September 5th, 2017


Ailz went for a government health assessment yesterday. How long is it since the last one? Four years perhaps? Anyway, they seem to be coming think and fast. Mind you, I was reading the other day about a guy who was told (after fighting for it) that he had been granted his award for life and then a week or a month later received a follow up letter calling him in to be reassessed. That's really energy sapping. Why the government has to harrass the disabled like this is beyond me. It's not kind, it's not attractive- and I can't believe the sums it is dickering over are anything more than petty cash.

The assessment was in Chatham- a town we'd never visited before. The narrow high street has been pedestrianised and is full of charity shops, betting shops, shops with their shutters down and Primark. Next door is the Royal Dockyard- which seems to stretch for miles- a tourist destination which it costs an arm and a leg to get into. That's where the real action is.

The assessment took place in a funny little building just off the high street- which used to house a seaman's charity. They were running late. The guy on the desk had a big red nautical beard and was doing his best to make people feel valued and the clientele chatted and kvetched in the best British manner- like people are supposed to have done in the air raid shelters during the Blitz- doing their best not to succumb to the ambient negativity. We waited an hour and more beyond the time of our appointment.

The nurse who eventually interviewed us was wearing her best stone face but relaxed it when she found we weren't going to bite. We commiserated with her on her boxy office with its view of the side wall of the building next door and she said she and her colleagues swapped around so no-one had to endure the same cell indefinitely. I asked her if the rooms upstairs had a better view and she said "No". She had a lovely smile.

By the time we got out it was lunchtime and we drove out of town onto the Hoo peninsular and found a pub on high ground at Hoo St Werburgh looking out across North Kent Marshes.