When you are retired days are very much alike, but yesterday stood out. First, I went to the local surgery where I had two back-to-back appointments with nurses – one for routine blood pressure and general check up, the second for a ‘flu jab. The first nurse, Helen, was running on time, the second, Paula, behind by thirty minutes. I mentioned this to Helen when I went in and she promptly transferred the ‘flu jab job over to herself, so easing the pressure on her colleague and saving me a long wait. She also noticed that I am due a blood test for cholesterol in November and offered to do that too. In fifteen minutes blood was drawn, injection given, BP measured, and I hopped onto the scales. If only everywhere in the public sector could be so efficient and flexible. It seems to me that the clinical staff in the NHS are fine, it’s the box wallahs who run things that are the problem; so are they obsessed by their own processes they have forgotten why they’re there.
Blood pressure was fine – no Olympic athlete could boast better – but I was amazed by the reading on the scales; even allowing for car keys and change for parking it was a bit shocking, but no comment from Nurse Helen. We did the usual tap dance round how many units of alcohol I consume a week, and off I went.
Encouraged by this clean bill of health I nipped over the road to the Royal Oak to “use” some alcohol as we now say and I noticed a number of police officers, some of them pretty senior, milling about around the house next door. It was until recently the vicarage but is now undergoing major refurbishment in preparation for occupation by some aristocrats. When I returned from the pub an hour or so later they were still there. At ten o’clock I was preparing to turn in having exhausted myself watching the final of The Great British Bake-off when there was loud knocking on the door – two large police officers had come to tell me that human remains had been found on the building site, that the area had been cordoned off as a crime scene, and that a police car would be stationed near my back gate overnight. There was no cause for alarm.
Given that the house next door, like mine, had been built on a churchyard it seemed pretty obvious to me what they are dealing with (next week’s headlines in the local press will nevertheless read BODY FOUND IN GRAVEYARD SHOCK) but the worst has to be assumed. A forensic pathologist is due this morning from London to determine the age of the remains. Isn’t there one in Leeds or Sheffield, both of which have departments of forensic medicine in the medical schools? The problem now is that if the remains are more than a hundred years old the police will melt away, but they will be replaced by archaeologists whose sense of urgency is rather less than that shown by the rozzers, understandable given their speciality, and the building work may never be completed. I gather that the local press are sending a cub reporter to interview me. I’ll have to make stuff up if there is to be any chance of hitting the front page – dark hints about the vicar, perhaps.