Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Mail and Medicine

Welcome Home!

It was superb to return to ‘Futurest’ yesterday having spent the night away.
While it is marvellous to be able to go away to see friends I never realised before now that I could have missed an inanimate object quite so much as I do my little ship when I go away. As I came round the corner of the Kate Boats Office, there she was, expectantly sitting in the damp wet climate, as if she had been waiting just as eagerly as I for this moment too. I’m sure that, had she been able, she would have already had the kettle on and boiling, awaiting my return.
I know ‘Futurest’ is my home, so she should be quite an important part of my life but I never remember having the same feeling of respect and love for any house that I have ever owned in the way that I do for her.
Houses are beautiful as well but because they are much larger perhaps, it has always been so easy to take them for granted. Because one is born inside a building and then spends the majority of the rest of one’s life inside a building, they are such a normal part of life that they become forgotten and neglected even sometimes. But a boat as a home, being so much smaller, visibly floating in and at the mercy of water and many other dangers both natural and otherwise, obviously looks and is far more helpless.
And in my case, this vulnerability fosters a great love and respect.
I was very pleased to see her anyway.
My friends John and Maggie had been good to me again. I met them in town having previously travelled to Banbury by train on Monday and kindly they put me up for the night at their house in Bloxham. As always we enjoyed John's good food and a glass of wine (or two perhaps) Nothing had changed very much and it was lovely. Then yesterday before dropping me off in Banbury for the train back to Warwick they took me to my doctor’s new surgery so that I could sign up with him at his new practice.
Doctor Barry had been my GP for a number of years whilst I lived in Banbury and then was very happy to continue as such after I lived on the waterways. My plan was simple; to be able to call into Banbury to see him once every year for a health MOT and Doctor Barry agreed to this. In the meantime the arrangement was that when I required advice or a repeat prescription I would let him know and he would forward the paperwork to a poste restante address, for me to get the drugs at the nearest pharmacy to my current position.
But Doctor Barry has now moved to a village surgery and was happy, when I enquired, for me to change as well, so that I could continue to have his valued advice as my doctor. With happy consent all around, nothing could be more simple to arrange (one would think!)
However administratively this has been difficult since I don’t have an address in the local catchment area of the surgery. The NHS was never designed for people who live on the waterways..... Of no fixed abode.
I had the same trouble when I sold my house in the first place to buy ‘Futurest’. My son who lives in Wiltshire had agreed to use his house as my postal address and was glad to accept any mail that might arrive for me; I don’t have much since most of my communications these days are done electronically. But of course the NHS administration couldn’t accept that I didn’t live in a house anymore and kept advising me to appoint a GP nearer to my new home in Wiltshire. It was difficult for them to understand that I would want to live on a boat and not have a house...... Everybody MUST have a house!
The only way round me being able to keep my doctor at the surgery that I had been with for seventy one years was to have an address in Banbury. So my friends John and Maggie, bless them, volunteered to be my surrogates in the area and everything had been fine.
But now that Doctor Barry has decided to move on we’ve had the same challenges all over again. But with a letter of explanation to the practice manager everything now seems to be okay and yesterday my two friends (and I’m allowed to keep their address as well) gave me a lift to the new surgery of my choice and I was able to fill in the forms and sign on. However the surgery stresses that they CANNOT allow me to use the facilities of their attached pharmacy as I have one nearer to where I ... LIVE (?) in the Banbury area.
But I think I can cope with this misfortune, since I shall be up in the north of England for most of this year anyway. The astonishing thing is that I shall be able to continue with the previous and most satisfactory arrangement of receiving valued advice and repeat prescriptions from my GP as usual.
What a wonderful life it is.

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