Sunday 28 April 2013
I am the first of us to arrive at Mr & Mrs AR’s house.
When I enquire after Mr AR’s health, he tells me that in May 2013 he should be given the results of a biopsy.
We talk about cousin Naomi.
Dr LA(m) has been suffering with a migraine since he woke up, and is by his standards subdued for most of the day.
Dr LA(f)’s mother is now 84. She has moved to Beach Town, so that she is living nearer to her daughter and son-in-law. Dr LA(f) and her mother will shortly be going on a cruise. Although Dr LA(f) is a GP, and has brought up two sons, she still feels uncomfortable when providing personal care for her mother during the latter’s recent illness.
Dr LA(f)’s mother is hoping that her two grandsons will father some “pink babies”. One of those grandsons has a fiancée, and the other a girlfriend; but as one of the girls is Chinese and the other is Middle Eastern, grandmother’s hopes are unlikely to be fulfilled.
Dr LA(f) tells us about a manic-depressive woman who was able to hold down a job as manager of a pharmacy. Dr LA(m) tells us about a paranoid schizophrenic man whom the Benefits Agency assessed as fit for work; in consequence he stopped taking his medication, reasoning that if he was fit for work, he must no longer be a paranoid schizophrenic.
We talk about the school-run madness, at Acacia Primary and elsewhere. Mr NT doesn’t understand the need for the school-run. I say to him (ironically): “You have to remember that there are a hundred times more p****philes now than there were in your day, so if a child sets foot out-of-doors unaccompanied, a p****phile will emerge from behind a tree, grab the child,” (I mimed) “tuck it under his arm, and make off with it to who-knows-where.”
In mid-afternoon we go for a walk, through local streets and local woodland, visiting a couple of ponds. We encounter Toby, a friend of Mrs AR, whose volunteering has come to an end for the time being at least — as a consequence of spending cuts.
Dr LA(f) is due to retire in 2014, when she turns 57. She accepts that it will feel strange to be a doctor no longer, after spending nearly all her life first wanting to be a doctor, then training to be a doctor, and eventually (for over 30 years) being a doctor.
This prompts me to tell her about an article I have recently read in an old magazine, whose author likens one’s seventh decade to the Sabbath — implying that it should be a decade of rest. This seems to me, I say to Dr LA(f), “a complete and utter false analogy”; Dr LA(f) concurs; she is also in sympathy with my difficulty in accepting that 1953-1983 is the same length of time as 1983-2013, even though it’s a matter of simple arithmetic.
I tell Dr LA(f) more about Naomi, especially about her constant dithering.
Mr & Mrs AR’s son and his wife don’t have any children; Dr LA(f) doubts that they ever will have any.
We discuss the changes to the NHS, and the sense of entitlement that has become pervasive amongst younger people.
Over tea, I learn that Mrs AR works at a food-bank. Most of the food-bank’s clients have no idea how to cook using fresh ingredients, and they are wary of vegetables and fruit — even ordinary fruit such as bananas and grapes. Food which has been donated to the food-bank but which the clients don’t want (such as pulses) is passed on to the Salvation Army. Presumably this food is turned into soup. Cathedral City and Posh Town (where Mrs SG and Mr NT live) are generally associated with prosperity, but it seems that there are pockets of poverty in both those places. Dr LA(f) confirms that many of her patients, and many other residents of Beach Town, have the same relationship with food as do the clients of the food-bank where Mrs AR works.
Mrs SG tells us about some health and safety requirements that complicate the disposal of medical “sharps” (epipens?) at her school.
I cannot believe the rigmarole that Mrs SG goes through, when entering into her iPhone some information about a future lunch appointment.
When I am driving back to Suburbia Somnolenta, at first there isn’t as much traffic as on the evening of 24 March 2012. There is more traffic in the middle part of my journey home.