A posh voice can sound reassuring, but don't let idiots like Boris Johnson fool you – Susan Morrison
During the recent Unpleasantness, our great health service discovered the telephone.
Previously, they lent heavily on the postal system. Communications were by letter. Now it's full speed into the 21st century and calling people up on their mobiles, even whilst they’re having coffee with friends, interrupting the moment that I was about to sink my teeth into a rather splendid cake.
The cheery nurse at the other end of the call was as breezy as a gallus gal eating chips on Blackpool prom on a windy day. This surgery on Tuesday, she said, can we move it up to Monday? Got a gap in the schedule. Means you’ll have to come in on Sunday evening.
Well, I said, I’ll miss the Antiques Roadshow, and I had half-expected George Clooney to invite me for dinner, but I think I can manage.
Oh, she said, George can be quite the bore these days, and anyway, Antiques Roadshow isn’t what it was. You might as well come in and play with us. Is that a yes? Right. Fork down, leave cake and self-isolation for you, my girl.
So there we are. Yes, it’s a bit of a shocker to discover the NHS is thundering through the Sabbath as if Satan himself has become a hard-working surgical consultant.
Wouldn't be surprised. Even when I was a kid at Sunday School, I couldn’t help but notice that the Devil fairly put the hours in when it came to the Temptation Business. He was everywhere, luring people to do all sorts of forbidden things like eat apples, run in heats during the 1924 Olympics or go for Sabbath-busting strolls.
These days we’d call that a fitness and diet trainer. Meanwhile, the guy upstairs just seemed to lounge about judging people.
Naturally my first thought, beyond disappointing George, was to get new slippers and pyjamas. There’s nothing wrong with my old ones. I just feel I owe it to everyone to have nice new ones, perhaps because I am of the generation raised by mothers who constantly warned us to wear clean knickers in case we wound up in Casualty, having been hit by a bus. It was always a bus.
My surgeon will operate on Monday. Hi-tech imaging has spotted the offending bit. They’ll use keyhole surgery to get it. Or, to use the technical term he employs, he will “rootle about”.
He sounds like an ex-RAF British Airways captain. Most of them do, well, the blokes at any rate. I sometimes wonder if there’s a moment on the surgery course where RAF voice coaches come in to train them to sound like the sort of chaps who call each other “Biffo” and “Pongo”.
The odd thing is, their posh tones are strangely soothing, even to a raging class warrior like me. These guys sound like they know what they are doing, because they do, whether it's sorting out a Boeing 747 with four conked-out engines over the Pacific, or rootling about to get cancer out of your lung.
Sadly, of course, the same measured tones are deployed by idiots who shouldn’t even be left in charge of the drinks trolley.
Let's be honest, would you trust Boris at the controls of a stalled jumbo jet, or worse, with a scalpel to “rootle about” your lungs?