The Best and The Worst

This coronabug crisis is certainly bringing out the best and the worst in people. On Friday evening I heard a knock at the front door and when I went out, it was to discover a food parcel, delivered by a young woman called Beanie. She told me that she was delivering similar parcels to the elderly – I am certainly that – and vulnerable – not me I am sure – residents of Princetown.

I have since learned from my next door neighbour that Beanie has nine children of her own and now spends her days pestering Morrisons and the Co Op in Tavistock for supplies that are nearing their sell by dates. She then brings them home and makes up parcels for individual households in her front room. Each parcel is designed to last a week and judging by the contents of ours, it certainly will.

I am sure there are many others like Beanie around the country and they deserve both praise and support.

We hear a great deal about the bravery of front line health care staff in this pandemic and they deserve all the praise they receive. But their courage and dedication is not the same throughout the NHS – the public body so revered by successive governments. For instance, see what happens when you fall sick on a Saturday with anything other than the coronabug.

It happened to me last Saturday. I have recently been put onto a new blood pressure tablet and on Saturday I woke to find my tongue horribly swollen and my face twice its normal size. I am not very pretty at the best of times, but that was scary! At first I felt sure that I must have suffered a stroke during the night, but my Tame Witch immediately looked up the side effects of my new tablets. Prominent among those listed – in fact right at the top of the list – was swelling of the tongue and face.

Now of course I was in a quandary. I didn’t want to clog up the already stretched hospital queues and had no intention of going anywhere near a hospital in any case. In these troubled times, that seems to me akin to a death sentence. There was no reply to a call to my local surgery, merely a recorded message telling me that if I was in real trouble, to dial 999 and if not, to wait until Monday.

A call to the local pharmacy was next but they felt it advisable to get help from a doctor and when told that the surgery was closed, suggested Tavistock Hospital. Another phone call elicited the fact that Tavistock Hospital was also closed for the weekend – what happens to the patients I wonder? So there was nothing more for it than to dial 111, a trial in itself. Getting through took just over half an hour which I suppose is pretty good in the circumstances. I was struggling to speak but the young lady on the other end was very patient and eventually assured me that she would get a doctor to call me within the hour.

It took a little longer than that, but a very calm and professional sounding doctor eventually did ring, went through everything with me again and agreed that it was almost certainly a reaction to the ruddy tablets. He advised me to rest, go back to my old tablets and assured me that he would get my own doctor to ring me on Monday – he hasn’t yet.

So if you do fall sick, make sure it is not over a weekend.

We also hear that the new Nightingale Hospitals are empty with staff ‘twiddling their thumbs’ and that with surgeries virtually closed, GPs are also doing very little. I don’t have great faith in the NHS in general I’m afraid, but surely their highly-paid desk jockeys – they call themselves administrators – can get together and sort out some sort of system whereby duties are shared among all staff, not just an incredibly overworked few.

Then of course there is money. It seems incredible to me that while politicians in South Africa, New Zealand and a few other countries have taken big pay cuts to help with the Covid 19 fight, our lot have awarded themselves a cool ten thousand pound apiece for working from home.

Not only that, but those unelected cretins at the House of Lords are demanding that their daily attendance allowance of three hundred and twenty three pounds is paid out even when they are at home discussing things on video calls. They have even had the gall to claim age discrimination because many of them are elderly. Have these people – most of them already wealthy – no shame at all?

Again in South Africa, three of the richest families including the diamond magnates, the Oppenheimers have made huge donations to the coronabug efforts; in Zimbabwe, millionaire Strive Masiiwa has equipped the Wilkins infectious diseases hospital with everything stuff they need to control the disease and in Georgia, the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili has donated the equivalent of twenty five and a half million pounds to the fight.

Some footballers and other ‘celebrities’ have made big donations too but billionaires like Richard Branson and Philip Green are demanding that the government bails out their companies. This while millions of people – including my humble self – have lost all their income, certainly for the next few months.

Ninety-nine year old Captain Tom Moore has captured the hearts of the nation with his fund raising efforts and other oldies have followed his example but will that money go anywhere near the front line and those who need it most? I hope so but I have my doubts.

And while so many people are working selflessly for the benefit of others, Victoria Beckham, whose handbag collection alone is said to be worth one and a half million pounds is to claim what will amount to tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money to pay her employees under the governments job retention scheme. She and her husband David – whose talents would appear to be limited to kicking a football and advertising male make up necessities – recently spent a cool hundred thousand quid on the twenty first birthday party for their eldest child Brooklyn. Sell a few of those handbags Vicky Dear!

So while the likes of Beanie here in Princetown and many others around the world are giving their all to help people through the pandemic, others like Branson, Green, the Beckhams and our plastic politicians are milking the public purse for all they are worth.

I makes me rather despair for the human race I’m afraid. I am often told that most people are nice, but I really do prefer my elephants.

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