Thursday, 31 July 2014

It’s the economy

For some time now I have been perplexed by that seeming lack of correlation between those polls asking voter intent, and those asking who they most trust with the economy. When it comes to the economy the Conservatives have a healthy lead, when it comes to how people intend to vote...

I asked a friend, a Socialist, why this might be and she came up with the rather surprising reply that people could be selfish. It hadn’t occurred to me to ascribe this particular motive, though I confess my own suspicion - that people could be stupid - is hardly less provocative.

There are of course other measurements, yet it is a strong economy that enables our love for education and the health service to be more than empty gesturing. It is a strong economy that enables our support for the vulnerable. Those things we live for, by which we measure ourselves, are made possible by that thing that enables us to live. So perhaps I should expect the ill-advised “they’re privatising the NHS” scare-mongering (otherwise known as bollocks) from my Labour friends; imputing evil to their opposition is all they have to offer.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

How much?

My daughter, who may as well be a teenager, though that age will be soon enough upon me, recently rescinded a previous decision over a school-arranged French exchange by deciding she now wished to go. Naturally, on being told the cost I exhibited as much horror as I could muster. “I could”, I suggested, “sell part of my liver”. To which she replied “you’ll get more for a kidney”.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Hold your prayers

I have been mulling on a note informing the intended recipient that she would be prayed for, wondering somewhat facetiously whether those prayers wouldn’t best be put on hold, given this was what had happened to the appointment. God bless the idiosyncratic ways of our glorious NHS, inviting prospective patients in for a pre-op assessment without knowing the date of the operation itself. Whilst I love the principle, I continue to be bemused - and that’s being polite - at the level of waste and inefficiency we grant this 1.7 million tentacled behemoth.

I am perplexed too at those ivory-towered dwelling hospital consultants who in railing against reform speak of the dangers of fragmentation, giving the wholly erroneous perception that the many parts of the NHS sing in perfect harmony. Imagine a public diktat requiring Tesco, admittedly a minnow in comparison, to only sell food it had grown itself. Somehow they manage a huge number of suppliers in a joined-up fashion and in doing so provide a better service to the customer.

It is of course a heresy to compare the NHS to anything; it is unique, real-world comparisons simply don’t apply. Foolish me to suggest that any concerns over cherry-picking by those evil private corporations might be allayed with an overly simplistic analogy on 2-for-1 tubs of ice-cream; “when the offer stops we shop elsewhere” I suggested. “But you can’t” she replied, “You can’t compare the NHS to ice-cream”.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Masturbation for the masses

Blimey Miley, that was quite a show you put on. I didn’t watch it of course and had it not been for Twitter I wouldn’t even have known it had happened. As it is I still don’t know what VMA stands for and I’m only vaguely aware of who you are, but then I’m in my late forties and not, let’s hope, the target audience. That would be a million teenage boys and girls for whom it’s good material; well, for the boys anyway for whom you give such relief. I’m not so sure what it does for your female following but I should think it involves an unhealthy body image and neutering the English language. Yes, I think you’re a poor example (I would say that wouldn’t I) but if Elvis couldn’t manage then what chance have you in stunting their growth?

I am curious as to what Miley’s Dad, who was in the same line of work - singing that is, not twerking, whatever that is - made of it all. From what I read he has a connection to one of those over-bearing parent groups with a never-ending fear of moral corruption. I however couldn’t muster the outrage, besides half-heartedly musing on a Cyrus family subterfuge; it’s all so banal. So banal I’ve just devoted two paragraphs on the subject. So trivial that after a long hiatus I choose this rather than Ed Miliband’s “Neville Chamberlain” moment. What am I thinking?

It’s a crisis of something or other - I‘d say faith only I’m not that way inclined. I have thought on it before, though with more conviction. Science tells me everything, or will, given time; the when, the how, the why; and in doing so it tells me nothing. Science endows and then strips the world of meaning; though I recognise the two are separate - the actual and the spiritual - I speak in a non-religious sense as I haven’t the imagination for much else; the world is what it is and often I’m finding that sad.

I appreciated the bluntness; his explanation that life appears to have no meaning because life has no meaning; and what do you do, asked Camus, once you’ve discovered this ‘truth’? There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn, he says, and that appeals too. But enough of the self-flagellation; to deny the world a meaning is not (this atheist prays) to deny myself an internal meaning, and that can be as I choose. Kindness, compassion and companionship; and pain - it would be false to deny the pain of those I have (and those I will) hurt, though I might wish otherwise; and not forgetting love, to deny love would be the greatest sin of all. God help us if science finds a reason for that.

Monday, 6 May 2013

I’m not a hypocrite, but...

There were some particularly nasty comments flowing in the vicinity of “English comedian, actor and presenter” Rufus Hound and former Conservative MP and “English author” Louise Mensch the other day; two people of whom I’d normally have little interest. I ought, I suppose, to be more upset at Hound’s description of his adversary as a “cocksucker” – should that be one word, or two? – yet outrage hardly needs my help. His mealy mouthed defence, sadly all too familiar, was spectacularly ill-thought as it effectively amounted to ‘anything goes’ when someone fails to share the same point of view - so long as you can claim it’s figurative; which of course most (all?) Anglo-Saxon insults are.

Neither do I have much time for UKIP, yet included in his abusive rant was one clarification that reminded me of the “I’m not racist, but” ad-hominem attributions to the silly party from various right-on commentators. Our comedian says:
I believe in a free press, for what it's worth, but I don't believe the press we have currently is capable of handling that responsibility.
… which would make for great satire were it not for the fact he’s serious. And unfortunately there are far too many serious types who share this contradiction. If you believe in a free press, there is no qualification, there is no Leveson-inspired regulatory body, or if there is, then you don’t, and you should stop pretending otherwise. In just the same way as one can’t say “I’m not racist but”, you can’t claim to “believe in a free press, but”. Or to put it yet another way, yes, you are and no, you don’t.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Seconds out

Munchkin fury at Maggie Ding Dong song
Margaret Thatcher’s seemingly much anticipated death provoked all the expected nonsense from those on the left determined to offend, and those on the right determined to be offended. I was both puzzled and despairing and, as ever, determined to avoid conflict. Thus I have passed in the past on the temptation to question derogatory comments on the death of a disabled child - I mean, where do you start? And if I could do that I could resist providing an alternative view of the Iron Lady; besides, you really can’t argue with “fact” and “end of” in the same comment.

Events have overtaken me, yet I was stopped in my tracks some weeks before by a post comparing the Tory government’s supposed campaign of persecution with the “scapegoating of the Jews in the early years of the Third Reich”. Wow. I’ll credit their omission of the Liberal party as a deliberate insult to the junior coalition partners, and quite funny at that; I’ve noticed how uncomfortable my few acquaintances of that persuasion can get when joking “we’re all friends now”.

Silly comments from people with a far superior education; I’ll never get it. And I let it go because whilst I may decry the ease with which those in the middle ground (and I’d like to pretend I’m one) cede control to the more virulent of their side (and there’s always a side), if your friends of a different political hue are “off on one” it’s easier to let them get it out of their system. I’m wrong of course, I know that. In a gentle way, you can shake the world; cynicism or a general weariness, I’m not entirely sure I believe, but the occasional nudge won’t hurt.

Friday, 15 March 2013

…where you won't do very much harm

We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand, and it is no good moving from place to place to save things; because the shadow always follows. Choose a place where you won't do harm - yes, choose a place where you won't do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine.
-- E. M. Forster, A Room With A View
I should think this a popular quote. I imagine younger readers fastening to this advice, as I did so many years ago, noting, but mostly brushing aside the note of caution. Some marry a George or Lucy, others a Cecil or Charlotte. Some forget, for they no longer need to remember, others return with a rueful smile or occasional tears; I can’t think which is more appropriate, though appropriate of course has nothing to do with it.