked like a sealed, solid plastic knob.  It certainly had no hole in it.  Nor, apparently, was there any way of getting it off.  Had someone sold me a bottle wherein the machine had made a “mistake” and failed to create a hole?  Or was it designed like this?

Eventually it came to this evening, wherein I simply could not stomach the fizzy formula on top of bread and marmite.  I cut a groove in the side of the inner cap with my hacksaw.  This was awkward and not as safe as I would have liked because there was no way of holding it that could avoid cutting towards my hand.  So I tried to wrench the knob-like cap off with a pair of pliers without cutting all the way through, and eventually succeeded.  And came through to the stated hole, etc.

So presumably it was designed like that.

Health and safety, or cause of danger?

I kept imagining a parent trying to hammer their way in with a beloved and sick child screaming in agony in the background.  Tried to imagine trying to be careful with the hacksaw and my hand under that sort of stress.

That sounds to me more like something that should be forbidden as a form of torture under the international code of human rights, than used as a health and safety device!

Moreover, a bottle that takes a hacksaw and a pair of pliers rather defeats the point, because the bottle is liable to end up in a state wherein the lids are completely not secure (in fact, my outer cap just comes off, but the inner one may need pliers again), or left off due to the difficulty of getting them off again.

Overdoing it defeats the point.

And seriously, “and remove cap?”  That might well take the prize for the most inadequate instruction I’ve ever seen…

Cherry Foster




Posting the Zebra

When you hear hoofbeats, think horses…

Nokota_Horses_wikimedia commons photo credit Francois Marchal copyright attribution
Source: Wikimedia commons; photo credit: Francois Marchal

but remember it could be an okapi:

Okapi wikimedia commons Photo credit Daniel Jolivet copyright attribution
Source: Wikimedia commons; Photo credit Daniel Jolivet

In other words, start by assuming a sprained ankle, but don’t assume someone is lying or has conversion disorder because the symptoms don’t make immediate sense!

Why the Zebra?


May is Ehlers-Danlos syndrome awareness month, but as far as I can make out the same problems apply to many other rare, or even just confusing, conditions.  The genetic connective tissue disorders seem to be a particular issue, due to a combination of comparative rarity, multi-systematic issues, and comparative invisibility.  They produce effects no one expects to see.  The human body is held together by the proteins in connective tissue, so a genetic fault in the formation or transport of one of these proteins produces multi-systematic symptoms of widely varying severity wherever that protein isn’t able to function in the required way.

For example, I have neurological visual impairment, severe working and short term memory problems, severe sequencing problems, relentless joint pain (which I thought everyone had until recently), hypermobility, functional joint problems, headaches, significant fatigue, swallowing and voice control issues (causing problematic dietary issues), tendency to fall, gait problems, difficulty balancing on chairs, difficulty maintaining adequate posture, mild gut/abdominal organ problems, proprioceptive issues, sensory hypersensitivity problems, depression, anxiety, fatigue, paresthesias, palpitations (thankfully demonstrated harmless on scans), unusual proportions (makes it harder to find orthoses that work), fainting, temperature control problems, and probably a few things I’ve forgotten or haven’t been investigated yet.  While there is no ruling out co-morbidity at this stage (i.e. that some of these things are in fact caused by a second condition), as far as current scientific knowledge goes, all these problems can be caused by the one syndrome.  Combined with all this, I have a degree in philosophy (which took me eight years), I can walk ten miles (if I’m prepared to put up with the resulting pain and fatigue), I do complicated needlework, and I will climb over a fence if a gate can’t be opened.  It’s not simple.

There are a lot of real things which don’t seem logical at first sight.  The extreme complexity of the human body results in an equal complexity with regard to what can go wrong with it.

Cherry Foster

P.S. And here is a zebra if anyone was expecting one 😛 🙂

Equus_quagga_boehmi wikimedia commons photo credit Hans Hillewaert, copyright attribution
Source: Wikimedia commons; photo credit: Hans Hillewaert

The Punishment fit the Crime? (More COVID-19 isolation fun)

The object all sublime

Shall be achieved in time

To make the punishment fit the crime,

The punishment fit the crime:

For here we represent

A scheme to parliament

To make each COVID fool

Into much needed fuel

For people’s innocent merriment,

Their innocent merriment.

The health legislator, who acts like a traitor,

And visits their second home,

Is forced to rough camp in a field always damp

Infested by rats that roam.

The keen police official, who with zeal abyssal

Checks no-one has brought ice-cream,

Is questioned in lectures, with curious conjectures

Regarding their household regime.


The holiday makers, who from their home acres,

In Devon or Corn-a-wall

That in order to reach an adequate beach,

Travel North of Hadrian’s wall,

Are marooned on an island near tropical Thailand

With three barrels of bog-standard beer,

In the pouring rain, with mosquitos insane,

And no source of food but a spear.


The tape measure lady, who utterly gravely,

Says you’re half-an-inch too close,

Is set to the task of fitting surgical masks

Precisely on doctors morose.

The religious group, who with hearty whoop,

Say it’s faith to take no care,

Are only allowed to meet in a crowd

In a room with a grizzly bear…


The Prime Minister who, on a single issue,

Orders excessive lockdown,

Is imprisoned for years, in spite of their tears,

In a lonely country town,

In a leaky cellar, with half an umbrella,

On a diet of sprout and tinned sprat,

With no natural light, with red boxes forthright,

And no company but a stuffed cat.

The object all sublime

Shall be achieved in time

To make the punishment fit the crime,

The punishment fit the crime:

For here we represent

A scheme to parliament

To make each COVID fool

Into much needed fuel

For people’s innocent merriment,

Their innocent merriment.


Cherry Foster, after W. S Gilbert, and with significant input from one who prefers to remain nameless!