Posts Tagged ‘Consolation’
If, dear reader, you have been confused of late take consolation from the fact that vast numbers across the land have been likewise. The central processing computer which services many a blog has suffered what it describes as a “catastrophic outage” which sounds rather like an illness I once contracted in Nigeria. In other words it conked out. Yesterday parts of our site were restored and I ventured to put out a new blog. Hours later that too vanished into the ether. So this effort will be somewhat restricted on the basis that it too may never reach you.
Up until the ‘outage’ your daily offering had been literally that, with no break since May of last year. So I feel a compulsion to update you. Not that much has happened on the allotments other than more rain than visits the rain forests. But there was one bit of excitement, our latest flock of ‘Columbian Black Tails’ has started laying. They are around 24 weeks old and the eggs are small but its a start. Inevitably this triggered Albert into restarting his argument about which came first, the chicken or the egg. I always respond egg and he always then demands to know where the first ever egg came from. If any of you know I would love to hear from you!
The revelation that the new internet communications highway is not always as dynamic as we are led to believe has triggered a mood of grumpiness on my part. The mood was not improved earlier today when I found myself trapped in yet another motorway jam. I eventually tired of watching in my mirror the women behind me painting her face, and of gazing at the truck in front which proclaimed ‘keep moving, we do’ and switched on the radio. I was just in time to hear Prime Minister’s Question Time. Ye Gods, it sounded like the terraces at Millwall on a bad day.
But I did gain pleasure from the answer David Cameron gave to a member who asked if he was impressed with his government’s policy on the sale of forests. He replied with one word -NO. In other words the massive protest spearheaded by ’38 Degrees’ which already has over a half million signatures, plus the many mass rallies, has led to a U-turn. It has probably also led to his sacking Caroline Spellman! But why he allowed such a crass idea to see daylight is a mystery. It would earn no revenue and would endanger freedoms that go back through the mists of time.
I was less impressed with his defence of the Big Society, a subject which preoccupies the prime minister and is a mystery to everyone else. Every day we read of charities closing down as council chiefs wield the axe on all but their own astronomic salaries. And right now we are swamped with stories of the Banks, who caused the disaster, paying their senior people salaries and bonuses described by the Archbishop of York as obscene. It seems that in the Big Society some will be considerably bigger than others.
A couple of days ago I was chatting to a local Mayor who is a Lib Dem. We seemed to agree that Clegg et al have failed to grasp the concept of a coalition. Yes, the partners vote together if the government faces a vote of confidence but they meantime stand up for their own policies rather than act as lapdogs. Many of the worst right-wing excesses of this government such as the NHS reforms are clearly things that true Liberals oppose. So why the silence?
But there is good news on the protest front. The forests plan triggered middle England into action as never before. The British Medical Association is to hold its first emergency conference since 1992 to vote overwhelmingly against cooperation with reforms which most GPs believe will destroy patient care. Meantime another burgeoning protest group called ‘Cuts’ is staging demonstrations against Banks and major companies who are practicing tax avoidnace and ’38 degrees’ is running a massive campaign with Osborne portrayed as ‘The Artful Dodger’. Yes, it seems that he too is saving a cool million per year via tax avoidance.
We will never rival Egypt and its like, in fact many believe that given a revolution no one would turn up if there was football on the box. But at least the worm is wriggling if not turning. The millionaires in the cabinet won’t listen of course but at least we will release our pent up aggression. That is probably all we should do for I’ve had enough of catastrophic outages to last me a lifetime!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; “All the world’s a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed”…..Sean O’Casey “The people in hell – where do they tell people to go?”……Red Skelton “Maybe this world is another planet’s hell”….Aldous Huxley “What do you think of modern civilisation? I think it would be a good idea”….Mahatma Gandhi “”Beware of the man that picks your dresses for he wants to wear them”….Erica Jong “I won a competition. The prize was a year’s supply of Marmite – one jar”…..Tim Vine “My mother wanted me to be a nun. It’s steady work, they supply the uniform, and you’re married to God – at least he’s home every night”…Dorothy Zbornak
QUIZ WILL RESUME SHORTLY!!!
Earlier today I reported that the central network had partially recovered from its 3-day crash but that all entries post November appeared to have been lost. I then posted today’s blog entitled ‘Big society; some are bigger than others’ plus some researched ‘Thoughts for today’.
At 5.00pm the post November material reappeared but today’s material vanished.
I hold my breath.The only consolation is that thousands of other sites are suffering too!
The famous theory that there is a heaven and we are in it seemed even less plausible this morning when we began to dig out the old fish pond. We sank into the mud up to our knees and we were not wearing waders. Albert made an attempt at singing ‘mud, glorious mud’ but it did little to boost the morale of either us or the frogs who were leaping about in rage at the disruption. But we are only weeks from spawning time so it had to be done. One consolation was that this is not a complicated task which may be just as well because I have been trying in vain to understand what Andrew Lansley is talking about.
I had hoped that yesterday,s first session of parliamentary health questions would explain all about the massive – I think – reforms that the rather strange Mr Lansley is touting around. After all, I reasoned, MPs, being by nature simple creatures, are pretty good at asking simple questions. They did that but understanding the answers was another matter altogether. Most of the questions were about the distinct possibility of constituents dying as a result of the Lansley plan. They didn’t actually use those words but that was the gist of the often petulant enqiries. Sadly they were each given a dose of gobbledegook.
A typical example was the reply given to Mark Lancaster ( Milton Keynes). He wanted to be sure that doctors were going to receive sufficent funds with which to reconstruct a service that actually seems to be working well. Mr Lansley spoke at length about a ‘pathfinder consortium’. But, others wanted to know, doesn’t the word pathfinder infer a trial of a vague idea? It seems not, for there are apparently to be hundreds of pathfinders but the explanation as to how they will avoid producing hundreds of different schemes was so oblique that, despite having chaired two NHS Trust, I was totally bamboozled.
So confusing was the dialogue that Stephen Dorrell rushed to the aid of his mentor. He assured those MPs still awake that there would be ” improved core delivery of the efficiency challenge …reinforcing the interface”. So that’s all right then, these Lansleyites know what they are talking about. The problem is that no one else does and the stakes are very high!
Simon Hoggard of the Guardian ventures the view that the NHS reform plan was dreamed up by Andrew Lansley in his bedroom. He goes on to suggest that it is not so much a reform as a sellotape and string construction in the old British tradition of mad machines. Rowland Emett used to draw wonderful trains powered by kettles, weird collections of scrap which would make you a cup of tea, hit a golf ball or play dominoes. More recently Wallace and Gromit created devices to get you out of bed, pull your trousers up and make the toast. Or there is the Mousetrap game where the crank turns a lever, which hits a boot, which kicks a bucket, which makes a ball-bearing fall on to a seesaw. In the end the mouse is caught in a net. Or, more often, not.
Lansley’s reforms seem to be based on the same kid of connections and reactions. In theory they could just work but the worry is that quite a few people who should,know say that they won’t. Doctors, the British Medical Association, the independent Kings Fund and others see the plan as doomed, yesterday one gained the impression that most MPs on all sides feel the same. Of course they probably haven’t allowed for the ‘reinforcement of the interface’.
Certain it is that members were determined to be difficult. Some even went so far as to ask why none of this was in the manifesto or coalition statement of intent. Others wanted to know how GPs could find time to take on a zillion commissioning tasks whilst continuing to see their patients. Yet more were concernmed about postcode medicine. To all of them the answer was the same, reinforcing the interface would solve all problems.
As someone who regards the NHS as crucial for every family in the land I worry about all this. I realise that Lansley’s intention is to privatise the service but he doesn’t even seem to have a workable plan for that. In fact I came to a slightly worrying conclusion yesterday.
Perhaps the plan is as daft as everyone claims and suppose that Lansley, Dorrell and all are simply loopy. It would explain a lot but its implications are less than reassuring aren’t they?
IRAQ INQUIRY; THE PLOT THICKENS!
The Iraq inquiry rolls on and on and we all know the outcome anyway. But some of the revelations really are intriguing.
Yesterday it was the turn of former cabinet secretaries to give evidence. Predictably they claimed that Blair was economical with the truth only last week. Lord Turnbull said that no key papers were presented to the cabinet and Mr Blair was wrong to claim that ministers knew what was going on. When asked if there were proper cabinet decisions in the run-up to war, Lord Wilson answered ‘emphatically not’. In fact the cabinet was not asked to approve going to war until three days before the troops landed. Asked what the cabinet could have done Lord Turnbull replied that ‘they were pretty much imprisoned’. In fact the only option they had was to remove Blair. The final condemnation was reserved for the ministers who, with the exception of Gordon Brown and Robin Cook, didn’t seem to mind being left out’.
So we now know that there weren’t any discussions. Surprise, surprise! No surprise really but it becomes increasingly difficult to avoid the conclusion that Mr Blair should be tried for war crimes! Certain it is that Mr Cameron’s infatuation with him becomes stranger by the day!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY;” They say movies should be more like life. I think life should be more like movies”…..Myrna Loy. “Shakespeare wrote ‘ kill all the lawyers’. That was before Agents!”….Robin Williams. “I never go to movies where the hero’s bust is bigger than the heroines”….Groucho Marx. ” Night watchmen have a life expectancy in horror movies of 12 seconds”….Sam Waas. “Table for Five would be an ideal movie to watch on a plane. At least they provide free sick-bags”…..Simon Rose. “Watching a musical is like doing your own root canal work”…..Don Black “Very few pwople go to the doctor when they have a cold, they go to the theatre”…James Agate ” Nudity on stage is disgusting. But if I were 21 with a great body it would be artistic, tasteful, patriotic and a progressive religious experience”…..Shelley Winters.
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. Jack Hawkins 2. Sally Bowles
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. He directed ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ and ‘The Quiet Man’. he died in 1973. Who was he? 2. The musician Pablo Casals died in 1973. What was his instrument?
Having heard that the arctic weather is to return in a few days time we decided to dig in the muck accumulated whilst the ground was rock-hard. Sadly one probe with the spade revealed that the ground is not as it appears, a soft top conceals granite. A robin followed our abortive efforts but worms were off its menu yet again, we could offer only corn as consolation. It has taken to following us into the shed and we are beginning to wonder if it is some kind of spy, micro-chipped by the Guardian perhaps. If so it learned nothing today other than that most of those gathered loath both Clegg and the violent students equally.
Without the mindless violence yesterday’s London protests would have been an impressive demonstration of the strength of feeling against the increase in tuition fees. Sadly the thugs – were they really students – have turned the bulk of public opinion against the protesters. The statue of Winston Churchill was defaced, the Cenotaph mocked and damaged, the heir to the throne attacked. And a lot of young policemen, many of whom have not had the privilege of several years of relative leisure at the taxpayers expense, were badly injured. It was for most decent people an absolute disgrace.
In fairness we are not yet sure of the identity of the morons. Those interviewed on TV did not strike one as students, if they were the intelligence levels of those at university have sunk somewhat!
All of which was a disaster. The cause is just and deserved massive support with which we could all relate. The cause of the cause was easy to identify. The Lib Dems built up the hopes of the National Union of Students by signing their pledge. All politicians use weasel words but they actually signed their names to a commitment to oppose any increase in fees. Clegg duped the students and their rage is understandable, if not their method of expressing it. When the vote came, half of the Lib Dem MPs acted honourably and either voted against or abstained but those in the cabinet were talked by Clegg into voting in favour.
This morning’s polls show the Lib Dems with their lowest ever rating and it is hard to envisage a recovery. In effect Clegg and Cable have become stooges to a Conservative group that must be privately rubbing its hands with delight. Unpopular and unfair policies are being rushed through and their subservient partner is picking up the tab of blame. Last evening’s Question Time featured one of Clegg’s cronies who said that when they signed the pledge they did not envisage being in government. That makes the action even less honourable. And his subsequent claim that Labour also favour the increase was irrelevant. It was the Lib Dems, and they alone, who signed.
Under the terms of the coalition agreement all Lib Dems were free to abstain. Why Clegg refused to do this is a mystery, in so doing he has split his party and condemned his own career to the lost deposit file. His actions are every bit as shameful as those of Phil Woolas who has been banned from politics.
The coalition scraped through but it was a hollow victory. The antics of its junior partner has created a situation every bit as volatile as the Poll Tax. And if that proves an accurate analogy the tuition fees will never be implemented. However the leaders of the protest movement must find a way of staging peaceful demonstrations for public opinion is becoming soured by the mindless and gleeful violence. Desecrating the memorial to millions of young men and women who gave their lives for freedom is a sure way of making enemies of the vast majority of the population which has never seen the inside of a university.
And Nick Clegg? He clearly lacks self understanding for the only way in which he can save his party and avoid driving the final nail into the coffin of an already tainted democracy, is to resign. But a man who cares not for even his own pledge is unlikely to do that. In which case it is, to misquote the two Ronnies, goodbye for him and goodbye for them.
NHS “CLOSE TO BREAKING POINT”
The Federation of the Royal Colleges of Physicians ( RCP) yesterday said that the NHS is on the verge of collapse. Attendances at A & E departments have climbed by 5% this year and the number of patients being admitted to hospitals likewise. Since 2004 the workforce has increased by 12% but the workload has climbed by 19%. And implementation of the European directive on Junior Doctor’s hours has made a bad situation even worse.
The NHS is now being forced to make savings of £20 billion and the most dramatic changes ever are being imposed by Andrew Lansley. The result is forecast by the RCP to be wards closing and waiting times lengthening to the point where patient care reaches depths previously unknown.
The RCP is not known for exaggeration and it is surely time that Lansley gave serious consideration to his present policies which will ultimately hit every family in the land at a time when they are most vulnerable.
What do you think? Is the NHS safe in Andrew Lansley’s hands?
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. In an air accident 2. Aldo Moro
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. What firsts did Ann Hays and Elizabeth Hoisington achieve in the USA? 2. Where was Clifford Dupont sworn in as president?
Almost every member of our allotment shed has experienced the mixed emotions that accompany every new arrival. It is truly a time of wonder, a moment that remains frozen in the memory. What experiences will this tiny mite have in a world that it will hopefully be living in long after we, who created it, are gone? We take our pictures or films to record a time that he or her will never remember unaided and pray that one day this tiny bundle will look at a faded print and say that we did our best for it. Perhaps sentiments of a similar kind are in the minds of the Camerons right now and we all send them our congratulations and good wishes.
It has to be said that David Cameron comes across on TV as a decent sort of bloke. He and Samantha deserve their blessing for, like two of our members, they have suffered a grievous loss. My pals liken the death of a child to a devastating feeling of empty hopelessness, one that turns to anger, one that cries why us. The lost soul cannot be replaced but the consolation of other offspring helps to provide comfort in the dark night of the soul. And soon the new parents will move from wonder to the forebodings that every parent feels. What do we wish for our new love above all else they ask. Usually the answer is peace, health and prosperity, or words to that effect.
David Cameron and his wife didn’t have priviledged service, their big moment came in the same way as it does for the rest of us. But in one respect they are fortunate. We all make our wishes and dream our dreams but as Prime Minister he has the chance to at least apply some influence to the society that their children will inherit. Hopefully he will seize the opportunity. Everyone does not share his political convictions but he seems a good man in the truest sense of the word. Unfortunately he is surrounded by what looks very much like the cast from Monty Python’s Flying Circus and he will need to keep a very close eye on the direction in which some of them seem to be heading.
Peace is usually our first wish. Of course we pray for peace of mind but in today’s world that quickly embraces security and freedom from violence. And here lies the first issue our new Dad must watch. His ministers are understandably preparing to cut the defence budget and given that we are never likely to be so foolish as to embark on another Iraq-like crusade it may well be right to reduce our army. But military experts are appalled at the plan to slash the strength of the RAF to its lowest ever level. If these islands are seriously threatened in future years the great will undoubtedly come through our air space. Fail to protect this and we will be at the mercy of madmen.
And what of health? The Camerons already knew of the excellent response of the NHS when emergencies occur and now they have experienced it again. I am sure that the last thing the Prime Minister wants is to see our most important service decimated but that is exactly what the ravings of Andrew Lansley will bring about if he is not restrained and his ad-hoc ideas clearly analysed and tested. Yes there is an ideological argument to had but the plan already underway is based on timings so ambitious that the only outcome can be total chaos. Yes the stifling bureaucracy introduced by the last government had to be cut but the fact that Primary Care Trusts are already proceeding with mass redundancies, long before anyone has worked out how GPs will take over their roles, is dangerous in the extreme. Experts with no political agenda are openly forecasting the collapse of the whole NHS infrastructure and no parent, Prime Minister or otherwise, should be willing to risk that.
And then comes prosperity. The way in which the present crisis is handled will have a huge bearing on decades to come. Of course there is still a big debate to be had about the rate of cuts but an even bigger one is needed about the role of the Banking sector which caused the worldwide calamity and shows neither remorse nor prudence even now. Perhaps greater than either of these factors is public acceptance of what has to be faced. And today’s papers, even those of right-wing persuasion, carry headlines featuring findings by eminent financial analysts showing that the Osborne budget punishes the poor out of all proportion. If Churchill left us any legacy worth carving in tablets of stone it is that the solution to any crisis can only be found if everyone feels fairly treated and valued.
But right now the Cameron family will be preoccupied with more mundane matters, indeed pleasures. He doesn’t strike us as someone afraid of nappies or disturbed sleep and the best advice we can perhaps give is to quote from philosopher and king of self understanding, George Santayana, who said in his Sililoquies in England of 1922 that “there is no cure for birth or death save to enjoy the interval”. May the new baby have a very long interval and may his Dad save us all from the fools that surround him in his work.
THE MOUNTAIN OF JUNK MAIL CLIMBS AND CLIMBS!
Do you seem to be receiving more and more junk mail? I do. This morning I received a letter from a company called ‘Global Prize Centre’ which asks me if I am available to come to Australia on 7th October 2010. The ‘urgent prize notice’ provides the news that I have a potential $4,000,000.00 to collect.
It is only after careful study I noticed the words ‘if you are announced the winner’. In other words I am one of zillions. Hopefully they will all decide not to subject British Airways to the sort of boom that invariably leads to a series of strikes!
O.D.E IS GOING CRACKERS!
The latest edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English suggests that the once ultra-conservative organ is heading in the opposite direction at a rapid rate of knots. One of the new words to be incorporated is vuvuzela which for the unitiated is the apian drone that almost destroyed our enjoyment of the football world cup before our inept players managed it anyway. Heaven forbid that it should come to cricket!
Surely time should be allowed to cover the possibility that the noun will fizzle out which ,in this case, I sincerely hope it does!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1 Art Garfunkel 2. Agony
TODAYS QUESTIONS; 1.In which 1970 race did Intrepid beat Gretel? 2. In which sport did David Wilkie of Great Britain set a world record in 1973?