Tag Archives: A&E

Never let a good crisis go to waste

Harvesting chickpeas in Myanmar

Apparently it was Machiavelli who said (almost certainly in Italian) “Never waste the opportunity offered by a good crisis.” Churchill followed him by saying “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Obviously their advice is being followed.

I just read that the government will unveil a new food strategy ‘and tell farmers to produce more fruit and vegetables in the wake of record inflation.’

Not only that but government is going to call for changes to make it easier to turn land into farms, make poultry workers eligible for seasonal migrant jobs and propose that schools, prisons and hospitals offer vegan options.

Some people haven’t got a clue. If UK farmers could make money out of producing fruit and vegetables, they’d already be producing fruit and vegetables. But now, in the wake of record inflation, they’re not only expected to produce them, but produce them cheaply to keep prices down. Answers on a postcard please, why is this not going to happen?

But given that only weeks ago the policy was to turn farmland into forestry, perhaps the ‘oil tanker’ of government policy, which has regarded farming as expendable since the 1980s, is at last turning round?
But I do love the way the whole vegan experience has leapt onto the bandwagon.
I went on the BBC website for some vegan recipes for people in schools, prisons and hospitals.
Falafel burgers; – basic ingredients chickpeas, not grown in this country but most come from India, Australia, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Turkey. Strikes me as some of these countries would be better off eating their own produce rather than producing cash crops to export of the wealthy west.

Vegan chili; – containing sweet potatoes, (somebody did manage to produce a crop commercially in the UK, but effectively they’re all imported from the US, Egypt, Vietnam and Spain) a can of black beans (There are trials going on to see if there are varieties that can be grown in the UK but they’re largely exported by India, Myanmar, Brazil and the USA) and a can of red kidney beans. (Again the main exporters are Thailand, Brazil, South Africa, Ukraine, and Papua New Guinea. These beans probably like a warmer climate than we can manage.)

Finally (because I’m just doing the first three) Spiced aubergine bake.

Of course the aubergines are largely imported as commercial production in the UK is under plastic and may involve some heat, (so don’t look for an expansion of UK production any time soon) whilst I suspect that you will search for a long time to find the UK coconut plantations to provide you with the coconut milk.

So we have a war, a food and an energy crisis, and a vocal minority have convinced government this can be tackled by importing expensive food from abroad.

But to be fair they’re not the only ones taking advantage of a good crisis. I know somebody who had to take a family member to hospital. Of course they were not allowed in A&E with them. So an elderly, injured and vulnerable person was separated from anybody they knew. The person they most wanted with them was left outside in the carpark. At night. In the dark. But this lady left on her own in the carpark couldn’t just go home, she had to wait there so the hospital could tell her to come and take the elderly person home. Perhaps. In their own sweet time.

And at 3am, after six or seven hours, alone in her car on a dark carpark, she could finally take the person home.
Why?
Come on, why?
What on earth is the epidemiological reasoning behind this? I could see it if hospital staff led closeted lives, not mixing with anybody and keeping themselves in a bubble. But I know hospital staff. They go home to their families, they kiss their children good night even through the children mix with everybody else at school. For all I know they might even condescend to kiss their partners. They go into shops (unmasked and with no PPE) and they are even seen in public houses and other places of entertainment. So if doing these things is so dangerous, why on earth are they allowed into hospital? They’ve every bit as potentially infectious as the rest of us.
The sneaking suspicion is that it’s no longer epidemiological, it’s just we’re a damned nuisance and if they can discourage us from going in, it makes life easier for them. Especially if there’s nobody with sharp elbows asking why they haven’t done their job properly.

And we’ve seen other people using the crisis. I think that government has had a lot less trouble pushing forward nuclear than it would have had. In this case events have concentrated minds. Similarly others have grasped the opportunity to push forward with electric cars, which are starting to look more economic.

But I confess I do wonder. Electric cars will not work for a lot of people who currently run a car. They are fine if you have a nice house with a drive and even a garage. You can back your car into the garage overnight and charge it at the cheapest times in perfect security. If you live in a flat are you going to have to dangle your expensive and anonymous copper cable out of the window and across the carpark to your car?

Or perhaps that brief window of human existence when perfectly ordinary people had the opportunity to just go anywhere they wanted, at a whim, without worrying about timetables and suchlike, is drawing to a close?

And a final thought, people are trapped between high energy prices, high food prices and high housing costs. In all candour, government can do very little about food costs. They could cut fuel duty, but again, most of our energy is imported to they can do very little about energy costs. But housing costs is something they might be able to tackle. After all, we don’t ‘import it’.
There’s already talk about increasing taxes on second homes. I suspect that will go down well enough with voters.

But what about capping rents. Limiting them to a maximum of £x per square meter (or yard or whatever) so that, for example, a three bedroomed house was no more than £650 a month. Combined with regular inspections to make sure they were fit for habitation. Yes there would be howls from buy to let landlords but the answer to them need only be, “Well you can always sell up.” I suspect the releasing of housing onto the market would bring prices down with a bang. Electorally this could play well for the government that brought it in. Far too much money in this country goes into housing as it is. It’s warping the economy. Perhaps we shouldn’t let a good crisis go to waste?

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There again, what do I know. Ask an expert.

 

As a reviewer commented, “This book charts a year in the life of a Cumbrian sheep farmer. It’s sprinkled with anecdotes and memories of other years. Some parts (especially when featuring Sal, the Border Collie) were so funny as to cause me to have to read them out loud to my husband. It’s very interesting to read these things from the pen of the man who is actually out there doing it – usually in the rain! A very good read.

Maggie was right? Or are Nurses Angels?

Well that’s got your attention I suppose. Perhaps we could fall back on Plato who said “This City is what it is because our citizens are what they are.”
What set this off was the fact that during the last three months or so I’ve walked, lonely and largely unafraid, through the highways and byways of hospitals, care homes, nursing homes, dental surgeries and more.
I’ve watched a doctor so young that in her green pyjamas she looked like she ought to be dragging a teddy bear behind her; yet she coped with a frightened alcoholic with skill and compassion. I’ve sat in a curtained ‘cubicle’ in A&E by the bedside of a sleeping elderly man and overheard the conversation in the cubicles on either side and at the nurses’ station. I’ve had two roots extracted by a Polish dentist who is so good that should she ever decide to go back to Poland I’ll probably have to resort to working through my single male friends to find one who scrubs up well enough to entice her into staying.
Sometimes in all this process I’ve been the patient, sometimes I’ve been there to help and support, and frankly I prefer the latter role.
It’s not just hospital nurses, I’ve seen lasses behind the desk coping with computer systems that work with the slick alacrity of continental drift and yet they still manage to smile. I saw one lass in the offices who was so mortified by the way the system had screwed up a patients appointment that she personally dropped off a new appointment letter for the patient on her way home from work.
I’ve talked to porters who manage to keep cheerful, cleaning staff who get overlooked and people of more than a dozen different nationalities.
I suppose it might help in that this is the North, we’re not a high wage economy and even the salary you get working in a care home looks good money.
But the big question, are these people angels? Of course not; they’re something far more precious, they’re ordinary human beings trying to do a tricky, difficult job, and trying to do it with compassion.

And what about Maggie and society? Well what she said was “And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour.”

And what did I see? A lot of people with families of their own to support; people who may have aging parents or young children or dysfunctional friends of their own. But they’re people who rise above this and get on with the job and CARE for those their work brings them in contact with.

Frankly it’s contemptibly easy to strive for ‘peace’ or work for ‘equality’. What’s really difficult is to be nice to the people you meet during the day, to care for people who’ve frankly got no-one to blame but themselves, to help the unfashionable, the un-sexy, the unwashed. Society doesn’t do this, people do this, and it is because people do this that we have a society that’s worth a damn. And if you want a better society then the hard way to improve it, but the only way that works, is for you, as a person, to actually get down in the muck and strife of the every day and help people, as individuals, one at a time.
Yeah legislation can help, probably as often as it can hinder, but new laws on their own will save no-one. Indeed as Tacitus said, “The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.”

And don’t wish for Angels, you might just get one. 

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Take your angels as you find them.

When Storth arrives home after a long absence, there’s are a few things that need sorting out. Sometimes they can be more complicated than you initially thought.
But at least there are opportunities for an honest man to make money, with maidens to be rescued and tyrants slain, or was it the other way about.
And who uses energy carbines any more? Military fashions have moved on.

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“You are Storth, ex-pilot and thief.”

“I have done rather more than that.” Storth sounded genuinely aggrieved.

“Yes but this is meant to be an identity check, not a charge sheet. We also felt mercenary, smuggler and thief verged on the tautological.”

“Oh, well I’m Storth.”

“And you are Hutton, wife of Storth, just a thief.”

“You could call me ‘Hutton, wife of Storth, housewife and thief’ if it makes it any better for your records.”