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A Bitching Goodwill To All Men!


Well Darlings,

I think the newspaper headline of the week, perhaps of the month, has to go to the Independent for: "IT'S THE WAR, STUPID" in the bottom right-hand corner next to a full front page picture of a troubled-looking President Bush. Four simple words, and yet they told the whole story. Brilliant!

It's been a week of stupid people and stupid stories, I reckon. At a time when our prisons are bursting at the seams and convicts are having to be released into the community early to finish their time in hostels (if you watched the Panorama programme on this, then you're probably frightened to leave your home!) we hear that prisons all across the country are to spend money on having their fences painted dark green so they don't appear as prominent to the inmates, and they don't feel so "trapped"!

Er, isn't that one of the purposes of a prison - to keep offenders trapped behind bars and high walls so that the rest of us may feel safe? Shouldn't they know that is why they are there? What next, designer cells, balm toilet paper, and the latest fashion clothing for inmates? How about some annual leave - you know, a paid holiday? Perhaps they'd like that too!

Anyone not wishing to feel trapped shouldn't offend - it's as simple as that! You may ask who the hell came up with this stupid idea? Well, it's just one of the ideas to be found in the Prison Service's "Sustainable Development Report". A report that also calls for new windows to be fitted to cells, and for solar panels and wind turbines to be installed in order to make our jails "environmentally friendly". Environmentally friendly for who? Not for the planet, that's for sure!

Incidentally, have you noticed how many times that word "sustainable" is popping up these days? It seems to be the latest "in-word" used to relate a sense of importance to something, and I'm sure it must by now have overtaken our hoary old favourite: "initiative". With "initiative" being seen by people today largely as meaning: "prone to failure", I'm wondering what the public's perception might soon be of: "sustainable". Yes, I reckon "stupid" has to be in with a good chance.

The more we make prison life comfortable, the more prisoners we shall accrue and the more prisons we shall have to build to house them. Prison should be an experience that no felon would ever again wish to endure. Only then will we really start to get on top of crime. All this stupid modern talk about human rights and comfort is ridiculous. On conviction every criminal should lose all but the very basic of human rights. Too often the convict, who has already violated the human rights of another, is kept by the public purse in conditions more comfortable than those of their victim. The country has gone bonkers! Utterly! It's those do-gooders again! Personally I'd find it far more environmentally friendly for all prisoners to do hard labour and all our prisons to be fitted with watchtowers complete with searchlights and machine guns. I may not be politically correct - but I'm right for you, for me, and for the planet!

Another institution that never fails to amaze is our National Health Service. I have no more medical qualification than that gained through reading the instructions on an Elastoplast tin - yet not even I would take more than a split second to conclude that any doctor suggesting to a woman patient her mother was a witch, one who with her husband was trying to kill her, was a little unethical. Such are the allegations being made against Dr Joyce Pratt, a London physician, who has allegedly told her patient she was the victim of "black magic" but that with "special powers", along with a visit to a priest at Westminster Cathedral, she might be cured.

A three-day tribunal by the General Medical Council Fitness to Practise panel in Manchester is to decide whether or not this doctor's conduct was irresponsible, unprofessional, or in any way intimidating to her patient and liable to bring the profession into disrepute. Now, we are often reminded about all those years of expensive training, examinations, and hours of hands-on experience that are required in order to become a qualified practitioner, aren't we? So isn't it rather strange how someone like Dr Pratt could go through the system holding such beliefs, if indeed she does, and not be detected? Perhaps even stranger is why any tribunal should need three days to deliberate such a matter. I have to wonder how many Pratts are involved in this case?

I'm guessing there's quite a few Pratts associated with the NHS's new computer system. We've aired this one before, but nothing seems to get any better. A new survey of more than 300 NHS staff in London reveals many of those who are to use the system are angry they weren't consulted before its introduction. They lack confidence in its ability to deliver what they need from it, and doubt it will be of much help to them. Those taking part in the survey included scientists, psychologists and pharmacists - one of whom has come out and labelled the systems as "useless". Once they've finished paying all the bills, that's getting on for 30 billion of uselessness bought out of the public purse. A lot of people could have been treated with that kind of money - a lot who today are refused life-prolonging medications because the finances aren't there to provide for them.

Perhaps a few quid could have been skimmed off to help raise some of the appalling hygiene standards found by the "Which?" magazine in their inspections over the past three years of some 50 UK hospitals. The consumer group reports reveal cockroach and mice infestations in hospital kitchens, dirty cooking equipment, inadequate refrigeration of food, mouldy equipment, out-of-date food, and even a lack of something as basic and necessary as soap and water. All this has been found, incredibly, within our National Health Service. And they have the gall to tell us our NHS is getting better? Better for who - undertakers?

Stupid council of the week was a close run thing between one that I won't mention and Tower Hamlets in East London. The former told a disabled driver, who had parked his car legally in a nearby disabled bay, that they needed his disabled badge in order to renew his permit at the (I believe, for this council anyway, quite stupidly named) Customer First Centre. After a friend fetched the badge for him, at the same time conscientiously paying for a parking ticket and putting it on the car, it was renewed and he returned to his car - only to find a parking inspector had slapped a 30 fine on the car for not displaying the badge.

This worthy of Lemony Snicket series of unfortunate events continued when his appeal against the fine was refused by the council because: "we received very little information and we found no valid grounds for cancelling the ticket." Well, I guess they couldn't have looked very hard for those grounds, could they? Customer First Centre? Bah! First for what?

Following this story hitting the headlines in the press, the council have promised to look at the case again should the person (the victim) write in to them with all the details. It's a sensible decision, but why has it had to take the story appearing in the press before some simple common sense was employed by the council? This particular council desperately needs to win friends and to influence people at this time, but it seems to me their in-built attitude which leaves much to be desired will prevent them from doing so. We are reminded at this time of year that a dog is not just for Xmas, but neither should be goodwill to all men (humankind, to be PC).

The winner of the accolade Stupid Council of the Week - by a mile! - in the end has to go to Tower Hamlets for dumping Guy Fawkes and replacing him with a tiger on Bonfire Night. The council there say that the story of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot is too old. Instead their officials spent 75,000 on a celebration centred around a Bengali folk tale called the Emperor and the Tiger. What? And these people are allowed to govern?

Of course there's nothing at all wrong with celebrating the Emperor and the Tiger, especially in an area with such a large Asian population, but it should not be done on this day in place of a great British tradition. Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot is a massive piece of British history. November 5th (1605) is up there with 1066 and one in the eye for King Harold at the Battle of Hastings, and with 1666 when the baker to King Charles II, Thomas Farynor - own up now, how many of you remembered his name? - the original pudding head of Pudding Lane, caused the Great Fire of London - you simply can't go and replace it with a tiger. It's sacrilege! And above all, it harms community relations.

More stupidity? White poppies. The red poppy is traditional; symbolic. It is to remind us of the fallen, those from many nations who had to sacrifice their lives for others. Its significance to Remembrance Day came as a result of the Canadian military doctor John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields". Poppies bloomed profusely across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their red colour a reminder of the terrible bloodshed of trench warfare. Now it is used to remember those fallen in all military conflicts. It is an icon used by the Royal British Legion which helps them to collect money for all the good work they do for ex-servicemen and their families. What it is not is anything political or jingoistic.

The white poppy dates back to 1926 and it is a very political statement. It symbolises the belief that there are better ways to resolve conflicts than through the killing of strangers. It's an admirable belief, one that many will go along with, but it has no part to play on Remembrance Day, a day when we are remembering those that WERE killed by strangers, and it should not be struggling for recognition on that day alongside the traditional red poppy. The red poppy still means so much to so many people, even today. Respect their beliefs. Respect them. Find another day - and preferably find another flower.

Yes, it's been a very stupid week. One that has brought to light some very stupid people.

I hope you'll remember them. It's a time to remember.

See you next week . . .

"The Bitch!" 10/11/06.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Submitted by:

Michael Knell

Michael Knell
"The Bitch!", a weekly UK News Review column, is hosted by the author and columnist Michael Knell. These articles appear on the Blackpool Gay Directory website, but are not specifically gay in content. More information on the author: http://www.michaelknell.com and on the directory: http://www.astabgay.com.





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