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Posts Tagged ‘lateral flow tests’

Tree and puddle

The lady in the pharmacy is upset. Her mother is ill, and struggling to get her medication. The lady wants to know if the pharmacy can arrange for her mother’s prescription to be delivered. Normally, yes, this can be arranged, but the prescription needs to be signed off by the doctor. But the lady explains, in a tone of rising desperation, that she is unable to get through to the doctor by telephone, that she has been ringing the surgery for hours to no avail. I had heard appointments were difficult to come by. Now it’s impossible even to get the surgery to answer the telephone. The pharmacist cannot help, but, unlike the doctor, she is at least available to speak to and, sadly, to field the invective she does not deserve. The lady leaves with her life still in crisis.

My own quest involves the search for Lateral Flow Tests. Last year you could order these things online, and they would be delivered, or you could walk into a pharmacy and pick up a week’s supply. Now, official online kits are as hard to come by as the proverbial manure of rocking horses, and before you can get one from a pharmacy, you needed a code from the official website. I have the code, but the pharmacist has no kits.

“We’ll get a small delivery tomorrow morning,” she tells me. “But they’ll gone in an hour.”

Looks like an early get-up then, tomorrow. I do not need them for myself. My habits are once more reclusive; I no longer work, have no elderly relatives to support, and I can keep myself to myself. But my son is working for an employer who has decided the pandemic is over, that Covid is reduced to a sniffle, and “prefers” everyone return to the office. This is notwithstanding the fact hospitals in my area have declared states of emergency.

There is nothing to be done. The world is upset and things are broken. The newspapers report our formerly free lateral flow kits are now selling online for hundreds of pounds. I don’t know if this is true, or if it’s just the newspapers being newspapers, stirring things up for the clicks.

The last word from our leadership was characteristically laissez-faire, and seemed not to take account of the rising sense of crisis, or at least as it is felt in the pharmacy queues of greater England, and more specifically, Northern England. Muddle through is the motto, and fair enough, we’re good at that. After all, things could be worse; the world is not at war, and asteroids are not falling from the sky. But the waters we must muddle through are muddier of late, and it’s harder to see the depths ahead.

Still, the sun is shining. My boots have dried out from their soaking on Withnell moor. There is a tree, and a puddle on the plain I have not visited for a while. And while the built world, the world we have thought into being, shudders and grows less sure of itself, the natural world, in pockets at least, remains to provide a clearer reflection of our true nature. That said, the potato fields are sprouting rubber gloves and face masks these days. In the coming millennia, archaeologists will scan down to the level of this detritus, and use their findings to answer the questions of how well we coped with these particular pandemic years.

These too are the years before we solved the vexed problems of perpetual war. They are the years before we stopped burning fossil fuels, and discovered how to stuff the carbon dioxide and the methane back into the earth, the years before we found our more harmonious balance with nature, cleared the oceans of plastic rubbish, greened the cities, and rewilded the wilderness, turned back the earth from grey to green, and ended poverty. It was a miracle. And how did we manage such a thing, they’ll wonder, those future archaeologists, sociologists, anthropologists and historians, for things were not at all apparent from the evidence of our times, such as they are, and from the records we left behind, including those long archived newspaper reports of black marketeering in lateral flow test kits.

I shall have to go and ask it of the tree – how we did it, I mean – because I forget now. But trees have long memories, and it might just remember how we managed to squeak through to better times.

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