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1 hour, 55 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 08 May 2012

Simon and the team welcome Professor Jim Al-Khalili to the studio to talk physics and discuss his new book "Paradox".

A new Confession will be loaded unto our calm and conscientious Collective and we'll get you some expert advice in "Homework Sucks".

Plus Matt Williams will have the latest sport and Rebecca Pike brings you the money news...

Music Played

13 items
  • Image for Stevie Wonder

    Stevie Wonder Part-Time Lover

    Stevie Wonder - Song Review, Motown

  • Image for Thea Gilmore

    Thea Gilmore and Sandy Denny London

    (CD Single), Mighty Village, 1

  • Image for The Police

    The Police Don't Stand So Close To Me

    The Very Best Of Sting & The Police, A&M

  • Image for Strawbs

    Strawbs Lay Down

    Acoustic Moods (Various Artists), Polygram TV

  • Image for Tavares

    Tavares Whodunit

    The Greatest Hits Of 1977 (Various), Premier

  • Image for Paloma Faith

    Paloma Faith Picking Up The Pieces

    (CD Single), Universal, 1

  • Image for Van Morrison

    Van Morrison Full Force Gale

  • Image for Bryan Adams

    Bryan Adams Summer Of 69

    Bryan Adams - The Best Of Me, Mercury

  • Image for Bette Midler

    Bette Midler The Wind Beneath My Wings

    Atlantic Records 50 Years: The Gold Anniversary Collection (Various Artists), Atlantic, 2

  • Image for Train

    Train Drive By

    (CD Single), Columbia, 12

  • Image for Neil Young

    Neil Young Four Strong Winds

    Comes A Time, Reprise

  • Image for Engelbert Humperdinck

    Engelbert Humperdinck Love Will Set You Free

    (CD Single), Conehead, 1

  • Image for Bobby Darin

    Bobby Darin Beyond The Sea

    Rediscover The 60's - Sealed With A K, Old Gold

  • Confession: Blue is the Colour

    Dear Father Simon and the Collective,

    I seek forgiveness for an incident involving my youngest son. Unfortunately he suffers from occasional asthma, usually triggered by a stubborn cold. At this time he was aged seven and had been suffering from the snuffles and cough for a week or so.

    My husband and I both work and we had a fantastic German au pair to help with childcare early mornings and after school. She was wonderful – a model of German efficiency and competence and we knew our kids were in safe hands with her. This particular morning, as we were rushing around to leave for work, she pointed out that our son was looking a bit pale.

    Indeed our son was looking a bit pale but seemed cheerful enough in himself. It had been his birthday that week and he had lots of new Chelsea gear, and was well enough to be kicking a football around and getting in our way. “An early night for you tonight, and take your inhaler to school” I yelled at him as I rushed past him out of the door on the way to work.

    Very soon I was in work mode and thought nothing more of it. About mid- morning I received a phone call from our au pair. “The school has called” she said. “They think he is really not well, possibly it’s his asthma and they have sent him home.” “Give him a few puffs of his inhaler and I will call you in half an hour” I said, hoping that we were not due a serious attack which would be very inconvenient as my husband was miles away, the au pair was due at college and I had some important meetings.

    Grudgingly I called back a little later and our au pair sounded quite concerned. “He really doesn’t look well at all” she said. “I think it’s his asthma”.

    I was a little annoyed because he had seemed well enough that morning, but starting to feel a twinge of worry, I cancelled my meetings, apologised to colleagues and told our au pair to meet me at our local A&E. From time to time our son’s asthma required a little more help than we could give, and the last time we took him to A&E, a doctor had reprimanded me that I had left it quite late.

    I arrived at A&E first, and when my son and the au pair arrived I took a good look at him in the daylight. Indeed he did look very pale, almost blue. “Oh no”, I thought guiltily, “I’ve missed the onset of an asthma attack” and hurried inside.
    In A&E the triage nurse took one look at him and whisked him through to the ward. His school jumper and shirt were whipped off, an oxygen mask put on, machines hooked up and readings taken. His oxygen levels were a little low but not drastic.

    The doctors and nurses started to ask the usual questions, how long has this been going on, has he been using his inhaler, what is his mood like? Well, he has a bit of a cold and perhaps he’s been a little subdued but nothing remarkable.

    Surprisingly, even though his oxygen levels seemed OK, the doctors appeared to be getting more concerned. I started to feel more worried and looked at one of the doctors. She was frowning. “He really looks pale, almost blue and it doesn’t seem to be an asthma attack.” What could it be” I asked? “It could be a cardiac issue” she said.

    I felt sick and faint. My own heart started to pound. More doctors came hurrying in and more machines were brought. My usually calm and collected au pair was terrified. Having been very quiet up to now my son looked at me a little scared, ”I’ve been here lots of times but never had wires stuck all over me before” he whispered. For a few minutes I didn’t really register while doctors and nurses tried various machines and discussed things I didn’t understand.

    “Has he eaten something poisonous? What do we keep in the house or garage?” No one knew what was causing his condition. Then a nurse said “hang on, let me try something”. She wet some paper towels and wiped them over my son’s face. In her hand, the paper towel now sported a blue hue.

    I felt sick and faint for a second time but for very different reasons. As the nurse wiped my son’s face, his normal, clear skin and pink cheeks emerged, and the paper towel became distinctly blue.

    It turns out that the birthday present Chelsea duvet and pillow set had leached to produce the braveheart-esqe appearance of my son’s face. Clearly he had not washed his face that morning and neither my husband or I had checked.

    Crimson faced, too embarrassed to embrace any sense of relief, we apologised profusely to the medical team, who, fortunately, saw the funny side, and we left the hospital to go home for a bath and to do some laundry!

    I seek forgiveness from the school for disrupting the day, from my au pair who had the fright of her life, those colleagues whose meetings I cancelled, and most especially from the wonderful nurses and doctors, who have helped us on more than one occasion with a real asthma attack, for taking it with such good humour.



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