Monthly Archives: May 2012

Calling all Great North Runners !!

It is nearly June and it is time for preparing for Great North Run.  The “preparation pack” from your favourite charity has just dropped through the letter box.  You thought it was a terrific idea at the time when your friend insisted that you are fit enough to do the run.   You had seen men and women of all sizes and shapes trying to get fit for the Great North Run.

‘It is only half marathon’ she said!

‘It is a piece of cake.  It is like a walk in the park’ she said!

After a fifteen minute run, this morning, you are feeling that your legs don’t belong to you.  Your heads are pounding!  Your knees feel wobbly.  And you know you won’t be able to get out of bed in the morning.  You are dreading to go to work tomorrow.  You don’t want to fall flat on your face about 100 metres from the Start line!

You don’t run for next few days dreading the pain after running.  You begin to think you will never be able to make it this year.  You start to wonder if it is possible to withdraw your entry into the marathon.  May be someone else will take your place?  You then decide that best to train early in the morning before brain had time to figure out what is happening.

And you certainly don’t want to be running behind everyone huffing and puffing all the way to the finish line.

You search the internet for hours trying to find tips for marathon runners.  There are hundreds of pages selling you all sorts of gimmicks to get you through the marathon without pain.  After buying half a dozen of these you suddenly realise all that has happened is that your purse is lighter, but you are no more fitter.  You are still struggling after 20 minutes.

You stop ‘training’ for another two weeks.  This is a mug’s game.  Only fools do it. You think.  You meet your friend in the pub on the night and she is enthusing;

‘How is your training?  I did 10 miles yesterday, and I feel great.  It is so exhilarating.  It gets the cobwebs off your brain doesn’t it?’

“Exhilarating” was not the word you are looking for.  You feel sick and want to throttle her.  It is a public place, you know you want be able to get away with it.  Judges are finicky about throttling silly people.    No, you cannot argue “self defence” as you are not actually defending anything.  Defending your reputation is not the same.  There must be a law against such “fitness fanatics”.  You wonder if you can get the charming man, who claimed to work for CIA you met on the way to Majorca, to do a “Rendition” on her and make her disappear?  Where was the visiting card he gave you?  I don’t think CIA would consider your request as part of “providing national security intelligence to senior US policymakers”, despite what you see in the movies.

You suddenly remember all those “performance enhancing drugs” some athletes had been caught with.  You wonder if you can start taking these steroids and mask it with something.  You had heard of some obscure African medicine, which would mask the steroids in urine.  You wonder if you can ask that lovely African girl from typing pool to get you some.  I don’t think steroids will help you train better.  How are you going to explain the new moustache and muscles?

Your neighbour tells you of the new “Runners shop” in town.  She is terribly enthusiastic about the shop and shows off her new running shoes.  You feel jealous.

‘They have all these new fancy gadgets; they measured my gait and running style.  They measured my feet, and this delightful young man fitted me with this running shoe.  He gave me several tips and my running is getting better now.’ 

You forget to notice that she was wearing the new running shoes with full make up on, her new Lycra running shorts and on her way to the “Runners shop” again!

Maybe it is worth a visit to that shop at least to see this “delightful young man” you think.

You start to wonder if there is any other way of coming through this marathon without getting embarrassed.  You remember all those tricks by Dick Dastardly in Wacky Races.  No, I don’t think you can get volunteers to post detour signs to get the runners going in the wrong direction!  The Race Marshalls are highly particular about what you do during the run.

It is true about “hitting the wall” during the race.  No, you don’t actually “hit a wall” and you cannot take a hammer for your run.  Race Marshalls frown on such practice.

The distance differs for different people and there is not a lot you can do about it apart from take your time and drink plenty of fluids.  What about that Cherry Juice everyone is talking about? You ask.  It is likely you will get stomach cramps if you drink such a heavy drink during the race.  It is better to drink sugared water or clear water during the race to get your energy boost.

The trip to the “Runners Shop was useful.  You are now fully kitted out with new Lycra shorts, running shoes.  New earphones which won’t slip out while running, new sweat band for forehead and wrists and a new pair of Oakley’s “specially made for running”.

Well, if that did not put you off running the Half Marathon, up in Newcastle in September, here is the only tip to all those crazy people who are intent on damaging  their knees with marathon running, which has the remotest chance of helping you –

You should start drinking two glasses of pure cherry juice a week before the race and continue drinking for a couple of days afterwards.  Drinking 12 to 16 oz per day during training days will stop muscle damage and speeds up muscle recovery for the Marathon itself.  For those of you who are calorie conscious, it is about 200 to 260 calories extra.  That is equivalent of running for 30 minutes at a pace of 8 km per hour. 

Best of Luck to all those crazy runners who are still intent on getting an expression like this winner!



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Facebook in the Bronze AGE!!

This is the week when the creator of Facebook, Mark Zukerberg floated his company on the stockmartket  to become one of the richest men in the world and get married.  I am sure he would be surprised to find someone else had thought of it 6000 years ago!

Now archaeologists have found rock paintings in Russia and Sweden depicting what could be the earliest version of Facebook.  Granite rocks in Russia and northern Sweden reveal a timeline filled with an archaic version of the Facebook “like.”

Using computer modelling, Mark Sapwell, a Ph.D. archaeology student at Cambridge University analysed some 3,500 rock art images from Nämforsen in Northern Sweden and Zalavruga in Western Russia.


A cluster at Nämforsen called Lillforshällan, where the elk image is the most common star of the show. This cluster is dated to an early period, around 4000 BC, when the elk image was the most common image to use. Credit: Mark Sapwell

Carved from about 4000 BCE up to the Bronze Age, the rock art shows animals, people, boats, hunting scenes — even very early centaurs and mermaids. Generations of semi nomadic people, who lived further inland in winter to hunt elk, produced these images and then occupied areas closer to coasts and rivers to fish.

As they were located in central and prominent locations on river crossroads, the rock art landscapes were likely very visible points where passing travellers would take notice of drawings by the people who came before them, adding their own images – “Like” on the world.  These paintings were on a series of clusters over a period of time – may be indicating they had Twitter as well – a popular Elk image being followed!!

Usually clustered on the granite rocks, the images ranged from groups of one to two images to rock art panels with over 500 images. Larger clusters represented a greater response and dialogue between people or may be a famous Bronze Age star being followed!

Images involved in those clusters were the most popular or most discussed for that time. For example, in earlier periods (around 4000-3500 BCE), a silhouette form of elk image is almost always seen among large clusters and rarely alone.  The popularity of images changed over time just like fashion changed over time on Facebook.  Only the latest fashion gets most “Like” hits!!

According to Sapwell, the vast natural canvases attracted so much attention because, the early Bronze Age people understood their social network power.


This is a computer model showing cluster of rock paintings showing the “Like” hits!!

Like today, people have always wanted to feel connected to each other and this was an expression of identity for these very early societies, before written language.

Mark Zuckerberg can take comfort in the fact that it never caught on!!  They seem to have died out with the Rock paintings.


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A Kangaroo Court; A triumph of Mediocrity

Good news!!

‘A Kangaroo Court‘ is now available on  It is reasonably priced at £8.99.  As it is printed in the United Kingdom, you don’t have to wait four weeks for delivery!! And it is FREE DELIVERY!!

Get your copy now!!

It should be available to order from your favourite book stores from the first week of June!

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Beer: A Royal Drink??

Earliest known record of Beer drinking was from the land recognised today as Iran.  Chemical tests have shown presence of beer in pottery from 5000 BCE. Not much else is known about that beer from Iran.

In Mesopotamia, the oldest evidence of beer is believed to be a 6000 year old Sumerian tablet (picture below) depicting people drinking beer through reed straws from a communal bowl.  The beer did not come filtered as it does now and the sediment often weighed down a beer bowl.

These beers were often thick, more of a gruel than a beverage, and drinking straws were used by the Sumerians to avoid the bitter solids left over from fermentation.

Beer is also mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh, in which the ‘wild man’ Enkidu is given beer to drink. “…he ate until he was full, drank seven pitchers of beer, his heart grew light, his face glowed and he sang out with joy.”

Leonard Woolley dug up the grave of Queen Puabi of the First Dynasty of the city of UR in Sumeria and found a gold beer mug with a built in straw.  Beer at that time was considered a drink of the Royalty.  The picture below is the gold beer mug of Queen Puabi, now kept in British Museum.

In ancient Sumer, the beer was linked to the gods and there was even a God for Beer.  Royalty drank the “best” Alulu beer.  The picture on the left is a receipt for the “best” Alulu beer from a brewer to a merchant in city of Umma in Sumeria, 2050 BCE.

A poem written in honour of Ninkasi, God of beer in 2000 BCE gives the oldest known recipe for making a beer.  It goes something like this;

“Ninkasi, you are the one
You are the one who holds with both hands the great sweet wort…
Ninkasi, you are the one who pours out the filtered beer of the collector vat, It is the onrush of Tigris and Euphrates

Elsewhere, in 4000 BCE, the Chinese drank a substance called Kyui which was their beer.

Ebla beer came from Syria dating back to 2500 BCE.  Beer was considered the most popular gift to give to Egyptian Pharaohs.  Beer was also used during sacrificial rites by the Egyptian Pharaohs.  It formed part of the daily diet of the Pharaohs.  Ancient Nubians had used beer as an antibiotic medicine.

Beer in Europe appeared around 3000 BCE.   Emperor Charlemagne, the ruler of all the Christian Kingdom in 8th century considered beer to be important part of living and instructed Christian brewers.  It was brewed in Monasteries and had religious significance.

Beer became vital to all the grain-growing civilizations of antiquity, including Egypt—so much so that James Death put forward a theory in The Beer of the Bible that the manna from heaven that God gave the Israelites was a bread-based, porridge-like beer called wusa.

It was the Romans who rejected the beer as a royal drink and popularised wine.

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Press Release

Check out the “Press Release”!!  This has been released to the media world over!!  I am so excited!!

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This is the “Press Release” for the launch of my book, ‘A Kangaroo Court; a triumph of mediocrity’ released today.

Doctor fights to save career from betrayers in bracing tell-all

“A Kangaroo Court: A Triumph of Mediocrity” by Dr. Shankar N. Kashyap recounts how what he calls jealous colleagues nearly stripped him of his medical license

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, England – In “A Kangaroo Court: A Triumph of Mediocrity” (ISBN 1468081330), Dr. Shankar N. Kashyap looks back at a terrifying episode when he says unscrupulous colleagues in search of retribution set about destroying his internationally renowned career. Since first moving to the United Kingdom in 1982 from India, Kashyap cut a meteoric path to success in the medical world.

As a student, he earned a fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons. He later served as clinical director of the orthopedic department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Kashyap developed a publicized rapid recovery program for patients undergoing hip and knee replacements and was widely known for his caring and conscientious bedside manner.

Nonetheless, he says other doctors grew envious of his international fame and his growing body of research published in peer-reviewed medical journals. Based on spurious allegations by his colleagues, Kashyap found himself in the crosshairs of the General Medical Council.

As he demonstrates in “A Kangaroo Court,” the pristine reputation Kashyap had spent decades refining was crumbling, and his friends and family were ill equipped to deal with the nasty allegations slung at a man who had mentored so many.

This bracing book gives a detailed account of the hearings and provides keen insight into the workings of the General Medical Council and its investigative methodology. “A Kangaroo Court” will be a must-read for doctors and other health professionals who are concerned about the ability of regulatory bodies and discontented colleagues to collude and damage their careers.

“A Kangaroo Court: A Triumph of Mediocrity” is available for sale online at and other channels.

About the Author:

For the past 17 years, Dr. Shankar N. Kashyap has worked as a consultant orthopedic surgeon in Newcastle upon Tyne in the United Kingdom. As one of the first UK surgeons to perform total knee replacements using minimally invasive techniques, he implemented a highly regarded rapid recovery program that was widely lauded in the press. He was invited by the Medical University of Vienna to teach his minimally invasive surgery techniques to doctors across Europe. He lives in Newcastle upon Tyne with his wife and three children.


Natalie Bell


Phone:             +44 7956761743



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Sample Chapters

I have added three sample chapters from my book “A Kangaroo Court; a triumph of mediocrity”, chosen at random.  There is the first chapter, which sets the scene.  One chapter from the middle, which shows the incompetence and there is one where, the inquisition is highlighted.  I hope this gives a flavour of the book!!

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