Alison Craig: I passed my screen test, but it was scary

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The privilege of having the NHS is something we frequently take for granted. Recently hitting the big 5-0 I was inundated with a selection of invitations, one for a mammogram, one for bowel screening and the other for a cervical smear. Happy birthday!

However, prevention is better than cure so off I dutifully went. The shock of being recalled after the mammogram was visceral.

Although one in 20 get recalled if the image isn’t clear enough or some other innocuous reason I was told there was an area they wanted to examine more closely.

My heart in my mouth, I attended the clinic at 9.30am the following week having done everything in my power to put it to the back of my mind and failing.

First things first, they ask you into a room for a bit of background. What surprised me is despite the fact that I was born and bred in Scotland 
and have never lived anywhere else there is no back history of a patient when you embark on this. None at 

I would like to say it was because I have never been in the care of the NHS but two years ago I had two major lung surgeries and now live with an ongoing condition, none of which was noted or known about. How that can be in the days of online information gathering and sharing is astounding.

I realise there is a privacy element to protect us all but surely the NHS is the NHS?

This is not a criticism of the people who work there, far from it, but the systems are not in place to allow them to do their jobs in a much more fast and efficient manner.

My entire experience of the NHS has been one of great care and professionalism, but someone behind the scenes must surely be able to sort this out to allow them to concentrate on the moment, not spending hours gathering information which could be available at the touch of a button?

I was lucky to be told by this remarkable team that after further investigation all was well, but the thorough way they made absolutely sure made me even more convinced that you must take up the offer of this screening as your life might very well depend on it.

Have sausuage dog, will travel

My new puppy Charlie Chorizo Sausage Dog is now an international traveller.

The idea of having a small, low-slung friend to accompany me on my travels was the plan and with his Pet Passport in his paw and rabies injections up to date we have just returned from Spain.

Myself, the long-suffering husband and the co-pilot Charlie Chorizo drove through England, France and Spain enjoying some surreal and hilarious experiences I will be putting them on my blog at but if you are a fellow dog lover any tips for travelling with them or places to visit are very welcome indeed. Please do send them on.

He’s going out on a limb for Nicola

I AM not a political animal but have recently had a discussion with a friend who is completely distracted by Nicola Sturgeons legs.

They are always well covered and he has begun to believe, under those well-cut suits lie the hidden pins similar to those which adorned Ginger Rogers or Angela Rippon. He now finds it increasingly difficult to listen to anything she is saying as he ruminates on these potentially long, languorous limbs.

I now find it increasingly difficult to listen to what he says as he is clearly displaying the classic symptoms of a middle-aged crisis-hit male.

Stone me! Now any music you can think of is just a click away

The power of music never ceases to amaze. The mood is lifted, the atmosphere changed, with the first few bars of Chic or The Rolling Stones in our house. From going to my first gig with my dad age 12 at Aberdeen Music Hall I have been hooked. From vinyl, to cartridge tapes to cassette, to CD, mini-disc, MP3 and back to vinyl I have been a slave to the rhythm for as long as my fat wee legs have walked the earth.

The advent of the Sonos/Spotify generation has revolutionised delivery of that music forever. It sounds dramatic but I swear it’s true. One speaker is all you need, plug it in anywhere you are in the globe, it will magically attach to the wifi and you will have multiple playlists you have lovingly prepared right there with you.

On a recent trip abroad I stuffed the speaker in my luggage. One evening some locals came round to eat haggis – yes I always stuff one of those in my luggage too – and as they became aware of the music seamlessly mixing from one track to the other without a break or obvious sound system I introduced them to the joys of Spotify.

We sat and subsequently danced for hours each taking turns in plucking long-forgotten songs from the cobwebby depths of our brains testing the system to see if it would let us down.Suddenly it was 2am and everyone was leaving with a picture of the Sonos speaker on their phones. They were, as I am, hooked. No, I am not on commission. Though I probably should be!