I have always rather liked Boris Johnson. For a politician, or so I suppose he calls himself, he is amusing; he’s fond of playing the fool. Never slow in taking a rise out of himself, he comes across as an amiable bumbling (well educated) buffoon.
But now the wolf discards his clown’s suit, and shows himself for what he really is: a cynical, backstabbing opportunist.
Poor chap! He’s agonised for just ages about coming out in the pro or anti-Europe camp. Actually what he’s done, is to wait and see what sort of deal Cameron managed to get out of Europe, and he’s decided that there really might be a chance that the country will vote no and Cameron will almost certainly have to resign. Then in comes Boris! A mop-headed white knight ready to save the country…
I regret to say that Eddie Mair, not one of my favourite people, had it quite right; Mr Johnson, “You’re a nasty piece of work, aren’t you?”
Yesterday I listened to ‘Cav and Pag’ from last week’s performance at the Royal Opera House. The emotions can get easily overloaded with the luxurious music and fierce melodrama of sex, love, jealousy and violent death.
A perfect antidote is the Marx Brothers’ Night at the Opera; of course it completely spoils you for Verdi’s Il Trovatore. I cannot now listen to the overture without hearing it morph into Down at the Old Ball Game, with Harpo and Chico throwing a baseball to each other in the pit of the New York opera house after they switched the orchestra’s music. The film is a perfect counterpoint to the opera’s absurdly melodramatic plot, albeit with some of best music preserved. The gypsies’ Anvil Chorus descends into farce as Harpo discovers he can rip the skirts off the performers playing female gypsies. “Now we’re getting somewhere!” remarks Groucho.
Alternatively, much shorter and ecstatically hilarious, is Bugs Bunny in What’s Opera Doc? The music is a melange of Wagner – The Flying Dutchman, Tannhäuser and bits from The Ring cycle. The first time I saw it, with Bugs Bunny dressed up as Brünnhilde, I rapidly descended into helpless laughter.
There is an irony, probably not lost on the Right Honourable Jeremy Hunt, MP, Minister of Health, that when he was Culture Secretary, he was apparently responsible for doubling the budget for the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games. A significant part of that superb event was devoted to a celebration of the wonderful National Health Service we have been privileged to enjoy in this country since 1948.
But Jeremy Hunt seems hell-bent on dismantling an institution that every single one of us in this country benefits from.
Item: as detailed elsewhere in this blog, my own GP surgery, rated outstanding last year by the Care Quality Commission, is about to lose one third of its funding. As a result, the four most senior partners in the practice have no other choice than to resign, effective June this year.
Item: a friend of mine has a son who is a practicing oncologist, and a daughter who is a nurse, also married to a senior consultant. All of them, without exception, declare that the NHS is in crisis and they fear for its long-term survival.
Item: a nurse in the GP practice where my mother is registered is, herself, registered with my GP. She too confirms the view that the NHS is teetering on the brink.
Item: anyone who has been unfortunate enough to have to visit an A&E department, particularly on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night, will have endured the awful and interminable waiting, simply because the service is at saturation point and close to collapse.
Item: whatever are the details of the conflict over the Junior Doctors’ contracts, to impose these contracts on the doctors is an act so crass, so stupid and so entirely devoid of common sense, that one wonders whether Jeremy Hunt has entirely taken leave of all of his senses.
It is clear to anyone who considers the problem for longer than five minutes, that the NHS is under huge stress. Yet who cannot say, who has recently had the need of their GP, or treatment at hospital, that with very few exceptions, the service they have received has been exemplary.
We really need to wake up. A functioning NHS is not negotiable Mr Hunt. We have an ageing population as a consequence of the ongoing success of the NHS. More exotic treatments and drugs are becoming available all the time and they are expensive, and the population is increasing. But immigrants pay their taxes, and are entitled, along with everyone else, to expect a health service free at the point of treatment.
Whatever one says about Blair, and there is a lot I could say that would get me into trouble, his government massively increased funding to the NHS. We must accept that a viable health service is essential in a civilized world and it has to be paid for. If that means raising taxes, then so be it. Put it to the country in a referendum. It would be an infinitely better use of resources than the endless bickering about leaving Europe. I would bet real money that more than 70% of the population would vote for a tax increase to support a viable National Health Service.
Oh, and for goodness sake, sack Hunt. Apparently he speaks Japanese. There must be a job for him at the British Embassy in Tokyo. After all, what possible harm could he do there?
A sombre day at the British Library today was considerably lightened by a story in the edition of the Middlesex County Times of April 29th 1939.
Captain William A. Waring of Ruislip, West London, was reported as having had a paternity order made against him. It seems that intimacy had taken place between him and Mrs Gladys Price, widow, not only at Mount Park Road Ealing, where he was a lodger at a boarding house kept by Mrs Price’s mother, but also at a house in Worthing. As a consequence of this, Captain Waring was ordered to pay £1 per week to Mrs Price for the support of her baby girl.
Captain Waring was 78 years old…
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs