Saturday, 28 July 2007


Thursday was a mixed bag sort of day for me. On the one hand, I got to see a surgeon and arranged the removal of my gall bladder (10th September and the @$%! days will be over). On the other, I managed to get screwed by the Mayor of London's imbicilic Congestion Charge, before seeing another great classical concert.

The visit to the surgeon was quite straight-forward, given that it was a long time coming. In April last year, just as Tamarian was having her's removed, my gall bladder decided to flair up quite painfully. It took me a day or so to work out a) that it wasn't just an episode of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and b) that I really was displaying all the "6 F's" (fair, fat, female, fertile, forty, family history). Saw the GP, had some tests, got a referal to see a surgeon privately. That's when it all got complicated - the surgeon was retiring and the only time he could operate was when we were in Miami (no way! We were going to a wedding). Go back to GP and see his colleague, Dr Bitch, because he's not available. Dr Bitch and I don't get along - she thinks I'm a problem patient, I think she's a very bad doctor. Dr Bitch does not refer me elsewhere as requested. Six months of dropping into the surgery every few weeks to ask for my referal letter ensue. Eventually go to see my GP again: explain the problem and less than 4 weeks later, I'm seeing a surgeon on the NHS.

After the appointment, I went home to pick up a picnic and drove into Town for that evening's Prom Concert. AAARRRRGGGHHHH! I was too early! I'd forgotten Red Ken had extended the congestion charging zone until I went past the entry sign. Glanced at the clock - 2 minutes to 6! If I'd been two minutes later, it wouldn't have cost a penny. Instead, I had to go through the rigmarole of phoning up to pay the £8 congestion charge. £8 for two minutes! I swore all the way to the Royal Albert Hall.

I don't mind paying tax, I don't mind paying for parking, but I object to the Congestion Charge since it's just a money-raising exercise which has done little to ease congestion in London (hello? How about sorting out the parking problems and the traffic lights).

Thursday night's Prom Concert was Tippett's Triple Concerto, Delius's A Song of Summer and Vaughan Williams's Symphony No.5. The Tippett was boring, the Delius was beautiful and the VW, well I loved every second of it. It was floaty, multi-layered, melodic music. Listen here until next Thursday.

Jan asked "What is Prom?", since the British use the word in a completely difference sense to the Americans. In Britain, it's used as a short form for Promenade Concerts, an annual event in their eleventy-third year (here is a history). The idea is that the Proms are open to all and not just upper-middle-class classical music lovers, with a very cheap standing-room only section (the Arena and the Gallery at the Royal Albert Hall) for which tickets are only sold on the day.

Oh, and the "Prom Socks"? Well, they're socks that I knit at the Proms..... :o)

- Pam

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

So now that you have explained Proms, how about the whole "phoning in" for a congestion tax. How does this work? Does one have to pay *every* time one is driving within a certain area during rush hour? Do people actually pay that?!?! What if you don't call? Is it honor system?

I'm still upset that they raised bridge tolls here to $4. And I use a bridge maybe once a month.