Purfleet, by Allister Webb, May 16, 2017

Hands writing in diary secrets about love
Hands writing in diary secrets about love

It’s probably a good job I wasn’t working in one of the NHS institutions affected by Friday’s cyber attack on its IT systems.

My fundamental lack of medical knowledge is one reason for that, but the other was the need to handwrite notes instead of using some other device.

Now I’m sure we can all remember people in our lives who had particularly bad handwriting. At my old school, for example, there was a history teacher who was known for two things.

One was his rather energetic style of teaching which my brother, who was taught the history of medicine by him for his GCSE, recalled involved demonstrating the flow of blood round the body by jumping over one side of the horseshoe arrangement of desks in his classroom, running round the edge of the room and then jumping over the other.

The other was his spindly handwriting which most people I knew found impossible to decipher and ended up getting me to make sense of it.

But, as the years go by, I’ve found that, when I do have need to do so, my own handwriting has reached equally dire levels of illegibility to a point where even I struggle to read the words that were apparently formed by my own hand.

I could claim some mitigation on the basis that I spend most of my time writing in shorthand and typing with a computer keyboard.

But that doesn’t explain why I instinctively reach for my mobile phone to take a picture if I’m in a shop and see a poster for an event I think should be followed up when I’m next back in the office.

I could claim it’s easier to do that than to carry a pen and a little notebook, write a note and I’d have at least some people believe that.

However, there’ll be plenty of others who reckon I’m just being idle and I wouldn’t blame you if you agreed with them either.

Mercifully, the work of our Queen Elizabeth Hospital appears to have been unaffected by the cyber attack, though it would undoubtedly have been a huge headache for those organisations that were hit by it.

Nor should we be surprised that, in the middle of an election campaign, it immediately became the latest example of the NHS being used as a political football; much to the dismay of those of us who see that as a way to avoid facing the most fundamental issues in the sector.

Ultimately, though, it shows just how vulnerable we can be to technological failure and, as we seem to spend more and more of our lives connected to some device or another, how vital it is to make sure we’re protected as well as we can be.

No virus or cyber attack ever beat the good old pen and paper. The only problem is like my former driving instructor used to say to me. It’s the bit between the steering wheel and the seat.