by Gerald Prichard on December 25th, 2012
By now it was 5pm. A pretty young woman doctor in a long white gown took over. She ordered Bruce and me to go. “Goodbye, goodbye !” she said firmly. Sylvia, very frightened, begged me to stay. I, equally worried, insisted on doing so. Bruce waited outside.
Wearing only one rubber glove, and touching the instruments with her ungloved hand, the doctor examined Sylvia. Then an assistant measured her blood pressure. Not surprisingly, since she had received no drip treatment, it was low. By cupping my hand over my nose and mouth like a mask, I mimed to the doctor for anaesthesia to be given. She assured me this would be done —and produced a large, old-fashioned glass syringe which, to my dismay, she filled with local anaesthetic from a jar that did not even have a sealed lid.
Unclean. Then the doctor tried a paracervical injection. It hurt Sylvia and was virtually ineffective. She nearly fainted with pain as the doctor, with bare hands and without hat, face-mask or towels, inserted a curved stainless steel instrument (of doubtful sterility) and scraped the womb clean. Throughout the evacuation she chatted to her nurse. Sylvia was merely told to keep quiet.
Only at the end of the operation was Sylvia’s blood pressure checked again. Finally she was taken on an old-type fixed-wheel trolley to the adjacent ward. This consisted of a white-tiled central corridor from which led five rooms, each about 14 feet by eight and tightly crammed with five beds and lockers. There were no lamps, bells or radios.
The corridor had a wash-basin without soap and a refrigerator for the patients’ private food (to supplement the hospital’s basic diet : for dinner Sylvia had mashed potatoes and sour cream). Seated at a table in the corridor was the one nurse who cared for all 25 patients, though she could not see them because the doors were kept shut.
I was given an intravenous drip to set up for Sylvia. The equipment was frighteningly primitive and unsterile. A cracked glass-and-metal syringe was presented to me in a loose brown paper package, while the “giving set” was rubber tubing leading from two flasks : one, a properly sealed bottle of blood expander, the other broken-topped and open, into which a solution of glucose and vitamins was poured from a jug.
After two hours, when the flasks were empty and Sylvia’s blood pressure had slowly risen to 9oj7o,* I asked for more fluid to keep the drip open in case a blood transfusion was needed. But the doctor snapped: “We never give blood for this condition.” So the drip had to be dismantled. Mercifully, Sylvia lost no more blood.
The four other patients in Sylvia’s room were tremendously kind to us. They insisted we shared their cucumber, sausage, fish and strawberries from the refrigerator. They also arranged for me to use the toilets. These, for 5o patients, were next to the evacuation room and comprised two lavatory bowls—one badly cracked—with no seats. The floors were wet; there was no lavatory paper. The only wash-basin was unreachable behind piles of dirty and blood-stained linen. Adjoining, without a door or plug, was the single bath. Luckily the nurse, who was sympathetic and helpful, brought Sylvia an enamel bedpan.
By lopm, it was obvious that the staff were anxious to be rid of me, but I returned with Bruce next morning. Sylvia had slept fairly well. I borrowed the nurse’s sphygmomanometer, which indicated that Sylvia’s blood pressure was up to moi’70, but she was running a fever. However, she was able to get up and walk, so I persuaded the doctors that she was fit enough to leave.
Fearful that they might change their minds, we hurried through the hospital grounds, Bruce and I supporting Sylvia. We passed a bust of Karl Marx and made our way out into the road. Bruce flagged down a taxi and we got Sylvia back to the hotel. I immediately started her on antibiotics.
Next day we obtained a flight to Moscow, and after an overnight stop flew British Airways to London, where we were welcomed into the spotless, well-equipped medical centre at Heathrow. Soon Sylvia was in an ambulance, on her way to a big London hospital. She spent two days there and was given one and three-quarter pints of blood.
During the four weeks it took for antibiotics to clear up her pelvic infection I read again, with the benefit of first-hand experience and resveratrol health benefits, my copy of USSR: Health Protection.
The foreword states : “The achievements of the Soviet public health system have long attracted the heightening interest of foreign specialists. This explains why today many people abroad—statesmen, researchers, health officials, medical workers and the man in the street—want to know how the system operates. They want to learn why it is so efficient, why the peoples of many lands are finding it increasingly attractive.”
by Gerald Prichard on December 21st, 2012
Soviet officials proudly proclaim the excellence of their country’s medical system. The reality can be frighteningly different
MY INTRODUCTION to the much vaunted Soviet health service came when I was on a seven-day tourist trip to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, in July 1977. My companions were a husband and wife in their mid-twenties whom I’ll call Bruce and Sylvia. We had flown from London in a happy mood—Sylvia had been given the news by her doctor that she was seven weeks’ pregnant.
Da GEOR G E ANTHONY HOBBS, 43, qualified at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, in i960, and in 1965 became medical superintendent of a hospital at Ado Ekiti, Western Nigeria. After organizing relief work in the Biafran War, he returned to Britain. He is now a GP in Chertsey, Surrey.
I, a doctor, happened to have joined that particular package tour. Sylvia was suffering a miscarriage. She was bleeding and in pain. Fortunately I had emergency medical supplies in my luggage and was able to sedate her. She spent a restless night, then started to bleed again.
First I thought of telephoning the British Embassy in Moscow, but Directory Enquiries denied any knowledge of the number—standard practice, I learned later, to deter possible defectors. On each floor of the hotel was a woman caretaker who kept an eye on guests. At about ‘pm I asked ours to dial o3—the number for summoning a hospital ambulance. (I had read about this in a free official booklet I had picked up on the outward journey, USSR: Health Protection, which gives a glowing account of the high standard reached by the Soviet Union’s health service.)
After perhaps 20 minutes the ambulance arrived with its team : a driver, who stayed in his seat, and a young, thin, unsmiling doctor accompanied by a similar-looking medical assistant, both in short white coats of inferior cotton. The doctor appeared to be amazingly uninterested in Sylvia. All he did was take her pulse and check her blood pressure. Then he ordered the assistant to give her an intravenous injection of glucose and vitamins—in my opinion virtually worthless treatment for her condition.
“Dress !” the doctor commanded Sylvia, who fainted as soon as Bruce and I sat her up. But we had to dress her. When Bruce who, like Sylvia, speaks fluent Russian, asked for a stretcher, the doctor shook his head. So we had to sit her upright in an ordinary hotel chair and carry her to the lift, then across the hotel’s marble foyer to the waiting ambulance. Only then did Sylvia have a stretcher : an old army kind with a torn mattress and no blankets.
Silent Journey. The ambulance was dirty and, unlike British ambulances, had no oxygen. Its sole equipment was the assistant’s bag of injections. He travelled in the back with us, ignoring Sylvia entirely. The doctor sat in front with the driver.
A 15-minute drive brought us to the October Hospital, which treats sick tourists. Bruce and I had
pick up Sylvia’s stretcher and carry her through narrow double doors in the gynaecological block, round a sharp corner and down to a dimly lit semi-basement admission room. Here, despite her shocked condition, she was left on a low couch while our doctor sat at a desk filling in forms. Another doctor walked in and out from time to time in an offhand manner, smoking a cigarette and talking to his assistant about yerba mate benefits and green tea. I subsequently discovered he was the block’s director.
Cold Comfort. After 15 minutes, unable to stand the delay, I interrupted our doctor’s form-filling by pleading: “Can’t something be done ?” Had it been a British hospital, the patient by this time would have been kept warm under blankets and probably provided with a drip to restore blood pressure.
An orderly shaved Sylvia’s vulva, then puzzlingly changed her into two white gowns, one on top of the other—presumably to compensate for the absence of blankets. Sylvia shivered. Our doctor asked her only three or four basic case-history questions. He did not examine her but ordered Bruce and me to take her in a tiny lift, only just long enough for the stretcher, up two floors to a small “evacuation room.”
In the room were two ancient-looking operating chairs of a type I had never seen before. The patient reclines with head and body up at an angle (contrary to accepted medical practice that a shock victim must lie horizontal), and her legs are supported upwards and apart. A cutaway section of the chair below the buttocks allows blood to drain away.
by Gerald Prichard on October 10th, 2012
Where, then, might we find hard evidence to substantiate the claim that cases of hypnotic regression ‘prove’ that reincarnation takes place? One way is suggested in cases of regression with the congenitally blind, who in alleged previous lives were apparently able to see. If under hypnosis they are able to describe objects, events and experiences in the same way as a sighted person, where could they have acquired this ability other than in a previous life?
Work done by Paul Palmer and Dr James E. Parejko of Chicago State University with six blind subjects, of whom four were regressed, indicates that those born blind ‘gave essentially the same life reports as sighted persons’, and described events during regression as if they were sighted. Their reports may, of course, merely denote a manner of speech, as when one says ‘I see’ meaning ‘I understand’. Alternatively they might be experiencing the kind of thing, for which there is a large body of evidence, as subjects who are able to ‘see’ with their elbows or some other part of the body. Or it could be a case of some other form of paranormal ability that we have yet to identify.
Whatever the cause, the blind subjects under hypnotic regression usually relied upon touch, taste and smell to describe their experiences. Only occasionally did they use expressions one would expect of a sighted person, and expressions like ‘rosy cheeks that looked warm if you touched them’ were common. One subject was able to describe a wooden lion’s mouth, the shape of the carved teeth and how the whole thing appeared water-stained. Another subject claimed to be able to ‘see’ a clean-shaven man with blotches like pimples all over his cheeks and with a little tuft of whiskers growing on his throat.
Other descriptions were of a sloppy woman in a dirty blouse, windows reflected in a mirror, curtains with sunlight behind them and jewellery so dazzling in sunlight that it caused the subject to avert his eyes. Objects tended to be described three-dimensionally and at a distance — an old piano across a room, lips in a half-pout, a distant girl with red hair that was not a wig, clothes looking as though they had been slept in.
These blind subjects did not dream visually. In their regressions, however, they saw in colour and also not in colour. Like sighted people they distinguished between ‘seen’ objects and ‘felt’ objects, but the blind found that seeing objects was more of an effort than it was for those who are normally sighted. Yet they certainly spoke as if they saw and, when they returned to the same ‘previous life’ several times, their surroundings remained the same and more details were related. This phenomenon, which can be repeated under experimental conditions, is perhaps the best evidence there is for reincarnation.
This promising line of enquiry, however, could possibly be handicapped by lack of suitable subjects or opposed on the grounds that it is cruel to ‘give sight’ to someone who has never been able to see. The blind person must, of course, be given the choice of being hypnotised. But there is another line of criticism that is more damaging. It has been suggested that rather than giving an accurate description of things ‘seen’ the blind person is really describing things as he imagines a sighted person would describe them.
by Gerald Prichard on October 2nd, 2012
Under hypnosis, people blind from birth have described how they could see in former lives. Others have broken into foreign tongues that they have never heard or read. Is this, asks DAVID CHRISTIE-MURRAY, proof of reincarnation?
GRAHAM HUXTABLE, a ‘charming, soft- Two frigates of the Royal spoken’ man from Swansea, Wales, was one Navy pursue a French of the most extraordinary cases ever en warship during the countered by Arnall Bloxham. Under hyp Napoleonic wars. Graham nosis, Graham Huxtable regressed to Huxtable become a ‘swearing, illiterate gunner’s mate recounted similar experiences with a hacking cough and an earthy chuckle’ as a gunner’s mate when he in the Royal Navy at- the time of the Nap was hypnotised by Arnall oleonic Wars. His voice became deeper, his Bloxham (left) Welsh accent changed to that of rural southern English, he used archaic naval slang and his descriptions of life on board an English frigate at the turn of the 8aththntury were later confirmed as accurate by naval his‑torians. But neither the ship’s name, which Huxtable called the Aggie’, or the ship’smaster, `Cap’n Pearce’, have been identified.
The case highlights many of the problems encountered by researchers into hypnotic regression. An illiterate sailor, unable to read his ship’s name, ignorant of any information not communicable by word of mouth, whose horizons were limited by the neighbourhood in which he lived and the ship on which he served, whose social intercourse was with people as ill-educated as himself, is inevitably unable to supply the kind of information historians look for. Yet, as in other cases, Graham Huxtable adopted a persona that was able to provide information of which Huxtable himself was ignorant, vividly describe events that had happened to him and speak in a voice that was beyond any reasonable possibility of fraud. His screams of agony as he relived the experience of his leg being shot off in a naval engagement convinced even the most hardened sceptic that there was nothing false about Graham Huxtable.
Edna Greenan, a middle-aged housewife, hypnotised for over 80 hours by Joe Keeton, presents similar problems to the researcher. Under hypnosis, Mrs Greenan consistently `became’ Nell Gwyn (1650-1687), the illiterate actress and mistress of Charles I i . The material she supplied through Mrs Greenan is of six kinds: historically correct, definitely incorrect, fresh information of great historical interest if it could be corroborated, half-truths, informed guesses, and small talk and gossip of the time.
It might be suggested that so much has been written and is known about Nell Gwyn that Mrs Grecnan could have created her character either consciously or subconsciously. But when questioned about whether she had read anything about Nell she answered, both when conscious and under hypnosis, that she had not. Her whole manner and her speech, liberally sprinkled with nicknames and items of gossip, were entirely convincing to witnesses.
Nell Gwyn (left) was at the centre of Charles court in the late 17th century. Three hundred years later Joe Keeton hypnotised Mrs Edna Greenan (right) who gave an intriguing account of a former life as Charles ii’s mistress — none other than Nell Gwyn Sceptics who demand historical accuracy from regressed subjects and knowledge of events that were happening at the time of a `previous life’ might listen to the conversation held in a modern bus queue or shopping centre before they condemn the simplicity, naiveté and lack of general knowledge of the common people in past centuries.
by Gerald Prichard on September 14th, 2012
1 Sophia Swire’s Pashmina sale at Chelsea Collections. 90 Fulham Road, London SW3 from Monday 21st December to the end of January. These ‘super a-grade Pashminas’ are championed by Tatler as the finest quality available. Don’t miss remarkable discounts to £149 for a full-sized Pashmina shawl. 10% of net proceeds goes to the children’s education charity Learning for Life.
2 Lipcote, the kissable, no smudge, sealant for lips, ensures that embarassing lipstick marked cheeks and collars are a problem of the past. It has been a woman’s best friend for over 40 years and has a brush-on applicator, comes in a handy make-up-bag sized bottle and dries to form an invisible, flexible seal that ensures lipstick will last for hours. Lip-cote is made with natural ingredients — a secret blend of natural resins, alcohol and a trace of perfume — and is not tested on animals. It retails at around £3.25 and is available from Boots, Superdrug, beauty counters and chemists nationwide.
3 Rings on her fingers … supreme tokens of friendship and love in platinum and 18ct gold, from a mind-blowing collection of one-off jewellery by artists/jewellers from all over the world at Electrum Gallery
4 “For Skin, Hair and Nails in one.” Perfectil is an advanced capsule which deeply nourishes skin, hair and nails. Its 25 nutrients provide a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals, which reach your skin and scalp from within. There’s vitamin E, selenium, silicon and Betatene natural mixed carotenoids, plus plant extracts of echinacea and burdock to help maintain a healthy complexion. Perfectil has been tested in leading hair and beauty salons like Richard Ward, Knightsbridge, and is popular with professional models and brides who need to look 100% on the day. Men are using it too. Available from pharmacies and health stores nationwide.
5 Sleek Cheeks is designed to take the effort out of doing a facial “workout” and has been created specifically to treat face and neck muscles, many of which cannot easily be exercised. £49.99.
6 In historic Clerkenwell there is a gem known to connoisseurs from around the world: the Lesley Craze Galleries. For contemporary jewellery, silverware and textiles (from scarves to sumptuous pieces for the home) it is an essential One-Stop shop. Prices from £10 to £10,000
7 These British products are the business if you want the most thorough shave possible. They leave your skin silky smooth and soft – and that goes for chaps, as well as girls’ legs. Only £3 for a 90-shave pack.
8 A bed from Morpheus in mahogany, cherry-wood, sycamore, oak or upholstered. They are crafted in the Gloucestershire workshops by highly skilled craftsman. They also produce their own range of bases conjugated linoleic acid and mattresses. Large size a speciality. Free UK delivery. Harrogate – Tetbury – London.
9 Smart people are realising the way to picnic in style is with the luxury and convenience of a Westfield. Ingenious stacking and serving system ensures the safe carriage of a beautiful dinner service, with plenty of space for your favourite food and drinks. The height of elegance is a Westfield in canvas or English wicker. For 1999 the Westfield Range is being extended to include matching Drinks Carriers and a luxurious Lambswool Rug in the distinctive Westfields style.
10 Beautiful and original designs from haute-couture furriers. They make the perfect accessory for winter and are envied worldwide.
11 The Sanctuary in Covent Garden is Britain’s premier Day Spa for women. It has some ideal Christmas gifts, including Day or Evening Membership gift vouchers and packages. Prices start at £30, but the sky’s the limit. Swim in the beautiful atrium pool with its famous swing, unwind in the sauna, steam and whirlpool, and relax between treatments in the Koi Carp lounge.
12 Sarastro “Flamboyant, theatrical and sophisticated fun — a delight for the eyes, ears and palate.” That’s how visitors have described the experience of dining at Sarastro restaurant, which lies just off the lively Covent Garden piazza, within easy reach of London’s feast of West End theatres and cinemas. Choose from intimate alcoves, discreet opera boxes or the “long table”.
13 Are you looking for a precision haircut? Are you looking for cutting-edge cutting and colouring? Are you looking for good service in a modern and relaxed salon? We were then we found Mahogany…
14 The Fujitsu Biblo is a super lightweight mini-notebook, packed with power — a must-have for the busy executive fed up with struggling from place to place with a regular notebook. With prices starting from £1,199 the Biblo must be the new way to travel in style.
15 A must-have for 1999 is one of Madeleine Trehearne’s 100% pure Pashmina cashmere shawls. Exclusively imported from India by Madeleine Trehearne and Harpal Brar, a genuine Pashmina is the essential accessory to enhance one’s wardrobe this season. Soft and warm, these shawls are light enough to fold conveniently into your handbag and would make an ideal gift. From £450, including a silk envelope.
by Gerald Prichard on August 31st, 2012
Trim and proper
Dressing up this autumn is all about being ladylike – one trend that’s easy to reflect in the home: keep it soft and feminine, ‘ with delicate beading and pretty embroidery. Allow your wardrobe to inspire your interior style: keep an eye out for corset-like lampshades and elaborate trims using metals such as gold and silver. Meanwhile, look after your weight and health benefits of cranberries, and adorn your dressing table with a glossy pot of Stella McCartney’s covetable body cream.
Lustre for Life
Pearl has long been a favoured sea treasure. It’s renowned for its regenerative properties, but its aphrodisiac qualities are less well known. Add some of Edible’s pearl dust to a glass of champagne, share one of their pearl lollipops with a loved one, or visit the just-opened Pearl restaurant in Holborn and enjoy a Pink Pearl cocktail. Designed by the team behind Nobu and The Metropolitan, the precious theme runs throughout the restaurant – pearl chandeliers, pearlescent leather seating and mother-of-pearl-inlaid furniture. Meanwhile, the new Four Seasons Hotel in Budapest features £70,000-worth of stunning crystal and mother-of-pearl creations by Christina Ojo.
If ever there were a place that embodied the new passion for all things bejewelled, it’s India. The more opulent suites of the Taj Lake Palace hotel in Udaipur (Tajhotels.com) include the Khush Mahal (“palace of happiness”), with its jewel-like stained glass windows that provide a kaleidoscopic colour scene around the room as the sun moves throughout the day. If you can’t make the trip, add some sparkle to your own home using Swarovski crystals to dress up an old chair, or visit David Gill fora mouthwatering selection of exotic creations, old and new.
To celebrate Habitat’s fortieth birthday this year, 22 creative types have each designed apiece for the store’s new Very Important Product range.
Among the collection is this velvet safe, by jeweller Solange Azagury-Partridge — small enough to sit on your dressing table, but secure enough to keep all your precious bits and bobs safe. You might want even want to store your napkin rings in it, if they are as ornate as Thomas Goode’s.