Thursday, 20 May 2010

Sympathy for the Hurricane.

I used to watch the snooker now and then, for characters like 'Hurricane' Higgins and 'Interesting' Steve Davies more than the game. It's a bit like cricket, there are long periods where they just knock their balls around interspersed with bouts of frantic activity. I've lost interest as I get older, not just in watching snooker but in watching TV. There are better things to do. Once you pass 50 as a smoker, drinker and dietary advice ignorer, you don't know how much time you have left and I am not going to waste it on mind-rot.

When I saw this photo of Hurricane Higgins, I couldn't believe it was him. Even comparing it to the older photos below it's still a shock. He has had throat cancer, multiple operations, and radiotherapy that made all his teeth fall out. He's in a bad way.

Sure, he drank and smoked a lot but throat cancer can come from other things too. In fact, the Righteous have been linking throat cancer more to alcohol than smoking these days. That actually makes a sort of sense, in that if you continually pummel a specific part of your body with a chemical, it's going to irritate. It might become an allergic reaction, it might turn to inflammation, it might just hurt for a while, it might be so damaged it's left open to infection, or it might trigger a cancer. Or you might drink bottle after bottle of that Polish vodka that forces your eyes to swivel right round so you can see what you've done to your brain, and never suffer any ill effects at all. It's mostly down to luck.

Because it's mostly down to luck, you could spend your days totally free of the merest hint of tobacco or alcohol and get throat - or some other type of - cancer anyway. That's the thing about cancer. Sometimes it just happens. It does not always have an external cause.

I don't understand why he is still toothless. The article says his pals are raising the money to get him some implanted teeth so he can eat again. His current frail state is mostly due to his inability to eat very much. The cancer, it seems, is gone and he is suffering more from the treatment than the illness at the moment. Then again, if it hadn't been for the treatment, he might not be here to suffer at all.

My grandmother had plastic teeth. On the NHS. My brother was knocked over in the playground when young, lost his two front teeth in a very messy way and still has plastic ones. On the NHS.

Why is the Hurricane excluded from the NHS plastic teeth? Could it be connected to the destruction of the NHS dentist, and the private-dentist insistence that only implanted ones will do? Or is there a medical reason? Anyone know?

Of course, even though there has been no definite link between this cancer and smoking (if there had been, it would have been trumpeted and we all know it), the Mail can't resist:

He currently lives in sheltered housing on the Donegall Road in Belfast and has suffered long-term problems with alcohol and smoking since winning the world snooker titles.

Alcohol problems are real. People do get addicted, or at least they believe they do which amounts to the same thing as far as the individual is concerned. Excessive and uncontrolled alcohol intake has immediate and obvious effects on someone's life. Very bad ones.

But... 'long term smoking problems'? What is that , exactly? If you turn up for work having smoked a cigarette, does it affect your ability to do the job? Do you see smokers in the gutter, gibbering over a pack of Dunhill in a brown paper bag? Do smokers come rolling home at 3 am after a night on the Capstan, with no memory of where they've been? Actually, I once tried a Capstan. A whole pack could probably do that.

I don't touch the whisky when I'm working. I know that my typing ability will suffer, I won't be able to consider multiple permutations of the results simultaneously, I'll miss something and the report will be a heap of crap and I'll have to do it all again. I can smoke while typing with no detectable effect whatsoever.

I don't drink when working in the lab, and I stay off the booze the night before a big sample set. Being hungover is actually dangerous in a very immediate sense in my line of work. I do not nip outside once in a while for a double Macallan or even a shandy. I do take smoke breaks and before any of you antismokers start - I'm self employed so I'm not costing you anything. Besides, if I have 36 samples to do, I can't go home until they are done no matter how long it takes. If I add a few five-minute smoke breaks to that, that's nobody else's problem. Even when I worked as an employee, it was nobody else's problem. Nobody else would be late home if I chose to take a smoke break. It didn't stop them moaning, of course, but nothing does.

If I was drunk at work, that would be a problem. A big, big one. Especially as my personal indemnity insurance would be voided if anything happened and I was under the influence. So if I let something loose and infected someone else I'd be cleaned out. Drink can be a problem if taken to excess.

Smoking is not the same thing at all. If I go out for a smoke break I wash my hands because I'll be putting something in my mouth and I don't want to chance it. The risk of the smoke break lies in contaminating the cigarette with work, not in affecting my work with the cigarette. The latter is no risk at all. No problem.

This is the same as conflating climate heretics with holocaust deniers, something New Scientist has now joined in with. Smoking is not alcoholism. Not even close, but it's going to be classed as the same thing anyway.

Poor Alex Higgins is set to become the next Roy Castle. Let us all hope he lives long and prospers because once he dies, here come the lies.

Roy Castle did not die of passive smoking. Nobody has. Alex Higgins has survived excessive first-hand smoking and drinking, albeit not very well but I wonder...

If his frail state is due to radiotherapy destroying his teeth (not smoking or drinking, radiotherapy) why has he not been provided with falsies?

Is there a true reason, or is someone, somewhere, just trying to make a point?

Hurricane, keep blowing. Snooker has become astoundingly dull since your day.


snookered said...

Yes a shocking photo . Although I didn't like the guy due to his threats of IRA violence against his opponents I don't want him to suffer.
There's no chance of him being able to use false teeth as his gums and jaw would have receded too much to be able to support them. Implants are the only solution in such cases. He can get implants on the NHS but like hearing aids he will wait over 2 years for them and will be sadly dead by then.

TheFatBigot said...

The worrying thing is the first appearance of "long-term problems with ... smoking", a phrase never before seen.

It is a gift to the New Puritans.

Smoking is now equated to alcoholism. You can be a moderate (but highly taxed) drinker but all smoking is life-ruining addiction.

There is no safe level of smoking, we know that because third hand smoke on our lapels will kill the dog as soon as we get home and Fido breathes in. It's true, some ASH-like organisation said it (oh bugger, I've done it now, I've given them a new idea).

I bet the journalist is a vegetarian.

JuliaM said...

"When I saw this photo of Hurricane Higgins, I couldn't believe it was him."

Me neither. Sad sight.

PT Barnum said...

My mother needed a new denture plate last month, only a small one with two teeth.

Private cost = £3200
NHS cost = £600

She's 78.

What the hell would a full set of implants cost, even if you could get them on the NHS?

And losing teeth to chemotherapy side-effects is an untidy business, since the damage done makes it very difficult to do speedy repairs.

Anonymous said...

"That actually makes a sort of sense, in that if you continually pummel a specific part of your body with a chemical, it's going to irritate. It might become an allergic reaction, it might turn to inflammation, it might just hurt for a while, it might be so damaged it's left open to infection, or it might trigger a cancer."

Excessive use of nicotine gum has been shown to have a correlation between excess usage and cancer - yet I don't see the government requiring warnings on the sides of pharmaceutical nicotine products. I don't see them banned. I don't see them forced to be hidden beneath the counters, advertising forbidden.

And for ex-smokers, the statistic I saw stated something like up to one-third use nicotine gum - forever - in order to not smoke. Nicotine gum is being abused daily, yet I see nobody raising an issue.

If those two facts are verifiably true, and I believe I have seen both stated as verified, then right there you have a major hypocrisy going on - where-as tobacco gets all the blame, pharmaceuticals promoted by the righteous tools for big-pharma gets a free ride.

As for the SHS Fraud, also getting a free ride are the petrol, nuclear, chemical, plastics, asbestos, coal, automotive, aeronautical and other polluting industries out of the Fraud.

I read an interesting opinion on the matter of Jesus and the Bible the other day too. Someone said that nowhere in "The Good Book" does Jesus say everyone should be "righteous" as the way to heaven, he says people should be good and true and honest and love thy neighbor, adhere to the truth, allow everyone to be free, not enslave some for the sake of a few. Jesus spent his time with the outcasts, not with the righteous, whom he condemned for their going to hell and dragging everyone along with them.

The righteous nowadays seem too much like eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth - Old Testament, not New - not Love Thy Neighbor - not Put No False God Above Me. They worship at the foot of a false god, like pagans practicing idolatry, worshipping anti-smoking lies instead of honest truth. Righteous? Heaven bound? Don't make me laugh. And other religions warn the same about following the fake-gods instead of The Truth.

Provably dangerous nicotine products given sanctioned preference over tobacco - an arbitrary choice best left to an individual but turned into a taxpayer funded campaign, against the very taxpayer who funded it.

What a scam the smoking ban is. What a fraud is the SHS Lie of the Century.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link Leggy...

Some of us are fortunate indeed to have grown up during an era where brilliant entertaining characters like Alex Higgins and George Best were there to entertain us in the most sublime ways.

The flawed genius is often the most interesting edition.

Expat living in Canada

Anonymous said...

PT, don`t know why your mum was charged that amount. My wife has just had full top and bottom denture sets made and was charged £198 with extractions and after treatment on NHS

PT Barnum said...

Blimey, Anon @22.21, that's a hell of a difference. The two prices are from two dentists (one refused to do it on the NHS) in the same south eastern town. Is there some price comparison site for these things?

Anonymous said...

I watched This Video a week or so back, and all I could think was "oh my God".

Anonymous said...

If Alex's teeth have fallen out then there is no way that an implant will work.
The reason being that an implant requires good healthy bone and gum to succeed. So if the natural teeth have fallen out then it is obvious that the bone and gums are not good.
Long treatment of bone and gum grafts would be needed and if the damage is too severe then an implant will fail.

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