“Her daughter Annabel was at a tennis tournament so she phoned her son-in-law Dan, who arrived within ten minutes.
"She said: 'He saw me and said, 'I'll get an ambulance'. I said, 'Oh, no, I'm fine', but he overruled me. He rang for the ambulance and they said, 'We're very, very busy'. It was Sunday afternoon and there were lots of football injuries and whatever.'
"The star, whose two dogs Darcy and Freddie were at her side the whole time, continued: 'We waited for three-and-a-half hours, until 6pm, and quite right too! I was perfectly happy."
Nothing against the old girl, but it is this hero worship of the NHS which enables it to never change. If she thinks three and a half hours waiting for an ambulance 'is fine' she is living on planet Zog. What if she had had no son-in-law to phone, what if it had been below freezing, would she still have said that is fine? Yes, the older generation, which I am now part of, have a certain resilience when emergencies crop up, but not this, when we all pay for a service that in many areas is now almost non-existent. To me it is just another example of a service we pay for not being fit for purpose.
Yet Mary Berry’s action or inaction is typical of a generation who had no health service when they were born, certainly nothing like the fledgling NHS when it emerged post war. Youngsters today have no idea what a world without the State taking care of things, or pretending to, was like and would not understand why Mary Berry or anyone else would just lie there in pain and take that attitude to seeking help.
My late mother had a fall from which she could not get up. Fortunately my sister who lived nearby had given her a phone to use in emergencies, but she didn’t use it as she thought that she did not want to make a fuss. By luck my sister called round and through the letter box heard my mum cry out; she had a key and let herself in, to find my mother on the floor were she had fallen and been there for eight hours not able to get up.
The emergency services were called and all eventually was well, but that attitude among so many of that generation pales into insignificance against the entitled-to-everything brigade today.
It was also interesting how my sister, God bless her, was well-informed after previous encounters with local services and the NHS not to take the first answer as the final one. Even getting my mother moved to a place nearer her so she could be on hand showed how a council, Hackney that shut down at 2 p.m. on Fridays and were quite blatant about the fact, could be an obstacle that being a stoic would never have overcome.
My mother like Mary Berry would not have wanted to be ‘a bother’; admirable in wartime, but now one cannot help but feel those who think and act that way are simply taken advantage of and bypassed.
There was a similar example of a lady who fell and was on a cold floor for over eight hours recently; she managed to phone for an ambulance, but it appears she was not a priority and that was why she spent eight hours on the floor.
You get the feeling that unless there is someone else on hand, in many cases the elderly can be ignored with impunity, such is the chaos and breakdown of the NHS and subsidiaries, but sadly some of the problem is a contempt that permeates through sections of the NHS and society in general for anyone who is deemed disposable and can be dumped at the bottom of the queue.
The dumping of the elderly without complaint into care homes may well turn out to be the worst example in our recent history of a deliberate decision to override the obvious hazards entailed with that action - and a disaster it proved to be. If so, in an ever-selfish, divided world stoicism is shown to be a trait that may well have run its course. As we have seen in the last couple of years, those who shout loudest and threaten regardless of the paucity of their claims get the biggest slice of the cake; stoicism won't get you anything today.
Of his many quoted sayings, this one by Seneca was never more apt:
"Misfortune weighs most heavily on those who expect nothing but good fortune,"