Our GP surgery has had a face-lift. Presumably on the National Health Service though it would be rude to ask personal questions.
The long uncomfortable benches have given
way to row upon row of uncomfortable chairs in pale blue and sea green plastic. The walls, paintwork and blinds are all of similar hue, in the interests of colour coordination. The ceiling lights are round orbs giving out slightly muted light. All in all,
sitting here waiting for my regular ten-weekly B12 injection (it's that or raw liver every day of my life, I didn't have to think about it for too long) I feel as if I am way down under the sea. If the waiting patients weren't feeling queasy when they arrived,
they probably are now.
All the seats face a large screen high up on the wall. Most days we are treated to a series of educational films about how to live happy, healthy lives, so avoiding the need to contact
our doctors. Today, however, somebody has either forgotten to turn it on or has decided that it might be rubbing it in a bit, bearing in mind the fact that most of the people in the waiting room are currently neither happy nor healthy or they wouldn't be sitting
here feeling sea-sick beneath the waves. Present company excepted, of course, I am perfectly content. It must be my Inner Mermaid.
In the afternoon it's the monthly U3A meeting. Mr B doesn't feel like accompanying
me despite my encouragement. I will miss his company and the responsibility of trying to keep him awake during our speaker's talk. However I won't have to leave the house half an hour earlier than necessary to nab (i) the nearest parking space to the alleyway
leading to the hall; and (ii) his favoured aisle seat three rows from the front. I will also save 30 pence on the coffee and biscuits. These things matter when you are retired, you know. One day David Cameron and George Osborne may have to count the pennies
too. Though, possibly, not. I push the boat out and buy a strip of raffle tickets for the absent Mr B as well as for myself. (No, neither of us win a prize but then, as I told my friend, Delia, I didn't have particularly Great Expectations.)
Today's speaker, who is giving a talk on "The Real St George" has brought some dressing up clothes with him. I do like to see Good Use of Props. He dresses up as everyone's idea of our Patron Saint, complete with fearsome sword
and tin shield. No, he doesn't have a dragon - perhaps somebody should suggest it? Besides, he is about to demolish everything we ever thought we knew about Georgie Boy and a lot more besides. He never even set foot in our green and pleasant land. St George,
that is, not our speaker, don't be silly.
At Question Time, one of our members asks our speaker who would be his favoured candidate for a home-grown Patron Saint, should we need to choose a new one. Which
we aren't necessarily contemplating, of course, but if we leave the European Union we might have to think about it. Our Speaker, put on the Proverbial Spot, does well, I reckon, to come up with St Alban who was the very first Englishman to be made a Saint.
There are no dragons to be slain or hapless maidens to be rescued in the story of St Alban which is undoubtedly a pity though he is the Patron Saint of refugees and torture victims which is creditable indeed. Moreover he and St George were both thought to
have been beheaded which is an end sufficiently gory to satisfy the most blood-thirsty amongst us.
In case you are thinking what erudite questions our members ask, I must tell you that the first questioner
wants to know why our speaker didn't don the helmet (made out of cardboard covered in silver foil with a handy slit to see through) he brought along. Answer: he forgot. I do like honesty in a speaker.
a timely talk because we are coming up for St George's Day. When I was Brown Owl of the 3rd Staplehurst Brownie Pack, all those many years ago, we used to join the village Scouts, Guides and Cubs in a parade all along the High Street to the Parish Church on
the nearest Sunday to April 23rd. We used to make St George's flags in our Brownie pack meeting in order to have something to wave as we paraded - and as we marched the Scout Leader would purposely do a kind of skip at every other step to put us all off our
stride because - as he told everybody near enough to hear him - the Scouts are not a military organisation.
Mind you, St George was a Roman soldier and as well as being England's Patron Saint, he is also patron
saint of soldiers - plus, for good measure, patron saint of leprosy and a disease unmentionable in the polite society of which the Daily Blog claims to be a part.
I think, on balance, we should stick with
Our George. "For England and St Alban!" just doesn't have the same ring about it.
Don't you agree?