As if it wasn’t already shrouded in controversy and speculation, Test & Trace continues to be the pair of novelty Christmas socks with an 80s doorbell chime button that just won’t die even after several washes at 60 and a light rap with a sledgehammer. Of course I applaud the idea of identifying virus carriers in a bid to halt the spread, even though it makes my eyes water (literally). Let’s also consider the financial ramifications from enforced self-isolation. Thank goodness for the extra crumbs from Rishi Sunak to help support the businesses we’ve all been trying to help, but even though our cheery government assures us that they are doing “what the country can afford”, it’s a bitter pill to swallow (and if a doctor says that, you know it ain’t no word of a lie) when they’ve allegedly spent £2.6m on decorating one room of a house.
Last week I was fortunate to observe a large-scale COVID testing site at one of York’s secondary schools, preparing for the influx of pupils this week. It was very impressive to see that these youngsters did their own test with no fuss, with or without enthusiastic gesticulations from yours truly behind a little screen that I managed to knock onto the floor and destroy in the world’s most echoey sports hall. But aside from this moment of embarrassment, I had the loveliest cleaner who was efficient and thorough and let’s be honest the NHS would be a crumbly mess right now without our cleaners. If you happen to visit the hospital or vaccination hub, do give them a cheery wave and a thank you.
Currently, my usual haphazard train of thought is being distracted further by Hugh Grant bumbling his way around Notting Hill. I love this film! Annoyingly, instead of watching it earlier with my junior editors, we opted for the polar opposite in both quality and horror. Yes friends, I am indeed talking about that 2009 blockbuster ‘Hotel For Dogs’. Look I’m all for light-hearted fluffy entertainment, but throw me a bone for expecting cute puppies rolling playfully on soft Egyptian cotton; aside from the rather mignonne star (a long haired Jack Russell terrier – have I even spelled any of those words correctly cos I may as well be writing in Cyrillic?) this was several large and scary dogs including a Dobermann and lots of other dogs that sounded like Dobermanns but apparently weren’t (I had my hands over my eyes). Viewers are treated to the terrifying spectacle of 40 or so of these animals racing like a herd of enraged bulls through the New York traffic whilst carefree pedestrians smile, laugh, video, and continue on their merry way, allowing the dogs to simply weave round them at a million miles an hour. Steel yourselves not to kneel in front of the TV begging for either 1 – it all to stop, or 2 – them to do what the adrenaline in us is paid to do – and that is, to run. And fast. In the other direction. It’s safe to say I will never own a dog.
As well as all children returning to school on Monday, it’s also International Women’s Day which celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It’s also a reminder that gender bias still exists, and whilst General Practice is pretty well stocked with women (well done us!), we’re constantly reminded that in many sectors in the UK, women don’t occupy senior management roles that are command the highest salaries. And here’s the scene where Julia Roberts announces, poker-faced, that she earned $15m for the last film her character starred in, which in fact is the amount Roberts herself earned for Notting Hill, and was more than her co-star Grant. Yes way. But research done a few years ago showed that even in Hollywood this is an unusual occurrence. Anyway, it reminds me of a TV programme I watched about a South East Asian company where the CEO had the same salary as his workers, and laughed at the reporter interviewing him when he heard about UK managers’ salaries. It’s interesting to think about whether or not we need financial incentives to encourage us to give more, learn more, pursue more qualifications, and ascend (sloth-like) the ladder of promotion after promotion. Are we just chasing our tails?
This is the bit where I convince you that International Women’s Day is linked to planetary health. Well it absolutely is, because globally women are more likely to miss out on opportunities like education and work. They are less likely to independently acquire land or cope with changes e.g. crops failing, therefore they’re at greater risk of food insecurity, and domestic abuse, and the physical and mental illness that follows as a consequence. There’s a catchy and important hashtag on social media: #ChooseToChallenge, so paws for thought sometime on Monday and think about how you might challenge gender inequality in your work or social life. And I'm very pleased to tell you that in the field of planetary health, I know many excellent inspirational women who are doing great things to keep our oceans clean, to educate the NHS about sustainable healthcare, and to help reduce the waste from plastic PPE. Good job girls!
Anyway, Dobermann nightmares aside, it’s only two weeks until Season 6 of Line of Duty - tipped to once again be 'best in show'...