Friday, October 02, 2015


Sally Howe in Plotting for Beginners liked Chatsworth Farm Shop. I have a love-hate relationship with it because of their response when I found a piece of grit in one of their veggie sausage rolls. The shop does, however, sell a wide range of free range meat, and as I try to restrict my carnivorous tendencies to animals that have had a happy life, and as the shop is just three miles away, I still go.
There are three kinds of customers: posh locals, tourists, and ordinary locals. So there I was on Wednesday, standing in the butchers section next to the ticket machine in my T-shirt, jeans and hoodie, holding my numbered ticket, waiting to get my free range Lincolnshire pork sausages, when a lady wearing lipstick, a blouse and cardigan and a structured hair-do, reached round me to get her ticket.
“I’m sorry!” I said, and smiled, apologising for obstructing her reach. 
She glared at me and said “It’s all right” in a tone that contained nothing. Cold and colourless. Nothing. Three words of which the tone was so weird and remarkable I am telling you about it now. Was there a hint of disdain in it? Maybe. Maybe not.
I wasn’t hurt, offended, or upset: I was just amazed, as an anthropologist is when she comes across a strange new type of behaviour.
It reminded me of that scene in Pretty Woman when Vivien (Julia Roberts) goes to the polo match with Edward (Richard Gere), and he introduces her to a couple, and afterwards Vivien says “You could freeze ice on his wife’s ass.”
And then I thought back to all the staff in the two Sheffield hospitals I have been in this week (three days this week thus far) and I compared. They were all warm, and they were all friendly. And what a difference that made to my lengthy, nervous visits. Not only are Sheffield NHS Hospitals proficient, professional and cutting edge, they are human.
You know that cheesy quote “If you meet someone without a smile, give them one of yours”?
I like it. And I love the NHS.

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