Even readers far from these shores might have noticed that Dear Old Blighty in general, and Ambridge in particular, have been experiencing a little local difficulty with the weather. Here it hit on Tuesday, and shows little sign of clearing up until well in to next week. The result has been chaos on the roads, dire prognostications over our ever more fragile supply chain for simple necessities like fresh veg and gas as well as grit for the roads. Oh, and a sudden fall in demand for our services.
On any given day our surgery will offer fifty plus "emergency" appointments for use that day only and for urgernt need. And on any given day most of these will be filled. Not so this week. Indeed fewer than half that number have been required. So either everybody has suddenly got better, has gone elsewhere or has revised their opinion of what "emergency" means. I'm guessing it's the latter. No, I'm sure it's the latter-- after all we're all guilty of doing the same when it suits us.
Working in hospitals in the 80s it was apparent when there was a major sporting event everybody stopped wanting urgent attention. I worked over the Live-Aid weekend, and at least one Royal Wedding, and for the hours those events were on screen life in hospital became very quiet. The same used to happen when blockbuster movies were first broadcast on TV, but in these days of mutliple channels and instant DVD release that seems no longer to happen.
It's not particularly surprising that events, be they popular or merely inclement, affect our behaviour, but I am fascinated at the extent to which they can alter our perception of "urgency".