Three momentous events in one week. Nice-but-nobody-special Joe Biden scrapes through to the US presidency. A lovely couple, who sound like the legendary scientific geniuses Louie and Marie Pasteur, crack the Covid vaccine. And … Mo finally gets her flu jab. Fit next? Trumpie conceding he wisnae swicked?
There’s nae doot which was the trickiest of the three achievements to pull off. Has to be my netting the needle. Most folk of my vintage got it during the Tattie Holidays. Calls to the Helpline were as ‘help’-ful as a chocolate tea-cosy; 18, 20, 25 ahead of me in the queue.
Two emails – the last more than two weeks ago – brought automatic replies saying they’d be in touch. Never were. Decided to go private.
Phoned six chemists – all out of supplies. In desperation, last Friday I took to the Helpline from my scratcher – bang on its opening at 8.30am, coffee by the bed. Ye gods, in a queue yet again, but only of five.
Got down to zero, through to an actual ringing tone (Reader, I wiz high as a kite) and … in another ruddy queue – of six! Wowser. That’s magic. Someone in NHS Grampian sure has a sense of humour.
It was 9.15am, threequarters of an hour after I’d dialled (no free 0800, local rates) when I finally got a human being. Pretty shocking. How do older, frailer craiters negotiate this guddle? A fine quine listened to my tale of woe then, chirpily: “Would you like an appointment for tomorrow afternoon at Harlaw Academy?” Would I fit? Eeeeehaa! Like I’d won the Lottery.
Then she comes: “If you get a letter with an appointment later, call our Helpline to cancel it.” Aye, that would be right. And keep me hangin’ on for another three years.
Doon at my old High School, I was by far the youngest there. Stopped a passing masked person and spiered: “Are you still doing the over 65s?”
Came the answer: “Think we finished them a while ago.” Kint it. I was never on their appointments list.
As far as NHS Grampian and the flu is concerned, I don’t exist. Meanwhile, my sympathetic tribe demand why I keep frazzlin’ and frettin’ ower it. I’ve had the jag – be happy. Forget the hassle.
Except … in my place, wouldn’t you keep chaffin’ yer hurdies? If I don’t exist in the ower-65s for the flu jabbie, I obviously won’t be on the crucial list for the miraculous Covid innoculation when it’s oot-and-aboot and the over-70s have a prime early slot.
Panic, panic, panic. Will I still end up a peer wifie hangin’ on to a hopeless helpline to get my precious jab? And can you imagine the size of the Covid queue, even at 8.30am?
Key issue in the story of the lost princess
The memory of scintillating Princess Diana glitters as brightly as ever. The many theories about her life and death are constantly newsworthy. Like the current one about the “dirty tricks” BBC reporter Martin Bashir allegedly used to persuade her to agree to that unforgettable Panorama interview in 1995.
Like the announcement of her death two years later, everyone remembers being riveted to their TVs that November evening. I was in South Africa visiting my cousin, astonished to be watching the same time as Britain.
A family gathering of about 12 sat in astounded silence as this beautiful, broken woman spoke frankly about the lover she’d adored, James Hewitt, and Charles’ adultery.
Most believe her agreeing to the programme was a huge mistake. But her husband had already admitted his adultery with Camilla in the David Dimbleby interview the year before. She felt betrayed by the man she loved, even before their wedding. Revenge? Why not?
Now the BBC has many vital questions to answer about Bashir, his tactics and how much his immediate bosses knew about them. Why is this such a key issue? Because, after the interview, the Queen“suggested” it was time the royal couple divorced. Diana lost her HRH status and, crucially, her protection officers. Otherwise, she would never have been driven by a drunken chauffeur into the Alma tunnel.
R.I.P. palmer the lugubrious charmer
Amid the dross that masquerades as “entertainment” TV these days, I must put in a word for the most lugubriously hilarious actor who starred in some gems of vintage comedies and died this week at 93.
I mean po-faced Geoffrey Palmer; the grumpier the funnier. Oldies will remember him as Wendy Craig’s hubby in Butterflies; the stodgy 1970s man who thought his wife should be chained to her apron strings.
But she/we couldn’t help loving him. Later, as Judi Dench’s long-lost love in As Time Goes By, his constant belligerence was utterly endearing. I bet in real life he was an absolute charmer.