The role of McKinsey management consultants in the NHS Bill makes one wonder at the power wielded by Non Elected Important People, at a time when the people who actually work in the NHS are being sidelined.
One of the joys of writing is doing the research. De Gaulle – what a fantastic character! You could not invent him. I’m not a Gaullist, but the man’s courage, determination, unswerving faith in the ‘grandeur’ of France – even at its lowest ebb after Nazi occupation – and sheer leadership abilities were extraordinary.
He was indestructible. He survived various close shaves in two World Wars, and, at the liberation of Paris, marched through the city and into Notre Dame unperturbed by a ‘hail of bullets’. He was unharmed by around 30 serious assassination attempts, which is apparently some sort of world record – the Day of the Jackal just scratches the surface!
In retirement, he declined the generous pension to which he was entitled both as ex President and as a retired General, and would only accept the much smaller pension of a Colonel. His like shall not be seen again…
The streets were full of lost souls this morning. It was half term, we were all freed from the pressure of school-run-mums and middle-management, and only the childless, the empty nesters and the elderly were out and about. Strange things happened. A hatchback couldn’t get through a green light, even though it was only third in the queue. A white van orbited a roundabout, aimlessly. A bus went along at 20mph, interminably. A Porsche Boxster in a fetching rainbow metallic paint finish dawdled, as though hung over, being overtaken by old women in small Far Eastern cars. Twice, I encountered vehicles parked up at T- junctions, having flagged down passing traffic to ask directions. And of course, when I got to work, someone who wasn’t staff was trying to get through the barrier into the staff car park. I held back waiting for the driver to reverse back out, but who ever it was, he or she, couldn’t reverse round a corner.
Dedicated to my son, who is a first year undergraduate student…
Ah woke up this evenin’
Saw my boots at the end of my bed,
Was in twelve bars last night,
All goin’ around in my head.
I got those twelve bar blues now, but-
Ev-er-y-thin’ gonna turn out alright..
My husband rummaged through the kitchen cupboards, looking for curry ingredients.
‘We’ve got enough of these to sink a battleship,’ he said, producing two packets of yellow split peas.
‘Perhaps they could be issued to the Royal Navy then,’ I replied, ‘with some pea shooters. It might help with the MOD overspend.’
I imagined a doubtful Commander Bond, having received his impalpable sports car and curare dart watch, being presented with the innovative new ammunition by ‘Q’.
‘Shplit peash?’ he would say, raising a dark, quizzical eyebrow.
‘Heaven Palace Beach Resort Hotel’ came second in last month’s Daily Telegraph Creative Writing Competition. I’m delighted, as the winning entry was excellent. I feel I have overcome the negative thoughts of ‘I can’t write anything, it’ll never be published’, and managed to connect with an audience.
I made an Internet transaction from one bank to another. Shortly afterwards, my husband answered the phone.
‘It’s for you!’ he yelled. By the time I got there, I was just in time to hear a recorded message asking me to phone a number. No pen and paper to hand, then it hung up. I rang the phone number on the bank’s website. Press 1 for this, press 2 for that, etc etc. After entering various details on my telephone keypad – card number, date of birth etc, I spoke to a girl. She asked me some security questions and then asked me what I wanted.
‘Could you give me the number of the Fraud Prevention office?’ I asked. ‘They rang and left a number and I couldn’t write it down.’
‘No,’ she said, ‘I’m not allowed to do that. But I can put you through to them. I just need to ask you some more security questions..’
Which I duly answered…
‘I’m going to have to put you in the queue for Fraud Prevention’ she said, apologising for the delay. I said it was OK.
‘While we’re waiting,’ she said, ‘would you like me to sign you up for Telephone Banking? You won’t have to answer so many security questions when you phone, you just enter your Telephone Banking numbers.’
‘OK,’ I said.
‘The details will be sent out to your address,’ she said, confirming my address with me, ‘they should arrive in 7 – 10 days.’
I thanked her, and after another few minutes she put me through to Fraud Prevention.
‘Hello this is Mark in Fraud Prevention, how may I help?’ – the line went dead. So I rang back the same phone number as before. Press 1 for this, press 2 for that etc., etc. This time, after inputting card number and so forth, it asked for my Telephone Banking Number. Which was presumably being put in an envelope back at the bank. Great.
So, I sent an email off, explaining to them that I was now unable to phone Fraud Prevention. A reply came back with a different phone number, tried it, Press 1 for this, press 2 for that, still need Telephone Banking number. So I emailed them again:
Please switch off my Telephone Banking, so that I can actually talk to you..