Friday, 10th September, 2021

[Day 543]

After all of the excitement generated by yesterdays’s celebrations of 54 years of married bliss, today rather had the feeling of ‘the morning after the night before‘ about it. After we had got ourselves dragged into bed and seen a little of the late night news, then I got up to write yesterday’s blog which might explain its slightly ‘offbeat’ character. So this morning, we were a little slow in getting up and getting going – and of course our domestic help calls around on a Friday so we always seem to have masses to talk about. Eventually, though we did get going and had previously arranged to meet with our University of Birmingham friend in the park – as it turned out, we were only half an hour late. There wasn’t time to pick up our newspaper (now confined to ‘The Times‘) and we spent about an hour and a half chatting about all kinds of things. One matter which was absorbing our attention, though, was a problem manifest over practically the whole of the UK. This is how to have an adequate consultation with a GP when it is so difficult to have any face-to-face contact with a GP these days when the default method of consultation is via a telephone appointment. We were reminiscing with each other that an old-fashioned GP in the former pre-COVID days could have gathered all kinds of impressionistic data from the moment you entered the room until you were beckoned to sit down in a chair adjacent to the doctor’s work station. Now, I think it is true to say, that a GP is likely to be staring at his computer screen and wave you towards a chair before entering the opening gambit of ‘what can we do for you today?‘ Just by chance, there is an article in today’s ‘Times‘ which is detailing how the senior coroner for Manchester is highlighting in ‘Prevention of future deaths‘ reports in which five cases of death over the last few months could have been avoided if face-to-face consultation had taken place rather than a telephone consultation. One of these cases involved the case of a 99-year old resident of a residential home who had a telephone consultation with a doctor who did not diagnose a broken femur from which the patient could well not have died. These cases are no doubt the prominent tip of a vary large iceberg but when you consider that for the past year and half a huge amount of ‘normal’ doctoring has been squeezed out by the impact of the pandemic, it not surprising that mistakes will occur and diagnoses not be made on time.

When we go home (late) it was time for me to prepare what is now fast becoming a Friday lunchtime special i.e. fresh sea-bass bought from Waitrose only the day before. Now that I know exactly how to cook these correctly so that the skin is nicely crispy and, once turned over, the flesh is nicely cooked without being over-cooked, we are really enjoying our mid-day on Friday treat. I serve it with some capers (previously bought in a jar), some fresh lemon juice, garlic butter and purple sprouting broccoli. This is a dish which is both extreme delicious as well as healthy so I am more than happy, having just established a Friday tradition, to carry on with it. To be honest, I used to make a big fish pie about once a month with 4-5 different kinds of fish and then, having cooked it, save several portions for future meals but it does take quite a lot of preparation and I have rather got out of the habit of doing it in the last few months. Today, after lunch, I went down on my own by car in order to pick up my copy of ‘The Times’ which I now intend to read rather more assiduously now that I am bereft of The Guardian. I did take the opportunity to pop into Waitrose where I bought a bottle of Cava and a card for my friendly Asian newspaper whose shop is just around the corner. When we were discussing our own forthcoming 54th wedding anniversary celebrations, it emerged that he was due to celebrate 45 years of marriage on that most memorable of dates i.e. 9/11 (as the Americans would put it, 11th September for us in the UK). In the past week, I did watch a documentary of how 9/11 unfolded hour by hour as captured in air traffic control messages (still quite laconic) and a lot of footage shot on people’s cellphones (mobiles to us Europeans) that had never been broadcast before. I have no doubt tomorrow, twenty years after the events of two airliners crashing into the Work Trade Centre in New York, one into the Pentagon and one brought down in a field in Pennsylvania, our airwaves will be filled with all kinds of footage of the attack. One fact that I have just heard on tonight’s news that I did not know was that some 10,000 New Yorkers were directly impacted by the collapse of the twin towers mainly though the release of toxic materials and a number of these developed cancers from which they subsequently died. I have seen one source that indicates that nearly 3,000 people died directly but that over 4,000 survivors and first-aiders may have died since 9/11 itself.