Saturday, 12 July 2008

Anniversaries (Holiday 4)

7th July


Yes, it’s the third anniversary of the London bombings. What a gruesome day! I remember hearing the breaking news on the radio and then turning on the TV to see the tragedy unfold. I suppose the image of the bus blown apart in Tavistock Square is the one most imprinted on my memory, perhaps because years ago I worked in that area and travelled to the office by bus. I could understand the vicar in Bristol resigning because she couldn’t find it in herself to forgive the killers of her sister - and yet say in church, ‘Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.’ That is a big ask.... And I suspect God prefers it when we say, ‘I can’t - at the moment,’ than when we say, ‘I do,’ when in fact we don’t.

Events like 7/7 put things like sport into perspective. Federer’s loss after that titanic match was trivial on a global scale. Similarly Nadal’s and Hamilton’s victories aren’t that historic. Big in their lives, but not ultimately.

6th July

Happy Birthday

The NHS is 60 years old today, and is rightly being celebrated. It’s been interesting being in Wales this past week, because the Welsh feel a parental pride in the National Health Service. It was, of course, the brain-child of Aneurin Bevan, that son of the valleys. So all week Radio Wales have marked the anniversary. One GP recalled that his father was unique among doctors pre-NHS. Called out for an emergency, doctors would go round to the back door and let themselves in. He would call out, ‘Who’s ill?’; normally the first question from others was, ‘Who’s paying?’

How different things are now! How easily we take it for granted! With MND I’d be stony broke by now! I’ve had superb and speedy treatment; MRI and CT scans, electrical tests, wheelchairs, walking aids, adaptations at home; and when I was foolish enough to turn my wheelchair over with me in it and injure myself, paramedics, a hospital bed downstairs; physios, OTs, speech therapists, technical support, consultant appointments etc etc, not to mention free prescriptions for my epilepsy. It’s just amazing! Even more amazing, and depressing, is the constant griping encouraged by politicians with an axe to grind and the media with a product to sell. Of course, being staffed with human beings, things go wrong. Of course, resources are limited. So it’s not perfect. But it is great. I for one am more than grateful to Welshman, Mr Bevan.

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