Monday, January 16, 2017

 A good day, certainly a busy one. The shawl has advanced to somewhere-in-row-53 of the border pattern: I think just about qualifying for my two-a-day goal. Last night’s catheter problem resolved itself satisfactorily – a nurse came fairly promptly, found that the catheter was draining successfully, deduced that it had previously been kinked. A fairly good night’s sleep was had by all.

And we had a splendid visit this morning with Anthony Bryer’s widow, my old friend Jenny

She told us a wonderful story about an obituary, in the Guardian, of some famous Greek, alas! unknown to me. The obituarist had submitted it with a photograph showing the dead man, Bryer, and the famous Byzantine historian Stephen Runciman. The Guardian, having the wit at least to recognize Runciman, had wrongly deduced that of the remaining two men, Bryer with his splendid beard and wild hair, was more likely to be Greek than the smoothly dressed third man, and had cut the photograph down to him.

Bryer and Jenny were in an airport somewhere – Belfast? -- when she went to buy the paper and found her husband’s photograph on the obituary page.

And the other thing I learned was that in England – in Birmingham, at least – there is no social care for the prosperous middle classes.

That cuts both ways: it means that Bryer never languished in hospital as my husband did for so many weeks last year, and the year before. The family had to hire help, and they did, and he came home. The NHS, obviously, benefits as well: a bed un-blocked.

Whereas in Scotland, social care is available with no reference to a means test. Two carers come to us four times a day, free of charge. But my husband had to wait a long time for the “care package” to be put in place.

The odd thing about this is that, with all we keep hearing at the moment about Crisis in the NHS, the general feeling I get is  that things are worse in England than in Scotland. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? I am sure there are at least as many seriously poor people, per capita, in Scotland as in England. I need more figures, and am not going to exert myself to acquire them. I remember telling Rachel once (=London) what we pay in council tax, and she said, That can’t be right, Mummy. But it was. Maybe that’s all there is to it.

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