Clubs, clubs, clubs…… Arhhhh. The exclusiveness, utter privilege and above all the benefits and perks!

Just show your platinum membership card, greet your host with the special handshake and enter onein400’s mysterious world of privacy! And absolutely no jeans!!

This is a blockbuster post. The first section is my usual fare, and I conclude with a serious bit relating to MND.

On with Part 1

The concept of clubs, aside sports teams, has always been just a bit spooky to me. Call me odd, readers, or perhaps I would prefer “truly individual”? Why do I feel this way? I think it’s that “clique” thing. You know what I am talking about? That extra special total exclusion feeling you get when a group of people are absorbed by themselves. Perhaps I never wanted to be type cast? And yet despite this, I am a member of many! Where is my honesty?

How do these clubs stand the test of time? Some definitely lose their value, and many certainly have seen their exclusivity wane.

Take, for example, auto (car) breakdown clubs. At one time in the UK, the AA and RAC used to be organisations that were fine upstanding British symbols of absolute status. You were required to display a highly polished badge on your car and you even were sent a key (yes a physical key!) for club telephone boxes! One was able to watch as the common people, non members, simply froze on a winter’s day whilst you phoned for assistance. Those really rolling in filthy lucre (cash) were members of both associations. This was actually largely due to country club coverage more than bragging rights. The badges looked great, and the engineers used to salute customers when they passed a car with badges on! I am not joking!

Nowadays, with cars being so reliable, these organisations are now actually more simple insurances services, and are entirely price dependent. You certainly can’t boast about being a member of these clubs anymore.

Mind you, Lord Bragg is in the design stage/initial funding of a new auto club, Bragg’s Auto Club.

He wants to bring back traditional values and will insist on the display of his new badge. There will be no excuses! Lord Lee is aiming to offer all the services of regular auto clubs plus that little bit extra! On attending a breakdown, Lord Bragg’s mechanics will also offer a complimentary Gin and Tonic (non alcoholic, of course). And you will also be able to purchase any of his products available from the van including his new torch (flashlight for my American friends). He does advise a purchase of his ulta protection eye guards at the same time. Don’t know why, but what a guy!

Other informal clubs, include the sort of benefits you might automatically obtain from being part of a corporate. For example, 5% discount for all employees when you shop in the local centre (Mall for my American friends). I actually worked for a large company that employed a lot of people in a city that was changing radically in the 1980s. Being composed of largely white collar workers there was some animosity towards the company, although it was largely very low level. However, there was a joke going around town at the time which sort of went along the lines of….

10% off for employees, but 25% off for everyone else!

And then of course there are the clubs you become a member of without applying, such as the MND community I am now in. With my ever changing mobility issues, scooters or rollators are my staple now around shopping centres, or out and about.

I still use the rollator a lot, ie a wheeled walking frame. I wrote a rollator review, amongst other things, in Where there’s a wheel there’s a way. Now let’s be honest guys (I mean you blokes), we all like to catch the eye of an attractive lady now and then. It’s what life is about. Now a days, more often or not, today I catch the eye of a lady using a rollator! Yet another new club! We often give each other a knowing wink, or “Hi” effectively acknowledging our shared predicament (you know a sister or comrade). Quite often it can even be rollator envy! But catch someone’s eye too long and I am certain a few of the older (mature) ladies get perhaps the wrong message!

“Hello young man. Can you service my rollator?”

If I ever get these looks, I make a quick exit and bump down the kerb on to the road, narrowly missing the rapidly approaching milk float.

Back to my weekly grind. I was partaking in one of my favourite pastimes the other day, cooking. It is a slow task now, with the preparation taking ages, as I limp around the kitchen with my rollator or stick. Reaching up into cupboards can be a pain as my arms are not as stretchy as they once used to be. Spice cupboards are treacherous, and I went and accidentally knocked a jar of cumin seeds out of the shelf and it fell on to the hard work surface!

It did, however, not shatter, but bounced twice, as I watched helplessly, unable to grab the spinning jar as any rapid movement would have seen me on the floor before it! After it had left the worktop heading for the vicinity of the stone floor, I again watched as it bounced twice further and on the third time shatter! Jesus F****** Christ! I had joined the “I have smashed a bottle of spice all over the kitchen floor” club. It stunk and took me an hour to clean up. As usual I got a…..

“What have you been doing all day?!” from Jean when she came home from work.

Now on to the serious part of my post!

There are other clubs that are a bit more covert, and one of these is the Buyers Club, as made famous in the film, The Dallas Buyers Club, for which Matthew McConaughey won best Actor Oscar in 2013. If you haven’t seen it,  have a watch. It’s great entertainment and it’s all based on a true story.

The plot…….

McConaughey plays Ron Woodroff, a Texan in the mid 1980s infected with HIV (AIDS). It was the time when AIDs was a death sentance, rather like MND still is. The story, brilliantly played, centres on the characters and their emotional fight with the disease. The Buyers club was a group formed by Ron to import illegal, unapproved and unproven drugs in a bid to treat him and other sufferers. At the time research was only just in its infancy. The first real drug, AZT, was being heavily used in trials.

The film, if you watch it, could easily be taken to support that his imported drugs were more effective than AZT and positions the FDA (the drugs regulation authority in the USA) as a rather corrupt and uncaring agency.

The truth was that AZT was actually effective, but in lower doses than in early trials, and the drugs he promoted were ineffective, and in some cases highly dangerous. It was a time and place, and science has now shone through.

It is important to know that anyone has the right to try unproven drugs, as enshined in the expanded access rules in the USA and here in the UK facilitated by the MHRA. It will cost any patient cold hard cash though.

The film, as commented on at the time, came perilously close to endorsing pseudoscience. Folks, that is always bad in onein400’s books!

The relevance of this story is not lost on the MND community. Such clubs have appeared globally over the years for this drug and that drug. Since the 1980s, the Internet has appeared! Now, you don’t even have to see the whites of their eyes. That is of course, if they even really exist!

All I can say is,

Buyer beware!

Today I have focused on the downside of Buyers clubs. But there is an upside!

Lee that’s an absurdity based on what you just said! What do you mean!?”

In a future post, I present a different side, and perhaps some ideas that could change things. If you have any doubt please ALWAYS refer to your local MND/ALS Association for authorative guidance.

Here endith the lesson!

To finish on a lighter note, there was a nasty scene in the local Waitrose (for my American friends, this a Whole Foods Market type store) the other day, when the store club magazine top recipe, that needed rhubarb, had caused a major run on the stocks in the geocery counter. Being scooter bound, I skirted around the angry melee. I did offer to help with the clean up, but only after security guards had delicately calmed a victim attacked with the last stick of rhubarb! One employee kept him sedated and calm during the removal process. What customer service! I think we should keep paying our subs!

Have fun joining clubs, readers and see you all again soon! My next post is my latest research opinion post. Have a read of my research section to catch up before then.