Wednesday morning started normally enough. I contracted a weird stomach bug over the Christmas limbo period between Christmas and New Year. My body was sending signals that I was going to be sick. Once I got to the bathroom, these symptoms would subside into either a hot flush or a cold shiver. All very odd. The bug now progressed so now at five am on Wednesday morning, I was awoken by a horrendous spat of heart burn. Awake and not feeling too great, I pressed in my headphones and switched on my portable digital radio.
It was tuned to Five Live. I quite like Five Live. I find that its shouty tone keeps me at the right level of consciousness in the morning while other radio stations tend to send me to sleep. As the financial programme gave way to the breakfast show, the main story of the day got me interested. Please get in contact if you have had any experience of your hospital outpatient appointment being cancelled. Well that was me alright. I was due to see Mr Q on 12th December. A few days before I got a letter cancelling it and asking me to come on 19th December. Then the Friday before the 19th, another letter came cancelling that and asking me to come on 9th January. This had been a nightmare to coordinate work wise.
However, these were only appointments, not actual operations. Before this appeal I had heard a terrible story of a guy having his hip operation cancelled twice. He was obviously in a lot of pain. Yet it was the nurse afterwards who said that it was the cancellation of out patients’ appointments that would create even more problems for the NHS over the winter period.
Partly inspired by her, I texted in briefly saying my story. About a minute later I got a call from a harassed researcher asking if I could speak, live on the radio, in five minutes. OK I guess. Before me spoke a very eloquent junior doctor. He summed up perfectly in far better language than I ever could, the problems with the NHS this winter. I was being lined up as a disgruntled patient to counter his agreement. I took a deep breathe, highlighted my story and agreed with the junior doctor. At the end I had changed from being disgruntled to being reasonable. You can’t say better than that! So off I went to walk the dog.
When I returned, I was treated to an unusual sight. My husband was being nice to someone on the phone. My husband is usually nice to people on the phone who he knows. However, if you are a stranger, be afraid. Be very afraid. The person he was being nice to was someone called Fiona from BBC News at One. He passed me over. She was calling to see if I wouldn’t mind doing a piece to camera about my situation. I looked around. My husband was still in his dressing gown and about to start a fry up. The night before, he had decided to complete dismantle his wardrobe and reorganise his clothing. The house was covered in his clothes and soon would be smelling of fried food. I said to Fiona it would be better if we could do the story in Nottingham rather than at my house. She said that could work as she could use a crew from BBC Nottingham. We chatted a bit more and she said she would call back to confirm a location.
True to her word, about half an hour later, she called back and told me to go to BBC Nottingham and ask for Miles at reception. BBC Nottingham is near a huge traffic island in Nottingham. When I arrived, the receptionist was expecting me and buzzed Miles. Miles was a cheery chap and said that he had spoken to the Premier Inn over the road. The plan was that I could have a coffee there and we would have a chat. So off we set with Boris the cameraman in tow to the Premier Inn.
The Premier Inn had a good outlook. It’s located next to the canal in Nottingham. The only problem Boris had was trying to position the camera so you couldn’t see any graffiti. The actual interview lasted about twenty minutes. They quickly scootered off telling that it would be on the regional news programme, East Midlands Today, and could be picked up nationally, but there was no guarantee.
I got home, had some lunch and tuned in. The headline story was about the winter pressures on the NHS. The first item and there was me, supping my coffee at the Premier Inn, talking about my story. Un-bel-iev-able! The reason I think they chose it was visually, you can tell I need an operation. Also, I’m young. It’s a sad fact that I think if I was an old lady awaiting a hip op, I don’t think they would have picked it up. There was a longer piece on East Midlands Today about it and that was that.
Then the phone rang. It was BBC Nottingham. Could I come in and be interviewed for Drive Time? I made my way in and said my piece. On the drive back, I nearly crashed my car when I heard myself again talking on Radio 4 about my situation. This was getting ridiculous.
When I got home, my husband was catching up on Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. For the uninitiated, Dirk Gently is the creation of writing genius Douglas Adams. To explain what happens is near impossible. You just have to watch it, end of. I love Douglas Adams. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a work of genius. Its authoritative tone makes the implausible, plausible. Of course, Volgon poetry is the worst in the galaxy and Slartibartfast designed the Norwegian coastline. How could you not know that?
Dirk Gently goes way further. My mum bought me the book when I was about twelve and it defeated me. The Beeb made a TV series of it. It worked quite well. Dirk was an annoying tramp like character who lived in his car always with some Brie in his pocket for emergencies. In the American version on Netflix, he’s a lot cleaner cut, thankfully still British and strangely asexual unlike the British Dirk who is a right sleaze.
The plot is complicated to put it mildly. It involves time travel, characters changing to animals and vice versa. Keep you eye on that kitten is all I’m saying. It seemed a completely appropriate programme to get lost in after the bonkers day I had had. It had felt like I had stepped through a wormhole into another universe of deadlines, the search of a human angle and I’m not sure it was a world I liked.
By Friday the eye of the news had moved. The NHS didn’t get a look in. An awful rapist had been released on parole, Donald Trump was battling away with Steve Bannon and even worse, the government was threatening to put 25p on take away coffee cups. The winter crisis was now on the back burner. For now, anyway….