Poppies and the people who look after us
ICOULDN’T help thinking on Sunday (Remembrance Day) of how the poppy is such a simple but potent symbol that needs no embellishment to get its message across. The array of poppies at the Albert Hall was such a contrast to the previous week, where adults were elbowing each other out of the way to compete with children to be the most glamorous ghouls in the tedious Halloween-fest that now threatens to displace Christmas as our biggest annual ‘celebration’.
Poppies were also prominently on display at the funeral of a policeman who died in the line of duty, though sadly in peace time.
When I was a primary school teacher – in the days before testing overrode everything else – the pupils enjoyed doing work on the theme, People who Look after Us.
We taught the children to respect those who made our lives safer, from lollipop ladies to people in the emergency services, and stressed we could rely on them to be there when we needed them.
Now we are told that there aren’t enough police to do the job properly. Fire stations and hospitals continue to shut, and the ambulance service doesn’t always turn up when we need it.
Successive governments seem to be powerless to halt the decline in our once brilliant services.
You may remember in March that Mr F, though in terrible pain, was refused an ambulance. I drove him to Hillingdon Hospital where he had an emergency operation for a perforated ulcer and received brilliant care from staff during his three-week stay.
I made a formal complaint to the London Ambulance Service and in July received a reply saying that they acted properly. I may now take this up with the ombudsman.
Many people will never need to ring 999 in their lives; some of us only rarely. But we expect help to be there when we need it. No one in a moment of crisis should have to jump through hoops. Mr F does not make a fuss. I knew it was serious. They should have believed me.
When it turns out that a ‘non-emergency’ was actually a life and death situation after all, apologies should be made.
The feeling of helplessness and abandonment when you are turned down for emergency help is overwhelming.
Thank God the people we still honour by wearing poppies were there for us when we needed them.