Let's start the week with a smile: this article by Emma Jane Kirby, heard on Sunday on Radio 4 and transcribed on the BBC site, compares British and French attitudes towards disease and health. It notes that due a lack of funds, the expensive French system is being "anglicized", "turning away from the indulgent "There, there" approach and moving towards a much more "Get along with you now" stiff upper lip attitude."
I particularly enjoyed the ending:
A couple of years back, while skiing in the Alps after a tiring stint in Afghanistan, I noticed my legs were covered in small red spots and I was feeling lethargic. Could I finally have contracted the elusive heavy legs syndrome?
"No!" said the alarmed French doctor, "you have a tropical illness and you need to go straight to hospital."
Laughing to myself at the typical Gallic solicitousness, I popped a Paracetamol and headed straight back to the slopes.
Two days later, delirious with fever and covered in enormous black lumps, I was lying in the isolation unit of a London hospital, howling in pain and terrified what my test results would reveal.
Alerted by my cries, a masked nurse popped her head around the door.
"Oh for goodness sake," she said brusquely. "Anyone would think you were dying. You’ve only got suspected leprosy."