Friday, December 12, 2008

Up On Cripple Creek

Yesterday, I was taken to lunch by a long-standing friend… we’d worked together on the Nelson Mandela: Freedom At 70 show in London and collaborated on the Greenpeace in Moscow initiative; had always planned on working a lot more together but, inevitably I suppose, our respective career paths had diffused over time.

Having caught up somewhat at the Crematorium of recent memory, there was still a lot of catching up to do… something like ten years worth.

Bidden for midday, I bowled up predictably late as well as sans spectacles – thus necessitating the hovering waiter to read out the lengthy menu. By the time he’d finished explaining each dish in glorious technicolour detail, I’d forgotten most of what he’d said and just figured it’d be easiest to plump for number one on the list.

The salmon that arrived wasn’t exactly as I’d imagined it or how he’d explained it.

And, somehow that simplicity seems characteristic of so much nowadays.

Earlier today, I read – as is my wont – news reports that… and I really don’t understand this… but… they seem – increasingly – to infuriate. Is it just me or…?

Because, from where I sit, it’s as if sense and sensibility have taken the decision to divorce. Whereby, we really do now live in the Dress Circle at the Theatre Of The Absurd.

I wonder… honestly, I really do wonder. Don’t you..?

Try this then: a random headline that lead me to read the following – Postal workers in the UK have complained they were being pressured into walking faster to complete their rounds under cost-saving measures. The Communication Workers Union said delivery staff were being told to walk at a speed of 4mph, an increase over a previous target of 2.4mph.

Do Post Office bosses stand around with stop-watches..? Haven’t they anything better to do? Or hasn’t anyone thought through the fact that this is so unutterably juvenile that this sort of time and motion study is purely effin’ wasting money..? When the resource that’s being thrown down the drain could be better employed? Perhaps not. Perhaps common sense has been simply thrown out with the bath-water?

Ok… if that’s not mad enough for you, try this… The BBC isn’t going to broadcast Crufts next year. Oh dear… Why? Well, they and the Kennel Club (the organisers) are in dispute over the inclusion of certain breeds of pedigree dog in the competition.

Apparently, Auntie Beeb has insisted that certain breeds are excluded. Why again?

It seems that the dispute has arisen in the wake of a BBC documentary which claimed the breeding process used to produce pedigree dogs had resulted in a high incidence of inherited genetic disease.

Eh...? Is this the real world or not? There is, I would suggest, one reason as to why Crufts shouldn’t be televised and that is that normal dogs aren’t shown. By that I mean, proper dogs who just might be a bit scruffy. Digger – the longest resident of all at Merle HQ – would have been a worthy winner, that is if he could have been bothered to get up from his more normal position of being asleep on any available comfy surface.

Had enough yet… no, nor had I. I’m clearly a glutton for this sort of self-punishment. Lets have a look at this then… here is the headline: Naturists are vowing to fight plans to close one of Britain's first nudist beaches.

It seems that a 200 yard stretch of sand in Suffolk – that has been declared a clothes-free zone for the last 30 years is to be de-designated – that’s Local Council-speak for… keep your swimmies on (I think).

Why? Apparently, erosion of the nearby coastline had left "very little beach" for residents, meaning the nudist area should be made available for "families and others". That’s what the council reckon anyhow. However… they’ve not taken into account the nudies… oh no.

The sans-thong brigade’s spokesman is a certain Malcolm Boura who has outlined his party’s stance by saying… and I’m quoting his quote here; We would welcome any proposal to move the beach slightly further south. OK… and so who’ll be paying to move said beach?

Besides – how exactly dos one move a beach…? Have that particular local authority nothing better to spend their money on – like… oh, I dunno… perhaps healthcare for the elderly… educating the children round about… you know, just small stuff like that… yet, by all accounts, it seems that sort of thing is low priority and the movement of beaches is a worthy subject to discuss in Local Council meetings.

So… by now, you’ll be wondering why I even mentioned my Salmon in the first place. Here we go… Whilst forking slivers into my face I was told a really quite extraordinary tale – of how utterly self-centred humans – some humans – can be.

My similarly-fish-indulging friend works as a publicist for some of the biggest Hollywood names… all appear to have ego’s the size of small baronial estates and make requests (demands) that don’t just border on the illogical but cross the threshold of the absolutely ridiculous. We’ve both spent time working with people like that and have long-since become world-weary of that form of self-centredness.

Anyhow, it transpired that the wife of the director of this film had a cold. My fellow-diner was asked (ie told in no uncertain terms) to locate a doctor. The Hotel in which the cast and crew and sundry hangers-on were staying was of such 5-starred magnificence that it actually had its own, in-house, Doctor and staff on pretty-much permanent call. A fairly decent place to stay, I’d imagine.

Doctor on site equals a pretty good solution. Not. Why so? Because, apparently, this Director’s wife needed a specialist and named the person who was to attend her. Don’t forget, she had a cold… just a normal, boringly ordinary cold. They’re never nice, annoyingly frequent but… they are what they are.

My friend – who’s proper job is to man-handle belligerent tv crews, annoying journalists, terminally difficult radio people is also a bit of a whizz at solving the nigh-on-impossible – therefore sets about finding person X. And, for the sake of this, he’ll be known as Mr. Green.

This – by the way – is a true story, I’ve simply withheld any proper names for discretion’s sake.

So… Mr. Green is ultimately found. It takes much dextrous and highly ingenious phone-work that would have tested even Hercule Poirot’s little grey cells but, found he eventually is – or, at least his personal assistant is. After much cajoling, persuading and so forth an appointment is agreed upon.

Relief all round. Not. Oh no… 11.30am is completely out of the question. Earliest that the Director’s wife can be seen is 4.00pm. Why? Because she is having her hair done.

Back to the drawing-board and another call to the seemingly unflappable secretary to Mr. Green. By the time we’re attacking the chips that came with the Salmon concoction with gusto.

During this call with the level-headed lady on the other end of the ‘phone it transpires precisely why the appointment cannot be changed. And my friend is told the following: I’ve already moved Mr. Green’s next appointment by half an hour to accommodate your client. Perhaps you could explain to your client that Mr. Green is rather busy and the appointment I’ve moved by half-an-hour to make time for your client is a liver-transplant. He is (and here’s his real name is mentioned) one of the world’s leading transplant-specialists and therefore I would hope that your client understands that a common cold is of slightly less importance.

A week later, my friend was fired – for not doing the job properly.

And, today… I’ve discovered that NHS Direct is urging people suffering colds and flu to check their symptoms online. Why? And… what exactly is it that one needs to check? Baffled too – join the queue.

It is because of this: the number of callers to the NHS suffering colds, flu, coughs and fever has more than doubled in the past three months. And more people are expected to be struck down with such ailments in the coming months. Yes, the second bit is logical – it’s a bit nippy outside unless one lives by straddling the Tropic of Capricorn and yes, this is the time of year when people catch colds.

So… what have the NHS… the Great (?) British (?) National Health Service done…? Wait for it… they have launched an online symptom checker. What does that mean..? I’ve had a look and… in brief (or even in briefs – thus not a site for naturists) one can answer questions to work out if you need to be treated or can treat yourself. Wow… that’s really handy… self diagnosis for all.

In amongst more Project X work, I found a quote from someone called Anne Joshua, who is the NHS Direct's Associate Director of Pharmacy: The tool helps with self-care and also helps to decide when professional advice is needed or if the condition is serious enough to seek urgent medical help. The website advice will set out the options for self care - whether a visit to a pharmacy to speak to a pharmacist is needed, or whether it is best to contact a GP. And if necessary it might prompt you to go to A&E.

Ok… a resource that’ll tell you if you have a cold… I’d have thought that the rapidly emptying carton of Kleenex would have told you that… the runny nose, the sore throat… we’ve all had the symptoms but, I rather fear as we head into 2009, that we’ve lost any sense of self-responsibility. I mean… how difficult is it to go to a Chemist and acquire the correct remedies for… a cold?

Besides, self diagnosis can be fraught. It is not exactly a precise science. Fast backwards.

Rob and I are installed opposite each other in our normal lair in the War Room at Island – this’d be about 1979. My then lady-friend wanders in at close of play, ready for the lift home. What are you up to Rob? Oh hiya He replies, looking up from the book he’s been studying. I’m not at all well and I’ve been working out what is wrong with me. This is not abnormal – Rob, at that time, was deep into hypochondria, so much so that eventually certain doctors refused to see him, because nothing was actually wrong with him.

Oh… ok… how are you doing that, she asks, settling into a seat next to me on my side of the table. Well, I’m listing out the symptoms and when I’ve done that, I’ll be able to work out what is wrong with me… I really don’t feel at all well you know. Give me a minute and I’ll show you… its really good is this book.

A few minutes later, Rob hands over a sheet of paper for my then-girlfriend to study.

That’s brilliant Rob, She exclaims. Amazing. You’re unique.

Yes, well… I suppose I am. Says Rob, his chest puffing out a little. You are, absolutely unique. She says in measured tones, You’ve just diagnosed yourself to be suffering from Pre-Menstrual Tension.

Illogical madness has got to me… it shouldn’t have but it did. I need a jolt of reality. And, collect a little shaft of light that has been borne by winged e-message. It follows a meeting I had yesterday at one of the leading Music Schools (for that read Institute) in London. And, it tells me that this little thing I’ve been working on, this little undertaking I’ve dreamed up is… right. And, that the time is now. .. in capital letters.

I really hope that everything pulls together with (your project X). It's a mammoth undertaking and is a fantastic concept, which would be incredibly beneficial to anyone interested in music at all and would especially be of huge interest to the Institute and our students.

Is there finally light at the end of the tunnel..? Is the train pulling out of the station..? Wait and see.

1 comment:

Drew said...

The Common Cold.

Symptoms:- Feel like shit...end of!
Treat it, it's gone in a week.
Leave it, it's gone in seven days.

I don't do fish, but am happy to join you in the Pullman carriage of the train.