Tuesday, 4 September 2012


I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to my regular readers for a lack of new postings on this blog. When I came back to the UK at the beginning of June I’d been cycling 50–60 miles a week, and I could walk short distances without discomfort, but I reckoned without the wettest June on record, which meant that I was able to do very little cycling.

I don’t know what is cause and what is effect, but three months later I cannot walk at all without pain, and I’m no longer convinced that cycling is beneficial (60-65 percent of all the work being done is by my uninjured leg). I’ve found this very frustrating, and there has been a wholly unforeseen side-effect of this deterioration in the condition of my left knee, which I originally damaged in a cycling accident at the end of last year: I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since June!

The problem is that although I can fall asleep easily enough, any movement while asleep is likely to generate pain, which wakes me up, so a night in bed consists of a seemingly endless series of interrupted snoozes, and as far as I can tell, I never reach the state of deep sleep that my body needs to rejuvenate itself—I am no longer aware that I’ve been dreaming, for instance.

The result is that during the day my head feels heavy and my mind sluggish, and even though I have plenty of ideas on what to write about, I simply cannot concentrate on the task in hand. I think that I need the attention of an orthopaedic specialist, which means that I will have to wait until I return to Hong Kong in about five weeks, because the way the National Health Service is organized in the UK, long waiting times for treatment are the norm.

It is therefore unlikely that I will be posting anything of significance until mid-October at the earliest, although I could post another hard question or collection of photographic abstractions in the interim if there appears to be any demand. For example, you might like to test yourself against the following puzzle, which was originally posed to me by my son Siegfried and which took me three days to solve.
What connects the following?
 • A metal.
 • A weapon.
 • A Roman goddess.
 • An American state.
 • A native American ‘tribe’ that gave its name to an American city.
Needless to say, the solution turns on being able to identify which metal, weapon, etc. is needed to make all five clues refer to the same thing. No further clues are necessary, and I think that this question is much easier than the one that I posted in June.


  1. In (symbol of Indium)
    Diana (an Air Rifle)
    Diana (the Roman goddess)
    Indiana (the State)
    Indian-apolis (a native american and the city)

    Hope you get well soon!

    1. A very ingenious attempt Rob, but incorrect. For example, indium and Diana have nothing intrinsically in common (“Indianapolis” is a connection only as a result of a fortuitous juxtaposition of letters). You should be looking for five words that all refer to the same thing.

  2. Denis, sorry to hear about all the pain you are suffering at the moment. It sounds really awful and the lack of sleep due to this does not help but rather aggravates it even more.

    I know you said you were waiting to return to Hong Kong to see a specialist but I'm just wondering if you could go to the 'Accident and Emergency' department of any hospital where you are. You should be seen immediately or within hours, as you could have a serious underlying problem which could get worse before you return. Even if they don't give you treatment, they may still be able to give you pain-killers or possibly diagnose what may be causing it.

    I must admit, I was checking your blog regular and was wondering what was happening. I was about to contact you today and then saw this post. Maybe you should leave a message for BC, as you were very active there too.

    Anyway, your health is very important and must be put first, I hope that you will make a full recovery soon.

    1. Thank you for your kind words Rum. I did consult my local GP a few weeks ago, but I didn’t find the encounter helpful (the doctor who recommended that I take up cycling after my right knee went in 1997 has since retired, and I always made a point of consulting him rather than anyone else in the practice while he was still working; any such consultation now is inevitably impersonal). And the nearest A&E department is 18 miles away, which is why I’ve focused on sorting out the problem when I get back to Hong Kong.

      I haven’t visited BC now for a couple of months, although I’ll try to update members there soon. By the way, it took me almost a week to write this post, which gives you some idea of the extent of my problem.

  3. That sounds like a nasty problem you've got with your knee there.

    I'll have to give some thought to that riddle.

    1. Nasty indeed Bryan. And annoying. I think that you’ll find the riddle interesting; it’s the kind of puzzle where if you identify two clues correctly the rest should fall into place.

  4. dennis, sorry to hear your recently condition. i was wondering where you were hiding and i just started to enjoy biking over a month ago.
    as a long term chronic health "problem" sufferer, i would say please be careful with your medical treatment. i know so many CFS/ME patients started their sick journey by some traffic accidents and it was many years later, they realized what made them suffer chronically was not their injury but those professional treatments.

    1. Thanks for the advice Yunyi. I think that I need to find out precisely what’s wrong first before making any decisions. By the way, I’m delighted to hear that you’ve taken up cycling. It can be hard work, but it can also be a lot of fun.

  5. just come back to drop a note, hope you doing better.

    1. Hi Yunyi. This summer has been something of a nightmare: poor weather has restricted my opportunities for cycling, and my knee continues to be uncomfortable, occasionally even painful. However, I arrived back in Hong Kong last night, I’m just about to get my bike out, and I will seek specialist medical attention next week. I’m optimistic.


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