I am basically an old hippy who wanted to run a club for those folk interested in mystery animals, breed tropical fish, write books and tend his garden (or more honestly, watch Graham tend his garden). When I moved here four years ago to look after my father it was with the firm intention of living as reclusive a life as possible and never leaving the village unless I was dragged kicking and screaming to do something that I couldn't avoid.
OK, I exaggerate but basically I intended to run the CFZ and let the rest of the world run itself. I have enough healthy distaste for the mechanisms of modern society to be able to label myself an anarchist, but I am not the sort of anarchist who marches, throws things or stops the city. My anarchism is on a personal and family level.
However, I do have dependents, animal and human, both within my family and from outside, (and I seem to have a life skill in acquiring them), and in recent weeks, and most notably in recent days, I have been dragged into the real world of doctors, nurses, social workers, age and disability support teams and stuff - a world which I am vaguely familiar with from my days working as a nurse for the mentally handicapped (or whatever they are called these days) a quarter of a century ago.
I hated working with the so-called `caring professions` then, and hate it even more now. I am completely amazed at quite how inefficient and stupid some of these people are!
I thought that the CFZ were inefficient, because we are staffed by unpaid volunteers, more than a few who have physical or mental health problems, but compared with the DSS, the National Health Service, and Social Services - especially those branches with whom I have had to deal in the past week, we deserve the Queen's Award for sodding Industry.
I have been faced with:
- Care needs assessment for a chronic case that took 48 hours to arrive
- Someone who fell out of a hospital bed injuring themselves because no-one had bothered to get a `side thingy` for their bed, despite repeated requests, although a gaggle of staff were always to be seen cackling and watching Neighbours
- An old lady of 87 threatened with eviction from her new flat because no-one had helped her fill in her rent forms (she is both deaf and blind)
- The same old lady who (until I put the boot in) would have had to wait for three months hardly being able to hear anything, because of the waiting list to get a new hearing aid at the audiology department
And I always remember the shocking standard of treatment that my fcather received during his final illness, both in and out of hospital. Just one incident comes to mind - we had been trying for weeks to get a visiting district nurse to come and sort out a quite important problem, to no avail. However, I was out one afternoon when two nurses turned up, and Graham and Mark assumed they were the ones we had been waiting for. They weren't. They woke the old man up purely to get him to fill in a questionnaire for a survey called `Options for Change` - and then left again.
This is the sort of nonsense we have to deal with every day.
The New Labour `style over content` society has reached ridiculous levels of stupidity: vast amounts of money are spent achieving absolutely nothing. I am not attacking the people on the shop floor. Nurses, doctors and social workers etc. are as good and bad as they ever have been. I have met some wonderful individuals in the last week; individuals who move mountains and cut any administrative corners necessary to do the best for their clients. But I have also met some complete idiots who do nothing and care less, and I have come to realise (OK I always did realise) that we now live in a culture where the dullards, idiots and incompetents flourish, and the freethinkers and bright sparks who actually care, and who have the skills and enthusiasm to actually make a difference are in danger of being swamped beneath a tide of mediocrity and pointless paperwork.
It's a bit like contemporary cryptozoology really.
We are rapidly approaching a stage where the services provided by the powers that be for the aged and vulnerable are completely inadequate, and the onus of care is thrown back upon the families, and irritating folk like me who insist on pushing their noses into the social workers' business and causing trouble. Which is why I have a lunchtime meeting with one set of DSS bods, and a housing association, and I am out of bed and working hours earlier than usual, just t0 get the blog done before Graham and I ride out on our steed (ok the Daihatsu) to do battle with the powers that be in aid of an 87-year-old damsel in distress and another one a few years younger.
So at the moment the CFZ is not just the world's largest and (we like to think) best cryptozoological organisation but it is also the Bideford branch of Anarchist Social Services. Weird, huh?
Read `Breaking Free`Online I think you will approve.