Dear Reader: More historic than Magna Carta + all quiet in the NHS

A regular column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Friday, 13th January 2017, 2:39 pm
Updated Friday, 13th January 2017, 2:46 pm
The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Over the years, I’ve conducted interviews in almost every place imaginable – hospitals, golf clubs, airplanes.

Still, it felt wrong somehow to be taking notes while sitting in one of the wooden pews at St John’s Church recently.

I was talking to Brian Robinson, one of the main forces in the installation of this Knaresborough church’s revloutionary new lighting system.

The subject of wireless LED may sound mundane in a normal context but St John’s is a truly magnificent building.

It’s also steeped in centuries of history.

Traces of its early Norman arches are still visible at one end of this Grade I listed building.

It takes your breath away to think it was built in the days of King John 1 almost 100 years before the signing of the Magna Carta.

If you look up at the towering ceiling or down the central aisle to the church entrance, you can almost feel the past hanging heavily in the air.

The new lighting is about the present, however, and the future.

The completion of the £80,000 project brings St John’s into the 21st century, illuminating its ancient majesty for worshippers and visitors alike.

It would be a surprise if it didn’t swell numbers at this ancient building which is one of the district’s single most important buildings, architectually and historically.

Centuries before the arrival of arch wrecker Henry VIII, public attendance at St John’s was so huge, worshipping at church was the equivalent of going to watch a Premier League football match today.

It’s unlikely new lights alone will bring those days back to St John’s but you never know.

I always avoid hospitals if I can but last week I had to visit Harrogate hospital.

It was just for an X-ray, nothing serious I think, I don’t really know.

I have to confess I was worried in advance, not so much over my health but the condition of the hospital.

Blame the media and the blanket coverage of the winter crisis in the NHS.

I’d prepared myself for the prospect of chaos and queues in radiology but, in the event, the whole experience was quick and painless.

There was no self-service ticket system in the ward or a buzzer, even, just a bell, an oldfashioned little handheld wooden bell.

I rang it and within seconds I was being whisked into an empty, secluded room where I was quickly scanned.

Now I’m sure there really are acute problems in the NHS nationwide caused by the twin pressures of under-investment and over-demand.

By necessity, news reporting is largely a case of broad brush brokes.

But for every big story shouted from the rooftops, there are a million smaller ones which barely rate a whisper.