Ed Lines

SO, DID you get all your Christmas shopping done on Wednesday? Where did you go, White Rose or Meadowhall? What, a day out at the Trafford Centre? Good for you – though I’ll bet it was jampacked with all the other teachers and civil servants and various ‘povertystricken’ public sector strikers eh? The Designer Outlet in York had a bumper day, I’m told. So much for skint dinner ladies. Still never mind. If you didn’t get everything done, I’m sure your moneybags union bosses can probably conjure up another wildcat walk out before Chrimbo. Probably everyone reading this will be familiar with the terms ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’ even if not entirely au fait with how they work. Not everyone is on t’interweb, including my dear mother – which is probably a good job. Such as my mum (exNUPE shop steward) and I disagree about anything, it is invariably politics. I’m a bit big – and she’s getting on a bit – to be putting me over her knee and dishing out a slapped backside, but if she’d been reading the Facebook debate I prompted on Wednesday, I reckon I’d be feeling the sharp edge of her tongue at the very least. (I don’t half wind her up. Don’t take it so seriously, mum!) Facebook can be a terribly dangerous tool in the hands of either children or nasty people – or even thickos who don’t realise the world is watching their every unguarded word. What I learned this week is how useful it can be. My sarcastic interjections apart – not my best quality, I accept – it stimulated some real debate from people whose only thing in common was knowing me. So you had a Dewsbury solicitor debating this very serious situation with a ‘lowpaid’ council worker, a cousin I haven’t seen for 30 years, a couple of old school pals, a friend in Australia, two businessmen in California, and a former deputy editor of the Yorkshire Post who’s wife was on a picket line. That can’t be a bad thing for gaining useful perspectives on a very real issue, whichever side of the argument you’re on. My views are well established so I won’t hark on again, but in closing I will repeat something I wrote on Facebook. When these righteously disappointed public servants were promised their wonderful happyeverafters – and yes, I’d be well narked too – the average life expectancy was about 73 and by the time anyone affected by this retires, it will be around 85. The big pension argument was always that they got paid less than the private sector, but in 2011 that position has been reversed. Fact. So do the sums, folks. And read the flaming newspapers, or do you think they’re making it up about countries being flat broke? Or maybe you think it’s a big bad bankerspoliticians conspiracy, like Prince Phillip knocking off Princess Di, or the moon landing being staged in a warehouse? Grow up. Anyway I have a solution. If you want to retire on full pension at 65, fine. But on your 73rd birthday we’ll be sending you a Dignitas DIY pack. That’s fairer than expecting me and all my staff to work until we drop dead of exhaustion to keep you in designer incontinence pants, isn’t it? NICK Clegg is apparently furious that there isn’t a black manager in football’s 20 Premier League clubs. And black Lib Dem MPs out of the 57 in Westminster? That’s right. Zip. None. Zero. Still after the next election there will be plenty of nominations up for grabs – including Clegg’s seat. Curtis Warren, 48, is currently serving 13 years for drug smuggling and is described as Britain’s biggest drug baron, estimated to be running a £300 million criminal empire. During a previous 16 year sentence he killed a murderer in a fight. Like you do. He’s now been ordered to stop running his ‘business’ from inside Full Sutton maximum security prison. The law wants to restrict his use of phones and possessing more than £1,000 in cash inside. What happened to thirtybob a week for scrubbing all the warders’ grundies, and the rewards of which bought an inmate five Embassys? Two thoughts. Firstly, if he was running ‘business’ from inside, surely the police could monitor all his calls and sweep up his criminal associates. And two, if he is, lock him up in solitary. Simples! Ah, I’ve spotted the problem. His lawyer is invoking his human rights… I DROVE round Dewsbury town centre on Sunday evening, and can I just say what a fabulous job they’ve done with the lights. The town hall looked splendid with the magnificent tree out front and on a cold, crisp night the lights fairly sparkled with magic. So, a good job and well done to all involved there. It doesn’t mask the massive issues the town faces and I’m not sure the wellmeaning people involved in the ‘regeneration’ effort fully comprehend the size – or even the nature – of their task. But putting a brave face on things is sometimes the best we can do – and Sunday night reminded me, if nothing else, of what a buzzing, vibrant place, the town centre used to be. Nett migration last year hit a staggering 252,000. In Labour’s last year when Brown, Darling, Balls and Co were basically stood on the docks at Dover luring transients in with fistfuls of cash, it was just under 200,000. But that isn’t the true picture, because actually nearly 600,000 immigrants arrived. It’s just that only 136,000 Brits bailed out, mostly because the pound being worth sod all against other currencies. If that’s Cameron ‘getting tough’ then Lord help us if he ever goes soft on immigration! I’VE never been a massive fan of GP receptionists – some notable, friendly and helpful exceptions apart (you know who you are). Too many seem to see their primary role as being preventing patients from seeing a doctor, or being dispensed their necessary drugs before they keel over. And ‘aloof’ doesn’t even come close to describing many I’ve come across. Try ‘downright rude’ for size. Neither am I a huge fan of GPs, as a rule of thumb. Nice people mostly, and generally (but not always) good at soothing ailing kiddies and writing prescriptions, but confronted with a proper illness, too often about as much use as a chocolate teapot. I can’t say I was surprised to learn that 38 per cent of cancer sufferers diagnosed in 2009/10 were sent away by their GPs at least once. Nearly 25,000 had to persist and go back to the doc’s four or more times. The lesson there might be that perhaps we expect too much of GPs, although I’ve quickly learned to expect sod all from the surgery I now use (not in this area I hasten to add). A friend I walk the dog with was shooed away repeatedly from our surgery with painkillers, before a troubled hospital medic sent her for the scan which revealed a brain tumour the size of a grapefruit. Lucky escape. Fifty years as an asthmatic means I have to use the GP’s more than many people, but I have to say my latest encounter left me wondering what the hell’s going on in the NHS. This isn’t primary health care, it’s a business racket. My prescription, not for the first time, was slashed in half. They weren’t giving me a 50 per cent discount on the cost however. Think about that. I assume the surgery gets paid per prescription dispensed. So if they arbitrarily ration a patient’s medicine, they are effectively doubling their money, because you have to come back more often. This wasn’t the first time – and like before I walked out, refusing to pay it and demanding a new prescription. I was also getting my arm twisted to see the asthma nurse. Why? It isn’t that long since my last appointment and I’m as fit (famous last words) as a butcher’s dog. Or is the surgery just trying to keep busy? Another bill for the NHS? Given a few other issues I won’t go into I decided I’d change GPs, so I checked out the two surgeries in the villages nearest us. Guess what – they’re both ‘owned’ by the one I’m at now. Enough GPs on the books to treat the army, all under one smart character’s chequeboook. This isn’t Dr Finlay’s Casebook. It’s an industrial operation. I can feel some Freedom of Information requests coming on…

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