Friday 14 August 2009

The National Health Service’s new clothes

I’ve been rather irritated by the current disinformation campaign of the Republican Party in response to Barack Obama’s health plans. As far as I’m aware there are no plans to create a National Health Service, so holding up the UK as an example of what can go wrong is highly suspect.

Three monkeys. See, hear and speak no evil
I’m equally bemused by the response of most politicians in the UK who’ve rushed to the defence of the NHS; fighting to proclaim their love is true, that their love will last. Love is blind. It won’t be long before one, probably over-compensating Conservative, starts singing to the tune of all nurses are angels and all doctors are God. Absolute drivel – though I’ll admit to having met a few doctors who acted as if they were God. I'm presuming those wearing the rose-tinted spectacles have never had to wait a year (sometimes more) for treatment, or been misdiagnosed with Parkinson's disease and only after TEN years had the treatment corrected; this happened to my mother. Nor have they been victims of the 'postcode lottery' of NHS treatment after moving 20 miles, and in the process happening to move from one health trust that would fund treatment to one health trust that wouldn't; this happened to my wife.

The NHS is a glorious principle in which I whole-heartedly believe, but those holding it up as a paragon of virtue are about as useful as 'death panel' comments from Sarah Palin, or the idiot Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan describing the NHS as a 'sixty year mistake'. Slightly sinister, though hardly unexpected, is the response of Health Secretary Andy Burnham who described Mr Hannan's comments as unpatriotic. Do my comments make me unpatriotic too?

Wednesday 12 August 2009

What a difference a week makes; 168 little hours

At the end of one holiday it’s cliché to comment that one feels like another but… perhaps I should take two weeks out next time around. So what difference does a week really make? I’ll tell you; four films, two guinea pigs, a couple of days out and the BBC iPlayer… and I really regret the guinea pigs, though I had little say in the matter. However the BBC via their iPlayer enabled me to catch up on back episodes of The Street, and a week where I can watch a few films, all for the first time, could never be classed a write-off.

Friday Night Lights film
I have a weakness for American sports dramas though I am guilty of neither appreciating the sport nor understanding the rules. Baseball is a statistical cul-de-sac, rounders with a bigger bat, yet we have The Natural. Basketball is despite the points utterly pointless, yet we have Hoop Dreams - one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen. American gridiron football yesterday provided me with Friday Night Lights. Living in the UK I can’t vouch for accuracy, but it felt real. It helps knowing that this particular film was based on a real life season of the Permian Panthers, the football team of Permian High School in Odessa, Texas. Elements are shot in a documentary style yet it also includes the formulaic father-living-on-past-glories and the cocky-yet-likable athlete who you know is going to come undone. Perhaps the best sports dramas are really human dramas. It’s rather like an intelligent compassionate love story set in Paris; I can’t vouch for accuracy but if it feels real it doesn’t make me feel so bad - sometimes quite the opposite.