According to your viewpoint, old men are either all-wise or plain loopy, clones of Victor Meldrew and all that. Given the state of the daily issues we chicken-keepers mull over it is hard to categorise us that precisely. In reality we have become so bemused at the state of national and international affairs that we have almost reached the point where it seems that those who lead us are either so clever that their deeds are beyond our feeble comprehension, or they are all even loopier than us and are collectively driving us for the nearest cliff.
What has brought all this on? A glance through this morning’s papers was the last straw, the truth being that none of it makes sense. Our first source of such bemusement came with the latest adventures of James Murdoch. Yesterday he gave an encore to the parliamentary committee. He probably didn’t enjoy being likened to a mafia don, or compared to an Asda manager, but his demeanour remained unchanged. It is now apparent that even the tea-lady at News International knew that hacking was widespread but the boss, like Manuel in Fawlty Towers, knew nothing.
Even more puzzling is the fact that the dogs that should have barked – the police and regulator – stayed silent. Even more puzzling than even that is the fact that our government was about to allow Mr Murdoch to double his dominance in the UK, and our Prime Minister was employing one of the leading NI lights whilst spending interminable amounts of time socialising with the Editor. To compound all this we learned yesterday that all the members of the parliamentary committee were under surveillance, their every move noted and recorded. Of course James Murdoch knew nothing about this either.
And what about the Eurozone? Twenty years ago, Germans endlessly repeated Thomas Mann’s post-1945 wish to see “not a German Europe but a European Germany”. Today a telling variation is doing the rounds. Chat to most people in Berlin and you will be told that what is needed now is “a European Germany in a German Europe”! There can be no doubt that, alone amongst the EU states, Germany has practised the kind of budget, debt and wage discipline that is precisely what the whole of Europe need. No surprise then that Germans resent the prospect of giving away most of what they have achieved to nations that have failed totally. No surprise either that the price of rescue will be a German Europe. Just what David Cameron is trying to achieve is less clear. Is it his aim to be part of Rule Germania or is he trying to achieve the total expulsion so desired by his right-wing whilst being able to blame it on Aunty Merkel to appease the Lib Dems?
As if all this wasn’t enough to confuse us we then learn that the first ‘privatisation’ of an NHS hospital has been nodded through. You have to hand it to Lansley, he ploughs on with his reforms regardless of approval from either parliament or the medical profession and the fact that ‘Circle’, the new private sector owners, are known to be friends of his should take nothing away from admiration for his Liam Fox-like cunning. But he does seem to have missed some of the detail.
As more and more NHS hospitals fall under the control of private companies how will postcode medicine be avoided. Who will undertake the teaching and training of doctors? Who will handle the less profitable elderly patients? What is to stop Circle extending the number of private beds to the point where locals who cannot afford to pay have to travel to other areas? On last night’s ‘Question Time’ a seemingly half-witted lady panellist asked why it is that private hospitals are quieter, nicer places to be when you are ill. It just might have something to do with the fact that they handle about one-twentieth of the numbers that flood an NHS hospital, and handle no emergency work. Another panel meber said that Andy Burnham was planning to do the same. Yes he was, but the idea that that somehow makes the move sensible is very odd given that he is arguably almost as daft as Lansley.
Yes, it’s a funny old world as seen from the allotments this morning. But, as my old Mum used to say, we must look on the bright side. Doing that requires a belief that all the mighty know exactly what they are doing and the only reason we serfs cannot undertsnad is that we are denser that a hen-run post.
Let us hope that is the truth of it!