Looks like old posts disappear.  So here’s a re=post of one that’s gone for friend Shawna:


You don’t have to be mad to work here,
but it helps.
Yelps of consternation sweep the nation
unnerving the world
as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
of Mental Disorder is unfurled.

The book on which drug companies thrive.
The psychiatrist’s bible.
If you read it you’re liable
to discover you’re not all there,
madder than the maddest of mad march hares;
mad as an Englishman having fun
out in the midday sun;
barking mad as a rabid dog,
or hopping mad as a box of frogs;
mad as a sandwich short of a picnic,
nutty as a fruit-cake,
crazy as a coot,
just plain old-fashioned lunatic.

In one way or another,
blame it on your father
or maybe on your mother
if you’re hyper, if you’re tired,
if you’re dull or if you’re fired,
if you’re sacked or not been hired,
if you’re a pathologic liar,
if you yearn to be admired,
parade on beaches unattired,
if you’re brain stem’s wrongly wired,
if your sanity’s expired
you have a Mentally Acquired
or you’re MAD in short.
You’re caught in the DSM-5 disorder trap.

Are you compulsively tidy, obsessively neat?
You’ve an order disorder.
Is your hedge the wildest in the street?
You’ve a border disorder.
Are you agnostic or don’t believe?
That’s a Lord disorder.
Do you collect stamps or pressed dried leaves?
You’ve a hoarder disorder.
Does no-one listen to what you say?
That’s a being ignored disorder.
Do you clap persistently to get your way?
An applauder disorder.
Do you want to bring happiness every day?
A rewarder disorder.

One thing is certain,
one thing is true
this is a spiral of catch 22.
But no matter what,
no matter who,
no matter which,
it’s important to be rich
to afford a disorder.
Or maybe join the official list
of those acquainted with matters like this.
Yes train to be a psychiatrist
with your very own
broader disorder disorder.

17th May 2013

Notes:  “New US manual for diagnosing mental disorders published.”  The field of mental health faced its greatest upset in years with the publication of the long-awaited and deeply-controversial US manual for diagnosing mental disorders.  Early drafts of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, have divided medical opinion so firmly that authors of previous editions are among the most prominent critics


The Greek island of old age

ikariaOne year ago yesterday – no significantly new headlines but I found this interesting story about the Greek island of Ikaria where the average life expectancy is ten years above the European average.  The article speculates on the reasons for this which include the type of food, the local wine, the slow pace of life, radiation, social cohesion.  There appear to be other ‘hotspots’ like this around the world.  I thought I’d try out a variety of poem forms to express the essence of this story – two haikus, two cinquains and one quatrain.


Sun-baked olives pressed.
Ikarian Shangri-La.
Wine, no stress, old age.

in brevity,
olives, fish, wine
meld seamless in longevity’s

Ikaria, Hellenic jewel
whose udder, olive branch and vine assuage
the creeping claws of time.
You font of youth, dispeller of old age.

Old age.
Olives, fish, goat’s milk,wine
marking time; making age appear

Ikarian air,
majoram, sage, rocket, thyme,
ageless summer wine.


7th January 2013 – headline from the BBC

Notes:  “The Greek island of old age .”  The inhabitants of a small Greek island live on average 10 years longer than the rest of western Europe. So what’s the secret to long life in Ikaria?  It could be the fresh air and the friendly, easy-going, open-door lifestyle. It could be fresh vegetables and goat’s milk.  It could be the mountainous terrain. Everywhere on Ikaria is up, or down, so getting around keeps you fit.  It could even be the natural radiation in the granite rocks. But Stamatis Moraitis thinks he knows what it is.  “It’s the wine,” he says, over a mid-morning glass at his kitchen table. “It’s pure, nothing added. The wine they make commercially has preservatives. That’s no good. But this wine we make ourselves is pure.”  Stamatis celebrated his 98th birthday on New Year’s Day. He says he’s older, but his documents put his date of birth as 1 January 1915. Outside his whitewashed house are his beloved olive trees, his fruit trees, and his vines. He makes about 700 litres of wine a year, he says.

Dolphins ‘deliberately get high’ on puffer fish nerve toxins

Fugu sashimi : Tessa is sashimi of thin sliced...

Fugu sashimi : Tessa is sashimi of thin sliced puffer fish. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Penultimate day of the Janus Project and a bizarre story of dolphins getting high on puffer fish.  I think the puffer fish is the one used in Japanese cooking; it requires very careful preparation and I believe that you have to have some sort of certification to serve it.  The knives used in its preparation can not be used for anything else, such is the strength of the toxin.  I wonder how dolphins discovered the narcotic effects of the puffer fish without themselves being killed in the process!

Daze of the Dolphin

Don’t Bogart that joint,
my fish-eating friend.
Anoint my lips,
pass it over to me.
Give me an end,
I depend on a hit
from that toxic shit
of piscine hallucinogen.

Who could imagine
that dolphins like Flipper
could be double-dippers
of neural toxin,
like sharing a spliff
when they pass round the fish
and gently squeeze
to release ecstasy.

The carefully pressured
juice of the puffer
is treasured by dolphins.
It gives such a high
that they gaze at the skies
and philosophise
on the meaning of life,
wondering why they are here.


30th December 2013 – headline from the Independent

Notes:  “Dolphins ‘deliberately get high’ on puffer fish nerve toxins by carefully chewing and passing them around.”  Dolphins are thought of as one of the most intelligent species in the animal kingdom – and experts believe they have put their ingenuity to use in the pursuit of getting “high”.  In extraordinary scenes filmed for a new documentary, young dolphins were seen carefully manipulating a certain kind of puffer fish which, if provoked, releases a nerve toxin.  Though large doses of the toxin can be deadly, in small amounts it is known to produce a narcotic effect, and the dolphins appeared to have worked out how to make the fish release just the right amount.  Carefully chewing on the puffer and passing it between one another, the marine mammals then enter what seems to be a trance-like state.