We had what posh people would call an incident on the allotments this morning. We were in the process of hen-run cleaning when the warning signal went up. Wife approaching! I should explain that we have all been married for over a half century and like to boast that our marriages, made in heaven, have never seen a cross word. The reason for that is that there haven’t been all that many words, most of our vocals and time have been allocated to the shed in the day and the local hostelry in the evening. Anyway, when wives do appear it usually means trouble and this morning was no exception.
We had earlier heard the fire engine racing down the nearby road. What we didn’t know was that it was heading for Albert’s residence. In his haste to be first at the allotments, he had left a pan of fat on the gas stove and guess what? Ethel had arrived to express her opinion on such laxity and proceeded to thump him vigorously with her brolly. We tended to look the other way and in due course she headed off to her morning bingo.
It hasn’t helped Albert’s morale. Like most people he is now perpetually hard-up and recently applied to join a local Quango. He had no success, a fact that may have been down to his age or possibly the fact that he answered a question as to his pastimes by saying that he studied the works of Karl Marx. Either way the chance to make a fortune in return for doing very little eluded him.
His telling of the story a few days ago reminded us of the coalition’s talk of making a bonfire of the Quangos. Perhaps we misheard for up to now they have increased the numbers. It is of course a coincidence that over half of them are chaired by relatives of ministers. But one thing is sure, the current clampdown on every working man’s pay packet, and standard of living, does not apply to the hundreds of unelected Quangos. Come to think about it the total may run into thousands since statistics show that since the general election 4500 new members have been signed up.
The same stats show that there are no fewer than 291 bureaucrats who are paid more than £150,000. Focus in even closer and you find some astonishing sinecures. Tony Fountain, chief executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, has a pay package of £520,000 comprising a basic salary of £365,000, a second home allowance of £85,937 and pension payments of £70,810. Before you gasp I should add that the Quango’s annual accounts disclose that he also received a performance bonus of £146,000 plus additional payments of £9000 bringing his total rake-off to more than £675,000.
Or perhaps you might fancy a role at the Olymic Delivery Authority. There the Australian Sir David Higgins pocketed £544,000 before handing over to Denis Hone who must be feeling poorly treated at only £401,000. Meanwhile over at the much criticised Quality Care Commission poor old Cynthia Bower, who allegedly failed to organise adequate inspections of nursing homes found by the BBC to be operating what can only be described as places of torture, is having to scrape along on £420,000 including pension top-ups.
The list goes on and on but having wasted so mucn space on Ethel’s assault I lack the space to list them. Suffice to say there are a vast number of people either employed, or on the Boards of, the Quangos that have proved bonfire-proof. Given the massive pay at the top it isn’t surprising that even the non-executive Directors, whose efforts are restricted to attending a monthly meeting, take home more than the average man or woman earns from full-time employment if they are lucky enough to have any.
Once Mr Cameron has finished telling the world about his saving of Libya he should perhaps allocate a few minutes to addressing the problems that his muppets are creating here!
TODAY’S WEEKEND QUIZ; 1. Which famous Castle is on the River Dee? 2. What did the Owl and the Pussycat dine on? 3. Vera Welch sang under what name? 4. What was resenter Gabby Logan’s siurname before she married? 5. Which outlandish musicians real name was Simon Ritchie? 6. Which handicapped physicist has apeared in adverts for BT? 7. Who is buried at the Arc de Triomphe? 8. During exercise which acid builds up in the muscles? 9. Which Kevin has played for WBA, Sunderland, Everton and Wigan? 10. Which singer had a backing group called Checkmates?