Saturday, June 25, 2022

WEEKENDER: More on the failing NHS, by Wiggia

There is a certain inevitability about getting old: we need more help on the medical front than of yore, none of us like to admit it but there it is. The argument about whether certain treatments that extend life are really worth the cost in monetary terms or personal life quality is a separate argument.
Still, by its nature the state of our health service does take a very elevated position in our thoughts in everyday life for obvious reasons, so inadequacies in that health service have a serious impact on our lives.

There seem to be endless stories in the press about the NHS on an almost daily basis. None of them put the organisation in a flattering light, which is hardly surprising considering the state it is in,

Nonetheless one would like to think that they were trying to right the wrongs and at least try to serve the public they are there to supposedly look after in times of medical need and not add fuel a fire that just keeps burning.

An example was this week when my wife had to go to the reception at our ‘Medical Centre’ to correct a prescription that had on two occasions been issued with the wrong medication; no good phoning unless you have an afternoon to spare.

On the receptionist's desk was a notice telling those who approached that they had been receiving abuse and threats and anyone who persisted would be de-listed.

Now no one can condone threatening behaviour, yet one would think that the surgery, sorry, Medical Centre would readily admit that people's frustration at not being able to even speak to a doctor (especially if you work for a living) is becoming ever more intolerable and that the centre's policy of working two days a week with ever fewer staff while taking on more paying customers, just might have something to do with it. Tthe threat of de-listing, not that it would make much difference currently, is not a solution; it is a pound shop solution to a problem not of the patient's making, and at surgeries like ours there appears to be no visible effort being made to correct things or redeem the patient's faith in the service, such as it is.

They even shut down routine testing a short while ago, already months behind schedule as the ‘staff’ were busy outside the surgery giving Covid jabs for which they are paid extra. Not bad, working two days a week and then being able to junk even that and go elsewhere to earn more all at the public's expense both in monetary and medical terms.

And now along with much of the public sector they are talking of taking strike action. Much of this comes from a basis that all were heroes during the pandemic and we should just cough up. There is nothing wrong with people wanting a pay rise, but consider two things: the bulk of the NHS was on holiday during the pandemic, so it hardly warrants the hero status; and secondly, the drop in earnings since 2010 of 22 % affects everyone, they fail to realise it is not about ‘cuts’ but a general drop in wages and living standards for many, most without the comfort of public service blanketing. We cannot assume all wages will just go on rising because we want it; economics comes into it and the private sector workers have suffered a lot more than the public sector and they of course provide the funds for the public sector to exist on.

The NHS consumes an awful lot of wonga. They can argue it is not enough but we can say much is badly spent and the figures can be made to show almost anything that is needed either way. When comparing international health spending I see we measure up very badly: infrastructure - poor, beds available - worst, doctor-patient ratio - very poor and many clinical outcomes - poor. Not all of that is because of lack of funds.

There is no way we can claim to be grossly underfunded in health care. Many countries that spend less better outcomes,  better patient to doctor ratios and more hospital beds, as well as better outcomes in the treatment of cancers for instance. Yet many use the US model as the reason not to change; I can only assume they have a socialist agenda and defend their baby regardless of current failings.

Our GPs are the best paid in Europe apart from Germany yet have the worst ratio of doctors to patients and still get paid for not seeing anyone; there is something seriously wrong there for a start.

We have fewer hospital beds per thousand population by a mile, far less than almost any Western country. Fewer beds means fewer patients in care so fewer medical staff needed, yet somehow we are always needing more. I repeat, how can the biggest employer outside the Chinese army be short-staffed? Answers on a postcard please, though I think we know the answer to that.

The chart below shows the decline in available beds, during a period when the population has increased by at least ten million. If anyone can explain the logic of that vis-a-vis other countries I will be astounded.

The NHS trusts should not be personal fiefdoms; all should be under the same umbrella on strategy on spending and structure. Many areas of the NHS still manage to provide decent services; how come others have been allowed to throw the towel in and be unfit for purpose and remain so?

Those who always say we are better off rather than following the US model are not comparing like with like. Why they always bring the US health service into the discussion is strange as there are so many others that have better results than us with similar expenditure. Again, the insurance portion of the cost gives patients the right to choose, something drastically missing here. This is the Danish model: see PT2 for patients' rights and tell me it is not better than our system.

It seems that no matter how many people put forward proposals for improving our NHS nothing of consequence changes. The current waiting lists are so long many will give up and many will die; not a lot of applauding in that sector.

You could almost do a weekly piece on the NHS failings, it just goes on and on. I shall cease for a while. What we see of and get from that organisation stays the same, however much we protest; sometimes it feels as though only a nuclear strike could change it.

Friday, June 24, 2022

FRIDAY MUSIC: Claire Pommet, by JD

Claire Pommet known professionally as Pomme is a French singer, songwriter and musician.

This is her YT channel with lots more excellent music 'pour votre plaisir':

Monday, June 20, 2022

'Now and Next': did you miss these?

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June 8 - 14:

Quiz Night
A fun evening at the pub

Our money is rotting
... and has been doing so for over 100 years

Ukraine: a doomed neocon cattle-raid
The robbery of a poor country with rich resources

Baron Munchausen 2
A translation of the earliest (tall) stories

'You will own nothing...'
... being happy, that's another story

Ukraine is finished - Lira
But what happens next?

Saturday, June 18, 2022

WEEKENDER: We Approach Midnight, by Wiggia

We suffer the recent transport problems where no one it seems can leave the country by air, the railways are to expensive and on strike anyway and the price of petrol is prohibiting much car travel, but there is an answer…

So staying at home takes on a whole new meaning, not that different from the imposed lockdown conditions.

Several government statements were issued this week in the hope one or another will bolster Bojo’s decline; they won't, and they are no more than statements. One about the ‘houses for everyone’ will soon dispel any illusion that this is anything other than an ill-thought-out idea or simply a piece of propaganda being issued on the premise ‘we are doing something.'

The original ’right to buy’ scheme under Margaret Thatcher was at the time seen as a great way to get people on the housing ladder. This was achieved by discounting the council properties the buyers lived in and impoverishing the councils who had little in return to replace those same lost council properties built with taxpayers' money. Replace them they didn’t, resulting today in waiting lists for social housing that only the NHS can compete with.

Only desperation would make anyone want to buy the smallest housing builds in Europe and they are getting smaller: average houses in the Twenties were roughly twice the size, plus a real garden.

The only people to gain, and why not, were those offered their council properties at the bargain discount prices who then sold on later at market rates and made a killing. Once again the taxpayer and the council lost out.

This time, being a scheme under Boris’s reign the facts are far from clear - 'mud' is too kind a word - and maybe that is the point: it is just a statement boosting (he hopes) his kerbside appeal in times of strife.

Before looking at it, one has to ask why are we building so many rabbit hutches in the first place. 'Not enough and too slow' is the cry that goes up, yet the indigenous demographic is static, so any demand is being caused by the fact we have 7 million extra people in the land since 2010; and who created that problem?

One's first reaction is to ask how do people on benefits qualify for a mortgage? If they have enough for a deposit they don’t qualify for benefits; or are we missing something?

Secondly, this applies not just to council properties but housing associations and, if the wording is correct, privately owned properties in the letting market. The latter can’t be true as the government is discounting these properties, and how is the private sector going to take a discounted hit on the selling price? This has to be nonsense.

However, critics have pointed out that Universal Credit is only available to families with less than £16,000 in investments and savings, meaning they would have very limited access to mortgages, or in the real world, none at all.

Most lenders ask a minimum of 10 per cent deposit. Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove indicated the government was looking at creating a savings vehicle that would not count toward the benefits limit, but it is unclear how that would work or how banks would be made to accept the handouts in their calculations.

The housing association position is more serious. With so little social housing being built by councils, housing associations have been taking up some of the slack; to hit them with this scheme would be a disincentive to build any more new units - what would be the point?

In fact the more one looks into it the more it becomes fantasy…

Above all it would require those who have worked hard and saved for their own homes to be subsidising a scheme for those on benefits to reap the rewards of a cheap home they cash in on later.

“Downing Street said there will be a 'mortgage review' looking at how low-deposit mortgages could be extended.“

There are already many ways mortgages are propped up by assistance to those on benefits, all explained here in this handy editorial:

I never thought I would see the day when a government would promote sub-prime mortgages after what happened not that long ago; for that, dressed up in a different way, is what this is.

The banks have already said they are not going with this as it stands.

This parody is spot on…

So what are we to make of it? Is it a serious effort to get people on the housing ladder, or just hot air? Judging by other government statements this last week the latter seems more probable. At this rate, future governments will make mortgages redundant and all new homes will be given to those who cannot afford them and thereby save all the paperwork involved in current schemes. 

Bearing in mind warnings that our hallowed housing sector is due for a fall, all this will become tomorrows fish and chip wrapping, and we will move on to Bojo’s next wheeze.

Friday, June 17, 2022

FRIDAY MUSIC: Albert Ketèlbey, by JD

Albert Ketèlbey (1875 - 1959) was an English composer, conductor & pianist born in Birmingham. He became famous for composing popular light music, much of which was used as accompaniments to silent films, and as mood music at tea dances.

You can read a full biography here -

This third video is Ronnie Ronalde whistling over the melody. He was never off the radio in the fifties and was popular with my parents' generation; maybe not popular but certainly different!

Monday, June 13, 2022

New Substack articles !

See what you missed on 'Now and Next' - subscribe and share if you like!

June 1 - 7:

Boris Johnson's mock-Imperialism
He waves the flag but he's a chancer

Private Eye: from satire to propaganda
The magazine has lost its balance over Ukraine

Ukraine is a distraction from service to the people
The US needs a bogeyman to disguise domestic failure

Monarchy and national integration
Never mind the miserygutses, the Jubilee helps unite us

Baron Munchausen 1
The first of the original tales, in a new translation

Pounds and ounces: power to the people
Why the old measures actually work better

Zelenskyy's kill list
He didn't start it, but he's not stopping it

Sunday, June 12, 2022


There was last week an article on the web site TCW - Defending Freedom about the restoration of our traditional pounds and ounce which had been made illegal by dint of our membership of the European Union.

"BORIS Johnson’s proposal to restore pounds and ounces and the crown mark on pint beer glasses may be opportunist populism from a cynical chancer, but much of the imperial system of weights and measures worked better than metric.

"That’s because it was rooted in what people found useful. By contrast, the rule of ten was imposed from above in the French Revolution, a politically-driven programme to cut us off from our past and begin afresh; progressivism is about centralised power versus the populace."

Let's hope this is the beginning of the restoration of all of our ancient and customary units of measurement which are indeed rooted in what people found to be useful and practical (politicians and academics are invariably lost in their own little world which is governed by theories and are woefully unfamiliar with anything practical).

The next step surely is to restore the inch/foot basis of our built environment; something which never really went away if truth be told.

The following is the text of an article written in October 1995 for 'Perspectives on Architecture', a magazine dedicated to traditional architecture and to the craftsmanship required for the preservation and maintenance of our built environment. 

The article was timed to coincide with the British Government's compulsory use of metric measurement for all goods and services in the UK, a legal requirement which is widely ignored and disliked by the majority of people. The article is a reflection of the merits or otherwise of its use in the building industry where it has been compulsory for 30 years. 

For reasons best known to the editors, the article was never published. It would seem that their commitment to traditional values does not include that most fundamental of requirements in the construction industry; i.e. the practical use of measurements to transcribe drawings into real life buildings.


In 1965 the building industry decided to change to the use of French Decimal measurement, commonly known as the Metric system. Thirty years on and with the rest of industry now obliged to follow suit, perhaps it is time for a progress report. No one seems to have asked yet; has it worked? Is everyone happy with it? Is it easier, as the metricators claim, or is it harder? Is it better than the traditional system, or worse?

Working in the industry, I went along with this idea at the time without giving it much thought. In those days people still had faith in politicians and business leaders and believed that they knew what they were doing. (The events of these last two years, 2020 - 2022, has definitely shattered that particular illusion!) Now that I have spent a number of years studying the history of architecture and of building, I have discovered how and why we arrive at the measurements we have always used.

The first and most striking thing about the 1965 change is that there has been no change. The industry carried on using and continues to use the same materials in the same sizes but with different unit values. Thus a brick is still 9" long but is now designated as 225mm. The standard door size remains at 6'6" x 2'6" but now has what appears to be a code number of 1981x762mm. Why is this? Where are the materials/components which are whole units of 1 or 2 metres or natural multiples/divisions such as 250mm or 500mm? There seems little point in adopting a system of measurement whose basic unit is incompatible with the building process in terms of sizes required to build a house, for example, which is correctly proportioned relative to the size of the people who live in that house. After 30 years, it is apparent that the metric unit of 1 metre is too large and 1 centimetre is too small to be used comfortably in the building process. This is relevant in the rest of Europe too, by the way. Did you know that in Spain they still build brick walls one foot thick (ladrillo de un pie)?

Those who know their history will know that the metre was invented in France in 1790 and is, allegedly, one ten-millionth of the distance from the North Pole to the Equator. The invention of the metre was part of the Revolutionaries' rational and scientific response to what they regarded as the superstitions of the past. 

By contrast, the British Imperial system (as used by the Greeks and the Romans as well as in pre-revolutionary France) is anthropometric which means it is based on the human frame. From time immemorial units of measure have been derived from the human figure: palm, hand, foot, cubit etc. Some fall out of use and become archaic but those which remain do so for the very good reason that they are convenient, practical, easy to understand and, above all, easy to visualise which is a necessary part of translating working drawings into a built structure. 

This was clearly demonstrated to me when I recently had a garage built. The workmen, all of whom were under 30 years of age were thinking and working in feet and inches - 18" deep foundations, 4" step etc. When any change such as that wrought in 1965 is mooted, nobody ever consults the real experts, the people who actually do the work. Where theory and practice do not coincide then theory is wrong and practice is right. Or to put it another way - in theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is. Remember that according to aerodynamic theory it is impossible for a bee to fly!

It must be obvious to anyone who cares to think about it that an anthropometric unit such as the foot is preferable to a theoretical unit such as the metre. The metre, in fact, has had its official length changed no less than three times since 1790 (the latest being in 1965) and is currently deemed to be 1/299,792,458th of the distance light travels in one second. That's a real handy reference next time you are measuring a room for carpets or wallpaper.

The second aspect of the metric system is that it is based on the number 10 rather than 12. The superiority of duodecimals over decimals involves some esoteric reasoning which is too complicated to go into here but you may wish to refer to Plato's ideal cities of Magnesia (duodecimal) and Atlantis (decimal) and we all know what happened to Atlantis... Suffice to say that 12 can be easily divided into thirds and quarters whereas 10 cannot. (Ref 1. below)

The reasons put forward in support of metric are far from compelling. They range from the feeble ('everyone else uses it') to the dimwitted ('we have ten fingers for counting on' - which also demonstrates the general misconception that counting and measuring are the same; they are not!). There has never been, to my knowledge, a logical demonstration of metric's superiority in use over traditional measurement. One of the most famous architects of the Modern Movement, Le Corbusier, used feet and inches to calculate his twin modular system of design after struggling and failing to work it out in metres and centimetres.

Everyone I talk to is in agreement with the Prince of Wales when he calls for our towns and cities to be built on a human scale. This will never happen until we revert to a human scale of measurement.


Ref.1 -

See also -

: All Done With Mirrors by John Neal

: The Dimensions of Paradise by John Michell