Monday, 24 December 2007

Political Dictionary

Have you ever felt that politicians might be speaking a foreign language? Or noticed that, while you may understand each individual word they utter, their sentences remain entirely incomprehensible?

It seems you're not alone. According to the Daily Mail, the 2008 Lexicon from the Centre for Policy Studies lists more than 100 words and phrases commonly used by politicians, plus translation. Examples include "Fast track," meaning "not allowing Parliament sufficient time to consider the implications of new legislation" and "guidance" which can be interpreted as "government interference".

No surprises there, of course - if a politician's lips are moving, you KNOW they're lying - but this volume might be useful in working who they're lying to, and what they're lying about. Oh, no, sorry - that would be everyone, about everything, wouldn't it?

Still, as apparently superfluous as it might appear to be, I suspect that the real benefit of this little gem is as a sign of growing public disillusionment with the politics in general, and Gordon Brown-Trousers in particular. I mean, who'd be all that keen of a lying, devious, cowardly government that cares only for self-preservation?

Very few people, I suspect, which probably explains why so many people want Gordon Brown-Trousers out of office NOW - though how the Daily Mail can realistically call this a "poll shock" I have no idea. Most voters have been dying to see the back of Brown more or less since he muscled his way into power, and the fact a new poll shows the majority of people think its time for a change can hardly come as any great surprise, even to the Nu-Labour ostritches who still think they're popular.

Of course, the past few weeks have been pretty dire for Gordon Brown-Trousers and his incompetent, self-serving bunch of power-mad ministers. But what can he - or they - do about it? The obvious approach is simply to raise their game, and try to act as though they have a clue about how to run a country. Or anything.

Unfortunately, they haven't got a clue, and they don't have time to learn, even if they were capable of doing so. So what's next? Mass resignations would probably be the honorable thing to do, so we can discount that course of action for obvious reasons. The only thing left if is deception - spin and lies and abuse of power in order for Nu-Lab to save its skin. What a stroke of luck - that's right up their alley! They have over a decade's experience, and an army of drones just waiting to tell us all how to think.

So there you have it. Expect to see the media awash with pro-Brownite stories, a few carefully rigged polls showing how 9 out of 10 dentists prefer Prime Ministers who suck their own teeth and a general insistence that everything in the garden is wonderful. It's not, and it's going to get worse, but that won't be considered appropriate news any day now.

Unfortunately, unlike the Blair years, the media is no longer prepared to dance to New Labour's tune. Decoy stories that fill column inches (did they really think we didn't notice) but don't actually mean anything are no long enough to save an embattled minister from a public roasting in the press, and I very much hope that many more members of the Government are due for some very public humiliation in the coming weeks!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all but the Brown-Trousers Brigade!

Billy Seggars.

Friday, 21 December 2007

GP Hours Row

Picture a group of professional people. They're not bad boys and girls, as a rule; they're fairly intelligent, reasonably caring and they work pretty hard - though, it must be said, not quite as hard as one might expect folks on their salary to work.

They're also, as one might expect, possessed of the ingrained professional arrogance that experts in any particular field usually reserve for the totally clueless, and phrases along the lines of "we know best" and "for your own good" are rather too commonly heard from their lips. Overall, things aren't going too badly for them - could be better, of course, couldn't it always, if only management could tell their ass from their elbow, but it could definitely be worse.

And then someone suggest that, while things are going well for them, their - let's call them clients - their clients are not totally chuffed to bits with the service they're getting. It seems they can never get hold of these professionals when they want them. Appointments have to be arranged to suit the professionals, rather than the clients. And, although their generous salary is funded from the public purse, making them public servants, they seem to have forgotten that, when they address their clients, they do so as a servant addressing their master and should adopt an appropriately subservient attitude.

How would you expect this group to react if they were told by "management" that they had to do a better job of being available when it was most convenient to their clients? Pretty much exactly as GPs are reacting to the idea that they're going to have to get off their butts and do a proper job of work by keeping their surgeries open until 8PM, I should think.

They are, according to the Daily Mail, "furious" at the prospect, as most people are when the boss has the nerve to demand that folks do the work they're paid for. How the hell do they think everyone else manages? Health care may not be a business, but it could certainly do with some traditional business values - like working to the job, instead of the clock, for example!

Of course, such traditional values aren't so common even in businesses these days, as more and more eweman-rites-aware, anti-discrimination-protected wastes of space take up jobs that they then can't be sacked from despite being utterly crap at them. But even so, other branches of the National Health Service manage to provide at least the illusion of a 24-hour service (although anyone who's visited their local hospital out of business hours might see through the charade fairly quickly), and I don't see why GPs should be any different.

Naturally, they do. And, as is always the case when their slightly-cushy little number is threatened, their knee-jerk response is "It will threaten patient care". Certainly, that's the official line from the BMA on this little spat, as it was when surgeries in supermarkets were mooted a few weeks ago. Can't they think of anything different to say? Or do they think we don't notice that they always trot out the same lines?

Anyway, it doesn't matter. The current system is going to have to change. I don't want to see a GP when they want to see me, I want to see them when I want to see them - within reason, of course. If they can't - or don't want - to manage that, they're probably in the wrong job, and should treat this as an opportunity to take up something they can handle. Of course, it will be difficult to find an equally well paid job that lets them tell the customer what service they're going to give them, and then make them wait hours, days or weeks to get it, but I'm sure that, given a long enough run-up, they'll come up with something - politics might be a good place to start.

Billy Seggars.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

King of the Castle

An Englishman's home used to be his castle. Not, it seems, any more. According to this bizarre story in the Daily Mail, a legal loophole has forced a South Gloucestershire family to take in an unwanted guest after he gave their address to a court and was given a curfew.

Brenda and Robert Cole say the first thing they knew about it was when Shane Sims, a 19 year-old friend of their daughter, moved in on Thursday - followed by security contractors who put a box in a bedroom to monitor his movements with an ankle tag.

The Coles, who both have learning difficulties, say his unwanted presence has turned their lives upside down, but there is nothing they can do about it. The Probation Service did not verify the address that Sims gave to the Court last Thursday, when he admitted breaching a two-year supervision order imposed for assault, and the Police say they cannot remove him from the property without a Court order.

I wonder which blundering jobsworth at the Probation Service couldn't be bothered to check up on Sims' story? Surely, the Coles should be in a position to sue the ass off both the Probation Service and the Court that granted the order, and, I would think, stand to make a tidy sum in compensation as a result.

In general, I don't have much truck with today's compensation culture, and, in most cases, I'd give the Claimant a ding around the ear instead of compensation. But I'd make a very big exception in this case - the Probation Service seems to have been grossly negligent, and the Court, which must by now be aware of its error, doesn't seem to have acted with any speed to set it right. The result of incompetence and indolence is a great deal of distress for the Coles, and they deserve to be compensated in FULL.

Yes, I know, the Courts are up to their ears in scum bags, and it takes a little while to get an application heard. But there are also facilities for emergency applications, and, in appropriate cases, temporary injunctions can be granted in a matter of hours. Surely, a Judge - just about ANY Judge - could be found to set aside the curfew order and replace it with a custodial sentence for Sims in a matter of hours, at most? If not, then we have now seen conclusive proof that the entire legal system is in complete disarray and exists only to keep its operatives in work - for it does nothing to benefit the population at large.

Billy Seggars.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Dalek Invasion of Christmas

I've always rather liked Daleks. There's something incredibly menacing about the squat metallic shapes created by writer Terry Nation and designer Raymond Cusick. Whether lurking in shadowy corridors or emerging from the depths of the Thames, they have to be one of the most effective, long-lived and icon designs ever.

When they first trundled their way on to TV in the second ever Doctor Who serial to be broadcast, way back in 1963, they sparked a wave of Dalekmania amongst youngsters and adults alike. Dalek toys, models and sweets where everywhere, and sold like hot cakes. It say a lot of the effectiveness of the design that now, more than 40 years later, a whole new generation of nippers is equally fascinated by the Dalek concept.

Only the other day I observed a young lad kicking up a fuss in my local newsagent because his beleaguered parent either couldn't or wouldn't provide him with the latest Dalek-embossed merchandising. On one hand I sympathised with the parent, and wished briefly for the days when noisey brats were more likely to be found up a chimney than in the corner shop. But on the other I knew where he was coming from - the cause of the fuss was, after all, a Dalek!

Not surprisingly, the marketing bods have been hard at work finding new ways for Daleks to invade yet more Christmas stockings this year, and one of their brainwaves seems to be a Dalek advent calendar - you know, where you open a little door and get a chocky on each day before Christmas.

Dalek fan though I am, the idea seems just a little incongruous to me. Christmas, for those of a religious persuasion, is supposed to be about peace on earth, goodwill and all the other warm, fuzzy stuff that goes with it. Daleks are not peaceful, good willed or fuzzy in any way shape or form - they are mean, xenophobic killers, hellbent on the destruction of everything that isn't a Dalek.

Not very festive, you might think, even for the non-religiously inclined. But that conclusion might be a little hasty. Daleks, for all their cool technology, neat design and bad attitude, always, always lose out to the good guys. For 40 years they've been dishing out doom and gloom, only to be undone at the last minute by an odd-looking, peace-loving guy who travels by Police Box. Maybe that's the real lesson that Daleks have to teach - at the end of the day, good will always triumph over evil, no matter how powerful the evil may be.

Now that sounds far more like the warm and fuzzy festive flannel the religious dudes should be dishing out instead of complaining about Dalek advent calendars. They're only made because they're popular, after all, and it's the religious dudes' own fault if they can't make their story as gripping as a Dalek tale. Learn some lessons from folks who tell stories about good versus evil for a living, and, if you can't do that, leap on the bandwagon and hijack it for your cause - it's the only way you're going to make any headway!

Billy Seggars.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Strange Search

People search the Internet for the strangest things. For example, a quick glance at the logs for this site shows that a recent visitor has been busily searching Google for this fascinating term: what can i use instead of a vibrator.

Of course, the web is a wonderful thing, and contains information on just about any topic you care to image. And that's great. But do people REALLY need to resort to the Internet for answers to that question? What did folks do before the Information Age made it possible for Google to enumerate vibrator substitutes? Wouldn't a few minutes spent exercising their imagination produce a more satisfying result?

I would have thought so, and, now that the question has been posed, I can think of any number of possibilities, but I'm not going to tell you what they are - that's what YOUR imagination is for! Then again, maybe they tried and just couldn't put their finger on it.

Naturally, morbid curiosity got the better of me, and I bunged the offending term into Google. Can you believe that the big G returns 958,000 results in answer to that question? One of which suggests that an electric toothbrush might serve as a surrogate vibrator - gives a whole new meaning to getting the brush off!

Just when I think the human race has reached its nadir, that, no matter how people try, they couldn't get any more dense, I find something like this to reveal new, previously unexplored depths of mindlessness. When I was a lad, long before I met Mrs S, before Google even existed, the females of my acquaintance had no difficulty in exercising their imaginations - and everything else, too. That their descendants should prove to be so utterly dull as to need Google to identify vibrator alternatives is depressing in the extreme.

Billy Seggars.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Ashes to Ashes

Goodness, the papers are full of odd news this morning. Apparently, chimps are better than humans at memory games - no surprise there, at least! You only have to look around to realise that a bunch of not-very-well trained chimps could probably do a better of job of running the country than Gordon Brown-Trousers.

Then there's John Darwin, the Reggie Perrin canoeist who vanished 5 years ago in what seemed to be an accident at sea. He's been presumed dead all this time, and his wife has recently decamped to Panama City in the company of £500,000 obtained from his life insurance. Unfortunately, he turned up at a London police station last Sunday, claiming to be suffering from amnesia. Strangely, despite her husband's sudden return from the world's longest ever swimming trip, Mrs D doesn't have any plans to return to the UK any time soon.

Or (presumably now former) paediatrician Dr David Southall, who looks to have been well and truly stitched up by the totally untrained chimps at the General Medical Council. This story's been floating tediously around the press for a week or two now, with various families taking their turn at airing a Southall-based sob story. I wonder which, if any of them, will be the first to break ranks and make a dash for some compensation before a real court takes one look at the case and overturns the GMC's decision.

Equally ridiculous, if not quite so serious, are the bobbies in Sutton who have taken to trundling around on Segways. Quite why they should wish to subject themselves to such ridicule, I know not, but the vehicles dubbed "rolling lollipops" will be on trial there for the next month. Hasn't this sort of nonsense been tried before? From memory, the boys in blue tried patrolling on roller blades in one of London's parks, until local villains realised that running away over grass was enough to leave their hot pursuers stuck in the mud. What's wrong with a good old fashioned bicycle? Those Segways look like a case for the health and safety extremists if ever I saw one!

In fact, about the only news of any real interest in the papers this morning is the return of politically incorrect detective Gene Hunt in a spin-off from the brilliant Life on Mars called Ashes to Ashes. I must admit I haven't had chance to watch the last part of LoM yet, but in the episodes I have seen, Hunt, played by Philip Glenister, stole the show. To call the character politically incorrect is a massive understatement, and that came as a tremendous relief from some of the more modern cop shows. Plus, of course, he got some fantastic lines like, "She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot." Pure genius, and I can't wait to see him in action again!

Billy Seggars.