Wednesday, 6th October, 2021

[Day 569]

Last night, I thought I would hunt around in the ‘pending’ tray in my study for my letter of appointment for the routine CT scan which I am going to have on Saturday in one of the local hospitals/treatment centres. As it happens, Bromsgrove is in the middle of a triangle of hospitals and for any procedures, investigations or indeed anything more serious one can be sent either to the Alexander hospital in Redditch, Worcester Royal (in Worcester) or sometimes a treatment centre (a downgraded hospital) in Kidderminster. As patients, we are well used to shuttling round between any of the three centres as we are approximately equidistant for each. The staff also get shuffled around and by all accounts the staff actively dislike this arrangement – but they have hardly any choice. The point of this story is that I discovered my letter of appointment for my scan on Saturday but also discovered, almost completely by accident, a routine urology appointment for today, Wednesday, at 10.0am in the morning. This appointment letter was sent to me in August and had somehow evaded my normal system where hospital appointments get marked up on the calendar and on our house ‘planning board’. When I arrived at the hospital this morning, the car parking although free was an absolute nightmare. Every single space allocated for patients was already taken and we were directed to an overspill carpark, itself an overspill from a staff carpark and seemingly hundreds of yards away from the main hospital. The hospital appointment itself was a breeze as there were no other outpatients around and the whole waiting area resembled the ‘Marie Celeste‘. I was seen by a nurse practitioner who was very chatty and informative and she arranged a further (routine) MRI scan for me which might take weeks to run through the system. She performed a little diagnostic test on me to reassure each other that all was well and then I was sent on my way, having given a blood sample en route. When I got home, the weather was really set fair and so I made up a flask of coffee and Meg and I made for the local park (as per usual) On our way down, we bumped into our Italian friend who had reported some gurgling water noises to the local water authority and they had turned up, dug a hole in the pavement and presumably identified the source of the problem which no doubt they were going to fix eventually (leaving a hole in the pavement in the meantime) We didn’t actually go directly to the park but called in at Waitrose to pick up a few things of which we were running short before our main shop-up at the end of the week. Finally, we headed for home and prepared a chicken meal for ourselves.

The news channels this afternoon were very much taken up with Boris Johnson’s address to the Conservative party Conference. This was an extraordinary affair to put it mildly. The speech as a whole was full of (not very funny) jokes and typical Johnsonian bluff and bluster. It was hard to discern any acual policy announcements and the whole ‘performance’ was designed only to entertain the party faithful. However, he did manage some digs at his predecessors (Cameron and May) by referring to ‘decades of drift and dither‘ and it is evident that Johnson is intent on painting a big picture (bereft of any detail) of ‘a high wage, high productivity, low immigration’ future for the UK. You would not imagine, though, that we were living in times when we were queueing for petrol, thousands of pigs were being slaughtered because there are not enough workers to process the carcasses in the abattoirs, the Universal Credit was being cut by £20 a week and gas prices were spiking again. Of course, all of these problems are just being dismissed as ‘transitional problems’ whilst we progress towards a fully post-Brexit economy. In circumstances like this, I always look forward to the analyses on Newsnight on BBC2 each night – as this is when serious analysis does get undertaken of the day’s political events and some detailed questionning can take place.

The other political mantra which is being constantly heard is the philosophy/politics of ‘levelling up’ and now we even a Ministry with the words ‘levelling up’ in its title.The big trouble here is that hardly anyone knows what ‘levelling up’ is meant to be! I think I can be pretty certain that I know what it will NOT be – which is a massive redistribution of income and wealth and life chances across the country. This would imply that the Tories are committed to the abolition of all social class, ethnic and regional differences across the whole of the country which is not going to happen. Instead, it is a rather innocuous soundbite which sounds good but is essentially meaningless. Eventually, some more money might be pushed in the direction of (Tory) local authorities which might be enough to prove that some regional inequalities have been ironed out but I suspect that like other meaningless slogans which means all things to all men it will eventually disappear.