Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Help! I caught it abroad II [ITV 1, 9pm Tuesday 7th September 2010]

By chance I caught this sequel to last year's splendid H!ICIA, which I seem to recall had focused on the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.  Tonight's update revolved around the Liverpewell* Scewell of Tropical Medicine, with cases drawn from those reported to their Werld Travel Clinic.

One middle-aged chap returned from a plush safari holiday with some unforseen souvenirs in the form of liver flukes, a parasite common in livestock but rare in people; they had to wait for the drugs to arrive from overseas.  "If you were a sheep I could treat you today," said the consultant cheerfully.

Other patients handled classic symptoms of malaria with varying degrees of equanimity.   Fearless laboratory employees picked up venomous snakes with sticks and induced them to release their venom into beakers, for anti-bite serum.  Staff examined blood samples from one unfortunate man, infected 12 years ago but only recently diagnosed with an African worm, to see if the numbers of larvae had gone down after treatment.  "Look, (said the technician,) there's one wriggling!  And another one!"

While not up to the extraordinarily high standard of H!ICIA (1), this was well worth watching and the ad breaks seemed fewer and shorter than for most programmes (or perhaps advertisers don't want to be associated with tropical diseases). 

Snapping snakes!  Wriggling intestinal (and worse) worms!!  Lots of concerned faces!!!  Gung ho Schadenfreude doesn't get much better than this.

Seymour Cable

* NB
My family comes from Merseyside and I love the Scouse accent.  I am not taking the piss and anyone who thinks I am is vastly mistaken.

After this splendid documentary came a trailer:
- "My father would never kill a man. It's not in his nature" said the obvious suspect.
- "You can't imagine how many times I've heard that" said Inspector Barnaby.
 No indeed; nearly as many times as has a regular viewer of Midsomer Murders.  Surely I am not alone in my delight when I read the summary of each new episode of this institution; those beloved opening words: "The residents of Midsomer ..... were shocked when...."  and once more we settle down to witness the negations and circumlocutions of those residents, more regularly shocked than if they kept an electric eel farm in Tornado Alley.  Happy days.


Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Hotel Ambos Mundos, Havana 27th December 2009

Hemingway lived in this salmon pink hotel in the 1930s before his then wife dragged him away from the bar and off to the house at La Vigia. Even today, should you go to room 511, apparently a beautiful woman will open the door and beckon you in... and tell you about Hemingway. I didn't do this, but went straight from the ground floor piano bar to the rooftop bar by means of the (rattling, genuine 1930s) lift. The daiquiris were excellent, as were the mojitos, both served as requested with less sugar than usual; not so much in homage to Hemingway as in consideration for ones teeth; and they taste better that way. Service was quick and friendly. From here you can see the rooftop bar of the Hotel Santa Isabel, which itself has a better view of the harbour but where the service is s-l-o-w. Better to spend less time waiting for your rum-based cocktail and more time sipping it, wondering how to spend your remaining CUC (a Cuba Libre? an Havana Especial?) or just contemplating the importance of being Ernest.