Shropshire Star

Peter Rhodes on holidays, posters and standing up for Auntie NHS

Why are holidays never as good as you hoped? That joyless Eeyore of the Mail on Sunday, Liz Jones, offers this bleak assessment: “The worst aspect of going on holiday is that I always take myself along.”

Keep it simple

The best election posters are the simplest: that unforgettable, endless line of unemployed Brits (“Labour isn't working”) or the equally long NHS line with Labour's anti-Tory caption: “The doctor can't see you now.” Here's a prediction. Come the next general election the Conservative Party poster attacking Labour's policy on migration will have one very simple image. An open door.

A lady from the NHS rang to invite me for a flu jab a few days later at 12.32 pm.

“You mean 12.30pm?” I suggested.

“No, 12.32pm,” she insisted.

“That seems awfully precise.”

“We aim to please,” she replied briskly. Taking her at her word I turned up at 12.20pm. I expected to find a well-oiled machine sucking in pensioners at one end and chucking them out at the other, jabbed and jubilant in a matter of seconds. What I found was a long, damp queue of oldies standing in the rain and moaning about it. In his first hour of duty the NHS volunteer controlling the queue had been called a liar and cussed by a couple of irate over-70s. We were appalled.

And here's the thing about the NHS. No matter how useless it is, no matter how much we moan about its shortcomings, from timekeeping to cancer care, the moment anyone abuses its staff, we automatically side with the NHS and tut-tut at its critics, as if it's some batty but much-loved old aunt.

My 12.32 appointment? The needle actually descended at 12.54pm but, to be fair, they threw in a Covid jab which until then no-one had mentioned.

Predictive-text corner. In this column, the phrase “taking her” was corrected to “taking Hertfordshire.” Beyond bizarre.

Still on medicine, a reader describes the tools used in her recent spinal surgery (saw, hammer, superglue, chisel, staples, etc) and concludes: “To be honest he could probably have performed it in a garden shed.” Reminds me of a school friend who became a surgeon and modestly dismissed his skills as “mostly plumbing, with a bit of carpentry.”