Let’s have a conversation about three things… two people and a place.
The first person; an elegant lady, of a certain age. She’s of an era that was ‘properly’ educated, being lady-like was a principle virtue and manners mattered, most…
… she is a self confessed, ‘tough old bird’! Married and divorced, run businesses, more successfully than most men I know. Owns a string of property.
We’ll call her the Dowager.
She is devoted to her grandkids and is hugely hacked-off by lockdown. She’s great company, funny, bright as a button, incisive and insightful.
We and others, get-together once a week, for Zoom-Drinks.. dahling! We have a laugh and yes the over 70’s can work technology… thank you. As can the over 80’s. Ageism infuriates us all.
We we review our week. We heard the Dowager, who has collected a full-house of longterm conditions and some medical complications, had a call from the hospital, about her up-coming, out-patient’s appointment; ‘when would it be convenient for the Consultant to ring her?’
‘Ooh…’ she said, ‘… the last time that happened I was paying a fortune in Harley Street.’
She told us about, ‘the charming Consultant’ who had her records, spent time with her, talked about her conditions, her prescriptions, her test results, her grandchildren, politics and lockdown.
‘He was absolutely lovey, dahling… I’m not going to that bloody hospital again, pay a fortune in the car park (yes, she drives a Mercedes, SL, soft-top) and catch who knows what!’
‘I told him, next time I want to do FaceTime, I want to see what he looks like…’
… cue riotous laughter from us all.
My next person is a thirty something woman, with three sisters. When they are all together it looks like Charlie’s Angels are in town! They are all head turners, all degree educated and with a combined IQ of about a gazzilion.
They all do huge jobs, are independent, cool, assured and fun. Our person is a theatre producer.
She has toured some of the big name shows around the Far East and the rest of the world. It is interesting how transferable musicals are and how much they generate in export earnings.
‘It saved my life…’ she said. Not exactly, but it had been a life-saver in the context that touring theatricals can’t make an appointment to see the GP.
She launched into an involuntary, free testimonial that Push-Doc could not have paid for. How she ‘had been sorted out, got prescriptions emailed’ and how the touring thespians ‘used it all the time’… ‘I can’t remember when I last went to the GP.’
Finally, I promised you a place.
A park. Not a municipal brown-green space, indifferently cared for, rusty gates and a list of screaming DONT’s.
This is an elegant place with swards of well-kept, green grass, beautiful Japanese silver birch, Betula Platyphylla, that grow straight, like guardsmen, out of meadow grass and beds of wild flowers.
The hedges are topiary at its best. It’s manicured, popular and the kids playground is well used, as is the basketball court.
Well used? Yes, last weekend a huge, family birthday barbecue. Kids playing football, lovers meeting, basket ballers slam-dunking, babies walked, youths being youths… it’s been like this for ages.
Lockdown, what lock down?
What connects these two people with the park? One word, choice.
Given the choice, the Dowager will never go to an outpatient’s appointment again. The theatre producer, given the choice, will never fiddle about getting a face2face GP appointment again.
The public have looked at confusing government announcements about lock down, easing lockdown, masks-or-not, two meter distancing, one meter… and they’ve chosen to get on with their lives.
HMG has no choice but to look-on, powerless, fighting a losing battle with public order. Health planners are fast becoming spectators as services and choices are redefined by their users.
If we cannot control what people do, we can control how we chose to respond to it.
What happens next? Dunno, ask the people.