It always seems disingenuous to have a moan at the N.H.S in Great Britain, as so many people work so hard on what some would consider little pay to give us the care that they trained for many years to provide. The truth is that they are governed by poor management and weak budgets, a combination that could ultimately cost lives and probably has.
Many of us have to wait in excess of 2 weeks to be able to see their G.P., once of coarse you have bypassed the stereotypical matriarchal receptionist who will ask what your problem is and make an medical assessment based on experience gained watching “Holby City” last week, and depending on the system your surgery uses, “your” Doctor invariably has nothing available any time soon.
Once in, you have between 8-10 minutes to make your case that will justify your time of this professionals busy day, and in my case it would seem it did, by being ordered directly to hospital to undergo 27 hours of tests, some of which were quite “invasive” (no, not that invasive) leaving me feeling that perhaps my wait was impeding any recovery that I was about to endure.
Happily however, although life changing, my diagnosis was not life threatening, and every precaution was taken to ensure my good health whilst within the hospital walls. My care was taken seriously by the friendly and informative staff that surrounded me on every busy shift they completed. The building itself, which is 50 years older than the National Health service, was tired but fundamentally clean.
My latest experience of this struggling system has highlighted to me the flaws that have to be approached vigorously, in order to safeguard its future and success in this country of growing population and increasing elderly residents.
I have been lucky enough to receive tickets for Bob Dylan’s UK tour and as it is very local to me, I’m understandably excited, but I wonder if Mr Robert Zimmerman (Dylan) is prepared for what lays ahead?, given the location.
As I was reminded by my friends at the Eastleigh News, it is not uncommon for big names to visit Southampton, either when they are famous or as up and coming unrecognised stars of the future, and indeed, the City can boast it’s fair share of stars that have passed through on the road to stardom, some even have their roots within our streets.
For a man that has played to crowds of thousands, is our little civic building perhaps a touch too intimate? Dylan’s most recent UK tour is to stop at places such as The Royal Albert Hall (cap 5,ooo), 02 Apollo (cap 3.500) and the Motorpoint Arena (5.000 plus), So I am concerned that the great man himself at the tender age of 72 will feel a little underwhelmed in our Guildhall that has the capacity of a large living room (cap 1,749).
Either way, it is with great gusto that I eagerly await my appointment with this historic icon, at a venue within minutes of where I live, with my companion for the evening in the shape of my eldest son. And of course, I will be sharing my experiences for those who wish to read them.
Very few of us actually enjoy shopping, least of all me, and of all places a petrol station has to be the worst. The new dynamic of shopping for groceries whilst filling the tank up has always been a bit alien to me, although beginning to appreciate the concept, so much so, I also shop at one of these “Express” type places regardless of my need for fuel. And it was on such an occasion that I encountered a very unpleasant individual, and the events of a few seconds screamed volumes of the kind of people who are employed to deal with the public.
Foolishly, I had chosen a time in the afternoon that is dedicated to Mums up and down the country to collect their offspring, and although I am fully aware that many do this on foot, you can not argue that our roads fill substantially during this period, and I make no jokes for the need of a 4×4 vehicle at all.
As with most forecourts, the general flow leads you to a pump, although you can normally bypass the area and proceed to the parking spaces for the supermarket, while preforming this manoeuvre I saw an opportunity to park in a soon to be vacant plot in an otherwise busy car park. Pausing briefly to allow a young mother and small child to reverse and leave the space, my attention was drawn to a heckle of abuse aimed in my direction. For it was completely without my knowledge that I had intentionally caused the momentary delay of someone who had more rights on the highway than a lowly shopper, The foul mouthed torrent of abuse was coming from a van emblazoned with company name and logo, and from it’s drivers window the occupier was publicly sharing their displeasure in front of an audience of parents and school aged children, I was further surprised that the culprit was a woman, who could have quite possibly bore children of her own years previously.
Although I initially calmly sailed through the mire of English vocabulary, I was aghast at the thought that this person was not only representing her employer sat in the van, but was totally unashamed of her actions and said employer was equally unsurprised when I phoned to report it, to this end, shame on them!
After a successful morning clearing the garden of bulky waste and then returning the hire van, I was home by midday on a lovely sunny spring day. Although the lions share of jobs were done, there was plenty of time to “potter”, what a plan, or so I thought.
Returning from the top half of our two tier garden with tools in both hands, I misjudged the steps that I had approached a thousand times before, and indeed, I had actually built. Missing a step halfway down, I was heading for the ground rapidly and there was little I could do about it, fortuitously my inverted foot broke the fall before the rest of my middle-aged body came crashing down behind it.
Laying face up at a blue sky as my body was performing a systems check, few thoughts entered my mind, least of all how I was about to get up or even if I would be able to, dragging my body to an almost vertical position, I realised that my foot was sending out a mayday for attention. The pain was tolerable and walking was just about possible, well initially, for as time passed, I became aware of some slight swelling on the side of my foot that had bore the weight of a grown man, and ultimately this would cause me to rest my injury for the next three days.
Limping into the house, I discovered both our dogs dozing on the lounge sofa, and hardly raised their heads as I waddled in. So much for man’s best friend I thought and hardly the loyalty that I had grown up watching a certain rough collie had shown, but still they had no need to bark for help I suppose.
The rescue team
The Grand National is a sporting date that has been followed by many for decades, whether you love it, hate it or believe it to be cruel, you can’t get away from the attention it is given every year. And this event often inspires people that hardly ever gamble to take a punt, and that adds to the excitement of this multi horse race.
We are not talking thousands of pounds and few annul gamblers place the rent money on an outsider, but hopefully only what they can afford to lose, which unfortunately invariably you will. The bookmakers environment, although has changed over the years, does still daunt some when entering. A far reach from the smoke filled cramped rooms of yesteryear, the modern turf accountant premises gives you a bright welcoming area in which to “buy” their products, easy to read instructions and normally helpful staff who undoubtedly can spot the once yearly customer in a heartbeat.
Not everyone enjoys the atmosphere or thrill of the “sport of Kings” and over the years it has had it’s share of controversy over alleged cruelty and false starts, but rest assured the biggest winners of the day are bookies, because I’ve never seen one riding a bicycle.
Although my door is adorned with signs asking not to be included in the myriad of junk mail that is frequently on offer, I often still get it, and if I am about at the time, I remind those responsible that I do not care for this particular type of letterbox invasion.
Generally, I am met with a lethargic response in a accent of foreign shores, and sometimes squeeze an apathetic apology from the unsuspecting canvasser. But today that all changed when I received a foul mouthed tirade from someone spreading the news of a pizza shop under new management.
This time when I objected, I was met with some objectionable behaviour and what appeared to be the only English language our European friend knew and could pronounce, which was clearly not taught at a citizen class at evening school. Quite astounded I withdrew and returned indoors to review my options in response to this assault on my ears, the council, although sympathetic, could do little, the police recorded an incident under the public order act, but I expect to hear no more, and it was at this point I realised the enormity of this guys actions.
It had suddenly occurred to me that because of this attitude his whole day was a waste of time, no amount of posting leaflets will give you a return on bad manners, and for every shiny mailshot distributed there will be ten families that will hear from word and mouth of the poor staff choices made by this apparent fledgling company.
Two hours, yes 2 painful hours, that is what it has taken me to travel my usual six miles into work for my night-shift. An area that relies on the motorway to free up local traffic burst in to complete chaos when it was closed for the best part of the day and night.
My emotions were thrown into survival mode, so while creeping along at a snails pace, planning to circumnavigate the countryside in order to be smarter than the guy behind me, I began taking stock of any supplies I may have in my temporary home, mints, chocolate or any liquid available since the last event? Hoping my full bladder holds out, whilst looking for any utensil that would make an emergency potty and realising it would be a very public affair had I have to use it. Not to mention my ageing car and the new smells and noises coming from it, praying all the time that I will be saved the humiliation of a steaming or smoky breakdown.
And in the ongoing furore that resembled a scene from the pages of history and the evacuation of a large City, you are reminded that a life has been lost in the carnage that preceded, and that I was able to return home or work, a little late, but alive.