Something awful happened to me this week. I had a brain freeze. I was suffering with writer’s block. I had zilch to write about. Zilch to blog about. Zilch to moan about.
Before you sit dumbstruck, clutching your head in desperation for how on earth you will cope without my weekly indulgence, don’t worry; I turned it around. It took me two days, but I finally worked out how to reveal the silver lining in my cloud of confusion. And it was all thanks to my lack of inspiration, and a sleeping computer.
You see, as computers tend to do, when they are over-used, and thus over-heated, the laptop in question, belonging to a colleague, decided to shut down. And I could sympathise with his frustration, having been cursed with a computer that becomes slower and slower as the day goes on. For months now I’ve viewed my computer as a parody of myself, slowing down in fatigue as the minutes of the working day refuse to move any faster. And at least I can have a cup of coffee.
But over the last few weeks, my work/play ratio has been lousy. We’ve spent more time in the office laughing, eating chocolate, and chatting, about anything, from the latest YouTube video (which we then, of course, have to watch), to the things we most want to receive for Christmas (when we’re in a serious mood). But this is it, isn’t it? It’s the pre-holiday slump. Everyone is relaxed, happy, and excited about the forthcoming festivities.
Everyone, that is, except for NHS staff. Reports over the last few days have claimed that, as might be expected, workers in the healthcare service have to be on call. ‘Full GP services are expected on the 23rdand 30thDecember’, we have been told. Staff at the Great Western Hospital (and I’m sure others, too), are not allowed to take holiday between now and the beginning of January, even though hospitals slow down over the Christmas period.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to have the highest expectations of those who dedicate their career to saving lives. I was appalled that the NHS involved themselves in the November 30thstrike, and incensed that they got away with it. But when it comes to having a holiday, everyone deserves – nay needs – one.
And even if you don’t think their deserving of a holiday precedes the commitment they made when they embarked on a career with the NHS, think about the patients. It’s not the end of the world if I can’t remember how to write, or take longer than usual to complete an article. It might, however, be the end of a patient’s world, if the member of staff allocated to them had a momentary brain freeze. Not to mention the increased likelihood that they themselves will become unwell, and thus unable to work anyway.
Of course, the NHS needs to be available 24/7, 365 days a year. That much is obvious. But it should also be obvious that the staff who keep it going must be given a break from time to time. That the gap is filled is a must. How it is filled is not their responsibility.
Not receiving a blog of mine or two over the Christmas period should be the worst that happens.
As a pro-lifer, the “vulgar” Christmas advertising campaign promoting the new service which will dole out the morning after pill free to women over the phone has shocked me; not because I am offended by the thing, but because I am actually in favour of it.
As a pro-lifer, I am strongly against abortion at any stage of the pregnancy. I don’t believe in it, I don’t like it, and I can’t believe how readily available it is in this country. Having said that, and without going too deep into my views on the matter, I’m not completely one-sided; I do believe that there may be occasions in which judgment can not, and should not, be exercised. Like everything else, it is subjective, and subjectivity, thankfully, is a freedom enjoyed by a democracy. But if you were to ask me my opinion, that is what you’d get.
So why am I so ok with the aforementioned campaign? Well, for right or for wrong, and whether I like it or not, a large proportion of women do not share my sentiments. If someone is going to be ok with terminating a pregnancy at any stage, then they’re going to be ok with terminating a pregnancy, no matter what anyone says. Of course, using contraception in the first place would be the sensible, and, in my opinion, more ethical decision to make. But when this does not happen, taking the morning after pill, even just for added precaution, is the lesser of two evils when compared with knowingly terminating a fully realised pregnancy. At least, that’s how I see it anyway.
Encouraging women to stock up on the emergency contraceptive over Christmas is being viewed in one of two ways; some see it as a sensible measure to ensure that unwanted pregnancies and abortions are avoided, and others see it as a boomerang initiative which could, in fact, achieve what it sets out to avoid, thus encouraging more women to have unprotected sex. I’m on the fence with this one, and think both arguments are equally valid and likely to be true. But either way it’s irrelevant; the contraceptive pill has been free on the NHS for years. If anyone actually thinks this new initiative is going to have a marked effect on the number of women having sex, they’re barking up the wrong tree.
More of a concern is the expectation that it may increase the number of underage girls engaging illicitly in sexual relations. In order for women to qualify for the morning after pill minus a visit to the doctor, they have to register their details on the website, then await a phone call by a nurse for a 15 minute consultation – intended to weed out young teenagers. And yes, the charity has admitted that underage girls may lie. But I revert to my original point. If an underage girl wants to have sex, she’s going to have sex. And if an underage girl wants to obtain contraception, she’s going to obtain contraception. I know what I believe the lesser of these two evils to be, and it’s not the former.
The whole irony of the situation is compounded by the controversy last week surrounding the iPhone’s newest feature, Siri.
Apparently, Siri, which acts as a personal assistant to the phone’s owner, refuses to give any information relating to abortion clinics and the morning after pill. The ‘glitch’ exists only in the US, because, as many have rightly stated, Siri doesn’t really work properly over here anyway, but it hasn’t stopped our media jumping on the bandwagon to criticise Apple.
So what’s the deal – we want a phone to give us emergency contraception but not a nurse?
I guess it’s because there’s no danger of Siri going on strike.