Posts Tagged ‘Haste’
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?
This time last year we would have described this morning as cold. Everything is relative and, after the coldest December since Adam was a lad, we felt it to be quite mild. Just as well for today we were joined by Barry, who is new to the self-sufficiency lark, and so rare are new members that we have to hang on to them with might and main. Barry has been made redundant by the local authority and has decided to produce his own eggs. That sounds daft so I will rephrase it. He has decided to keep chickens. A few days ago his first self-assembly coop arrived.
Even those of us used to the perils of MFI kits tend to struggle for up to two hours with coops and we usually enlist the help of a friend. Not Barry. To our astonishment he had finished within 30 minutes. There was however a snag, he had several pieces left over and they happened to secure the floor section. Albert, not a candidate for the diplomatic service, was quick to rabbit on about more haste less speed. Bill poured oil on troubled waters by suggesting that Barry was no worse than the coalition.
When as a team we had eventually reassembled Barry’s prefab, we retired to the hut for the last of the Christmas sherry. Bill enlarged on the coalition bit. Unlike the rest of us he had read the front page of several of today’s papers and the unfortunate story of the much lauded ‘bonfire of the Quangos’ which warmed our anti-bureaucracy hearts soon after the election. You may remember the PR. Under Labour a zillion unelected Quangos had been created and the whole land was creaking under the weight of a million orders. Even worse the empire of the uneleceted was consuming billions of the national purse. They were all to be abolished within the first four months of the new Cameron/Clegg wonderworld. And before we read today’s reports of the Commons public admistration select committee that is exactly what we imagined had happened. The whole pile of red tape and waste had been hurled on to the bonfire, and good riddance.
But it seems that, as in many other things, the coalition acted with undue haste. The chairman of the committee which investigated the Clegg version of Guy Fawkes night is Tory MP Bernard Jenkin, and he had nothing good to say about what has happened. He says that “the whole process was rushed and poorly handled and should have been thought through a lot more. This was a fantastic opportunity to help build the big society and save money at the same time”. The whole project says Mr Jenkins “has been botched”.
And he hadn’t finished at that. He added that “in the short term the reorganisation will now cost more than it will save. This was put together on the hoof and needs to be much improved for future reviews”. Not surprisingly the Labour members were quick to join in the latest Clegg bashing. John Tricket talked of chaos and an irrational, unaccountable and expensive mish-mash of proposals which will do nothing to improve the quality of services.
Today’s report is profoundly critical of the Quango-vetting process used. It claims that the criteria used to test whether a Quango should survive were conflicting and inconsistently applied. An example quoted was the decision to make art funding independent of government yet film funding went the other way. This report won’t make good bedtime reading for the head muppets, the summary is best left until dawn. For it confirms the committee’s view that the project will not deliver savings or result in greater accountability.
At some stage of its work the committee called the head of the Civil Service, Gus O’Donnell, to clarify the supposed cost savings. Despite being given time to go way and organise an audit Mr O’Donnell was obliged to confirm that he coudn’t prdouce an analysis of any net savings which is probably Sir Humphfrey speak for ‘there ain’t any’.
Add this fiasco to the news that we are cutting up for scrap brand new ships and planes and it is hard to escape the conclusion that the deeds of government are straight from the script of Monty Python. And one cannot exclude the previous administration from that since they created the said Quangos, ships and planes in the first place. But we are now in a bigger mess than ever for we have work carried out by Quangos now lying unattended and we haven’t saved so much as a quid in the process.
The prime minister will probably respond to the select committee by ordering an Inquiry which wil take several years to reach a conclusion by which time the Miliband family will be ready to reinstate the Quangos. How else will they find jobs for their favourite uncles?
The next time there is talk on high of bonfires someone should perhaps suggest that they are checked for content before ministers strike a match!
ASHES TRIUMPH CHEERS THE NATION!
So excellent was the England performance down under that it is probably unfair to single out individuals. This was truly a team performance and bowlers and batsmen alike demonstrated just how far England have come under Flower and Strauss. Even the loss of Stuart Broad failed to derail the team and, by the end of the Sydney Test, the Aussies were lining up to describe the England standard as well above their own.
Sadly the series marked the end of Paul Colligwood’s Test career. And he went out on a characteristic note when he flung himself like a circus acrobat to snatch the edge that did for Ricky Ponting in Perth. Paul was a world-class fielder and a gritty performer with bat and ball. He is a man of great self understanding and has used his abilities to the fullest extent possible.
Of course we all realise that Australia are no longer the greatest, in fact they are way behind both South Africa and India. But we should relish the moment. England will surely never travel to those famous grounds again and come away so utterly triumphant.
FAMOUS CRICKET ‘SLEDGES’; Steve Waugh was arranging the field for Nasser Hussein who had just arrived at the crease. He placed Ponting at silly point and said “I want you right under his nose”. Ponting replied ” that would be anywhere inside a three mile radius”. Sadly Nassar laughed so much that he was dismissed the next ball.
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. The Cruel Sea 2. 1977
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which British daily newspaper closed down in March 1971? 2. Of which country was General Yakubu Gowon head of state?