mendacity*

Prince Andrew and I have vanity in common – though mine is in a minor key compared to his dissonant symphony. His lack of judgement brought me to a place I had never been before: I thought of writing to the Queen to express sympathy, solidarity and respect. How not to spend your wedding anniversary. Still, I suppose we should be relieved to discover that even an android can overstep the mark. And will somebody in the Royal Press Office please ensure that Sarah Ferguson never makes another public statement without clearing it with the Family first ? I’d have thought this was a basic professional courtesy. So ill advised to put social media in the hands of the stupid. If Prince Andrew is this “giant of a principled man” as she calls him amid all the other guff, why did she divorce him ?

Never has Windsor looked more like a business – supported by the worker bees, here are the loyal cadres, there the new recruits, middle management, the wild cards, and the Queen, the boss. God bless the Boss. Are we ever going to miss her when she’s gone. And the fashionable murmurings about the irrelevance of a constitutional monarchy should reflect that in a General Election hallmarked by various versions of untruth, the monarch represents a much needed buffer zone. She doesn’t tell us the whole truth either but at least we have a clear picture of why “never apologise, never explain” has been an effective strategy. She has a recognisable morality. Darned rare.  Wholly absent from any of the current crop of major politicians. Which is why the thinking public is so frightened.

Disarray is not local, it’s everywhere. Haven’t you thought how the Chinese must be cheering the toxic air and now water in India ? Takes everybody’s mind off theirs. While the pitched battle for a perceived liberty in Hong Kong means we remain gripped by the newreels and haven’t thought about what they divert our attention from, which will surely be the same kind of cyber abuse into our elections as President Macron highlighted in his own campaign.

It took the scorched feet of a koala to bring home to a friend the enormity of those bush fires in Australia. Jane Harper has written two very good novels around the Australian “dry” but this is not just an Antipodean state of emergency. It impacts on the environment, everybody’s environment, because air travels. Like bad news.

The week that British news media focussed on what was called the worst scandal of the NHS, spanning 40 years, special measures and horrid things happening to parents and children, a young woman (37) sat in my kitchen and talked about her experience 9 years ago in a major London teaching hospital, having her first baby. Her pain was denied (“It’s a first baby, it isn’t that bad” this from another woman, not a doctor) until her heart stopped at which point, her husband ran, physically seized and brought in a midwife, and all hell broke loose, emergency operation, baby saved and this woman was in a coma for 24 hours, from which she remarkably recovered.

There is a big bullet to bite on the NHS. It came into effect in 1946 or 7, when the population of the country was half what it is now and the average age of a working man at his death was 67. Medicine is a much more complex and expensive issue than ever it was, people’s expectations of the length of life and wonder of medicine have grown exponentially and so while the present Tory head honcho (health) is telling us how he’ll defend our rights to a home visit, if you listen to the doctors’ proposals, they are quite sensible. Something’s got to give. Let’s start somewhere.

Long ago, I was taught that a breakdown could be a breakthrough I hope so.

*First heard from the lips of Charles Laughton in a political thriller called Advise and Consent.

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