Drrrrrring!  Drrrrrring!  That’s the dialling tone.  Blah Blah Surgery.  Hello, I’d like to make an appointment.  You have had a chronic headache for the past ten days?  I can put you in for a phone consultation at 4pm …  Phone consultation takes place and patient is told that it sounds like a tension headache but advised to get eyes checked.  Patient does so and eye pressure normal.  Headache continues.  Depressing.  Debilitating.  Worrying.  Four days later, advised to phone doctor again.  Once more, 4pm phone appointment.  Perhaps the GPs are only available for a couple of hours late afternoon.  No more one-to-one appointments?  No more House Calls?  No more On-Call Weekends?  No more Emergency Home Visits?  What does justify an average annual salary in the region of £100,000?

Second phone appointment.  Once again, no mention of COVID-19.  Suggested may be carbon monoxide poisoning and advised to check that out.  Good thinking!  Patient goes to great lengths to eliminate this.  All good.  Headache continues.  Fed up!  Still worried.  Brainwashed by COVID-19.  Could it be?  Advised – by family – to get test in order to ease mind.  A further phone appointment when told that he does not have the symptoms which warrant a test and, therefore, the answer is ‘no’.  Flatmate who works for NHS, then, comes home complaining of headache and feeling unwell.  She decides to request a test.  Refused.  In short, does not have the right symptoms.  She is told to take a few days off work and come back on Monday!  No luck with requesting a test online, either.  Same answer.  Do not tick the right boxes!

Go onto Google and ask whether headache could be a symptom of COVID-19.  I did and I read that a WHO report which looked at over 55,000 confirmed cases of the virus found that a headache was reported in 13.6% of these cases.  So … in a world now all-consumed by this virus – a new virus about which we are learning as we go along – why is it that someone who has an unexplained, chronic headache, is worried and requests a test is denied?  Someone please explain!

Civil liberty has all but been removed.  Locked up for four months, we continue to be subjected to 24-hour brain washing by every media source, designed to frighten; frighten into submission.  Everyday, more rules.  Rules denying interaction with family or friends; the mandatory wearing of face masks.  Keep 2 metres apart and no touching!  People are terrified with many too scared to leave their houses.  Others are angry as livelihoods are fleetingly destroyed and jobs lost in their thousands.  Confined.  Deprived of company.  Financial worries.  Enough to make one ill.  God forbid one is ill!  Cancer?  That will have to wait.  Heart problems?  Sorry.  Stroke?  Too bad.  It’s all about COVID-19.  Everything else is shut!  In the words and voice of Lloyd Grossman, ‘Who wants to live in a country like this?’  Yes, a touch of poetic licence but …

Nightingale hospitals are on standby as the inevitable second wave gathers momentum.  The tension is palpable.  Christmas is on hold but … unless one has the right symptoms, one does not qualify for a test.  Are the symptoms always consistent?  Forgive me, I thought there was still much to be learned about this virus?  Silly me.  So, Track and Trace continues to be a joke and the COVID-19 Testing Centre I drive past everyday remains empty.  In fact, even more ludicrous, pupils at the boarding school in town, who were required to be tested before travelling home for Half-Term, had to drive to Perth!  Why?  Makes no sense.  Little does anymore.  In the absence of logic, there are too many cooks; and too many cooks with an agenda, for that matter.

Winter is in the wings.  The wild geese are vocal and in the skies, flying south or just escaping a world which is self-imploding.  Stubble fields abound, forever beckoning the young girl and her pony who used to delight in their freedom and, as the leaves turn, offering hues of red and gold, there is a definite chill in the air.  Forever my favourite time of year, I am grateful for Nature’s constant.  The countryside in this little corner of Fife has been unchanging for as long as I can remember; unrivalled in its beauty.  Stretching over the fields to the sea, the iconic skyline remains as I pause – always – in a bid to capture it, forever, in my memory, perhaps fearful that one day I may need to call upon it for succour.  My feelings for this area – and attachment to – are nothing new but in this chaos that is the world today, the bonds to home become ever stronger – and ever more needed.

Whoops!  Bit of a wistful interlude, there but, to be honest, nobody is quite sure what to feel from one minute to the next anymore.  I wrote most of this last night – Thursday – and decided I was becoming boringly repetitive and should stop writing about politics which, let’s face it, is all it is.  COVID-19 and a country divided into those struggling to survive – whether it be physically, financially or mentally – and those who seek to gain: politically or financially.  The huge pharmaceutical companies poised to clean up; the party political broadcasts we are subjected to – some of us, still, daily.  At the grass roots, it is mentally hard.  Even for those most secure in themselves, anxiety as to the future is unavoidable and time weighs ever heavily.  The curtailing of one’s freedom leads, inevitably, to the mundane and the extended lack of stimulation is torturous.  Worse, there is no end in sight.  Cup half full?  Cup half empty?  I keep re-filling mine but it is becoming ever more arduous …  I vowed, as I said, to buoy the mood and stop writing from a point of anger and frustration but today has made that almost impossible.  The latest three-tier scenario is a fiasco and one can only assume that the little green men, in their futile search for intelligent life on this planet, are laughing their heads off reminiscent of the aliens in the unforgettable ‘For mash get Smash’ adverts of the seventies.  Even Tiger Lily in George Street is beginning to resemble an audition for Mastermind!

Seriously, I give up.  That’s more than that heinous woman, Margaret Ferrier, has done, though, who has escaped all reprehension from the Met Police in England – on a technicality.  Handing the case back to Police Scotland, it is likely that no fine shall be incurred as Nicola Sturgeon has, so far, not instated any penalty for breaking self-isolation – well, perhaps for Joe Bloggs but not for a ‘valued’ member of the SNP.  It was ever thus.

Anyway, on the plus side, I would like to lodge my support for a voice of reason amongst this mayhem of hysteria and self-promotion: Beverley Turner.  None the wiser?  She is the former wife of James Cracknell, the gold medallist Olympic rower who suffered significant brain damage after being knocked from his bike in 2010.  I didn’t like her, at first, at all.  Clearly intelligent and opinionated, she would often rub me up the wrong way but, over time, I have become a fan; particularly now.  She speaks her mind, unswayed by public opinion, and she speaks so much sense; my sense.  She was on the news slot of This Morning today, wearied by frustration and the determined deaf ears, but standing firm.  No guesses as to her stance.  Suffice to say, she and I could be friends!

It is twenty to nine on Friday evening.  My gin glass is empty and I have a pressing phonecall to make to my friend.  Don’t worry, over the years, I have amassed several – and those worthy, I have kept!  Only joking – mostly!  Would be nowhere without them.  As soon as I put myself forward for Ken Bruce’s Pop Master, I shall give them all a shout-out in the 30 seconds allocated.  If I need a filler, there’s always The Last Resort!

Can miles truly separate you from friends …  If you want to be with someone you love, aren’t you already there?’

Richard Bach

This is Trish, signing off.

(Unchecked.  Where are you when I need you, Pop? xxx)