UNISON Conference and the vote against women

UNISON Conference and the vote against women.

I’ll be interested to see what if anything is said about this vote at Branch Committee tomorrow.


Sometimes interfering isn’t the right thing to do

I hadn’t intended to blog about Charles Saatchi assaulting his wife Nigella Lawson in a London restaurant the other week but – well, I’ve changed my mind, mainly because of two things I’ve seen in the discussion of the incident.

For those who haven’t heard about it, over the weekend photos appeared on the internet of Charles Saatchi assaulting Nigella Lawson by gripping her around the throat. They were sitting outside a London restaurant and it seems that several people took photos of the incident and published them. There is nothing to suggest that any of the onlookers or photographers called the police, tried to stop Saatchi or offered help to Nigella. That seems pretty shitty.

Saatchi’s behaviour was disgraceful. It was abusive.I don’t know if he has behaved abusively before but the fact he was abusive in a public place suggests he’s become comfortable with being abusive in private. Abusers are controlling, and they’re wily. They know that if they started their abuse with violence, most victims would throw them out after their first attempt. So they begin very subtly. They start by controlling their victims with words, looks, moods. Sulking if she goes out. Shouting if she wears a certain item. Threatening to leave if she goes to see her family. Withdrawing affection if she hasn’t got tea on the table when he walks in. And at the same time, they increase the victim’s dependence on the abuser by isolating them from their friends and family, taking control of the money and destroying their self-esteem. Nobody else would ever want you, you’re so useless and ugly and stupid, you should be grateful for me, I’m all you’ve got. Emotional abuse, psychological abuse, verbal abuse, financial abuse.The physical abuse often doesn’t start until he’s certain that she won’t report him, and that she has nobody around her to report him either.

Women who are abused in intimate partner violence situations generally have very little control over their lives, or at least believe they have no control. It’s been stolen from them by their abusers, often over a period of years. And this brings me to my first point.

One of the feminist blogger/activists I follow on twitter and via her blog tweeted at the weekend to say that having seen the photos  of Saatchi being abusive, she had made a complaint to the police. I disagree that this was the right thing to do and said so. She made it very clear she wasn’t interested in hearing my thoughts about it (it felt to me that she was extremely arrogant in her absolute certainty she was right, but those are my feelings, not objective facts) so there was no discussion about it. There’s no point trying to explain a point of view to someone who has closed their ears and their mind.

Intimate partner violence is not the main area of my work. It’s something I have received basic training on though, and what I remember very clearly from the training was the emphasis on not removing further control from the victim. Support the victim to do what she wants to do, encourage her to take action, help her with the parts she finds difficult, but never ever remove further control by doing things without her consent. Obviously if the abuser is actively abusing and endangering someone, you call the police then and there, to prevent further harm to people, but if you’re talking about helping a victim to cope with something that has already happened, you do not make their decisions for them. And that’s why I have a problem with complete strangers reporting Saatchi to the police several days after the assault occurred. There was no immediate risk to anyone – the assault was over and done with days ago. A member of the public reporting the incident several days later has further removed control from the actual victim of the abuse. Victims of abuse who have the legal capacity to make their own decisions should be the ones to decide whether or not to report abuse. Anything else is just a further erosion of their rights as autonomous human beings.

It’s hard for decent people, whether they identify as feminists or not, to know that abuse is happening and not try to do something about it. But sometimes the best thing to do is to wait, to not judge, to be patient, to offer support and to allow the victim to get to a point where they can start to take control of their own life again.

I had the dubious pleasure of hearing some of the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2 this lunchtime. One of the topics for discussion was that an Australian radio DJ has written a blog post demanding that Nigella come out and condemn Saatchi’s actions. She describes Nigella as cowering from a thug, and states she should make a stand against domestic violence. Sadly, the majority of callers to the Vine show agreed with the blog and thought that Nigella has a responsibility to speak out against what happened to her. Er, what now?

Not a single caller suggested that the person who should be condemning abuse and assault is the perpetrator ie Charles Saatchi. Why should the victim have to be the one to speak out against what was done to her? Shouldn’t Saatchi be admitting what he did was wrong and attending an offenders’ programme to minimise the chances of him continuing to be abusive? Don’t get me wrong, everybody who spoke condemned his actions, but nobody thought that he should be the one to have to say they were wrong. Accountability still lies with the victim, apparently.

The Smell of Bullshit, part 19: a little something extra in your bath

I would like to draw your attention to this thread on the Lush International Forum. For those who can’t or won’t click, the first post in the thread is by DirtyMagick. The title of the thread is I’m pretty sure I just found a maggot in my Butterball and the first post says

Or at least pieces of.

It’s been ages since I’ve bought any ‘luxury’, one use items from Lush (or much from Lush at all, really), but since I’ve been really pissed off at the fact that I’m no longer a normal human being that eats food, I decided to cheer myself up by buying some non edible treats a few weeks ago.

Today has been particularly tough with the smell of a roast wafting about the place, so it seemed like a good time for one of those ‘treats’.

When I got in the water I began my usual of scooping up any unmelted blobs of cocoa butter that are still floating to rub them into my skin.. Except this particular blob, upon rubbing it between my fingers, felt sort of mucilaginous.. nothing like the oily feeling I was expecting. I had a closer look at it and noticed that this clear gooey stuff seemed to have been contained in a kind of whitish skin, made up of a couple of short segments joined together and a brownish bit on one end. Really familiar looking,maybe resembles a very mushy bit of short brown rice? I thought. I couldn’t remember ever finding anything similar in a Butterball before, but I made a note to check ingredients later. During the bath I found another couple of these ‘segments’.

I’ve just looked up the ingredients; there’s nothing in there that it could have been. And it’s just dawned on me why they looked so familiar, those fleshy, scallop-edged segments. I’m far from squeamish but I’m really not amused to think that I’ve just shared my bathwater with the juice of a freshly squeezed maggot.

ETA just went to clean the cocoa butter off the sides of the bath and found this stuck to the bottom:

maggotybathButterball contains lots of cocoa butter, so this could easily be part of some sort of bug or larvae which was hidden in the cocoa butter. It’s almost certainly harmless, but it’s really pretty disgusting.

The Smell of Bullshit, part 18: more comments – thrush, and products going off

A couple of comments have been added to blog posts in the past two days which I feel are worthy of being given a post of their own, to maximise their audience.

The first comment I want to draw your attention to was on this post about Lush and thrush. The comment says

A little google around the subject shows that a fair few people are asking the same question about Lush, thrush, and lower urinary tract cystitis (i.e. inflamed urethral opening. Which is a feeling akin to pissing razor blades). Here are some of the things I found:






(You may have to use the ctrl + F feature to find ‘thrush’ in these posts, but trust me it’s there). This was just a handful of things I found. And of course, I know from bitter experience of how bad some Lush products can be for thrush and lower urinary tract cystitis. I have never had thrush in my life until having a Think Pink bath, and ended up doing some kind of itchy dance until I saw my doctor, who quite sensibly pointed out that anyone bathing in hot sugary solution would possibly get thrush (there are candy flowers atop of Think Pink). I avoided that one for ever more. Then there was the year that “So White” came out. Not sure why it is called that, because it left my urethra, vagina and labia flaming red – I was sitting on a cold flannel for quite some time after that. I was on fire. Several of us voiced our concern at this on the customer forum; Lush’s response? Make the bastard bigger! Last year they brought out the previously diminutive (90gm) So White in a great big 200gm version, now with added dye.

Let’s have a think about the dyes Lush use, as well as the strong perfumes, and the foaming agents, and also the sugar. Doesn’t sound like a great cocktail with which to submerge your mucous membranes and erectile tissues into, does it? I mean, would you want to drink that shit? I wouldn’t! Yet we have possibly all bathed in it at some point. Is it our fault for doing so? Well, no one held us under arrest until we did but then do you expect products marketed and sold as safe for use in the bath to give you acute thrush and cystitis? No, you do not. In fact, I have undertaken a little research with some of Lush’s ingredients, and this is what I found:

Colour 17200 also known as FD&C Red 33. Research tells me this is an “azo dye”. I remember a cartoon featuring Mark Constantine’s voice telling you how bad azo dyes are for you. In fact, it’s this one here. Seriously, your jaw will drop. My research tells me it should not be going anywhere near mucous membranes.

(Does anyone else think the pig in the video looks like it is wearing Emotional Brilliance cosmetics?). And yes, regarding testing ingredients on animals, tell me how you are tackling that one now please Lush? Seeing as REACH is now law – are you side stepping it or do we have ingredients that have been freshly tested on animals? I would genuinely love to know, please tell us how that one is going.

Then we come to Colour 42090 – that is also known as FD&C brilliant blue. Wikipedia will tell you this comes from the petrochemical industry. (Ethical, yeah!). A report from the FDA will tell you this:


Doesn’t sound too good, does it?

Now we come to Colour 14700, also known as FD&C Red number 3. ALSO AN AZO DYE. And also, although permitted for topical cosmetic application (and also in maraschino cherries as a colourant), would you want it on your skin, milling around your urethra, coating you vagina or going up your foreskin? I know I wouldn’t! (To add, I only have a vagina, I am not hermaphrodite, but I don’t want to exclude male readers).

Lastly we have colour 45410. Also known as FD&C Red 27. Another azo dye! This one is a purpley-red one. Again, the type that Mark Constantine slams as being incredibly toxic in the video I linked earlier. Again, regarding long term safety of this azo dye, have a look here:


It’s permitted for cosmetic use but not near eyes. If something isn’t wanted near my eyes, I wouldn’t want it near my vagina either, I’m telling you that.

Now all these dyes are permitted for cosmetic use, I am not saying otherwise. But considering said linked video openly says how bad azo dyes are, why the hell are Lush using them? Another form of inconsistency? All those dyes I have mentioned are in their best selling ballistic, Sex Bomb. The ingredients are listed clearly on their website, and you can then do your own research and see what you find. They are quite open about the ingredients they use, but tell me, would you want any of those going near eyes, mouth, genitalia, little cuts and grazes, children’s sensitive skin, anyone’s sensitive skin, hell, any skin, sensitive or not!! I know I wouldn’t. And yet I did, for years, believing Lush to be ‘better’ (because that’s what they always tell us, they are better, you know). They have always applauded their usage of ‘safe synthetics’. Well, they’re not better or safe for my vagina or urethra, that’s for sure.

I encourage other people who have had myriad skin, scalp, eye or genital irritation post Lush bathing to have a look at the products you used most and then have a link up to the ingredients and join the dots. It’s fucking scary, I can tell you.

And another comment from the same person on a similar topic

Oh, also, from page 38 of the last Lush Times (from January 2013 – leaving such a gap in a major marketing tool sounds a bit… ‘creative’) you will see this:

Page 38, titled “Our hair dyes are safe and 100% natural. Les Cacas, no s**t hair colour”.
During the Victorian era, a lot of modern chemical compounds were developed; one of the things they had a lot of was coal tar. It was a by product from street lamps, so it was free. If you were a research chemist you could get a lot of it. People developed all sorts of chemicals from coal tar – including azo dyes. Soon enough you could dye curtains and carpets and bedding and clothes; and it wasn’t very long before some bright spark took carpet dyes and started to dye peoples’ hair with it. The problem with that is that it was very very allergenic, so many people had dreadful reactions to it. Their tongues would swell, they would asphyxiate and die, or they would just get dreadful allergic reactions and itch and be in a bad state for several days. But that didn’t stop people from doing it because they did like to have their hair coloured. We believe in using a dye for your hair that has thousands and thousands of years of safe use – that’s why our all-natural hair dyes are made from red henna and indigo herb. Not only will you get great colour, you’re putting a 100%natural, unpreserved, unpackaged product on your hair and scalp – that won’t show up in your wee the next day

True, Lush Henna has no azo dyes. Now tell us about the azo dyes you openly use in bath products. Double standards, much? You cannot say you don’t use azo dyes in hair dye and use it as a marketable point when you still use them in bath products – it’s scandalous. It’s amusing Lush call their hair colours ‘caca’ from this point of view, because whilst they are 100% natural and also very effective, their marketing around non-usage of azo dye appears to be a great big pile of steaming shit.

And then there’s this, from someone who must be a Lush employee

This is a copy of what is being discussed on Lush’s staff facebook at the moment. It just shows how ‘well informed’ the staff are when faced with issues such as Thrush…


Now that I have your attention… We’ve had a lady in today who has had a reaction, potentially (not confirmed) with our bath bombs. She bought a load of stuff about a week ago, and has since had a minor skin reaction, but has also developed thrush. She has been to her doctor, and the doctor in fact said to her that he gets a lot of people in who have shopped with us in for the same problem…

While it isn’t great that the Doctor bad mouthed us to this customer, I was just curious if this is a common complaint, or is there something else at work here? As a biologist I am certain that bathroom moulds and chemical cleaning products used in baths are far more likely to cause something like thrush, or am I mistaken?”

Here are some of the replies:

“I know lots of anecdotes (friends, relatives etc) about our ballistics and bubbles giving people thrush, but no hard data and as we all know the plural of anecdote is not evidence!”

“I know a few people who got thrush from cinders, which poses the question, I know thrust is an yeast infection could popping candy be a irritant to it? (did your customer have the reaction to Dragons Egg, Twilight, Space Girl, Fizzbanger?)”

“Honey can be a natural treatment so any honey products should be nice and safe! I’d just say to stay away from the more citrus ones etc when they’re sensitive”

“Wouldn’t honey be a little bit more of an irritant to thrush too? Because it’s a yeast infection? Even though i know its antibacterial.”

“Technically nothing we sell can give you thrush… unless of course we’ve started using candida as an ingredient and I’ve missed the memo.”

“I actually get thrush from pop in bath and the once was geo phyzz,,, very badly aswell within 24 hours after,,, however no other ballistic or bubblebath causes it,,, ive concluded us ladies just sometimes have hyper sensitivity to certain oils used,,,, x”

“I think it may be due to the bicarb in the bath bomb being an alkaline which causes a pH imbalance and when you remove the acidity it creates good conditions for thrush to grow- any alkaline or bath product can cause it, certainly not just lush  – maybe more citrusy acidic bath bombs would be better as these create conditions that thrush hate”

“I think a lot of bad reactions are due to people not rinsing with clean water after their bath. Also i think a lot of women have their baths way too hot which will affect lady bits too! xx”

“I’ve heard of plenty of women getting thrush by using Lush products in the bath. The doctor wasn’t bad mouthing lush, he was stating a fact.
It is massively advised against to use anything perfumed on your vag. It has a delicate pH balance and doesn’t like anything much other than water.
I don’t think I ever got full on thrush but I’ve found recently that whenever I bath with Lush, I feel a bit sore for a while. And I ALWAYS shower to make sure I’m totally clean after a bath so it’s not a lack of rinsing. I just tend to put less stuff in now because i did pile in the bath goodies for a while.”

Staff have no idea. Head office will never commit and give a definitive answer. so everyone speculates about stuff and suddenly it’s fact.

I don’t know where to start with this. Firstly, a GP advising a patient that lots of people have reported problems they think are related to Lush products is described as “badmouthing” the company. There’s no concern for the customer in that, is there? There’s no respect for the fact the GP might actually know what he or she is talking about. There’s just resentment that the company is being (probably justifiably) criticised.
“Nothing we sell can give you thrush” – well, that’s just not true. Thrush is a fungal infection which is often caused when the body’s internal bacteria become unbalanced. It’s not hard for vaginal bacteria to become deranged by medication, heat, sweat, and irritant products. It’s entirely possible that some Lush customers might have genitals which are sensitive to some of the ingredients in some of the products. And then the suggestion that customers bring it on themselves by not rinsing with clean water after a bath (a bath with the products which earlier couldn’t give you thrush, that is)! Where in any Lush information has it ever said “we advise you to shower in clean water after a bath with our products because our products can give you thrush.”
It’s clear that many women find Lush bath products give them thrush. And it seems pretty clear that Lush know that but either don’t want to accept responsibility or don’t know what to do about it.
Oh, and one more comment about the ingredients


To add to the information given in the above link which is very informative, check out the toxicology studies, in particular point 6.1 that describes the effects of it being on tested on animals such as rats, mice, rabbits and beagle dogs!

Dangerous colours that are tested on animals are being put into lush’s benign ethical and animal friendly products.

I would be interested to find out how Lush only get hold of these chemicals from companies that ‘do not commission testing on animals’.

And to the post about how fresh Lush’s products are, this comment was added.

One product that has a shelf life of 14 months but which goes off after just a couple of months in summer is Sympathy For The Skin. It is a body lotion that contains vanilla, banana and sandalwood..

There are issues being raised on the staff facebook page right now:

“Question about Sympathy For the Skin; How do I go about making it last longer than a month or two? It keeps going off; smelling like paint stripper, going extremely runny.

My house doesn’t get very warm, however it can get high humidity at times. I’m thinking of buying a new pot and popping in the fridge/freezer.

I know many people have this problem but I wonder if anyone has any tried and tested methods of keeping SFTS fresh!”

Here are some of the replies, but please note that not one staff member even questions the subject of removing it from the shelves, withdrawing it from sale so that tests can be made on it to ensure that it is safe to use and warrants its 14 month shelf life. That would mean no sales of it would be made which would detract from making a profit, even tho the brand is being damaged by selling inferior products.

“my sympathy lasted a month this time! it looks like a lake in there haha”

” Mine lasted about 3 months and had black blobs in it eww shame coz I do love it x”

” sympathy goes off all the time! We have to change the tester all the time as it goes of and smells like sick xx”

“SFTS always goes funny in the summer. It has been happening for a number of years. We do so many refunds and recharges for it in the summer. I’m sure it must have been mentioned to customer services many times so maybe there isn’t anything they can do. The black blobs are just vanilla seeds but totally agree that the smell of sick is very offputting and when it turns to foamy liquid it is not pleasant. Bit embarrasing when you demo it to customers too. ”

” the black blobs in mine were as big as my thumb nail And I do love vanilla seeds so it can’t have been those. It smells a bit like emulsion sometimes too, such a shame as my skin loves it”

“We keep our Sympathy in the fridge and that seems to work fine ”

” I think clean clean hands must be used to stop contamination of bacteria passing through the product!”

So where on Sympathy for the Skin does it say to keep it in the fridge or to only use it with clean hands?

Finally there is a reply from someone who works at Lush as a product inventor :- “Sympathy is a very fragile emulsion. Therefore if it isn’t well looked after the emulsion will break. Don’t expose it to extreme temperatures, keep the lid on when you’re not using it. Don’t forget its got fresh banana in to, so the black bits are also likely to be banana seeds. The banana are filtered prior to adding to the product to remove any seeds and fibre. But because manufacturing can be making up to a tonne at a time sometimes a few seeds will get through. But as with all our products, treat them gently and used them as fresh as possible.”

So shouldn’t the labelling say not to expose it to extreme temperature?

They must need a very big bowl to hand make a tonne of it!

In my shop we have now had 6 batches in a row that get sent on delivery that explode in our stock room and on the shop floor leaking their sick smelling foamy contents all over the place and still they won’t withdraw it from sale. I asked customer services what we could say to the customers who bring back pots that have exploded and they just say to tell them there was a formulation problem.

Thanks, that really helps. Maybe the products are going as rotten as the top knobs who invented them.


The more comments I read, the more convinced I am that I made the right decision when I decided to stop buying Lush.

In praise of the NHS

Recently I’ve read a few things on the internet about Americans accessing/trying to access health services and everything I’ve read has made reference to cost and, more precisely, the writers’ concerns about the costs of their health care. Accessing a healthcare provider, investigations, diagnosis, referral elsewhere, treatment options – no matter what the writers were writing about, every single piece mentioned how much being ill was costing the writer. Even those writers who had insurance, good insurance, found that being ill was costing them a lot of money.

Let me list what I can remember of me having used NHS services

  • being born – free
  • health visitor follow up as a baby/toddler – free
  • childhood vaccinations/immunisations – free
  • GP visits for various childhood ailments – free
  • medications required for various childhood ailments – free until the age of 16 or the end of full time education for over 16s
  • removal of a naevus from my wrist and investigation to ensure it wasn’t malignant
  • two lots of cauterisation for my nose which used to bleed a lot – free
  • removal of lots of verrucae from my feet by GP using dry ice stuff (ouch that hurt) – free
  • head X ray, EEG when I was having lots of dizzy spells and blackouts – free (turned out to be low blood pressure/postural hypotension)
  • allergy testing and desensitisation treatment – free
  • lots of investigations when I was nearly 5 when I had a really weird immune thing going on – free (turned out I’d had a cold, produced antibodies to fight it, produced too many and then had a bad reaction to the antibodies). My clearest memory of this is being absolutely furious at having to pee into a cardboard potty to give a urine sample because at nearly 5 I was a big girl and didn’t need a potty
  • childhood dental examinations, fillings, corrective braces – free (my front tooth is still a bit wonky but that’s a long story)
  • childhood eye tests – free
  • various GP visits as an adult – free
  • audiology testing for hearing problems – free
  • respiratory testing for asthma diagnosis – free
  • scans and care during/following a miscarriage – free
  • contraceptive consultation and fitting of an IUD – free
  • contraceptive consultation, removal of the IUD and replacement with IUS – free
  • several courses of physiotherapy for musculo-skeletal problems – free
  • several podiatry interventions for foot problems including several sets of corrective insoles – free
  • several trips to eye hospital for investigations into annual eye problems (diagnosed as allergic conjunctivitis when the pollen count goes up)
  • lots of X rays, one MRI, 2 A&E visits, three orthopaedic clinic visits, one orthopaedic physio session, provision of one stick and a set of dressing equipment for my broken pelvis – free
  • phone consultation with GP following unpleasant side effects from the painkillers for my broken pelvis – free
  • yearly asthma review with the practice nurse – free (usually done by phone at my request)
  • yearly medication review with a GP – free (usually done by phone at my request)
  • so far 3 visits to the Minor Injuries unit with at least one more to come, dressings for my burned legs and probably several visits to the GP practice nurse for more dressings (as soon as minor injuries have sorted them to a point the practice nurse can take over) – free

Blimey, for a reasonably healthy person, I seem to have had a lot of bother. I need to stop falling off things and never again fall asleep in the sun without sunscreen. Also, my immune system needs to calm the fuck down.

But, my point is this. At no point during my 42+ years on this planet have I ever had to think “I’d better not go to the doctor. I can’t afford it” or “how am I going to pay this hospital bill?” I’ve never had to think “I can’t go to hospital for these blistered weeping burns because I don’t get paid till next week” or “I would like to walk with a stick while my fracture is healing but I can’t afford to pay for it.”

I’ve already paid. I’ve been taxed on earnings since I was 16 years old and had a Saturday job in a Saxone concession in the local Burtons for £1.25 per hour. Tax and national insurance has been deducted from every wage I’ve ever been paid,, and that money is my payment towards the cost of my health care.

Some of the arguments I have heard from Americans against what they call “socialised medicine” (or “socialized medicine, given their insistence on Zs where there should be Ss) are

  • I shouldn’t have to pay for other people’s ill-health when I take care of myself and don’t use the services
  • socialised medicine is poor quality health care
  • I don’t want to pay more taxes
  • countries with free health services have death panels to decide what treatments people can have and they just leave people to die

To which I say

  • you have insurance don’t you? Buildings insurance? Contents insurance? Car insurance? Every time you make an insurance payment, you’re paying out for other people’s claims and hoping you won’t need to make a claim yourself. But if you do need to make a claim, the premiums you and everybody else have already paid (and which you and everybody else will continue to pay in the future) have covered the cost of whatever it is you’re claiming for. If you wanted to, you could stop your insurance payments (apart from those you are required to have by law) and put the money into a high-interest savings account and hope that when you have to replace your house/all of your possessions/your lungs via a transplant that you have enough in your account to pay for it.
  • no, no it isn’t. By any account, by any way of measuring, “socialised” health care is not worse than the American health care system. Check out this page about maternal mortality rates around the world. Countries with better rates than the USA include Puerto Rico, South Korea, the UK, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, Finland, Greece… Or look at this page about life expectancy rates around the world. At birth, people born in 50 countries around the world have better life expectancies than Americans and many of those 50 have some sort of “socialised” health care. Other studies are available and none of them will show that the USA has the best health care in the world with the best outcomes for citizens, or that “socialised” health care systems offer a worse outcome for users. In fact, according to Wiki, the World Health Organization, in 2000, ranked the provision of healthcare in the United Kingdom as fifteenth best in Europe and eighteenth in the world. A more recent report, the Commonwealth Fund Mirror, Mirror on the Wall survey of seven first world healthcare systems, ranked the United Kingdom as second overall, taking first place in subcategories including effective care and efficiency.
  • very few people want to pay more taxes. Some people, such as JK Rowling, have made public statements regarding taxes being important. Fair enough, it’s a lot easier to pay taxes when you still have umptymillion quid in the bank, but the principle remains. Taxes are an unpleasant necessity of life. And, going back to the point about insurance, if taxes were reduced and you stuck the money saved into a high-interest savings account, are you sure it would be enough to pay for whatever might go wrong in the future? Life-threatening illness? Illness causing lifelong disability? Chronic illness requiring lifelong treatment? Illness which prevents you working and therefore earning so you can’t save? Why not just do it the efficient way, by paying taxes and therefore being sure you’re covered?
  • All health systems have eligibility criteria. In the UK, expert panels led by clinicians review the evidence and decide whether or not treatments are effective and cost-effective. The sad fact is that some treatments are not effective enough to justify the NHS paying for them.. The very sad fact is that sometimes people die because the NHS can’t afford to treat them or an effective treatment doesn’t exist. When you’re paying for the treatment of every single person in the country, sometimes you have to decide whether to save 1000 lives with the £10,000 treatment or one life with the £10,000,000 treatment. That’s not an easy decision for anyone to make and it’s even more difficult if you’re the one who needs the unaffordable treatment. But that happens in insurance-based systems too! Insurance companies decide what treatments they will pay for. Insurance companies decide what conditions they will cover. Insurance companies decide which treatments they will cover for which conditions, and how long they will cover for. And you have to make your own contributions too. So, yes, it is true to say that someone has to decide which treatments will be available, and yes, some treatments are not made available on the NHS, and yes, that means some people die. But don’t pretend that’s unique to “socialised medicine” – it happens in every health care system.

Every single British citizen is entitled to use the National Health Service, from birth until death. Nobody has to worry about insurance. Nobody has to worry about finding a free clinic. Nobody has to worry about paying for their child’s treatment or buying food for the family. Whether it’s a 5 day course of antibiotics for a throat infection, in-utero surgery for a foetal problem or a heart and lung transplant, services are free at the point of use. Whether you’re a new born baby, a homeless person, or a millionaire, you won’t be turned away.

I think the NHS is the greatest creation of any UK government ever, and I am profoundly grateful for it.

Just when you think you’ve seen all the stupidity the world has to offer


For those who can’t or won’t click the link, this is an article in the Edinburgh Evening News. A group of 52 children from Newtongrange Primary were due to go on a class trip to Edinburgh Central Mosque, but 20 of the children were withdrawn from the trip by their parents. Reasons given by the parents to the paper include

“I don’t agree with sending my child to a mosque to learn about a religion that isn’t my own. It’s the hate that is being preached in these mosques that I don’t want my child mixed up in.”


“If you don’t want your kids learning that kind of stuff, then you should be allowed to say ‘no’. Many of my friends are a different religion to me, but they don’t try to ram it down my throat.”

and slightly less swivelly-eyed

“The timing was wrong with people protesting and guys getting killed in the street. If things were a bit calmer I’d have sent him along. I received the letter about this a few weeks ago and had no problem, but at the end of last week other parents began asking whether it was safe.”


Oh, and someone from the BNP commented

“I applaud these parents in going against the wave of political correctness.”

Let’s face it, if the BNP are applauding you, you’ve fucked up.

I live quite close to Edinburgh Central Mosque. Every year during the Fringe they open parts of the mosque to the public and serve traditional Arab foods and offer tours of the mosque. I’ve done it, it was reasonably interesting, the Arabic sweets were delicious, nobody preached hate at me and I wasn’t overcome by a desire to wear a burqa and hide a bomb under it for detonation on the no14 bus.

Parents of Nitton-by-the-bing, you should be ashamed of yourselves. You’re teaching your children to hate and fear. Perhaps it’s not the children who need to go to the mosque and learn a bit more about the world – it’s the parents.



The Smell of Bullshit, part 16: who comes up with Lush’s ideas?

I refer you to this thread on the forum.

For those who can’t see (or don’t want to look), Twinmum, one of the long-time users of the forum has a daughter, and when the daughter was a little girl, she designed this poster


for a Lush competition to design a barrel for ballistics. Shortly afterwards, after the competition entries had been sent in but before the competitions were judged, this was the back of the next Lush Times.


When it was raised on the forum, the Lush response was

I have to say I was part of the group that came up with that idea, and we hadn’t seen [your daughter’]s entry to the comp, although great minds obviously think alike! (We actually started with a Invasion of the 50ft woman!)…HOWEVER…if she’d like a job with the design team….not really, I was going to say, I will make sure she gets something special in the post if you send your address to me

And then there’s this thread too.

In January 2011 forum user Lisaloo suggested a new product. She called Lisa’s Lust Dust and she described it as “dusting powder, reeking of Lust, no glitter but a very subtle gold mica.” In September 2011 Lush announced “Lustre Dust, fragranced with our well known Lust perfume, contains a fine gold shimmer pigment.’ The forum realised pretty quickly that there were – let’s say similarities – between Lisaloo’s suggestion and the new product from Lush and queried whether Lisaloo was getting any credit for the new product. After a couple of pages of questioning, Lush’s response came from Jack Constantine, son of Mark and Mo and it was


I just wanted to say that in January I held a competition on the forum in which you all came up with lovely product ideas, and I would make the most popular one. Rowan won the competition, and Lisaloo was close behind with her lust dust. I focused on making the moon on a stick, and the other ideas from the list remained in my mind and on that thread, where, as the competition came to a close, the thread dropped off the radar. I haven’t shared the ideas from that competition with the other inventors, I focused all my efforts on ensuring I did Rowan’s idea justice, and then carried on with my working Lush life. As the year continued on, the other inventors within the creative lush team worked on ideas in their own labs, and completely separately mum worked on an idea for ‘lustre’. It had no relation to the forum competition I held, as (you all know) mum doesn’t come on here…at all really. So unfortunately it is a completely random coincidence. I hope that you all know us well enough to know that we would never take someone’s idea, and not credit them for their input – and that this is purely coincidental.

I hope that clarifies things from Lush’s end a bit.


I find it very very difficult to take that answer as honest and truthful. Maybe if Lisaloo’s suggestion had appeared just once in the competition thread and never been mentioned again, it might be believable. But it hadn’t been just mentioned the once. It was mentioned by lots of people in several different threads throughout the year. I think Lisaloo even had a “Lust Dust” campaign banner in her forum signature for a while. But even if Mo truly came up with the idea independently of Lisaloo’s suggestion, other people within Lush must have known. Mark knew Lisaloo had suggested it and so did plenty of other Lush high-ups. So why didn’t they mention it?

As the debate raged on, Hilary responded with


Just popping on to say that what Jack has said is exactly my experience of this too.

And to answer the point quoted above. Jigglypaul and I have written the product descriptions on the website. And I can 100% assure you that at no point have we looked up anything on the forum to quote it. It was written from our own minds and the product QIs. So again, any similarity is entirely coincidental. Which is actually not a huge surprise, because there is not a lot else that one could say about a powder that smells of Lust and has gold shimmer in it. As Jiggly and I know, since we battled with every word of the descriptions, trying to say something unique each time.

I also would like to ask anyone who doubts our integrity when explaining this – can you explain why we have credited forumites for ideas or suggestions for other products elsewhere.
Why would we single out poor old Loo to not be credited, but thank other people for their input ??
Surely it is obvious that over the years where someone suggested something to an inventor, which triggered them on to create a product – we have put that in the copy, or the Lush Times, etc. There are plenty of examples out there of this.
I’m not sure why people think we would deliberately NOT say that ?? It genuinely confuses me.
Who is it at Lush you think is that vicious that they would sneak on here, read threads for ideas, then make products and not acknowledge the inspiration or original idea ??
Is it Big, me, Jiggly, Mo ?? Which one of us is unkind enough, sinister enough even, to do that ?????
And what is to gain for Lush, when a simple thank you and the story of the product could be given ??

It is not even that amazing that Loo and Mo have come up with the same idea independently. Both are creative women. Both probably like Lust the fragrance?

For every product that makes it to the Lush range, there are a good 20 or more ideas that were binned along the way. Sometimes because they were not good enough, sometimes because they didn’t fit the current range, sometimes because their time hadn’t come, etc,etc,etc,etc,etc.
So to be honest, most ideas have been tried in a dozen different ways by us in the labs. And when you think that Mark, Mo, Ro, Helen and Liz have been making products together, full time, for about 25 years, it is more of a surprise when anyone comes up with something stunningly original that we hadn’t all tried versions of over the years anyway. Often when people come to the labs and suggest things, we can pull examples we have tried from the cupboards here – or dig up an old prototype formula, etc,etc. Anyone who has been to the labs here can probably tell you that we have files and files of formulas of ideas we have tried that have never seen light of day – and which are pulled out and fiddled with, ideas added, new combinations tried, etc,etc,etc.

Lush is not in the business of stealing people’s creativity. But creativity is a strange thing and sometimes ideas pop up in many places at the same time. Especially when an idea seems to be ‘of the time’.

I hate the idea of Loo being upset.
I hope that having been down here and met us all, on more than one occasion, she will know us well enough and have had enough contact with our individual personalities to know that we are not spiteful or stealing type people, who would be so unkind as to steal an idea knowingly, or to not give credit where we had taken inspiration.

And then Dylan said

I know it’s been a long time since I visited the Lush Labs, but when I did, they had print outs from the forum, of threads where we were suggesting product ideas. Does that not still happen? Because if it does ever still happen, it’s entirely possible that Lisaloo’s idea was read months ago amongst all the others in a thread, mulled over in the depths of Mo’s mind, and re-emerged as an idea later, with Mo unaware that she’d been inspired by Lisaloo.

At no point did Mo make any statement on the forum about the creative process she went through when she came up with the same idea as Lisaloo.

Oh, and there was the rockets. Twinmum had won a factory trip and one of her sons had asked her to invent a rocket. She spent quite a lot of time during her factory trip working with Noriko to make rocket ballistics, trying to make them shoot across the water, and Mo Constantine commented that she liked them the best out of everything made that day. Not too much later, Lush released the Rocketeer ballistics, claiming that Jack Constantine came up with the idea.

I might invent a new product myself and call it Something Fishy.