Sailing to Purgatory
The final scene in this true adventure shocked the author, too.

‘The reader will be enthralled as Paul, former Fleet Street journalist turned professional yachtmaster, takes us along on his ‘swallowing the anchor’ voyage, his retirement from the sea.

'This self-confessed newish ancient mariner … has spent almost a lifetime sailing solo, as both an ocean going competitive yachtsman, as a DoT Commercial Yachtmaster, and during his circumnavigation to become a singlehanded Cape Horner ... Sailing to Purgatory has all the roller coaster elements of a heart stopping adventure — drama on the high seas, observing life ... undersea volcanoes, a love interest, and waves high enough to scare the pants off most of us.’ - Brenda Vowden, journalist, avid reader

Home from the outside ... St Helenans,
'Saints', round their South Atlantic
island in Midshipman,
en route for Stockholm.

Enterprising forebears ... The house Paul's father designed, and the car his paternal grandfather designed and built.

Running repairs ... crewman Declan checks rig fittings on the superyacht, Midshipman, which Paul sailed from the Cape to Sweden.

Sail power ... Gavin's Howe's beautiful yacht in the Mediterranean.

Rescue in the Southern Ocean ... Yachting World's international edition this month features Paul and Captain Fantastic in its Great Seamanship series.

Pat and Gerry Adamson, two wonderful supporters get Spirit of Pentax ready for her circumnavigation.

Home sweet home ... St Helena islanders, after a voyage round their island home on the superyacht, Midshipman.

Baptism of a Cape Horner ... Lady Chichester names Spirit of Pentax in a ceremony at Brighton Marina.

Homeward Bound 2 is prepared for her attempt on the longest open boat record.

Tri trials ... testing Paul's entry in the singlehanded race across the Atlantic are great friends Ron Pell, Jerry Freeman plus a keen helper.

Cover up ... Bob Abrahams works on cover ideas for Sailing to Purgatory.

Stocking up for 18 months ... Last minute farewells before Spirit of Pentax and Paul left on the long route to become Cape Horners.

Death of a racer ... Baltic Wind flounders after running into a container in the South Atlantic. Paul and a lady shipmate spent eight worrying days in a liferaft.

Thank heavens that the NHS’s fat wallet is to be filled even more because the NHS Ideas Department has been hard at work creating some new vital security rules.

Want that prescription your GP has left for you? There’s a new procedure for collecting it. Up till now, proclaiming your postcode, street address and then birth date in full has worked the magic.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Proof at the ready ... Queuing is just part of Britain's, er, enviable medical scene. Photo by Levi Jones on Unsplash

Now – so I am reliably informed today – we must present photographic evidence to show that we are who we say we are when we approach the gals at the GP practice reception desk.

It's as well that I am letting you in on this strict new rule because you won’t find it online.

Keeping it secret

At least, I couldn’t find it so I think we can take it that the NHS Ideas Department has realised the importance of keeping this new one secret from the Enemy.

You’re – we’re – not at liberty to ask why we must now produce a family photo album, or recent passport, or driving licence. Obviously, the NHS Ideas Department, helped by a big new NHS increase in funds, knows best. Perhaps it’s sufficient for us to image that the department has twigged a coming terrorist ploy to snatch prescriptions.

Of course, given the number of prescriptions issued each day, that might well zap a goodly proportion of the population without once having to light a fuse, nor don a suicide vest.

It’s probably a new more subtle form of terrorism we have still to learn about. Or, I should say, would have been something we had to learn about had our good people at NHS Ideas Department not got wind of it.

Like a West End chorus

I think I might have mentioned standing in a massive queue at a hospital not long ago, and one by one, rather like a West End chorus, we were ordered by a sergeant-major of a nurse to announce our addresses, then date of our birth.

All the way along the line, like schoolkids preparing for the end-of-year concert, each proclaimed their day, month, year, and then address details, one after another.

Now it seems such encouraging scenes are to be enjoyed at the GP’s, too, only with the chorus stretched. The revised routine will be postcode, house number and street, birthdate in full – day, month, year – and then perhaps with a theatrical flourish a recognisable portrait of the recipient.

I gather it will be perfectly acceptable if the snap show hints of the holiday venue - Benidorm or Basildon, South End or Salcombe - as long as it was taken in the last five years.

Oh, picking up a prescription when it’s not for you?

Tut tut. I suspect you might as well give up before you try, even though the NHS site reckons, ‘The GP surgery isn't legally required to check your identity, but some surgeries may ask for proof of identity to prevent the wrong prescription being given out to a patient.’

Easy, eh? Fortunately we know better now!

Thanks very much for visiting the blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory.

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