March 13, 2013 by hattersleysmith
34 pages of William Blake, 3 job interviews, 7 Red Bulls, infinite cups of tea and a lie-in later and I’ve decided to dedicate my first morning off to my opinion splurge on the crises and scandals that have been lapping at our papers over the last few weeks. Full of muesli and Berocca I’m feeling this is the perfect moment in time to squeeze the mind-sponge…
‘The Horsemeat Scandal’ Thoughts
Although the thought of munching away on minced ‘Bracken’, ‘Percy’ or ‘Goose’ (my sister’s beloved sequence of ponies) shades me with a faint glow of nausea, I can’t help thinking that a bit of horse can’t do much harm, especially when we’ve managed to get away with serving up spagbol for seven for £6.70. Ze French make no qualms about chowing down on ze cheval, though they also have a taste for buttery snails and frogs legs… and isn’t Michel Roux Jr adding high quality horse steak to his menu? Findus screwed up, Tescos and ASDA sincerely apologised, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s and the local butchers reaped the benefits of ‘neigh horse meat here’. Intertek, the testing plant, have seen soaring profits whilst hamburger sales were down 60%. This isn’t an issue about eating horse, this is an issue about mislabelling and brands have a responsibility to sincerely apologise, follow up their supply chains and make it up to their customers. Personally, I reckon the fault lies more with the consumer than ever, the ravenous demand for the cheapest meat available, how are retailers meant to cope with this growing appetite for low-cost products? I say offer horsemeat mince as an alternative to beef mince as a cheaper cut or French haute cuisine…
‘Lib Dem Crisis’ Thoughts
It was unfortunate that Lord Rennard’s pervy antics were exposed so soon after the Jimmy Savile case exploded. Although his inappropriate behaviour was inexcusable, Rennard is no Savile, just a bully and a sexually-frustrated man. Clegg should’ve made everything transparent from the start, but to be honest it did little harm to the results from the Eastleigh voters anyway. The Lib Dems should come away from the scandal by becoming super transparent and promoting reforms to diminish the taboo of sexual abuse and create new systems to deal with cases. Meanwhile Rennard should invest in a cross-trainer and check out Tesco’s home delivery.
‘The Church Crisis’ Thoughts
Surely the lightning bolt striking St. Peter’s Basilica hours after the Pope declared his resignation showed that the Big Guy in the Sky was not happy. The Christian faith has been on a steady path of decline since Henry VIII decided he wanted to ditch his wife and went around ransacking Catholic booty from English monasteries and abbeys and effectively sticking two fingers up at the Vatican. The Industrial Revolution transformed peasant families to cogs in the machine of progress, Darwin didn’t help and then came two shattering wars which did anything but reaffirm faith in a benevolent omnipresent God who could permit the trenches and the Holocaust. With so many developments in medicine, breakthroughs in technology and discoveries in space the likelihood of there being a spangly gate up above and a firey one down-there-somewhere is diminishing day by day. Is there room in this world, some people might ask, for an old man speaking Latin to preach a misogynist, homophobic, anti-abortion regime tainted by sex scandals, embezzlement and corruption? Hmm… Keith O’Brien seemed pretty valiant by stepping down when he did, but the exposure of his past behaviour has shocked, but perhaps not surprised, the nation. All we have to do now is wait to see whether, on the white smoke rising, the next Pope can do a Gandalf and shine a light for the faithful.
‘Hilary Mantel Scandal’ Thoughts
I may be one of the few literature-lovers who never really got into her Booker prize winning novels, but I did think Hilary Mantel’s ‘Royal Bodies’ lecture at the London Review of Books was phenomenal, perhaps even a rival to Sugg’s exposé of cannibalism in John Donne in my first term at Durham. She essentially evoked the perfect plastic smile and mannequin-like countenance of Princess Kate before launching into a revelatory speech about Henry VIII’s wives and their function of giving birth to an heir. Drawing modern parallels, Mantel observed that female royal bodies are transformed by the media into objects to be looked at, into baby machines, to be guzzled up under the critical public eye. She then told the press to back off. How hilarious then that ‘The Daily Mail’ published their article defaming Mantel as fat, infertile, ugly and jealous in addition to a ‘bumb-watch’ special on Kate’s advancing pregnancy. Even the Prime Minister said she was utterly wrong. Funny, because they all fell straight into the hole Mantel pulled the rug from without even having listened (clearly) to the lecture itself. Can’t have done Mantel much harm though, it actually gave her a handy sales boost and she’s up for another major book award for women’s writing this month. Idiot tabloids.
‘NHS Crisis’ Thoughts
Twirling nurses in long white skirts, new beds, smiles and nostalgic uniforms, choreographed doctors weaving between patients, a system of shiny organisation and happiness, Danny Boyle’s Olympic opening ceremony depiction of the NHS. The disgusting state of homes for the elderly, poorly managed nurseries, Mid-Staffordshire, extended waiting times, super bugs, falsified records and 30,000 unnecessary deaths a year all point to a very different health system. The media’s coverage of the desperate state of our nation’s hospitals has been pretty brutal, painting a picture of demonic wards in which warted nurses cackle and pinch and starve their patients in this hell-den of unsterilized needles and contaminated food and force them to wallow in their own excrement. Sir David Nicholson, who 92% of NHS staff believe should resign according to an online poll, is the devil at the centre, the target-hitting, efficiency-dictator, uncaring for the needs of his human dependants, only focused on making up the numbers. I took my friend to the Durham NHS hospital last term to sort out a nasty burn from a hot water bottle and we were greeted by a content receptionist who directed us to take a seat and we were seen within 15 minutes, for free. The NHS is not all bad, it’s just the newsworthy bits that are. Yes they need to sort out the problems, but the NHS and the dedicated staff who work for it are something we should be celebrating (seems ironic that the first to damn the system are the first to complain when it’s suggested that Eastern Europeans might become ‘health tourists’ to use our apparently ‘horrendous’ services).
Other opinions on things
The Leveson report should not restrict the press in any way, but instead result in a body which might investigate libellous content and effect an apology or compensation. If you restrict the press you restrict freedom of speech and reduce the potential for exposing big cases such as Tax Avoidance scandal and Jimmy Savile.
So long as Pimms isn’t involved I think raising minimum alcohol prices would be a good move and reduce the amount of ‘White Star’ downed by the rugby teams.
Snow is boring, especially when major roads are closed and people are kept in their cars for up to 8 hours in the south. If ever there was an occasion for a She-wee
Over and out.