Friday 30 April 2010

The Don't Trust Townhouse

15st 6lb, zero units. Things took a decided turn for the worse in Newcastle last Friday, when I got into my car after an agreeable lunch at the Hotel du Vin and suffered what I took, at first, to be a sudden nosebleed. Only, on closer examination, the stuff coursing down my upper lip proved not to be blood. In addition to the symptoms of the world’s worst head cold, my chesty cough returned with such force that I was unable to sleep at night, and had to prop myself upright on a sofa in my attempts to obtain relief for long enough to snatch an unsatisfying nap. As before, Mrs H finally issued an ultimatum yesterday morning and despatched me to her doctor who, after a suitable show of reluctance, prescribed another round of the same antibiotics which had at least alleviated my symptoms for a while earlier in the month, even if they had signally failed to effect a cure.

I remarked that I was fortunate to be self-employed and to work for the most understanding of clients, as I had been too ill to sit behind a desk for so long that, if I were conventionally employed, I would undoubtedly have been sacked by now. “Not in the public sector, you wouldn’t,” the GP cheerily replied, underlining perhaps the key local difficulty with which the winner of next week’s General Election will have to begin grappling on Friday morning.

Yesterday was the second anniversary of the memorable evening on which I met the Less Tall Cheshire Brunette, as Mrs H was then styled, for the first time. In consequence, the casually booked night in London now looming tomorrow has come to assume many of the aspects of an important anniversary treat.

The auguries for it have not been good since the Royal Opera House e-mailed more than a month ago to mention that two of the principal singers engaged for their new production of Aida had decided to pull out, which is rarely a good sign. Then the thing actually opened, and the reviews were terrible. I grasped through the fog of illness that David McVicar’s Big Idea was to set it somewhere other than ancient Egypt, and to introduce an emphasis on gruesome human sacrifice. Only the mention of a gratuitous abundance of bare-breasted maidens excited any hope.

Still, at least I had booked a night in our favourite London hotel – The Dean Street Townhouse, which we have been visiting regularly since it opened at the end of November. Superbly comfortable, amazingly quiet, brilliant food, excellent service and good value – what’s not to like? Well, nothing at all, as I’m sure all the rave reviews elsewhere on the internet will persuade you, but I do hope Google picks up this small, niggling caveat. They might just e-mail you, as they did me, two months after your confirmed booking and the day before you are due to arrive, advising you that “on this occasion I need to move your room to our sister property Shoreditch House. This is not something we like to do [well, why f***ing do it, then?] and I apologize sincerely.” No explanation as such, like a flood, fire, murder or other event beyond their control that might have made our room understandably unavailable. Just the sour suspicion that some more important punter required a night in Soho and that Victoria on reception had been commissioned to identify some luckless nobody who could safely be bounced out to the East End annexe. Which is sod all use to me, since the whole point of making the booking in the first place was to have somewhere to stay at a distance from the Royal Opera House that Mrs H might stand a chance of tottering in high heels, not in some f***ing trendy slum a 20 quid taxi ride away.

So I told them to f*** off, predictably enough, cancelling my other booking there while I was about it, and promising not only that I would never return but that I would do my utmost to ensure that no-one else I knew would ever patronize the place, either. So, as someone (Derek Terrington of UBS, I am assured, and not Terry Smith as I originally wrote after a lazy Google search) famously observed on Robert Maxwell’s return to the stock market: Can’t Recommend A Purchase. All right. At least I can now say that I have tried.

Then I rang Mrs H to say that our anniversary trip to London looked terminally jinxed, and we might as well call it off. But, unfortunately for me, subsequent correspondence with the secretary of the Old-Fashioned Club I described in my last entry had established that I was correct in my interpretation of its dress code (as, of course, I had always known) and his staff were wrong. The associated apology meant that I could not reasonably stick by my determination never to set foot in the place again, and I had no convincing answer when Mrs H suggested I ring them and see if they had a bedroom free instead.

I suppose a bigger bastard than I am would simply have lied and told her that they were fully booked, but I don’t have that in me. So London and the OFC it is for me in the morning. And, by all accounts, the worst production of Aida ever mounted in the entire history of grand opera.


CC said...

Can hardly wait to find out how this all
turns out.

Had a chest xray recently? Just asking.........

Keith Hann said...

Let me explain how the NHS in Britain works. General Practitioner A (my wife's, in Cheshire) gives me a referral for a chest X-ray at the local hospital, which states that it aims to provide this service within 24 hours. In fact the first appointment they can offer is a week away. In the meantime I go to visit GP B (my own, in Northumberland) who also advises a chest X-ray and suggests that the local hospital there might actually be able to deliver on the "within 24 hours" pledge, which indeed it can. GP B advises me to cancel the booked X-ray in Cheshire and simply ask the radiographer to let me have a copy of the results, which I can then pass on to GP A so everyone is in the loop.

Problem 1: the radiographer announces that she is not allowed to supply copies of anything to patients (but whose chest is it, anyway?) and that it is more than her job's worth to supply the information to any GP or consultant "outside the Trust". So the only way the information can be shared between GPs A and B is to ask GP B to copy and send it herself.

Problem 2: although it takes about five seconds to take a chest X-ray, it apparently takes up to TWO WEEKS for the system to transmit the information from the hospital to the GP who requested it, to permit a follow-up consultation.

GP A admitted that he almost certainly would not have received the X-ray results in time for our consultation last week, even if I had gone to the Chester hospital originally suggested.

I have a date in my diary for a consultation with GP B on Thursday, 13 May, at which I hope we might begin to establish what has actually been wrong with me for the last several months. Actually, I don't hope for any such thing. I am beyond hope. Though I do harbour the wistful desire that she will not kick off by saying "Well, it's a shame we could not have identified this a month ago, when there was still a chance of treating it."