Wednesday, November 14, 2007

St Pancras, my family, Rail Travel, the NHS...

OK - I'm smouldering. No, I'm more than smouldering. I'm in meltdown.

They've just spent HOW MANY billion pounds on St Pancras station? Now, I'm a huge fan of John Betjeman, who was instrumental in saving the original building, and I'm delighted that rail travel is being upgraded. But I'm sorry - to whose benefit? We already had a continental rail link from Waterloo via Ashford - both accesible from the wealthy South-East. It now goes from St Pancras via Ebbsfleet - right out on the eastern edge of the South-East. What benefit will that have? And all the businesses and homes built up around Ashford with the government's promise of an assured and wealthy future - what happens to them?

And the boasting about it is unbelievable. Can we not point these stupid people - jobsworths creating work for other jobsworths - in the direction of the Beeching cuts of the 60s? Which are now acknowledged to have had a deleterious effect on the whole nation. There are people all over the country struggling to re-open those old lines, frequently with no hope of success because they have been built over, but trying because of a belief in reducing the amount of road travel, and because many people in rural communities are virtually cut off. And the government is trying to cut them off even further by cutting 2,500 Post Offices across the country.

Oh - I forgot to mention the health service. Now, here in the South-East we've had a nice juicy NHS scandal recently. An unwanted opportunity to view the inside of a hospital was given to me yesterday, as my daughter Louise sadly suffered a miscarriage. Those who know me also know it wasn't quite as simple as that, but then, when would my family ever do anything the simple way? Anyway - to our muttons. I actually had to go and find someone to come and see the three ladies in Lou's ward, who were all waiting to be discharged and had seen no-one since mid-morning. It was now 4pm. And I mean - no-one. Except the boy who brought their lunch, who also told Lou she could eat. Up until then she assumed she was still nil-by-mouth. No-one had told her otherwise.

Now I know how over-stretched the nursing stff are. We, as a family, also have a very close friend who works at this very hospital.(No, it wasn't the one appearing in our little local scandal.) But when a patient has been told "We need to keep an eye on you" and no-one comes near you for over six hours?

In general, I'm a supporter of the NHS. My own doctor is brilliant and gets furious with some of the other support agencies. While I was with him yesterday, he received a call from someone in a branch of Social Services saying, despite his entreaties, they would not even visit an elderly woman already on morphine to take her a knee support, let alone do anything else for her. He put the phone down on them, something I would never have believed if I hadn't seen it, he is so mild mannered, and I bet they haven't heard the last of it!

OK - so please, government, or anybody else, come to that, redevelop our unused rail network to provide transport for our OWN country. Take the admin away from the poor nursing staff and allow them to NURSE, for Chr*st's sake. Relax the bleedin' no-smoking rule! Just give us tiny little places to call our own and we'll happily kipper ourselves away from the rest of you. Keep the village schools open. Take the monopoly away form the supermarkets. Stop acting like Big Brother - sorry folks, the original Big Brother, not the more recent one - which, of course, should be banned. As should all reality TV. And yes, I HAVE watched some, as I was bullied about it back in the summer. "How can you condemn it if you don't watch it?" So I did.

OK - that's my audition for Grumpy Old Women finished. Except of course, I haven't moaned about the printers going bust with my new book still clutched in their maw. Sorted now, but there were a few hysterical moments. Oh, and the mice...

I have to say, my children think I'm unbelievable and tell me I've become an old woman. They laugh at me - you know, the way they do? As if my opinions were fairly unimportant and faintly risible. You just watch those lamposts down Park Lane...