Busy at our seaside office this week but happy endings on the scare story and BUPA. More when I get back to Tbilisi.
Having a quiet time getting used to the idea that my mammogram has discovered a trace of something and what that might mean.
Bee read me the letter calling me to repeat the tests (perfectly normal they said) on Friday. I rang the hospital to see whether this meant they had lost them or muddled me up with someone else. But no, it seems the mammogram has a trace of something. It might be deodorant or talc, I suppose, as these days they tell you not to use it just before and of course I forgot. I was given a wipe to get rid of it, but who knows whether it did. As Bee said, isn't it wonderful in these days of computer imaging that they can't tell the difference between deodorant and cancer.
The radiologist also redid one of the plates so I didn't have the nuisance of coming back because of a dud plate, and the second time it was supposedly fixed.
It seems I can't have a second mammogram (too many Xrays in a short period) so I have to have an ultrasound and maybe if the news is bad, a biopsy.
So having the all-singing all-dancing BUPA International Health Insurance* I assumed it would be a cinch to get my fare paid home so I could be treated quickly on the National Health. I was not sure I really wanted it done in Georgia (to be honest, I have had no dealings with the health service yet) and in any case, if the result was likely to be bad, I wanted all the records in the same place, at home. So while I'm sure I could have it done in what BUPA call their centres of medical excellence (perhaps Lithuania, more likely Vienna), I was sure that this would cost more, what with the air fare, the hotel, the medical treatment, compared with a simple return fare home.
But no, I had to spend all Friday afternoon wrestling with their call back system (more likely call back, then get cut off and have to start again, this is even worse than a call centre). Then I was told my policy only covered evacuation not repatriation. Now where on the BUPA website does it tell you that? I also was told my policy did not cover outpatient treatment like ultrasound. At this point I could hear the familar sound of an insurance policy trying to get out of paying for anything at all just when I needed it. It's strange, because when I have needed it before, they have always been very friendly and helpful.
So I booked the flight anyway.
On Saturday I began again threatening a formal complaint. My policy (all singing, all dancing Lifeline Gold) explicitly states it covers outpatient treatment. However it seems their interpretation is that you cannot be evacuated for outpatient treatment. So we are in a Catch 22 situation. I cannot be paid for outpatient treatment either at home or in Georgia (not a centre of excellence) nor can I be paid to go anywhere for it.
I had already emailed all the contact details of the hospital and an explanation of why I needed to have the ultrasound in the UK. Now they are expecting me to produce the mammogram for them, rather than making a telephone call from Brighton to Oxford to check the problem themselves. You would think that a British health insurance company would know that the NHS does not handover Xrays etc for stupid patients to lose, it prefers to lose them itself. Actually I do have a big paper bag of the last 7or 8 years worth of mammograms, because other countries prefer to let you lose them yourself.
So next week is going to be a bit busy (hence the quiet day today):
Tuesday broken night flying to UK
Tuesday night possible good night sleep or a lot of worry
Wed broken night flying to Georgia
Thurs 4am arrive Tbilisi; 7am leave Tbilisi for 6 hour drive to Batumi; 4pm deliver training course.
Still we managed to justify an extra day on the Black Sea for Saturday.
After that I have two really busy weeks while the boss and the rest of the team comes from London and we all review progress so far and plan the next six months.
If you think I am taking this rather calmly there are two reasons:
1. Nothing like a good battle to get your money to distract from unpleasant thoughts;
2. My mother got breast cancer at roughly the same age as I am now. She survived another 15 years till she was 77. So it has always been a possibility, with the odds of 1 in 9 women getting it in the UK. And nobody (in the UK at least) dies of it immediately.
On the bright side, I would probably lose some weight and if my hair drops out, when it grows back I will find out how grey it is under the colour I have applied for years.
On the other hand there still is a high probability nothing is wrong. I have been standing in front of a mirror, rolling, squeezing and poking the flesh to find anything different and still can't find anything.
* the only reason I have this is that since 1998 I have lived permanently in places with poor health services. I could have stopped when I came back to the UK, but you know how medical insurance is, they won't cover you for any existing conditions so it didn't seem worth the risk, if I moved away again.
Technorati Tags: BUPA, mammogram, breast screenings abroad, breast cancer
Our project has money for transportation, expected to be provided as a car and driver. Actually our transport needs are very small. A taxi will take us to any meeting in Tbilisi and also collect any shopping for the office.
Taxis have one draw back in terms of getting your money back from the people who pay our expenses: they don't provide receipts. They don't have meters either and when you ask them how much it depends how you ask. If you ask in English at the beginning of the journey you will get a rather larger show of fingers than if you ask in Russian at the end of the journey. Usually the answer is "kak khatite" -- which can be translated as (literally) "whatever you like", but after the surprise wears off, this converts to a 5 lari note for journeys round town or perhaps 10 to somewhere more distant. Of course you can haggle if you have the charm and the language, and nobody minds except you when you find that neither of you have change for a 20 lari note.
Once a month (or perhaps twice now) we need to visit some small hydro power plant up a mountain or visit a construction site in another town. So we have managed with the car of one of our team members until now while the debates raged about what we really needed and how to get paid for it.
After wasting six months (one third of the contract time) arguing about it the consortium bosses agreed to buy a new car: the safest option on Georgian roads, the least maintenance and hence downtime, and the most comfortable on long distance travel, when we have to take several people. Nevertheless the choice of car has gone through several iterations.
At the beginning of the saga, Georgian roads were an unknown quantity as were sites of hydro stations. So it seemed safest to opt for 4-wheel drive (especially as we had a hard winter in Tbilisi). Later it became clear that this was actually a desire for a SUV and status: if I have one myself surely the boss needs one too. One's status is assessed by the car one arrives in.
I have been through the SUV stage in my life (living up a hill in Brecon with a road like the bed of a stream meant that even the pram had 4-wheel drive*). The final stages of my divorce and property settlement required "valuing my 4-wheel drive vehicles" as an important part of my assets. Sloph and Bee's father and I surveyed the four (yes 4) 4 wheel drive vehicles we owned at the time and had hysterical laughter. We counted like this:
One bright yellow 1953 landrover - active when the battery was fully charged, gear box open to the air for easier gear changes, mostly used for dragging other cars out of mud and snow. Our original means of transport up the hill to our "summer house" for the last 10 years before it was habitable.
One normal green 1956 landrover - infrequently taxed for use on the public road, but fairly reliable and respectable.
One red Suzuki Jeep about two years old and useful as a pram, used all the time by me.
One green left-hand drive LNG fired Lada Niva used by him. It was an early indicator of the quality of his business decisions but we were busy playing happy families so I didn't notice at the time.
It's the first time I ever thought this.
Today the lift in my block of flats was broken. I arrived with a load of food shopping and the young security guard (who seems to know I only speak Russian, though I had never talked to him before) not only apologised for the lift not working but carried my shopping up all of two floors to help me. Georgian men are obviously very respectful of their mothers and other old ladies.
I think I might take advantage.
Sloph and Bee: only kidding, you are both great.
Technorati Tags: Georgian men
My second building project was (you saw this coming) another massive housing scheme in the form of three terraces. Built in the innovative London Borough of Camden, it has had a different fate.
Known as Alexandra Road when we built it, it now goes by the name of Rowley Way.
More photos here.
You can see that the white concrete has weathered to grey (oh the tantrums from the architect when the concrete came out slightly pink).
The long, crescent-shaped site is bounded on the south by existing housing, major streets on the east and west and has continuous frontage along the railroad to the north. The desire to control the sound and vibration from the trains was a major consideration in the organization of three parallel rows of dwellings.* Two rows of terraced apartments are aligned along the tracks with the higher 8 story stepped building designed to block the noise of the trains from reaching the interior portion of the site. A lower, 4-story block runs along the other side of a continuous public walkway that serves both terraced rows of buildings. These buildings are designed to open to the south. The third row of building, along the southern edge of the site, parallels another public walkway between this row and the existing earlier buildings of the Ainsworth Estate and defines an open public park between the second and third row of dwellings.
A community center that includes a school, reception center, maintenance facilities and the heating plant*** mark the entrance to the site from London Road to the west and open to the park areas. The lower buildings contain maisonettes with shared access, terraces, and gardens. Maisonettes also occupy the top two levels of the large slab with entrance from a continuous gallery at the 7th floor. The dwellings in the lower floors in this block are flats that are entered from open stairs serving two dwellings per floor. Parking is located beneath the building along the tracks. Poured-in-place concrete is used throughout. Alexandra road received much criticism during and after construction because of enormous cost overruns caused by the complicated construction, unforeseen foundation problems and inflation**. Notes taken from here.
* You can see this housing block as you come into London's Euston Station as it leans back towards the railway. The block nearest the railway is built on rubber pads to remove the vibration. The blocks had something like a 50 year life so I wonder what will happen then, when they fail.
** I am especially proud of the heating plant, designed in the
socialist style to feed the whole site of 500 homes. This must make it
one of the smallest such schemes in the world, and hence not very
***and a famous exploding sewer. The contractor had to build over the sewer which was in danger of collapsing. It was my job to make an annual walk-through inspection to see whether it was getting worse. Victorian brick sewers are rather interesting to visit. One day there was a freak thunderstorm. It just happened to be the day the contractor had excavated round the sewer. The pressure of the water coming down from Hampstead blew off the top of the sewer and flooded the site. That took quite a time to fix as well.
The building is much admired by (mostly foreign) architects and students make pilgrimages to look at it. I think it is already a protected architectural monument. Articles like "Alexandra Road: the last great social housing project", (Freear, Andrew, AA files, Sept, 1993, pp. 35-46) are written about it.
I haven't been back for a long time and have always been faintly embarrassed by my association with another of these big concrete blocks.
So I was quite pleased to find that people actually like living there, or at least one or two as this extract from the website shows:
A Peaceful LifeBut other people comment on the lack of maintenance and the heating failure, so not much to be proud about there.
In the early 1970's I used to use Alexander Road as a short cut from Kilburn to Swiss Cottage and remember wondering how the unfortunate people living in those imposing but decrepit Victorian mansions survived the winters. They weren't wealthy enough to seal up the windows, how did they manage to heat their huge homes?
Ten years later, my council lottery number came up and Rowley Way was one of the offers. I was amazed to see what the council had done with Alexander Road. By now I had two toddlers and another baby on the way, so my choice was heavily influenced by this fact.I had turned down two other apparently much more desirable flats on the grounds that they did not meet my most basic requirements: safety for the children, personal comfort, freedom and adequate privacy.
I was looking for a home that didn't imprison; where we could sit outside without leaving home; I needed to feel my children were safe being outdoors, walking to the shops unaccompanied for instance. I was also keen not to be isolated, as so often happens to young mothers, and yearned to be part of a vibrant mixed community. Being a "foreigner", I was not constrained by classic English snobberies and preconceptions about public housing and viewed the estate with an open mind.
My first impression of Rowley Way remains vivid. The earthy red brick walk way and the dazzling white concrete structures had such a jolly Mediteranean feel. It was immediately possible to visualize it's potential as London's equivalent of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. As soon as you turn off the busy Abbey Road into the estate, it is calm and quiet.This seems a rare luxury so close to central London.
My 3 bed-roomed maisonette is flooded with light from every available source. Huge picture windows look out over a peaceful oasis of greenery and mature trees. Many a time I have sat and been simply uplifted by this lush view of nature or been stunned by the beauty of the sun burnishing the windows opposite with a copper glow. My utilitarian kitchen looks directly onto the brick walkway, which is particularly child friendly, and being pedestrian only (officially that is!) the children play safely there, within watching and shouting distance.
Older children have the playgrounds, which are overlooked by everywhere, thus allowing one to join a community of women with children who effortlessly watch over each others offspring from the comfort of their own homes.
I particularly love the simple clean lines of the flats; the sense of airy space despite their small size and low ceilings. I've seen interiors as diverse as Laura Ashley busy to Bauhaus austere, working equally well in these flats — they are well suited to transformation to personal taste. The walls are so thick that neighbors' noise rarely penetrates. One of the very best features, in my opinion, is the ingenious heating system, which, in the winter, is complete. No icy corners and draughty hallways, and no ugly radiators in sight.
I think, ultimately, the genius of the design lies in the subtle way it supports family life, and a community spirit without forcing it down our throats. It's as easy to be part of the community as it is to stay aloof.
For example, family units are constructed in such a way that only two families are forced, as it were, to be in extremely close proximity (sharing a basement stairwell, in our case). This makes it easier to deal with spatial conflicts.
I've heard people comment on "how inhuman" Rowley Way appears to them. I can only say that my experiences in over 20 years of living in Rowley Way have mostly been positive and very human. Whether you've lived here for 20 years or 20 minutes, people are invariably friendly, polite and sensitive. I believe the space somehow magically engenders this. My closest neighbors and I enjoy mutual respect, naturally, perhaps because we're neither below nor above each other, but side by side, living in peace and harmony. For this I have always been grateful.
I don't often bother to write about my past in the UK but after posting about the Georgian terraces here, I can't resist doing this bit of research on the buildings I built in the days when I was an junior engineer in the late 60s and early 70s.
For my first job in London I was thrown in at the deep end.; Armed with a maths degree and not much else I was sent off to Manchester once a month to sort out the problems on site on the largest housing estate in Europe in Hulme, Manchester. This was one of those nice concrete panel constructions beloved of socialist countries but built in large numbers in the UK as well. Back to back terrace slums were decanted (wonderful term for temporarily rehousing the occupants) and demolished to be replaced by the so-called horizontal streets in the sky, plus a few tower blocks. Altogether 1000 homes were built in four groups of what were fancifully called crescents modelled on the famous Georgian Royal Crescent in Bath. One was even called John Nash Crescent after the architect in Bath. At the time, the 'Crescents' won several design awards.
It was a pretty surreal start to working life, bluffing my way through problems I had not much idea how to solve, but I developed a way of encouraging people to help me to find solutions, a skill I rely on very much nowadays. Another surreal part of the work was the site office in the middle of the mud and concrete. The so-called Zion Institute, a red brick building, housed the builders' offices, the Halle Orchestra rehearsals and a ballet school. As a result, girls in tutus mingled with workers in overalls and muddy boots, and I frequently shared the ladies loo with the harpist while she was practising.
Tne of my first tasks during the construction was to help sort out the mess caused by the collapse of Ronan Point due to a gas explosion. One corner of this tower block in East London collapsed like a pack of cards, largely because it was built of concrete panels balanced on one another just like a pack of cards. As a result, the blocks in Hulme were being redesigned so the panels were at least tied together, and the heating was being changed to electricity instead of gas. This latter was a disaster. I had the job of checking the heating when the first group of tenants moved in. I had 30 tenants all with complaints about their heating. I had to do some vaguely scientific tests on the heating which showed that the design of the heating was undersized and too expensive to run.
Most of the blocks built in this way developed mould and condensation as electricity became too expensive to heat them properly. The joints between the panels leaked. The "streets in the sky" became escape routes for vandals and hooligans who terrorised the inhabitants. Drug dealers and thugs took over the neighbourhood. Anyone who could get rehoused elsewhere did so, making the blocks housing of last resort for council tenants.
Far from being architectural monuments like Georgian terraces, they looked like rather typical run down housing block in Soviet towns and must have been similar to live in.
I was not hopeful of finding photos for reasons which will become apparent but in fact I found there is an ex-Hulme website here, from which I borrowed the following photos and where you can read the history of the area, and watch a TV video of the problems caused by this type of housing.
In the late 60s it was the largest housing redevelopment in Europe when these crescents were built. By the 1990s it had to be demolished and the whole area regenerated again with low rise housing. Many blocks like these were demolished by controlled explosions, but there don't seem to be any photos for Hulme.
Happily the Zion Institute is still alive and well. It survived bombing in the Second World War,
and has survived two redevelopements. It's now an Arts Centre here.
I am not sure whether I should be proud of my first building project or proud that it no longer exists.
After working hard all year Sloph and I thought we deserved a beach holiday so we managed to slope off for a few days to the Dipkarpaz peninsula. This is in keeping with our idea of holidays in so-called conflict zones: Kosovo (not really a holiday resort), North Cyprus, watch this space for further developments.
Following a recommendation from a colleague, we hired a Suzuki jeep (rather cheap) and drove off. I last drove a Suzuki jeep when Sloph was a baby and it was considered her buggy, as we lived a kilometre off a road in rural Wales.
We drove for three hours taking in Girne (Kyrenia) on the way. Not so impressed by the picturesque harbour, which was just like any other picturesque harbour. After that we drove along the coast watching the prices of the holiday homes advertised drop, the further away we got. At one point a new picturesque harbour was in the making.
Final offer - last two villas at only £50,000. All notices in English so it's clear who the clientele were. Eventually the road surface disappeared and so did the holiday homes.
As we crossed from the north coast to the south coast, settlements became less and the beaches golden and deserted. Some beaches had beach huts on stilts. Wild donkeys galloped in the fields.
Finally we arrived at Hassan's Turtle Beach and found our beach hut. Pretty basic but all you need as a beach bum.
The sand was red hot, I thought I would die before I reached the sun bed in the distance, over the dunes you can see here.
But the water was fabulous, shallow for quite a long way out (I'm not a good swimmer out of my depth) and with just the right amount of waves. We shared the beach with about ten families, including some fully clothed Moslem women. A young couple, man in bathing shorts, woman in full clinging Moslem dress and headscarf, doing the sort of things that young couples do in the water together was interesting.
Later we had an excellent dinner in the cafe overlooking the beach, cooked by Hassan. Unfortunately we didn't see any turtles as they are now in short supply according to Hassan, who is actually a marine biologist, monitoring them and their environment. Sounds like a good job.
We didn't have time to explore the rest of the region, but noticed that it was still very Greek, with Orthodox churches well preserved unlike the areas around Nicosia. But as you can see, not much of a conflict zone.
Finally I got to Bath, one of the prominent sites of Georgian* buildings in England. It's also the site of Roman Baths and one of the reasons to go there was to "take the waters". Yes, it's a spa. It's also famous for featuring heavily in Jane Austen's** novels, as her families were always going to Bath to see and be seen and thus make a good match (catch a husband). One of the places to "hang out" was the Pump Room, which is now a smart restaurant, and that is where I took myself for that strange meal called High Tea. It was packed. A Palm Court Orchestra tinkled away in the background.
High Tea consists of some rather pointless "savoury" (cucumber being the main ingredient) sandwiches to pretend it is serious food, and then gets down to the real carbohydrates and cholesterol. I justified this because I was starving after no breakfast or lunch (not even biscuits at the accountants). However I felt the Champagne High Tea was going too far, particularly as I did not think salmon and blinis were really originally in the English High Tea menu. So this is what I got, all to myself, plus the inevitable pot of tea:
The middle tier shows those essential components: scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam (alas not homemade but in a pot). After this indulgence it seemed unnecessary to have a glass of water from the "Pump", which has now become a fountain with the water being thoughtfully drunk by fishes rather than wasted.
After that I went to have a look at the Roman Baths next door. Having done the tour once before I just took a photo for the blog. So you can see the remains of the Roman baths with the Georgian buildings round them, and a pig.
The common features of Georgian style houses include - roof to ground-level:
* A hipped roof
* Chimneys on both sides of the home.
* A stone parapet surrounding the roof
* A portico in the middle of the roof with a ring window in the middle
* Small 6-paned sash windows and/or dormer windows in the upper floors, primarily used for servant's quarters
* Larger windows with 9/12 panes on the main floors.
Here are some examples of them in Bath, which is famous for terraces of houses like this, and Royal Crescent, which I didn't manage to take a photo of:
By now you will detect that Bath seems to be rather fond of pigs in public places, rather like Berlin has bears. This is a new undertaking since I was last there. Here are some more. The one on the portico appears to be dressed for a party of "Vicars and Tarts".
After a pleasant wander round the town I had an uneventful drive back home to Oxford.
*No, this is not Georgia where I work. Georgian in Britain refers to the period from 1720 and 1840 when the Kings were called George. There were four kings, running consecutively (not much originality in the names but after Henry VII, George IV doesn't seem so boring). Georgian architecture is one of the most famous styles in British architecture. When we lived in Somerset we even had a Georgian house, though they are rather rare in the countryside.
** You must have seen Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility even if you haven't read the books.
It wasn't actually the whole day, so the pictures are a bit eclectic. Apologies for the geography lessons for those who know this stuff already.
I spent the morning at the accountants, discussing how much more tax I should pay this year. Having missed breakfast to drive down and lunch discussing the fatal state of my "investments" at the moment, I decided I needed tea in Bath, a well-known watering-hole (perhaps even the origin of the phrase) of the Georgians. Yes, this could be getting a bit confusing.
Returning from the accountants in Taunton (a place well-known only for the fact that we used to live just outside there before we became a mobile family) I decided to go cross-country, forgetting of course that Somerset has lots of picturesque villages and no short cuts in the direction of Bath.
Passing through Glastonbury (one week too late for the famous mud-bash otherwise known as the music festival**) I remembered I had never been up Glastonbury Tor***, the other claim to fame for Glastonbury. Then looking at the weather, I decided a photo would do. So here it is, including the weather.
I didn't think much of my picture until I saw the one on the website here, which is little better. Anyway despite this looking like some ancient barrow or a lump of spoil from motorway construction, it is in fact a holy hill, or alternatively the home of Gwyn ap Nudd, King of the Fairies. According to this website "climbing it brings uplift, clarity and deep shifts". On the top there is a small tower.
In early-medieval times there was a small monks' retreat on top of the Tor, founded probably in the time of St Patrick in the mid-400s. This was followed in the early 1100s by a chapel, St Michael de Torre. This was destroyed in a powerful earthquake in 1275 and rebuilt in the early 1300s. The tower is all that remains today.
Earthquake? Obviously not built as well as the churches in Georgia which have survived earthquakes since the same period. In fact there aren't many churches standing at all in Britain from that period. Building standards must have been worse or earthquakes more frequent.
This wasn't the myth I was expecting, but it seems that the full range of myths are associated with the Tor:
It has been called a magic mountain, a faeries' glass hill, a spiral castle, a Grail castle, the Land of the Dead, Hades, a Druid initiation centre, an Arthurian hill-fort, a magnetic power-point, a crossroads of leys, a centre for Goddess fertility rituals and celebrations, a converging point for UFOs.
So take your pick. I only knew about the Arthurian hill-fort. However it is an impressive sight on a good day as this better photo from the website shows:
As Glastonbury is sited just north of the Somerset Levels, a very flat area, marginally above sea level, the Tor can been seen a long way away. Finally a view of what's on top, from the Somerset Tourist Website.
And now for the new.
Losing my way completely navigating round the bottom of the Tor, I spotted this out of the corner of my eye.
Since Somerset is home to Hinckley Point Nuclear Power Station and stands to benefit from the Severn Barrage if they ever get it going, I hadn't expected to see an isolated wind turbine in somebody's field. Still there it was, and even turning.
I suppose a note is in order about the Severn Barrage. The Severn (near Bristol) is the biggest river estuary in Britain and so has become the focus of attempts to generate electricity from waves.
Wave power is possible because the estuary has the second largest tidal range in the world. During the highest tides, the rising water is funnelled up the estuary into a wave (2m high) called the Severn Bore, that travels rapidly upstream against the river current.
Proposals were first made in 1925 for a barrage generating electricity and have been made continuously since then, with the latest investigation started in 2007. It's interesting to note that the cost of the investigation now would probably have built the whole thing in 1925. The cost always comes out too high, and the environmental effects get more complex every time they are considered. Nevertheless, as someone on Wikipedia points out, in the current version, it could replace three nuclear power stations, with renewable energy, as well as requiring just as much concrete as the nuclear stations, so that the construction companies stand to gain just as much work. As everyone knows they are the biggest lobby for nuclear power plants.
This post is about as rambling as my actual route to Bath. More in Part II.
* This is a trip to the South West of England, mainly in the County of Somerset.
** The only reason I know this is that Bee decided that mud was not for her and has gone to Roskilde Festival this weekend, with a friend. We had dinner with the friend's parents who asked all sorts of questions as to what happened at this festival, perhaps hoping to get more information from Bee, who was economic with the truth in front of two sets of parents. The line seemed to be that there was definitely no mud and a lot of culture, including swimming and the bands were better. And being Denmark there would be beer. I'm a rather hands-off parent, being also a long-distance parent these days, and we all know Denmark well, so nothing special about a trip there, for me at least. I've even know where Roskilde is, since it is also the home of the Risoe National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, who paid my salary in Lithuania for a couple of years.
Update here: for the Roskilde experience see Bee's blog posts. Start here
***A tor is a rock outcrop formed by weathering, usually found on or near the summit of a hill. Tor seems to be a Cornish word. Cornish is a Celtic (Brythonic to be precise) language, currently with 300 speakers, spoken in Cornwall (as in Prince Charles, Duke of Cornwall). That makes Polish a more common language spoken in the UK with 600,000 speakers.
Buried in an article on helpful stomach bugs published in the Economist here we can find this interesting snippet:
Another of the studies has even found a measurable difference between people who say they like chocolate and those who are indifferent to it. The research (supported by Nestle) found apparent health benefits too. Not only did chocolate-lovers have lower levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, but their guts were less likely to harbour the pathogenic bacterium Clostridium difficile, which kills thousands of people a year in hospitals.