We went to the Mencap Gardens today. I took my camera, book, note pad and Kindle with me. I was intending to pass the morning reading, making notes and taking great nature photos before having a picnic lunch and returning home to watch quizzes on TV. It did not, as any married man could guess, work out quite like that.
So how did I find myself holding a hosepipe and watering fruit trees while Julia chatted to the school caretaker and, from time to time, offered advice?
It started with a blood test. I’m still in the introductory phase of having immunosuppressants (methotrexate) for my arthritis and they are monitoring things to ensure that my liver doesn’t dissolve. Well, something like that. The general advice for people on immunosuppreants in the time of Covid, is, in brief) to keep taking them but take precautions, including avoiding sick people. To help me do this I have to go to hospital every two weeks for a blood test. Yes, that’s right – to avoid sick people I have to go to hospital, a big building full of sick people.
We arrived, I hit a bollard because I wasn’t concentrating, Julia stayed in the car because it seemed sensible, and I started walking towards the entrance. The system has changed. They had security guards a couple of six weeks ago, though they weren’t doing anything. At that point the coffee bar was still operating. Then we had nothing apart from hand gel and a notice. Now, there were members of NHS staff, notices, hand gel and a crowd. One woman was protesting that she was allowed in two weeks ago and sat in the coffee bar to wait for her father. She was told she couldn’t go in, as the system had changed.
Until last week I couldn’t take Julia into the supermarket with me, but I could take her to the treatment centre at the Queen’s Medical Centre. Now the NHS has brought itself up to the same standards as TESCO. It’s a shame they didn’t make these changes weeks ago, but it’s good to know that the NHS now has the same standards of infection control as a budget supermarket chain.
However, having people congregating in the foyer did make it difficult to maintain a six foot distance from everyone, which they hadn’t thought of in designing the system.
After my blood test I had trouble getting out as two people stood in the middle of the floor discussing why only one could go in, and the NHS staff member didn’t think to move them to one side. ON the far side of them a woman hovered unable to get past and preserve a safe distance. She was standing in front of the door I needed to get out. So I waited.
Another staff member asked if I was OK.
“Yes,” I said, “but I can’t get out because there isn’t room to get past people.”
“You could use the door behind you.” she said.
The trouble with these modern glass buildings is that you can’t always tell the doors from the windows.
521 words and I’ve ended up on 35 minutes.
Then I went to the gardens but there is no time to tell you about that.
Pictures are some random shots from the gardens.