What else is to be #broughtbackbyGove?

What else is #broughtbackbygove?

Storified by Alex Hern · Thu, Jun 21 2012 03:15:59

When Michael Gove announced that he was planning to scrap GCSEs, our own Helen Lewis wondered what else he was planning:
BREAKING: Michael Gove to scrap internet, bring back fax machines.Helen Lewis
Thus a hashtag was born:
RT @ChrisKPHall: @helenlewis I've heard he's scrapping Snickers to bring back Marathon < any more #broughtbackbygove suggestions?Helen Lewis
And when Alastair Campbell joined in, (albeit with a misspelled tag) this thing went nuclear:
Cliff Richard representing UK in Eurovision every year #boughtbackbygoveAlastair Campbell
tolerance of phone-hacking of young murder victims #boughtbackbygoveAlastair Campbell
Most highlighted the nostalgia that seems to be behind the move:
A privatized healthcare system and O-Levels. Tories just need to bring back hanging now, and we're in a 1950s utopia. #broughtbackbygoveJames Ball
Gove to send all secondary schools an autographed Rubik's Cube. #broughtbackbygoveNeil McOnie
Betamax #broughtbackbyGove Shakey
Michael Gove to scrap GCSE's, and bring back O-Levels. Also considered: typewriters, National Service and Dave Lee Travis #broughtbackbygoveAdam Bunn
#broughtbackbygove PE in your vest and pants.bendyleopard
Gove to scrap "understanding the difficulties pupils' have" and bring back "beating the shit out of them with a cane". #broughtbackbygoveDickMandrake
And a fair amount had very specific ideas of what nostalgia they wanted:
Tom Baker in Dr Who #broughtbackbygoveCommuterist
Gove to scrap Matt Smith and bring back Colin Baker. (Actually, come to think of it, that might not be so bad... :P ) #broughtbackbygoveDickMandrake
Admittedly some don't quite seem to understand the idea that nostalgia is yearning for the past:
$38 Facebook shares #broughtbackbygoveCllr Marie Jenkins
As ever, surrealism crept in pretty fast:
Gove to scrap Gove and bring back Balls #broughtbackbygoveJonathan Haynes
#broughtbackbygove my nan. As a zombie. A hungry zombie.David Stokes
Some thought Gove wasn't nostalgic, so much as simply regressive:
Primary school subjects scrapped, replaced by vocational 'chimney maintenance' #broughtbackbygove@dbanksy
Smallpox, open sewers, enclosure of common land. #broughtbackbygove #thosewerethedaysmarian cleary
Feudalism #BroughtbackbyGovemrianthomas
Slavery #BroughtbackbyGove #workfareLee Myers
#broughtbackbygove phlogistonFlorence Miller
Rickets #broughtbackbygoveMartin McGrath
I'm not sure whether this one counts as nostalgia or not, but a lot of people thought of it:
Gove writes to Eric Pickles, insists on return of white dog shit. #broughtbackbygoveNeil McOnie
White dog shit #broughtbackbygoveOwen
Gove to scrap brown dog shit and bring back white dog shit #broughtbackbygoveAlex Wilson
White dog shit, aka Gove's education policy #broughtbackbygoveBrown Moses
Some just liked anachronisms
#broughtbackbygove Gove to scrap mammals and bring back the dinosaursMark
By this morning, the hashtag had changed to #govelevels thanks to John Prescott:
Gove is abolishing Celsius. Back to Fahrenheit in order to raise temperatures. #govelevelsMichael Rosen
So we're going to cause massive unrest in our school changing from GCSEs to #GOveLevels just to please the Daily Mail?John Prescott
I'm sure all those kids who've just finished slogging their guts out for GCSEs will be gutted they're not up to "gold standard" #GoveLevelsRowenna
And finally, ewwwwwwwww:
I do think the most horrendous #broughtbackbygove is simply "sexy"Jonathan Haynes

A TERRIFYING VISION OF THE FUTURE? Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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A swimming pool and a bleeding toe put my medical competency in doubt

Doctors are used to contending with Google. Sometimes the search engine wins. 

The brutal heatwave affecting southern Europe this summer has become known among locals as “Lucifer”. Having just returned from Italy, I fully understand the nickname. An early excursion caused the beginnings of sunstroke, so we abandoned plans to explore the cultural heritage of the Amalfi region and strayed no further than five metres from the hotel pool for the rest of the week.

The children were delighted, particularly my 12-year-old stepdaughter, Gracie, who proceeded to spend hours at a time playing in the water. Towelling herself after one long session, she noticed something odd.

“What’s happened there?” she asked, holding her foot aloft in front of my face.

I inspected the proffered appendage: on the underside of her big toe was an oblong area of glistening red flesh that looked like a chunk of raw steak.

“Did you injure it?”

She shook her head. “It doesn’t hurt at all.”

I shrugged and said she must have grazed it. She wasn’t convinced, pointing out that she would remember if she had done that. She has great faith in plasters, though, and once it was dressed she forgot all about it. I dismissed it, too, assuming it was one of those things.

By the end of the next day, the pulp on the underside of all of her toes looked the same. As the doctor in the family, I felt under some pressure to come up with an explanation. I made up something about burns from the hot paving slabs around the pool. Gracie didn’t say as much, but her look suggested a dawning scepticism over my claims to hold a medical degree.

The next day, Gracie and her new-found holiday playmate, Eve, abruptly terminated a marathon piggy-in-the-middle session in the pool with Eve’s dad. “Our feet are bleeding,” they announced, somewhat incredulously. Sure enough, bright-red blood was flowing, apparently painlessly, from the bottoms of their big toes.

Doctors are used to contending with Google. Often, what patients discover on the internet causes them undue alarm, and our role is to provide context and reassurance. But not infrequently, people come across information that outstrips our knowledge. On my return from our room with fresh supplies of plasters, my wife looked up from her sun lounger with an air of quiet amusement.

“It’s called ‘pool toe’,” she said, handing me her iPhone. The page she had tracked down described the girls’ situation exactly: friction burns, most commonly seen in children, caused by repetitive hopping about on the abrasive floors of swimming pools. Doctors practising in hot countries must see it all the time. I doubt it presents often to British GPs.

I remained puzzled about the lack of pain. The injuries looked bad, but neither Gracie nor Eve was particularly bothered. Here the internet drew a blank, but I suspect it has to do with the “pruning” of our skin that we’re all familiar with after a soak in the bath. This only occurs over the pulps of our fingers and toes. It was once thought to be caused by water diffusing into skin cells, making them swell, but the truth is far more fascinating.

The wrinkling is an active process, triggered by immersion, in which the blood supply to the pulp regions is switched off, causing the skin there to shrink and pucker. This creates the biological equivalent of tyre treads on our fingers and toes and markedly improves our grip – of great evolutionary advantage when grasping slippery fish in a river, or if trying to maintain balance on slick wet rocks.

The flip side of this is much greater friction, leading to abrasion of the skin through repeated micro-trauma. And the lack of blood flow causes nerves to shut down, depriving us of the pain that would otherwise alert us to the ongoing tissue damage. An adaptation that helped our ancestors hunt in rivers proves considerably less use on a modern summer holiday.

I may not have seen much of the local heritage, but the trip to Italy taught me something new all the same. 

This article first appeared in the 17 August 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump goes nuclear