People are wonderful. Individually they’re wonderful, and when they link up together they can achieve just about anything they want. This is well known. So why is it, I wonder, that we have so many Problems? Presumably it’s because a large proportion of people dedicate their wonderfulness to creating Problems.
There’s probably a ratio: at any given moment there’s, say, 45% of humanity (let’s say adult, non-senile, humanity) which is engaged in causing Problems; and a slightly bigger perrcentage, say 52, engaged in a rearguard action to help prevent the Problems from completely overwhelming us. And the other 3%? Well, they’re at Coldhome. Not Coldhome-Coldhome, of course, but in situations somehow similar or parallel, situations where people are off somewhere trying to find big or general solutions by doing something very small, people who either feel they’ve fallen off the edge of the world or that they’re living in a bubble and just hope they might be allowed to bring something useful to completion before the bubble bursts.
It’d be too convenient, of course, to assume that the 45% and the 52% are arranged neatly into Problem-creators and humanity’s Rearguard. At any given time you may have this distribution, certainly, but whenever you look again you see that, although the distribution remains the same, the faces have changed. In other words, everyone contains the distribution within themselves – oh well, throw in the 3% as well: even the biggest Problem-creator probably has a corner of a garden shed that is forever Coldhome.
Why am I engaged in these reflections? Well, I’m sitting here in hospital, aren’t I: a bit homesick, and with nothing better to do. And yes, I’m already slightly embarrassedly aware that a large proportion of these blogs have been written from some place or other that we’ve been gadding off to (and the list continues since last time with two more trips to Skye to confess to). Anyway, the hospital trip is at least Coldhome-based, and results from my determination to try and win a place for rye as the Northern Scottish Bread Grain Crop, which means me sowing out a slightly larger patch of the stuff every year, and selecting seed from whatever plants seem most enthusiastic about living at Coldhome. Alas, attending to the plump seedhead-end of Jack Rye I momentarily forgot that he also has a rather vicious tail-end, and into my eye it went. So, instead of being sensible and bleating off to Casualty I spent the next day on the bus travelling to visit my old Ma, who I‘d already let down the previous week due to the prior engagement on Skye…. You see how it all works in together…. So by this time the scratch on the cornea has turned into an ulcer, and Annie rushing me off to Casualty goes straight into the Sky T V van on the way to an honest Job in Buckie just as she’s exiting the top of the track, so there’s me with my right eye “down” (though modestly concealed behind dark glasses), and the Astra with its right headlight in splinters – that’s behind a hasty gorilla-tape job…
It’s all right, I’m not going to make a poem about it – not even a song and dance. I’m stoical, me. Though nothing better to do means just that: can’t read, can’t watch the telly, the juice has run out on my netbook and I don’t have the charger, I’m writing this longhand in my little black book but I can’t actually see a word I’m writing.
Anyway, hospitals, yes. Extraordinary places. The Health Service: extraordinary institution. All those brilliant and compassionate people, yet the whole thing underpinned – payrolled, even – by a vast Industry dedicated to making a fortune out of people’s propensity for sickness and accident. And that underlying motive, I fear, is bound to contaminate even the best of them, somewhere or other.
So much effort and energy has been put into creating these enormous centralised hospitals and closing down their small provincial counterparts – and maybe there‘s sense in that, as long as you can rely on fast and easy access to them. But then, maybe we forget the extent that architecture defines us on a day-to-day basis. For example, the best place, all things considered, to meet a Specialist or a Consultant would be in a small shed. Then everyone can concentrate on the job in hand – like when you go and dump your lawnmower with a lawnmower mechanic, and he‘s got a grubby little workshop that simply inspires your confidence in the guy. But instead of something like that, we bring to bear our Problem-creating talent and shove him in the middle of one of these vast shiny hospital edifices, where by and by he turns into God.
Again, nurses. Naturally compassionate people, but bound by certain codes of behaviour, for the best of reasons, and there’s not many people nowadays who would argue against Professionalism. Yet inhibiting a person’s natural compassion by training them to adhere to a code could be creating just another Problem, albeit too subtle a one for a Health Service’s consideration. Chew on it, oh Rearguard.
Finally, much of modern endeavour represents a titanic effort to exercise Control. Hospitals are no exception, the control in their case being over bugs, bodies, and bodies‘ irritating habit of sitting down and saying they‘ve Had Enough. The hospital attempts to be a gigantic bubble of frantically-maintained Hygiene – and boy, it’s full-scale war, with all those dreadful bugs out there. Hence a farm-boy in the wards is bad enough, but a farm-boy idiotic enough to stick a corn-stalk in his eye (have you any idea what kind of bugs thrive out there in the farmyard?) – well, he gets everything he deserves, and it‘s just plain common sense that he picked up his ulcer on the farm and not during the seven hours on the bus to and from visiting his old Ma. Not that he hasn’t been treated very sweetly.
But now this same farm-boy has been rash enough to open a jar of one of Rachel‘s special immune-system-boosting ferments at teatime, and that ferment has spawned a secondary ferment of outraged nurses sniffing the air in the corridor outside his door. Perhaps I should go and try to comfort them. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my little sojourn doing nothing apart from eating as much super-bland food as they would let me have. But therein – I mean there, in the super-bland food – there lurks another Problem and, naturally, another vast Industry…..
Thanks for all the well-wishing, by the way. Bulletin: the Eye’s to go on a reduced diet of drops, a mere six times a day now, and I‘m to get home.