The second thought that goes through the mind of parents after their child has a minor accident, after the first – "Are they all right?" – is usually "what are they going to think at nursery/school/the doctor's?" My two-and-a-half-year-old has a bruise on her leg or a bump on her head nearly every week from one thing or another – last week she ran into a chair when pretending to be a horse – and there is always a concern at the back of my mind that someone will accuse me of hurting her.
But this doesn't mean that Dan Poulter, the new Health Minister who is also a hospital doctor, is wrong to announce plans for casualty departments to start recording accidents of all children on a national register.
When the Labour government tried to introduce a Whitehall-driven children's database named ContactPoint, there were legitimate concerns about civil liberties, as well as the ineptitude of government IT contractors.
Yet Dr Poulter, from his time as a junior doctor in orthopaedics, has first-hand experience of seeing fractures in children where something didn't look quite right – perhaps a background old fracture in the same place that wasn't on that hospital's records because the parents had used a different A&E department to avoid scrutiny.
A new system would ensure that a child's medical history was available to all doctors. It would be clinically driven, used by doctors like those that Dr Poulter used to work with, not the health minister and his colleagues in Government.
In the case of Baby P, different doctors, social workers and other authorities failed to join up the toddler's history to spot there was serious abuse. The majority of parents have nothing to fear. It is the ones who try to hoodwink the authorities by presenting a child with a "clean" medical history who should be worried. Maybe if there had been a system in place in 2007, then Peter Connolly might still be alive.
Good meat well met
My local butcher's, K Libretto and Daughters, is an acquired taste. The man with the cleaver, Kim, refuses to join the 21st century by insisting that his customers pay by cash or cheque – he doesn't take cards. The décor dates from the 1970s, and he doesn't take on any extra staff, it's just him in an apron. But in return he makes each customer feel special by talking to them at length while he serves them (you have to set aside 45 minutes for a normal weekday visit) and he supplies, arguably, the best meat in London. So when I turned up at 8am on Christmas Eve to pick up our turkey order, I spent a chilly hour and a half in a long queue of loyal customers devoted to this very retro butcher. Yet the line was full of people reading Kindles, looking at iPads or tweeting from their BlackBerrys. This is the British Christmas experience of today: we want the authenticity of a traditional butcher, but we need 21st century technology to help us get through it.
It's rain, stupid, not a wet event
Least surprising news is that 2012 has been the wettest year on record – it's probably still raining outside as you're reading this. Weathermen and women seem to relish telling us we're in for yet more of a deluge, but why must they use ridiculous labels to describe it? A BBC forecaster on Boxing Day actually said the words "the main weather event will be happening tomorrow" as a different way of saying "more heavy rain on its way". And the Met Office actually lists on its website "past weather events", making it official. This is the silliest meteorological phrase since records began. I know we love to talk about the weather, but when did heavy rain or extreme weather become an "event"? It's not like we need tickets to huddle under an umbrella. This is even worse than the term "wet weather conditions" that you see on signs at train stations, along with warnings that "the concourse and platform will be slippery". We know when it's been raining: a simple "take care" notice would do.
Downhill for Downton?
Julian Fellowes reveals he tried, without success, to persuade two actors to stay in Downton Abbey before brutally killing them off – first the lovely Lady Sybil, played by Jessica Brown Findlay, died shortly after childbirth and then, on Christmas Day, Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) was crushed in a head-on collision, something that, by the way, must have been pretty unlikely in 1920s rural England. Having watched every minute of Downton since it started, I am beginning to lose interest because the best people are being written out. I don't really mind if Fellowes bumps off the wooden valet, Bates – perhaps he could meet his sticky end in a bizarre cufflink-related accident? But if Michelle Dockery, who in her character Lady Mary is the only reason to continue to watch, wants to go, Fellowes is going to have to try a bit harder to persuade millions of us to stick with him.
Not that I'm superstitious...
With the Mayan non-end of the world out of the way, Tuesday brings another reason for date obsessives to start worrying: it's 2013, and for a full 365 days. I think we just need to accept that any bad luck in the next 12 months will be attributed to the year carrying the number 13. Maybe we can sidestep this problem by referring to it as the 14th year of this century. And it is only a matter of time before someone suggests we rename the year 2012a. Oh look, I just did. Happy New Year.
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