Money For Old Rope

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

To view the full story so far please click here.

An update for those of you who are joining me for the first time today.

I was inspired by the one-red-paperclip trading game where a guy managed to trade a paperclip for a house via 14 intermediate trades in 12 months. His was a unique and original idea, but I thought "how about using this to raise money for charity". So I set up my own blog called 'Money For Old Rope' and I began blogging.

I have congenital heart disease and have been a member of a patients' association called The Grown Up Congenital Heart Patients' Association for about a year now. I joined this group as I had major open heart surgery twice when I was a child and although I don't have any major problems at the moment it is good to know what the future holds and to be able to help people who are going through what I went through. GUCH do marvelous work and I am glad that I can help them in this way.

So, on to the adventure. Within around one week of starting blogging I received an email from Angela; she has congenital heart disease and lives relatively close to me on the Wirral. She explained to me that the term 'Money For Old Rope' comes from the days when public hangings were a popular event for the local community. After the hanging the rope would be sold to the audience and would be cut up so as to get the best price for it. She proposed to trade my piece of old rope for some scissors with which I could cut the rope up and use it in future trades.

The actual trade involved me travelling to Prenton Park, the home of Tranmere Rovers Football Club and swapping a piece of the old rope to Angela for 18 pairs of craft scissors. This was a very generous start to my trading and really set me up for the next trade.

Around a week after the first trade a man named Tim emailed me to say he would like to trade with me. His son has congenital heart disease and reading my blog had helped him to see that there was hope that although his son was extremely ill right now there are many people out there who have survived and now lead very happy, healthy lives. He very generously offered to trade me a Sydney Olympic Official's Shirt that he had worn whilst officiating at the games. I jumped at this chance to take the trades to an international arena and accepted his offer.

Tim had been running his own blog for some time about his son so that his son may have a record of what he went through as a child; I think this is an excellent idea as my curiosity often leads me to wonder exactly what is was like for me when I was a child and Tim's blog helps with that. Tim has since incorporated a similar trading game into his blog and is now going great guns and I wish him all the best of luck.

I was stuck on the Olympics shirt for some time until I emailed a company called They agreed to trade with me and traded my shirt for a signed photo of Peter Beardsley. I am a life-long Liverpool fan and I jumped at the uniqueness and slight hilarity of this item. Who wouldn't want a signed photo of Peter Beardsley on their mantlepiece?

I received the photo of Peter Beardsley and had no idea what to do with it. I tried collectors sites and trading sites to no avail but then I had an idea about trying the football clubs that he played for during his career. Did you know that Peter Beardsley played one game for Manchester United? I found that out while researching.

Anyway, I emailed Liverpool, Everton and Newcastle. Everton came straight back with a no ('We have no facility to trade items'), Newcastle haven't replied to this day but Liverpool sent me an email saying 'can you send us your address so we can send the itam to you'. What item? What if they send me something that is of less value? I can't do a trade without knowing what the item is.

So I phoned their PR department who said they would put a Liverpool FC shirt in the post to me that was supposed to be worn by Xabi Alonso last year in France. The significance of this is that the French Government have strict alcohol advertising laws and Liverpool are sponsered by Carlsberg. This shirt has the Carlsberg logo removed from it and Xabi Alonso's name on the back along with the Champions' League badge on the arm.

This shirt is not a replica, it was made to be worn by Xabi Alonso and as far as I believe it is absolutely unique. So a big thank you to Liverpool Football Club for putting me into this great position. As far as I'm aware they do not want the signed photo of Peter Beardsley so that is still up for grabs too.

So this is the position I'm in as you join me now, you can trade with me to help me in my quest to raise money for charity - my plan is to stop trading in 14 months time and auction whatever item I have ended with and give all the money to charity - you can spread the word about this site and help me to get a bigger audience or you can just keep coming back regularly to support me and follow my adventure. There is a link at the bottom of the page where you can bookmark this site.

Friday, September 08, 2006

To view the full story so far please click here.

Woohoo, I got over 3000 unique hits.

I haven't been able to keep up with the amount visitors I've been getting or even where they are from since this blog was posted on the French Canadian site Bar Chez MO; thank you to those involved in that website, you have really helped me on my way to getting 10,000 unique visitors by the end of October.

This website should be appearing in the Liverpool Echo tomorrow if all goes well. It feels like some 'against all odds' race to actually get the picture taken.

Just a short one today because I have a big update planned for tomorrow.

Bye for now.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

To view the full story so far please click here.

A news round-up today.

I made it onto the radio!!! This blog was mentioned on Radio City 96.7 in Liverpool this morning; it was because my Mum wrote into them, so thanks for that Mum. City Fm have a large catchment area throughout the North West of England and North Wales and I did see a larger than usual contingent from this area yesterday.

My second news involves Liverpool's local newspaper: the Liverpool Echo. I call it a local newspaper but it has a readership of 400,000 and is the second-most read evening newspaper in the country. I am doing an interview with them tomorrow evening which should appear in a heart special which they are working on. I am really looking forward to it and think it will be an excellent opportunity to promote this blog, GUCH and awareness of congenital heart disease.

I thought that I would be stuck at 40 countries for quite some time but with the recent addition of Latvia and Luxembourg I am really pushing the boundaries. I have thought about starting a game where I ask the readers to try to get someone to visit the blog from a certain country each day. For example today will be Brazil, if you can think of a good way to get someone from Brazil to visit this site then have a go. I thought about perhaps going on a Brazilian message-board somewhere to promote the site but I don't speak Portugese. Anyway this is the challenge: get someone from Brazil to visit this blog in the next 24 hours.

I have just thought of how the contest can be judged also. You can use my new chat box which is in the right-hand side-bar to record where you have left links to this site; if I get someone from Brazil coming from that link then you win. I don't know what you win, just eternal adulation I suppose. Have a go it is fun. I was also thinking of a similar game where you leave a link to this site somewhere on the internet and leave the details in the chatbox. The person with the most hits wins.

As you can see this helps both you and me. I get extra visitors to my site and you get a way to relieve the boredom of work. Well, you wouldn't want to have to work at work would you?

That's it for now, leave me lots of messages in my chat box so I know that you are actually out there and it's not just my computer playing tricks on me.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

To view the full story so far please click here.

What do you do about scars?

I have two large scars on my body as a result of open heart surgery. For those of you who read the blog regularly this will be no great surprise but I find that to people I meet on a day-to-day basis it can be very surprising.

My largest scar is runs diagonally from my left-hand side to my back. I say this is my largest scar but I don't know if it is the wider or longer of the two, it is just larger in my mind.

It is a result of my first operation when I was three months old and I have no feeling there. I find it hard to let people touch me there and don't even like to touch it myself. I am constantly aware of it if I am near anything that sticks out at that height, the most common of which is the top corner of a car door when I am getting into the left-hand side of a car.

I was always confused about why this one was the worst as I thought that the younger you were the better it would heal. Doing a little bit of research on the internet shows that this is not true at all, in fact the younger you are the more damage surgery is likely to inflict on your skin.

My second scar is down the middle of my chest and I really don't mind it at all. I have full feeling there, and although it looks like a very big scar I have no pyschological complex about it as with my other scar. This scar is from where I had open heart surgery at the age of 4.

I have plenty of small scars on my body from various procedures over the years and I even have a scarred aorta which necessitates me taking antibiotics prior to visiting the dentist and scarred ribs which can hurt from time to time.

As I am quite a curious person and scars are quite a big part of my life, I had to find out what I could do about my scars. There are many treatments available to people out there and I will try to show you through the motions of my thinking as I went on a quest of discovery to see if there was anything I could do about my scars.

The first and probably most advertised is Vitamin E. This can be in creams that you rub onto your scars, supplements or even just increasing it in your diet. Vitamin E is in eggs, green vegetables, nuts, vegetable oil and wheat germ so I think I probably get quite a bit in my diet anyway. According to Baumann (Dermatologic Surgery, 1999) applying Vitamin E to scars worsens their eventual appearance in one third of patients, so be careful with that. Do you take a 30-60 risk that your scars will actually get worse? Apparantly cocoa butter is much better than standard Vitamin E creams.

Surgery is fruitless in most situations as any surgery causes scarring. However if a scar is aligned in a way that it restricts movement or is very embarrasing then it can be altered with surgery. This is not an option for me but may be for other people.

Laser treatment has been proved successful in many scenarios but it is still mainly experimental, in some situations scars can grow back worse than they were. The best laser treatments are those that take a very long time and work by stripping of individual layers of skin rather than trying to demolish the entire scar.

Dermabrasion is becoming incresingly popular and is used to lower raised scars by slowly stripping off the top layers of the scar. My scar on my side is sunken so this is not an option to me.

One way to raise scars is to inject them with collagen but this is temporary and needs to be repeated often. I'm sure if you wanted to reduce the definition of a scar in a very obvious place then this would be good but mine is covered most of the time unless I am on holiday.

At the end of the day you have to understand the science behind the scar in order to do something about it. A scar isn't badly made skin that can just be fixed, it is completely different chemical. Skin is an increbibly complex array of cells that react to food and moisture whereas scars are collagen fibres. The best way I have found to reduce scars is with silicone pads which reduce the amount of collagen that is present in the scar. The only problem with this is that the pads are expensive and difficult to wear for long periods.

When I started writing this post I already knew what the outcome would be, I had decided many months ago that my scars where here to stay and that I am quite happy with them. If someone told me tomorrow that they had a machine that would remove scars completely to be replaced with perfectly formed skin would I take them up on the offer?

My scars are a big part of me, my personality and a reminder to me that life is precious and fragile but also tough and ready to fight back when necessary. Would it be all that good to live in Italy after spending your whole life in Holland, would you not miss Holland just a small bit if you couldn't even go back there for holidays? Click here if I just lost you.

I think that I have just convinced myself that I have made the right decision.

Monday, September 04, 2006

To view the full story so far please click here.

Thieved the theme for today's post from Dan off of Oddness.... I was reading his site the other night when I came across a list of things to do before you're thirty. It was the best one of these that I have seen in a while and I had a go, the results of which I will (maybe stupidly) share with you.

Things to do before you're 30

1. Have a really stupid accident that necessitates a hospital visit
When I first read this I could not think why you would need to go to hospital because of a really stupid accent. Perhaps because you were fom Birmingham. Anyway once I remembered how to read I also remembered a time when I was around six and I tried to climb over a baby gate at the top of the stairs. The baby gate was not meant to allow kids to cross that way and both me and the baby gate fell down the stairs with the gate falling on top of me.

2. Shoot something
With a gun??? I shot tin cans with an air rifle when I was a kid. I also made a target and shot at it; in the process realising how hard it is to shoot. I will give this one a yes because in an exam I would have answered the question even if I would have got a poor mark.

3. Take a weekend break more than 1000 miles from home
No, I think my furthest weekend break has been Blackpool or Derby - not sure which one is furthest, either way no where near 1000 miles. Must work harder on that one.

4. Boot Linux on your home PC
Why??? Have considered putting it on my work PC because I don't like the guys in IT. Some of them have about as much knowledge of computers as my Gran and it would be funny because they don't know what to do if it is not described in detail on an official change request form.

5. Get lost in a country where you don't speak the language
Everyone gets a bit lost when they go on holiday, that's happened to me in Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands. I even got lost in a service station in Luxembourg but it was quite easy to work out where you are when the country is the size of a service station.

6. Spend more than your monthly income on a pocket-sized gadget
What was my monthly income while I was a student - about 200 quid, so yes I have done this one many times over.

7. Post bail for a friend
Never had to. Would I if a friend needed it? I think that depends on how funny their crime was.

8. Break a really large plate glass window
I have kicked footballs through three plate glass windows so I am now an expert in this. They do not break the way they do in the movies!!! After the first one you think that that was an anomaly but really, they don't. Bus stops - that's a different matter, the ones aorund where we live are shattered into a million pieces every weekend.

9. Make a parachute jump on a hangover
On a post I left some time ago I spoke about not using your heart condition as an excuse when it probably doesn't affect what you are about to do (what you don't want to do). There is one exception to this - Parachute jumping. I have congential heart disease, therefore, I can't do that.

10. Use a whole role of gaffer tape in one day
You know that when they wrote this one they had visions of kidnap and exciting things in their minds. I will just say yes to this one but leave you guessing - it is better this way.

11. Make a pointless modification to your house
I have a confession, Me and my Wife (Sharon) knocked a wall down in my house because the wallpaper was hard to remove. There, I've said it. It was this weekend and I swear that it wasn't my idea. I just knocked the wall down and rebuilt it, I didn't have the idea in the first place.

12. Neck a pint of peppermint oil
I'm sure I can see someone do this on YouTube, I haven't looked, I just know that it will be there.

13. Pull a shemale by mistake (but realise in time...)
Thank god I can say no to this one....I didn't realise in time. No,no, only kidding.

14. Buy a samurai sword
If I hadn't met Sharon and got married then there may well be a samurai sword on my wall right now but I did and there isn't and I'm sure my Wife is very thankful about that.

15. Delay paying a bill until the summons arrives
Yes, haven't we all. Maybe the question should be "delay paying a bill until the utility in question gets shut off". Then the answer would be no, I think.

16. Destroy a speed camera
If I get caught by one then I may well go back and destroy it but up to now the answer is no.

17. Refill an inkjet cartridge
My MSc Research project involved me refilling experimental inkjet cartridges every day for two months. I still have nightmares about inkjet cartridges.

18. Say something obscene on national televsion
The only time I have been on national television was as a mascot for Liverpool FC and I was eight. If the microphone overheard me discussing Manchester United with Alan Hansen then that is not my fault. No, actually I have never swore on national television but if someone will give me the chance then I'll be sure to take it.

19. Do a J turn in order to beat somebody to a parking space
I tried to do a J turn once. For those of you who don't know, a J turn is when you turn your car around 180 degrees whilst driving it and carry on in the same direction. Needless to say I turned the car about 90 degrees and gave up.

20. Break a sledgehammer
Sorry Dad, but I have fixed it and you can have it back now that the last fireplace is out and all the wallpaper is off the walls.

21. Make a bomb
I was a science geek growing up in a small village, need I say more.

22. Smash a CRT
I've done this at the tip but I think the tip is to smash it whilst it's switched on. The cathode ray tube is supposed to implode according to my IT teacher at school. Again I think I will refer you to YouTube.

23. Require medical treatment as a consequence of kinky sex gone wrong (STDs don't count)
Aren't I glad that the answer to that is no.

24. Tip a waiter with something other than money
No, but now I have lots of ideas.

25. Light a fire with petrol
Is there any other way??? Serious part now, never light a fire with petrol, it is dangerous and is now far too expensive to be used as fuel.

26. Kidnap someone
In University halls in the first week the girls from a few floors below were playing a drinking game involving dares. One of the dares was to be tied to a swivel chair, gagged and put in the lift going up and down all day. They thought it was really funny when the lift doors opened on each floor and there was a girl tied up in the lift. What we thought was funny was when we wheeled her out of the lift onto our floor. So the answer to that question is yes.

27. Park inside a motorway service station
I don't quite understand this one, who parks inside a service station, don't they have bollards.

28. Own a convertible
Our car converts into a skip, does that count?

29. Live abroad
To live somewhere I think you have to be there more than 60 days, so no.

30. Drive at more than 140 mph
Even if I had do you think I would say yes on a blog. I heard the police have internet access now.

31. Get something for free through a masterpiece of compaining
I'm sure I have done this many times but none I can recall right now.

32. Give yourself a mains electric shock
I wanted to strip the insulation off a telephone cable so I bit the end of it and it bit me back with 50 volts. My friend then did the same thing after watching me do it. We both have master's degrees in engineering and are doing PhDs, so when the newspapers talk about the lack of good science graduates you can recall this little tale. I think that 50 volts is not mains though (that is 240 volts - 5 times the fun). I shocked myself on the bathroom light switch at my parents and that must have been mains.

33. Completely dismantle an object larger than yourself
Does the wall I took down this weekend count. I dismantled a shed not long ago, if dismantle and hitting with a sledgehammer are the same thing.

34. Write off a car
Fortunately I've always been lucky in that department.

35. Fall asleep and get really hilarious sunburn
I did this, it hurts. Wear suncream it is important and especially make your kids wear suncream.

36. Get drunk on absinthe
Never absinthe on its own. I wanted to stay away from pink elephants they sound scary, I watched fantasia when I was a kid and that made sure that I would never get drunk soley on absinthe.

37. Stay up all night listening to a girl have an emotional crisis

38. Lick the terminals of a 9 volt battery
Everyone has done this, otherwise you have the part of your brain where curiosity resides missing.

39. Take part in motorsport
I went rallying with my Dad in Ford Escort Cosworths (I'm no expert in these things) at Oulton Park, he beat me by one second which is still hard to admit to this day.

40. Stay at the office for more than 24 hours
You won't catch me doing anything as stupid as that.

41. Set off a fire extinguisher
I'm convinced I've done this at some point but I can't remember where. Perhaps it was a dream.

42. Drive at least 600 miles in a day on two lane roads
I don't think I've ever done this but I'm not 100%.

43. Hotwire a car
I'm from Liverpool, so no, I've never hotwired a car. It's just not fashionable anymore.

44. Watch all the Monty Python films in one sitting
You know, I've never watched one all the way through. You never plan to watch a Monty Python film they just happen to be on the channel that you are watching.

45. Sleep with an ex-girlfriend by mistake
No, this has never happened to me.

46. Dial 999
How many stupid people have I phoned 999 for. There was the girl who got ran over and broke her leg and then tried to run away when she heard the sirens; there was the lad who tried to throw a glass bottle at someone but hit his girlfriend in the head by mistake. There are many more from when I lived in Manchester city centre and saw the result of everyone piling onto the streets at 2 am. Thankfully that doesn't happen any more: I moved to the suburbs.

47. Commit a faux pas which means that a friend will never speak to you again
There have been countless 'he's standing behind you' incidents over the years but are they really friends if you are saying bad things about them behind their backs? You all know that the answer to that is yes.

48. Make a bet you couldn't afford to lose
I was a bookmaker for four years - a great way to get yourself through university is through other peoples losses - so I saw a lot of people lose what they couldn't afford to but I have never made a bet I couldn't afford to lose.

49. Read a 500 page book in one sitting
How long was the fourth Harry Potter book. Do children's books count?

50. Escape a perfectly justified parking ticket
I had pneumonia and couldn't escape a parking ticket so there is no hope any other time.

Paul's score: 24 done, 22 not done, 4 maybes
Dan's score: 27 done, 19 not done, 4 maybes

I'm only 24 so I have a good six years to go. I have put Dan's score in as it is the only person that I can compare with so please put your own scores in the comments section so that I can see whether or not I am normal.

Thank you.