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Watch: Comedian Jo Brand endorses Labour in a party election broadcast

"I'm choosing Labour".

Jo Brand, the comedian who used to be an NHS nurse, has backed Labour in a party election broadcast. The central message is protecting and improving the NHS. 

The clip features a voiceover by Doctor Who and Broadchurch actor David Tennant, who also spoke in Martin Freeman's broadcast.

The full transcript is below:

 
JB:                  There’s an election coming up. You might know that and we all have our own personal axes to grind. Mine if what’s going to happen to the NHS, not because of my undeniable status as a national fitness icon, but because once upon a time I used to be a nurse. And by the way, I’m sick of the way nurses get slagged off all the time in the press. I mean, come on, the vast majority of them are hard-working, committed, amazing human beings. Because to my mind a decent civilised society looks after its people when they’re ill and doesn’t present them with a bill at the end of it. But what I’m seeing now is little by little the NHS being pulled apart. By whom you might ask? A clue; it’s not the Labour Party. They started the whole thing. If you’ve tried to get an appointment with your doctor or been to an A&E recently you’ll know things are in a right mess.
 
                        What’s that mess all about? For a start a tonne of money wasted on a reorganisation so big you could see it from space and so hard to understand you’d have to be Professor Stephen Hawking to get your head round it. I give you the Tory Party. Let’s be honest about it, if they get back in the NHS as we know it wouldn’t survive the next five years.
 
                        Why? Because they’re planning even more extreme cuts; we know that. They don’t want to talk about it but it’s not hard to guess. What it boils down to is this: do we want a government that will back our NHS or not? I want to see our NHS make it to its 100th birthday and get its telegram from the Queen. Because that’s what it is, by the way, the NHS; it’s ours. It belongs to us all. We paid for it with our taxes and we want to keep it safe in our hands, not theirs. And that’s why I’m choosing Labour. 
 
Voiceover:     This election is a choice between the Tories’ failing plan and Labour’s better plan for working families. Britain succeeds when working people succeed. Vote Labour on Thursday May 7th        
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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