Hereâ€™s to a weird and wonderful 2019!
I’ve always had a curious nature but no-one can predict the future. It’s too volatile, says Sid Dajani…
As 2018 drew to a close and Christmas approached, there I was, on a train with the biz-folk, heads down tapping on their keyboards.
The heady perfume of a nearby couple, holding hands, scrubbed up, ready for a night out in London, wafted in my direction.
You don’t take a new date to an ambassadorial dinner and they were too well dressed for a play let alone an opera so I was thinking a ballet.
One teen two rows behind me asked his friend what a fear of Santa Claus was called; I guessed I was not the only one listening to find out the answer - Claustrophobia! Very good.
Then I noticed a guy stuffing his face with a fruit cake whose circumference, it’s fair to say, can only be counted by the units normally reserved for measuring planets, before washing it down with a Red Bull.
And a mysterious, slim, fashionable woman wearing expensive headphones, complete with orange leads, plugged into ears that were already heavy with huge, gold-hooped earrings...engrossed, I guessed, in Netflix on her screen.
Occasionally, she broke off and whispered into her iPhone. People-watching is fascinating - I wish I had more time to do it.
I was heading home after doing a presentation at a conference on pharmacy, FMD and Brexit. I started to dissect how I did, what the delegates thought, the questions they raised and how I might be able to up the ante next time.
I was invited to speak last January when I expected that there would be a clearer Brexit by now. Nevertheless, I took up my task with buoyancy and hope despite having concerns measured only on a Richter scale.
I’ve always had a curious nature and been very heuristic - not to be confused with the similar-sounding voyeuristic, which is a whole different concept altogether!
I’m a person who is keen to learn, discover, understand or solve problems by experimenting and evaluating possible answers or solutions, or by trial and error and further investigation.
Brexit and how it affects pharmacy is a heurist’s stimulating conundrum as opposed to what keeps others awake at night and here’s why; even without Brexit, no-one can predict change and the future!
There are sounds that only a dog can hear. There are mathematical theories only a computer the size of Hampshire can fathom.
There are things only Einstein could dream of, achievements only Olympians can attempt and one day we will devise a comprehensive mathematical theory of optimal processes.
We have experts and forecasters and people with big brains, but when it comes down to it, no-one can predict the future.
We don't know. We don't know about the economy, Brexit, industry, labour movements, the future of public services. The so-called experts don't know. It's too volatile.
Everyone is winging it. It's a perfect storm of demand, no money, uncertainty and political guesswork. A blitz of explanations, reasons, facts and figures in infographics that a Martian could understand. There are no experts, there are only guess-workers and egomaniacal power-mongering.
The rest of us mere mortals rely on experience or common sense cultivated on the compost heap of years of mistakes, which brings me back to rationlising about Brexit.
Whether Brexit is right or wrong we can all agree democracy does not right the wrongs or turn untruths into facts. Equally, wars are not won between what’s right or what’s wrong but who is the strongest.
We know there won’t be £350 million a week funding the NHS, we know we won’t be tapped into the European Medicines Agency and those who think we’ll get free trade deals with the US or the Far East after they’ve just started a trade war with each other are deluded.
It’s every competing foreign policy’s dream to weaken the opposition and we are weaker if we were not together. There are plus points for being out of Europe too but how can any of us, whether Brexiteers or Bremainers, defend a vote that was based on lies, perpetrated mainly by liars who have no right to lecture us on the virtues of democracy?
They have all distanced themselves from the lies each other have told and so it’s unlikely a wave of Dostoevsky-like remorse would be about to hit them.
As usual pharmacists and our teams will pick up the political fall-out affecting health services and ensure patients are least affected despite expected medicine shortages, rising drug costs and more.
But what has made life more interesting for a heurist like me is how weird always wins in the end. It was weird to think there was a time when gays were in the closet, immigrants were invisible and florals and pastels were rarely mixed.
Weird that we can see and hear things happening on the other side of the world with only a six-second delay. Weird that pharmacists could ever give injections, undertake cosmetic surgery, prescribe and become specialists!
It's weird to think my sister has a £99 bit of kit (she’ll argue it cost more than that) which she can talk to, turn on the lights, sort out the heating, play music, flip the telly, let her see what's happening when she’s away and even boil her kettle.
What will it do next year? What the Tories and Keith Ridge will concoct for 2019 to add to the misery of community pharmacy is also too weird to imagine.
Everything done to harm us is gift-wrapped and coined under the guise of change. Change is the most worn-out overused, devalued word in the lexicon of management.
It's a word that is used by purveyors of the status quo to hide their real intent. A word that is used to disguise serving up the left-over breakfast as a reheated dinner. But change is constant and perpetual, so expect more!
My next speech this month will be delivered to a disabilities forum on cannabis. Thankfully it is local to where I live which is always a bonus, though the subject matter is just as contentious and controversial.
I looked up and smiled…at least I was right about one thing. The young couple were going to see the ballet. They were going to see the Nutcracker and started to discuss routes to take to the London Coliseum, which was a dead giveaway.
I was happy to signpost them via taxi as it was raining outside and I could see no evidence of umbrellas with them.
They were full of gratitude. I would be equally grateful if pharmacy could be signposted out of this Brexit daymare.
Sid Dajani is a community pharmacist based in Hampshire.
Picture: DNY59 (iStock)