Iron Chef Flash Fiction

I was lucky enough to go to Reno for WorldCon in August, and one of the panels I was involve in was the Iron Chef Flash Fiction Challenge.

This consisted of 3 panelists – myself, Hugo-nominee Eric James Stone, and short story scribe Dale Ivan Smith. Lawrence M. Schoen was the moderator.

The aim of the game was to write a short story in less than 5 minutes. The moderator would give the panelists a subject to write about, and after 5 minutes we’d read out our masterpieces and let the audience decide the winner, before heading into the next challenge.

Three rounds were planned, but we ended up having four. I won the first round by a considerable landslide. I (quite rightly) lost round 2 to Dale, and round 3 was a tie between Me and Eric. We therefore had a 4th round to determine the overall winner (no, I know the maths don’t quite work out correctly, but it was just a bit of fun). Eric won the 4th round (and therefore the competition) with quite a brilliant pun.

Anyway, for the sake of posterity, I present my 4 pieces, below. When reading them, do keep in mind that these were all written in less than 5 minutes, on a stage, with a couple of hundred people watching. So, no pressure, then…


Round 1

Theme: Shatner

It was impossible to decide which was worse – the medical condition which prevented him from using the restroom properly, or his inability to keep his trousers on when in polite company. The visit to the doctor helped. The tablets had a profound effect on his bathroom breaks to such an extent that it was important that he was now never able to remain more than 20 meters from any public convenience.

He visited a mall with his partner, and soon found himself immediately in need of a quick dash to the loo. He ran. He screamed. She followed.

What happened next has been oft documented. She left the bathroom in a sorry state. The relationship was over. He had shatner.


Round 2

Theme: cephalopod

The committee was convinced of the importance of keeping the organisation alive with the incumbent chairman. Genre fiction in the US was counting on it.

It was easy to take the decision to clone the chairman, and so it came to pass. Fourteen Scalzis were grown and stored for future generations. All that was needed to activate them was for the seed pod to be split, allowing oxygen to sweep through and the Chair to begin the process of breathing.

Oh, sorry – I thought you said SFWA-pod…


Round 3

Themes: Serendipity and Sword & Sorcery

TV is a tough gig. Never easy to make a basic living, ever harder to rise to the top of your profession and rule the airwaves.

So many people had come and gone on his show, so many people had helped him earn his millions.

When his esteemed competition decided to quit (or was made to – who can tell?) he was in just the right place at just the right time.

Never were the stars more perfectly aligned. He would take over the job. He would rule, not just the evening slot, but the network completely. He was so successful his competitors crashed and burned. He became known as The Destroyer.

And so did Conan prevail.


Round 4

Themes: Tea and The Singularity

The A.I. pondered. The pondering took almost 4 millionths of a second, which is pretty slow for a level seven. Was it better to provide the remaining humans with what they needed, or what they desired?

The decision was made. The chance of the few making it to the end of the journey was minimal. Tea it would be. A presecence had been set. The die had been cast. The tea would be served. The humans would die, but die with the taste of boiled leaves in their mouths. I don’t know where I’m going with this. At this point I’m pretty much just typing random words. Let’s say Eric has won, shall we?


So, that’s 4 things, each written in less than 5 minutes. And that’s my excuse, ok? And if you have 5 minutes, it’s worth having a go, yourself. Pick a word at random from the dictionary, and write for 5 minutes (remember it should be a complete story, and have a proper ending).

If you have any passing interest in anything I’ve written that wasn’t created under laboratory conditions, though, you can read my short story Twisted in the Voices from the Past anthology (available for the Kindle from Amazon) or You Always Remember Your First from the Sepulchre anthology (published by Anarchy Books on December 1st).

Automatically cross-posted from my new home at

Being Original

SyFys Being Human cast

SyFy's Being Human cast

There is a proud tradition of selling TV programme formats between countries. Inevitably, the vast majority of remakes are viewed as inferior by the fans of the original; partly because they are used to the characters and the style of their own show, partly because the remake is made with a different audience in mind, with different expectations and different cultural and sociological references and ideals.

With this in mind, I grabbed a bottle of Diet Coke and a big bar of chocolate, and settled down to watch the first few episodes of the SyFy Channel’s remake of Being Human.

Toby Whithouse’s saga of three supernatural beings living together as flatmates is one of the big success stories for the BBC in recent years, and it’s been a favourite of mine since the second episode, so I was naturally cautious when I approached the US version.

The original is not without its faults. I like the character of Herrick, and I like Jason Watkins, who plays him, but I don’t like Watkins in that role. I don’t believe he imbues the character with the high levels of menace demanded by the script. He’s a bit… Well, I find him a bit too short to be frightening, to be honest – a bit weedy. I recognise that I’m in the minority here, though. I’ve also never quite loved Annie as much as I think I’m meant to, and I’m not convinced that Lenora Crichlow is quite strong enough a performer for the role.

Those niggles aside, the writing is strong, the direction superb, Aidan Turner as Mitchell and Russell Tovey as George never fail to give anything but excellent performances.

So, how does the US version stand up?

Like the British original, there are some aspects of the show that work for me, and some that don’t. The writing is good – though much of the plotting so far has mirrored the early episode of the UK version. As the US has ordered 13 episodes per season (the UK has 6) I would expect the story lines to divert, pretty soon. Although there have been some pretty intense scenes, it isn’t imbued with the same level of visceral horror that the original often employs. The biggest turn-off for me, however, is the incidental music, which is cheap, and a little distracting.

What about the characters and the performers?

There have been some name changes, but the characterisations remain fairly true to the UK version – right down to the character types.

Sam Witwer plays Aidan (a nod to Aidan Turner, who plays Mitchell, his UK equivalent, perhaps?) and like Turner he’s an impossibly pretty actor. He manages to bring a decent level of intensity to the role, but if you were betting on a fight between Aidan and Mitchell, all the smart money would be on our guy.

Meaghan Rath plays Sally (Annie in the UK). Again, a physically beautiful performer, but her performances are stronger than Crichlow’s, with more depth. She gives the impression that there are more layers to her character than Annie has ever displayed. Her insecurity, and inner strength is never in doubt. A win for the US team, here.

Mark Pellegrino (Supernatural’s very own Lucifer) plays Bishop (Herrick). As with the UK edition, he’s a cop with the local force. Unlike Herrick, however, his performance absolutely drips with menace; you believe in his capacity for evil, even without his vampiric nature.

And what of Josh (George)? Russell Tovey is a fan-favourite – even having recently won the SFX readers’ award for Cult Hero. This was always going to be the hardest character in the remake to like. Sam Huntington is more than up to the challenge, though. His portrayal of a slightly geeky hospital porter who just happens to turn into a savage beast once a month, is as good as Tovey’s. I’m truly on the fence about this one. Huntington also makes you believe in the dangerous nature of the character, far more than Witwer. Josh is a nice guy, but he has a darkness under the surface. A great performance. I want to prefer Tovey’s performance, but they’re neck and neck.

Both versions of the show mix drama and humour, and strive to be set in the world in which we exist, although lately, the UK episodes have been heavy on the farce – dogging gags, gimps and middle-aged vamp orgies, a chav zombie WAG who doesn’t know she’s dead – and this is sometimes detracting from the dramatic tension that previous episodes have built up.

So, the £750 question (that’s the recession for you): which is better?

Individual performances aside, and taken as a whole packages, the UK version edges out in front – just – but the US remake is only 4 episodes old, and still has the chance to improve. But if the UK show continues to move in a Ray Cooney direction, SyFy’s version won’t need to improve much to be considered the better show.

If only they’d tone down that bloody incidental music.

Automatically cross-posted from my new home at

Never Trust…

Train companies to run an effective service. 95% on time still means at least one train an hour is going to be delayed. Pretty crap, really.

Taxi drivers to actually follow the rules of the road. Those funny blinking lights on the sides of your car? They’re to indicates your intentions, you arse!

Anyone who drives while wearing a hat of any kind. They’re usually either too young to care, or too old to remember to care.

Banks to to anything in the interest of their customs. Yeah, cheap shot, but no less true for that.

Any company that outsources customer service departments to less effective subsidiaries. profits before people, guys. We’ll remember, and buy elsewhere.

Dell after-sales service. Just – don’t.

The Home Delivery Network. Or, Incompetents Incorporated. I now no longer buy from online retailers who rely on this bunch of cowboys.

Britannia Overseas Property. Thieves, pure and simple.

Any driver who chooses to not reverse into a parking space. They have to drive out again, so why delay the inevitable?

Anyone significantly more attractive than you, who shows an interest. Only in porn does that work out well for everyone.

Cold callers. Ever.

The Daily Mail. This one speaks for itself.

The opinions of Daily Mail readers. These ones can’t.

Politicians. Let’s just acknowledge that they’re a bunch of self-serving hypocrites, who have no interest in actually representing the people who put them into power.

Shopkeepers who routinely hold your banknote up to the light. When this happens, I always do the same with any notes they hand me in change – it really seems to annoy them.

Holiday company complaints departments. At least as bad as insurance claims departments.

Any business that has a name or slogan stating their honest intentions. Seriously – would you ever buy a car from “Honest John’s”?

Extended warranties sold by the retailer. If you must insure your electrical goods, shop around – you’ll get a better deal, elsewhere.

So, who don’t *you* trust?

(disclaimer: If any of the above apply to you, you’re automatically exempt, of course, because you’re awesome!)

Automatically cross-posted from my new home at

Corrr! Phew!!! Another bloody post, what?


I did mean to keep this thing up-to-date – really, I did. But… well, other things kept getting in the way.

So, what have I been up to these last few months? Well, I’ll start with the last week, and maybe I’ll write more about previous months, later – though experience tends to suggest I probably won’t.

Well, I’ve just got back from our annual jaunt to Greece. We go to a different part of the country every year, and this time around it was Corfu, which wasn’t anywhere near as touristy as I’d dreaded. Our villa was lovely (though the annexe was unusable due to problems with the electricity). Large, and with a lovely private pool. It took us a little time to find it, as it was tucked away as effectively as a Vogon planning application. The last part of the drive to the villa was up a dimly-lit mountain road, followed by a trek down a single lane (actually, “lane” is an overstatement), overgrown, unlevelled dirt track in the dark. Lovely accommodation, though.

Wasps were a popular, recurring theme while we were away. They followed us wherever we went. I say “followed” because I’m sure I kept recognising one or two of them. I was the only one to get stung (on my back, in the pool – stung briefly, then not at all) but other family members got bitten by insects of various shapes, sizes and planetary origins (seriously – some of them can’t have been from Earth – too weird!)

I got little-to-no reading done. I took my iPad to try to get through some submissions for work, but it was either in use by the kids during the day, or I was too tired at night. I also took a paperback – The City and the City – and I really enjoyed the 3 or 4 chapters I managed to get through on the beaches, in between ensuring the kids didn’t drown or kill each other with spades.

Oh, the iPad – what a life-saver that turned out to be! When the kids were unsettled on the plane, they were able to play games on it, draw on it (using drawing apps, not crayon), and watch endless episodes of Peppa Pig. And when we were villa-bound for one stormy afternoon, it kept them from killing each other (and us, them).

Rather than take loads of currency, or loads of travellers’ cheques, this year we took a currency card. The card (form Caxton FX – part of Newcastle Building Society) is a pre-paid MasterCard, specifically designed for travelling around Europe. You load it up with currency, and can use it to buy things in shops, restaurants, etc, and to withdraw cash from machines – the main advantage is that there is no transaction fee as there is with almost every other UK card – no paying £2.75 to use a cashpoint, or £1.50 for currency conversion at transactional level. Other than the 2 Euros it cost us to convert our remaining Euros back into Sterling at the end of the holiday, there were no charges whatsoever, which is pretty damned groovy. Definitely use that again, next year.

We ate out most nights, though we didn’t manage it on the last night, due to a flat tyre on the car. I was able to get the busted tyre off, but couldn’t raise the car high enough on the Fisher Price car jack that was supplied, to get the new tyre on. A call to the car hire company was useless (their advice: “find someone to help you”), so I called the rep. She couldn’t get anyone out that night as everywhere had closed, but she got a local out the next morning in plenty of time for us to vacate the villa. In fact, he turned up with a huge jack that lifted the car in two pumps, and the wheel was on within minutes. The old wheel had a slight buckle on the rim, from when the car had bumped in and out of a pothole in the road. His cost for coming out, fitting the new wheel, taking the old wheel away, fixing the buckle and fixing/re-inflating the tyre? 15 Euros! (About £12, or US$18). I gave him a twenty, and was more than happy to do so. If I’d managed to get the new wheel ion myself, and had returned the car to the hire company for them to do the work, I have no doubt it would have cost me hundreds!

The flight back was pain-free (once a crying Lana had been given the iPad on which to watch her favourite Peppa Pig), although delayed by about 2 hours. Better than last year’s 12 hour delay, though. Or was it the year before? Why am I asking you?

The beaches were all fine – one was glorious, the others were a bit shingly for my liking. Actually, I’m not really a beach person, but everyone else is, so I’m happy to go with the flow. And on the day it rained we went to a local palace, where they had opened a whole seven rooms to the public (really – stop spoiling us!). The palace was pretty much a shrine to Achilles, with statues and paintings of him, everywhere. We got drenched (it was pretty much textbook torrential) and stopped hunching our shoulders against the weather when we realised we may as well just accept the wet. Walking through the gardens, as wet as it is possible to be,  saying things like “Weather report says it might shower, later” provided our fellow stormees with much amusement.

Oh, and the ants – Jeeeesus, they were big fellahs! Ever seen the film Them? These ants weren’t as big as the ones in the movie (that would be silly – and a little worrying) but they were certainly big enough to give the movie ants pause for thought if it ever came down to a rumble. The Corfu ants had bigger bodies than our own, homegrown varieties, it’s true, but their legs were disproportionately big – almost as if they were wearing stilts to try to intimidate other insects. Or Doc Martins! That’s it – they were wearing bovver boots – Corfu ants are the skinheads of the insect world! It wouldn’t have surprised me to see small elves using them as steeds (except, of course, that would also be silly – elves are not native to Corfu, and they rarely vacation away from the mainland).

So, that was last week. Photos were taken, food was consumed, sun was worshipped (or, in my case, acknowledged with a polite nod of the head). And we spent about £200 less than we’d accounted for in our budget.

This week – cat to vet (blood in urine – not a pleasant sight, nor (I’m guessing) experience for the feline in question) and car in for service (going to be about £500-ish). That was yesterday. The rest of the week will be work, work, work. And I’m guessing there’s plenty of extra bits and pieces to do that have built up in my absence. At least I’ll never be bored.


Automatically cross-posted from my new home at

I was wrong

I recently went on record stating that I thought the Hugo Awards for Best Editor were nonsensical. I was (quite rightly) taken to task over this by Cheryl Morgan, who pointed out that the award doesn’t just cover the actual editing work that an editor performs, but the whole of his or her job – the championing of a book from submission, through acquisition, through marketing, through publication and beyond. The editing side of this – though important – is far from the only part of the role.

I’m not too bigheaded to deny I was wrong. There is value in the award. I was wrong.

Automatically cross-posted from my new home at

Bloody nose!

This entry will get a little gruesome, so unless you are a doctor or you’re writing a hospital-based horror/drama, you might want to click away.

So, here I am in York Hospital. I’m here for a nosebleed, and when I came in a few hours ago I felt a bit guilty about taking up the nurses’ valuable time. That was then.

I’ve suffered from minor nosebleeds throughout my adult life. They’ve always been pretty minor (albeit bloody regular) and never needed any treatment. About 2-3 weeks ago, though, they took a turn for the worse, and rather than the odd drip of blood, my nose merrily gushed away. The first time it happened I chalked it up to bad luck. The second time it happened I vowed to call the doctor if it happened again. It did, so I went to see my GP. He used some potassium nitrate onna-stick (and didn’t charge me for it, though he was practically cutting his own throat) to give me a wild, stab-in-the-dark cauterisation. When I saw him it wasn’t bleeding so he couldn’t do it accurately. He said to call him again if it happened again and he would refer me to the NT (nose & throat) department at the hospital as they would need to see me while it bled.

Unfortunately, the next time it happened I was in Nottingham and my GP was away; the doctor that was covering couldn’t give me a telephone referral as she hadn’t seen me, and despite the notes on file the rules didn’t allow it.

Today I worked from home as I had an early morning dental appointment. Well, thank goodness I did! At 2.45 without warning, my nose started to bleed again. I called my GP who was just coming back from lunch, and he called the hospital and spoke to the nose specialist, who instructed my GP to send me to the hospital Emergency department.

I was offered an ambulance, but I declined. I drove to the hospital, unpacking and packing my nose with tissue paper every time I hit a traffic light. By the time I got here my bag was quite full of bloody tissue.

I checked in, and after about an hour I saw a nurse. She wasn’t thrilled, as they were extremely busy. Apparently Mondays are busy days for them.

My nose was still bleeding so I was given a pot and a box of tissues, and told to apply pressure in the usual way. This I did, but after about 20 minutes it actually got worse. This is now about 2 hours since the start of the nosebleed.

I sat still, like a good little soldier, and only called for assistance when my vision got a bit blurry. I thought my eyes were watering, but no – the blood, unable to go down my nose, was running through my eye sockets. I’ve now seen the world through rose-tinted specs, and it’s not as pretty as the expression suggests!

By now the nurse had decided that I probably wasn’t a time-waster, after all, and called for a colleague to hold my nose for me. Seriously. This poor student nurse held my nose for a good 20 minutes or so before a doctor arrived. He put a drip in my arm, and explained he was going to insert a nasal tampon to help staunch the flow. I’d used tissue paper to do the same, so I wasn’t too concerned. But when he inserted it – ouch! It was long… Very long. And hard. And wide. And it hurt. A lot!

5 minutes later it was obvious that it’s effectiveness was suspect to say the least, so a specialist nose guy came to see me. I was transferred to the nose department where he removed the tampon (again, ouch!) and was able to give my nostril a bit of a clean. Donning a mole-man-like mining hat with a torch on the front he saw the problem. “It’s a lovely little spurter” he told me. Nice and easy to fix. A colleague came in for a look. “I’m Isabella” she said. “I’m one of the doctors, here.” “I’m Lee,” I replied. “I’m one of the patients.”

Doctor Nose (not his real name) gave me a bit of a clean and applied some anaesthetic to the inside of my nose. He then used the same burny-stuff-onna-stick to cauterise the spurty part of my nose. He then rinsed and repeated.

There was a brief threat to keep me on overnight for observation, but he agreed I could go home about 9pm as long as the bleeding hadn’t come back. It’s now just before 7.00 and all seems well so far, although my trousers, and my new, favourite £55 T-shirt a pretty much ruined, being drenched in blood.

I’m writing this on my iPad in the waiting room, and a nurse is going to get me a sandwich soon, and in 2 hours I should be able to go home.

Hopefully to a nosebleed-free life.

And if you’re reading this, Paul, you can use this in episode three if you like! Just point the casting director my way (I still have my Equity card).

So, around 8.10 the doctor came to say I could go home and she would get a nurse to remove the canula from my arm. Half an hour later a nurse hadn’t arrived, so the doctor came back to remove it, herself. I didn’t realise how long the tubes on these things were! After removing it, she placed a very thick wad of gauze over the hole and taped it on, telling me I could go home.

She left, and I noticed the gauze gradually getting redder. By the time I made it to the nurses’ station the gauze was bright red and I was dripping all over my iPad case (I didn’t want my blood all over the floor where someone could slip on it). I’m a spurter, apparently (stop the sniggering at the back!). Fifteen minutes later I was able to leave. Finally.

Biggest regret of the day? There not being a mirror in the first treatment room. I mean, how often do you get to see yourself bleeding through your eye sockets? So cool!

Automatically cross-posted from my new home at

Campaign For Real Fear – My Losing Entry

Like hundreds of other hopefuls, I entered the Campaign For Real Fear 500-word short story competition.

Like hundreds of others I didn’t make the final 10. As I have no intention of submitting elsewhere, I’m posting my entry here, to allow you all to point and snigger.


One Side of a Conversation with a Crazy on the Train

I’m going to sit by you. Is the train moving soon? Where’s it going? Where are you going? I’m going to Portsmouth. This is my first train of the day. Can I get to Portsmouth on this train? How do you know?

Who do I ask when I get there? Is there a guard on this train? Will he know? I can see another train there, look. I can see your daughter. What time does that train leave? I see her in my head. Do you think that train goes to Portsmouth? Could I walk? When does this train leave? She’s ok, but she won’t be. What platform will I need to get there?

Will the guard know what platform I need? What if he doesn’t know? Will anyone be able to tell me? There’s a car, a big one. She won’t see it. What about that train, there? When does that leave? How do you know?

Here’s the man with the trolley. Will he be able to tell me what platform I need? How do you know? Will he know someone who can? What about the guard? Will he want my ticket? There’s lots of blood. Where are you going? Where’s home? Will it take you long to get there? Is that a long time?

I’m going to eat my sandwiches now. Do you like tuna? I like tuna. Do you like tuna? It’s a black car. It might be a blue car, but I think it’s a black car. I’m going to eat my sandwich, now. Why are we slowing down? How long will we be here? Why East Croydon? Will we move again, soon? I’ve never been to Portsmouth, but I’m coming back today. Will I be able to come back today? On the train? How do you know?

It’s happening now. She’s very pretty. I can see the car. This tuna is nice. Do you like tuna? It’s blue, not black. What are you looking for? Why are you looking for your phone? I don’t know where. There’s a lady standing behind her. They’re by the road. Who are you calling?

I don’t think this bread is very nice. What time will I get to Portsmouth? When’s the train coming back? Will it be a long time? The lady’s letting go of the little girl’s hand to answer her phone. I don’t have a phone. Should I get a phone? Are you calling her? Why are you calling her? Do I need to buy another ticket? She’s jumped off the kerb into a puddle. She’s laughing. She’s jumped again. Will I sit in the same seat? The lady’s talking, now. Why does she have her hand on her other ear?

That was a loud noise. That was a loud scream. Why’s it coming from your phone?

How do you know?

Automatically cross-posted from my new home at

Hospital News

So, we headed out to the hospital with Lana at about 10.40, as we were told to be on the ward for 11.00. As we neared the hospital we got a call from the ward nurse to say we wouldn’t be able to see the opthalmologist until 1.30, so no need to come in until 1.00. Rather that turn around we took Lana to a farm shop, where we bought some fruit and veg and where Lana was able to give some love to the 1-week old lambs. Bless.

When we got to the hospital Lana had her pulse and blood oxygen things done, and we headed down to the eye clinic. Turns out the eye doctors were all in a meeting until 2.00, but the nurse came and apologised, informed us of the reason for the delay, and exactly when we’d be seen. Great service.

Lana was well past her normal daytime sleep time by this point, and was exhausted, but she soldiered on, and the specialist was fantastic with her, having treated children of this age many times before, undoubtedly.

The exam took about 10 minutes, after which time we were told that they were pretty certain that Lana’s problem was caused by the muscles in her eye, which is what we initially thought (and which is great news). The better news is that because it is very intermittent she won’t need to don a pirate eye patch, but she’ll need to keep coming back to have her progress monitored. It’s looking likely that she’ll need an eye operation at some point, but by this stage and eye operation looks like great news!

After seeing two eye doctors we had to head back up to paediatrics, where the doctor informed us that he’ll need to see Lana again on Tuesday. Although the eye doctors are sure it’s a problem with her eye, the paediatrician needs to rule out the more serious possibility that it’s a problem with pressure in her brain, such as GBS or <insert difficult-to-spell condition here>. It’s entirely possible that she’ll need to have an MRI (which will mean a general anaesthetic) but we’ll all decide that together on Tuesday, and no-one believes it’s the brain thing – the scan will be simply to cross off an item on the list that was initially discussed.

After some initially poor communication when we took Lana in last night (we didn’t know why we were there, or what was involved for quite some time), everything else went very smoothly, and the staff at the two departments at York General Hospital were fantastic.

Finally, thanks to everyone on Twitter and text who supported us with good wishes over the last 24 hours – it really has helped.

Automatically cross-posted from my new home at

Clandestine Government Organisations

In happier news, it was our turn to see Verity’s teacher yesterday at the parent/teacher thingummie. Outstanding results all round – she’s way ahead of where she should be, academically, particularly with her reading, writing (she loves to write stories) and her maths. In fact, her maths is so good they’re putting her on the shadow register for gifted children.

It really should be Shadow Register, though – it needs the capitalisation. In fact, it should be S.H.A.D.O.W. Register, and they should give her RayBans. That would be cool.

Automatically cross-posted from my new home at

Being ill and shit like that

So, what with one thing or another, the whole family has had some sort of minor illness over the last few weeks – we’ve all had colds and flu-type things, and my 2-yr old (Lana) had a mild case of chickenpox.

As Lana was coming to the end of her chickenpox, though, I noticed something odd with her right eye – it would occasionlly squint to the right while her left eye looked forward. My wife didn’t see it at first (it was intermittent) but after a few days she saw it, and then couldn’t stop noticing it. She also began to trip more than usual. 2-yr olds often stumble, but there was a definite increase in frequency. This I put down to her depth of vision being out due to the eye thingie.

I consulted with Doctor Goole and he told me that it is extremely common for a squint to develop in under-5s, and it is often brought on by a bout of chickenpox. The cure (to remedy any eyesight problems) is generally an eye-patch (arrr, Cap’n Lana!) but to remedy the aesthetic, an eye operation is usually needed, which kind of freaked us out. To get either (or both) of these we’d need a referral to an opthalmologist.

So, I booked Lana in to see the GP, who booked us in to the pediatric ward of the local hospital straight away. In fact, we drove straight there, expecing to see an iDoctor (not an Apple trademark, as far as I know).

Well, rather than see an opthalmologist, Lana saw a variety of doctors over the course of the next few hours, who then told us that we need to come back tomorrow (today) for another bunch of tests. She’ll see the eye guy today, but also a bunch of other specialists with impossible-to-spell titles, because one possible reason for the eye problems and stumbling is that there is a tumour pressing on her brain. The tests today should rule that out, and it’s probable that the issues are related to the muscles in her eye.

Funny how we’re now hoping she has to have an eye operation…

Automatically cross-posted from my new home at