We got up early this morning so that Phil could phone the doctor's at 8.00 to try to get an emergency appointment. The ordinary appointment system told him the other day that there were no appointments with any of the doctors on the panel until January 18th. So, the receptionist told him, he could phone at 8.00 a.m. for an emergency appointment or go along to a walk-in centre in town. We considered that but as he is suffering from a wonky toe which makes walking difficult but is not really life-threatening (not yet anyway!), we decided that the triage system there might keep shunting him to the back of the queue.
And so we got up early and managed to get an appointment for early afternoon. At 8.00 the weather was dull and grey. As the weathermen predicted, however, by midmorning it was brighter and by early afternoon the sky was blue and clear. The gritters were out already at 2.30, expecting a hard frost tonight. But there are worse places to live!
Possibly central Manchester is one of them. Before Christmas my route through the city centre from my tram stop to the Manchester Deaf Institute, the surprising venue for our Italian clcass, was made problematical because of roadworks. It's a half hour walk. Buses are available but the roadworks meant that the journey by bus took almost an hour. On one occasion the buses just stood in line without moving! They calculated that that bit of roadworks would be over by early January but now they have announced further works, causing the local paper to warn about gridlock for folk returning to work after the Christmas break.
All of this is for long term improvement apparently. Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester council, said: “We’ve undertaken all this work now to allow the growth to happen to ensure the city is ready for a growing business base and population growth. January will see the start of work on the last segment of Oxford Road, improving bus journey time, creating a safe route into the city centre for cyclists, while making sure the area is pleasant for pedestrians.”
In the meantime they warn that general traffic will be affected throughout January and February - particularly during rush hours and especially in the evening. And commuters are advised to allow more time for their journey, try to travel at a different time, use a service which avoids the area or choose a different form of public transport. Easier said than done.
A friend of mine is already planning to hibernate until the end of February. Mind you, as she is is now a retired lady, like myself, she has no pressing need to be out and about in rush hour traffic. And since she hates cold weather, she would probably stay at home anyway!
I am surprised, however, that Manchester with all its traffic chaos did not make it onto the list of the worst places to live in England. I have been reading about this. Grimsby, top of the list in some years, is no longer considered the worst place to live in England but Scunthorpe has been voted as the fourth worst place for 2017 in some kind of survey which has taken place.
One person who voted in the poll to decide the worst places to live in the UK, said: "One good thing about Scunthorpe? It takes about 5 minutes from the town centre to get out of the dump and go to a better place!".
Here are the top 10 worst places to live in England in 2017, according to "I Live Here UK".
I notice that Oldham, where our postcode says we live appears on the list. But we live on the edge, in Saddleworth, which is a good deal more pleasant!
Of course, all of this must depend on which questions the survey asks and, more importantly, WHO is surveyed. I know people who are quite happy with their place of residence one day but on the next day would cheerfully, or perhaps dismally, wipe it off the face of the map.
And I know at least one young man who is so permanently negative that wherever he is living would always be voted the worst place to live! So it goes!