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How You, Yes You, Can Help The Economy

20 Mar

Osborne BudgetAnd by you, I mean George Osborne.

Now I’m not an expert on the economy, but the thing is George, neither are you. You are an expert at being rich. This qualifies you for being the president of a yacht club. Yet through the most wicked twists of fate, you have become the Chancellor of the Exchequer and get to make life and death decisions (for that is what they are) that will affect millions of people.

Let’s just stop and think about that for a minute.

. . .

Now, George, I’ve noticed that you’re reading on, implying that you did in fact stop to think. But I don’t believe that you did. In fact, I don’t believe that you ever think about the people your ideas are affecting.

I do believe that you think a lot about David Cameron (maybe too much, but who am I to judge anyone’s heart)? I do believe you think about the people you see in meetings: Tory politicians (they make you feel good), Liberal Democrat politicians (they make you feel kind of cross), Labour politicians (when someone reminds you that the Labour party still exists). You think about the Royal Family. I’d like to believe you think about your own family.

And I know you know there are “people” out there in the world. For example, when you appear on television, you can sense a human-shaped creature standing before you asking questions. You know enough about science to assume that it’s probably people—and not budgies or racks of lamb or desk lamps—who are driving cars on the street, who are doing surgeries or having surgeries done to them, who are teaching or being taught.

Understand that I’m not questioning your knowledge of reality, just your perception of it.  You work for the country yet I’m not convinced you care about the country. You care about those who are like you. And that’s a bit of a problem.

So how can you, yes you, help the economy? Two things: shut up and stop being a greedy bastard.

The same goes for all of that lot and not even just the ones in Westminster. I’m talking to any rich twat who pontificates about helping countries and people who are struggling. Don’t hold a glittery benefit with fancy pants food and cutlery or star-studded galas where you go on television asking people who are poorer than you to not be so selfish. Don’t fuck with a country’s social services just because you were once in the Bullingdon Club or because the president is black and you think you can capitalize on the country’s inherent racism.

Just because one is rich doesn’t mean one has to be a twat. I am what we sweetly used to refer to as “well off,” but I don’t spend my time pontificating about how other people should live or spend their money (note: making helpful suggestions is not the same as pontificating). But I do lead by example: I give time, effort and yes, money to help those who need it.

Why don’t you give that a try?

The Year in Flags: A Review of 2012

30 Dec

Old GloriesSadly, this year, the American flag seems to have spent quite a lot of time at half-mast. In July, it was lowered for the victims of the Aurora shooting; in August, for the victims of the Oak Creek shooting; in September, for the victims of the attack in Libya; and now for the victims in Newtown. Flying the flag at half-mast symbolically honours those who died, but I can’t help thinking that preventing future tragedies might be a more meaningful tribute. Unfortunately, that would require big picture thinking—not always a popular choice as evidenced by this year’s Presidential election. Thankfully, the right man won, but enough voted for Romney to show that many Americans are confused by issues of class. “Middle class” seems to be interpreted as “not homeless” and ultra-rich means “me, not at the moment, of course, but any day now.” One’s actual lifestyle and the reality of how it and the country would be affected were inconsequential. A bit like what’s happening with the current debates on gun control. And on mental health care. And on who should have won The Voice.

Surely, there’s got to have been something positive in America over the last twelve months . . . let me think . . . oh yeah, more states and even the President spoke up in support of marriage equality. Oops, I forgot, it was that which directly led to shooting in Sandy Hook, right, Rev. James Dobson?

Union JacksCloser to home, though, things looked much cheerier: the Union Jack was flying all over the damn place. We waved the flag for the Queen’s Jubilee, for a successful London Olympics and for William’s good work in promptly impregnating the wife. Well done to us all!

Of course, the Tories still want to continue with their obviously-successful-so-far austerity cuts (after all, those Jubilee and Olympic celebrations don’t come cheap, you know), but luckily, this year the BBC taught us that if you close your eyes to the bad stuff, it goes away—never to return. So as long as you’re not young, old, unemployed, working or a Christian woman who wants to serve her church, 2012’s been champion for you!

Now, my dears, I know this sounds quite gloomy and doomy. (Perhaps I should have warned you in advance to delay reading until you’re sober, I apologise.) If you were expecting a bit of harmless fun, I’m afraid you may have confused me with black tar heroin. I’m all about the harsh truth, you know that, so put your seatbelt on, baby, because you’re about to get hit with the harshest truth of all: I’ve still got faith in humanity. You, yes, you, the one sitting on the chair, your continued commitment to keeping my books in circulation bettering yourselves and our world is proof that, despite the bad news, there is goodness out there, my friends.

So together let’s make next year a better one, yeah?


Advice on Concession and Victory Speeches

7 Nov

Mitt Romney

This is your chance to finally say what you really feel, not what you think will trick desperate people into voting for you.

Tell us that you absolutely hate poor people.

Tell us that you think what gays do is gross.

Tell us that you will baptize Obama after he dies.

Tell us what you’re thinking about when you do that creepy smile.

Do it. What have you got to lose? You’ve already lost.

Be a big man now, Mitt, and be honest.

Barack Obama


Remedies for Election Anxiety

6 Nov

Today, Americans all over the world, well, mainly in America, will be making a big decision: electing an imperfect man or a creepily smiling robot who is programmed to care only about rich, white people. I confess to feeling quite anxious about the outcome of this whole decision process.

Of course, I care about this because I am half American (50% American + 50% British = 100% sexy). But more importantly, I am a citizen of the world, and this election will have global ramifications. Don’t believe me? I’ve got two words for you: Pippa Middleton. In her own country, no one gives a rat’s patooie about her, not even her own parents. But in America, she’s still showing up in celeb magazines, ergo she has a reason to keep on living, so don’t you tell me that what happens in America has no effect beyond its borders. Therefore, as some polling stations in the US begin to close up shop, I am guessing that I am not alone in feeling a bit stressed out about what’s going to occur next.

It’s too late in the day to make a difference now—I’ve offered up all the logic I could and promised all the sexual favours I never intend to honour to try to get people to see the light. There’s also no point in trying to make plans; the horror of a Romney victory is just too incomprehensible to deal with at the moment—let’s deal with that tragedy when it actually faces us. Despite my knowing these things in my brain, it did nothing to ease the tension I felt in my body.

Symptoms of election anxiety may include a bad tum (guilty), headache, tremors, fatigue, insomnia, tearfulness, muscle cramps, a desire to punch random people, and unruly hair. None of these symptoms responds to traditional treatment. Christopher thoughtfully topped up my morning vodka with peppermint tea, but alas it did not settle my stomach in the slightest. So he and I spent the rest of the day testing out other remedies—activities to keep us distracted—which I shall share with you forthwith.

Watch box sets of your favourite television comedies

Regardless of where they’re located or what their qualifications are, television pundits know fuck all so don’t bother gluing yourself to the news. Great television comedy writers, though, know how to make you laugh and that is always, whether you wear a blue or red tie, a good thing.

Do something physical

Moving your body will help distract your mind—try some keep fit exercises, do a little housecleaning, play table tennis, dance to music or bounce up and down as part of sexy sex. Do not, however, go outside of the house. If the election is called while you’re out, you may be at risk against the possible zombie apocalypse.

Play a game

Christopher and I invented an election-themed game called ‘You Choose.’ One person presents a dilemma to the other and if that person’s choice matches theirs, they win. Some suggestions: Corrie or Eastenders? Fizzy or still? Stones or Beatles? Black Cats or Magpies? Automatic or stick? UK Gold or UK Gold +1? You can up the ante by making it a drinking game or going for a ‘strip’ version. To be honest, I don’t really understand how you make those rules work but what I do know is somehow I’ve ended up rather drunk and down to my skivvies, and I’ve still got a smile on my face.


It’s not fun or flash, but curling up into the foetal position in the corner of a room will get you through. If there is a recount or major delay in the results announcement, though, do not attempt to cower for longer than twelve hours at a time.

Do your best to get through, my friends. It’s going to be a long night. And just in case the worst happens and we wake to a dramatically changed world, just know this: I love you and no one can take that away from us.

Election Day USA Is On Its Way

1 Nov

It’s less than a week until Election Day in the United States of America.  I’ve sent my postal vote through: I voted for the candidate whose policies and values are closest to mine, the one I think will be best for the country. Is that how you’ll be choosing your candidate? Does that mean you and I will be voting for the same candidate? Not necessarily. What it does mean is that Americans have different views and priorities and therefore support different candidates. I think my views and priorities and candidate are the right ones; I’m guessing you do, too. So how do we know who is right and who is wrong? We don’t. We’re different. So there’s little use one side trying to prove the other is objectively wrong (or objectively the Anti-Christ).

So let’s stop being stupid about it.

Here’s what’s going to happen. Most Americans will vote for the candidate whose policies and values are closest to theirs, the one they think will be best for the country. This will mean that some will vote for Obama and some will vote for Romney. A few may even vote for Dr. Jill Stein or one of the other parties’ candidates (perhaps even Roseanne Barr?).  The one who will get the most votes will win, bask in their glory, give a fancy speech in January, try to make a few changes, begin campaigning for the next election and then stay in Office past 2016 or not. That’s pretty much how it will work, regardless of who wins.

Why? Because the American political system is effed up proper. Unless the three branches of the government are dominated by a single party, not a lot gets done, because what seems to be the most important thing in American politics is beating the other side. Not doing what’s best, mind—just doing what will upset the others the most (or undoing what the other party has done). Don’t believe me? Are you calling me a liar or something? Rude!

Because a lot of Americans can see this tragedy, they won’t be voting at all. (I’m being generous, of course, because some won’t vote simply because they’re lazy.) Many will say, “It doesn’t matter so I shan’t participate in this facade. What’s the point of voting when the system is broken? Instead let’s bring this motherfucker down!”

Are they right?

Alas, probably, no. Unless, of course, they have a realistic, workable plan to actually bring this motherfucker down (which I’d be happy to hear the details of, though don’t post them through because you can get in real trouble for that), it will matter who wins this election. As I said above, the winner may be able to make a few changes and those changes may potentially make quite a big difference—to women’s choices about their bodies, to gay men and lesbians’ families, to many Americans’ health, welfare, and careers. This broken system will keep on keeping on even if you choose to opt out of voting: are you willing to risk the rights and freedoms that you have at the moment? Don’t you care about Sesame Street?

The other reason it matters who wins this election is because it will say something—to Americans and to the entire world—about what America stands for. We can take steps towards being a force of good or we can go back to being a symbol of greed.

Which is why I’m now thinking you’re probably now thinking it’d be wise to vote for the same candidate as I’m voting for. Or maybe you’re thinking of something else. I see that clever smile crossing your face, and I know it means you’ve just come up with a fabulous idea. I guess what I’m subtly trying to saying here is Yes, I’d be honoured to be your write-in candidate for the position of President of the United States. Honoured but not available, I’m afraid. But I’ll tell you what—go ahead and write my name in. If I win, that’ll be such a turn up for the books that I’d be willing to rearrange a few things to get the job done.

Let’s do it, America!

Who Would Jesus Kill?

26 Oct

On the upcoming election day, Americans are going to make a lot of important choices. They’re going to choose a President, some governors, senators and representatives and other more local officials. They’ll also be voting on some propositions and laws. In honor of election day, my Facebook fans can even vote on which hat looks most fetching atop my head. November 6 is going to be a very crucial Tuesday!

As you might guess, I’ve got a few words to say about the Presidential election, but I’ll share those next week. Today, though, I wanted to say something about a specific proposition which will be voted on in California, Proposition 34. Here’s a summary:

  • Repeals death penalty as maximum punishment for persons found guilty of murder and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole.
  • Requires persons found guilty of murder to work while in prison, with their wages to be applied to any victim restitution fines or orders against them.
  • Creates $100 million fund to be distributed to law enforcement agencies to help solve more homicide and rape cases.

I know many are amazed that the death penalty still exists in America. When we look at the wide world, what countries share the death penalty stage with the US? China, Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Iran are a few—all famously countries the US really respects on a human rights level, yes? No. The US is happy to get up in the faces of these guys with “You’re bad,” “You’re mean,” etc, yet Americans enact the same ultimate punishment as these countries. What up with that?

Now before you start saying, “Oh, Agatha, don’t be so soft on criminals,” please let me clarify. There are lots of criminals who do horrible things and these things should not go unpunished. Not unlike Wolfie Smith, I personally have a list of those I’d gladly put first up against the wall come the Glorious Revolution and, quite frankly, not all of them have even committed illegal acts. But those who do murder, rape and torture—no doubt about it, those people deserve full punishment.

But what is full punishment? The Eighth Amendment of the US Constitution prevents “cruel and unusual punishment.” Here’s where it gets a little sticky. Is murdering someone cruel? Look at a murderer—I’m guessing you’d probably describe his act as cruel. So if murder is cruel, then murder is cruel, n’est-ce pas?

Many would say the difference is the murderer didn’t have a good reason to murder whereas the death penalty is a good reason to murder, because it acts as a deterrent. Yes, definitely. This is why in places where the death penalty is legal, there are never any murders.

But surely the death penalty is cheaper, you may say. Why should we pay to house those bastards—giving them three meals a day, health care and a television? Okay, first off, it ain’t cheaper. Look it up. Secondly, what does it say about a person that they see access to a television as a good life? Yes, I know that the person will never see the light of day again, never get to hug his child or go to his parent’s funeral, but he gets to watch television so life’s not that bad for him. Hmmm . . .

Of course, we cannot ignore the victims and their families. No one deserves the pain they have to suffer. I understand their desire for vengeance. I think we all do, even the Pope (I doubt he’d admit it). I’m going to be bold and even suggest that perhaps the desire for vengeance is human nature. Yet, should that desire be law? When do we draw a line? If we say a life for a life, do we also say an eye for an eye? If someone shoots me in the eye, should it be law that I get to shoot him in the eye (or the state can do it for me)? Would that really be the right thing to do even if we really, really wish it were?

Many Americans have one definite moral compass: the big G-o-d and his son, JC. The Bible is pretty clear that only God can judge. Jesus himself met a few murderers in his time—can you remember what he did to them? Did he strap them to a table or electrocute them until their blood boils? I’m no biblical expert, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t. I know you aren’t Christ, I know judges aren’t Christ, I know victims’ families aren’t Christ. I know it would be pretty damn hard to face a murderer and forgive, even if they’re sentenced to life in prison. But those bracelets remind us to consider ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ and I don’t think there’s a caveat that says “unless it’s really hard, then kill the person if it makes you feel better.”

I know not everyone who reads this will agree with me. I forgive you for that.

Look Pretty, Talk Pretty: Advice for the Presidential Debates

2 Oct

As an internationally known expert on public speaking, I have been inundated the last few weeks with requests for my debate advice from campaign managers on both sides of the US political battle. Listen, people, I am just one woman. I simply cannot do everything others request of me. Even if I wanted to (which is only about half of the time anyway). I’m going to be honest with you: sending me multiple emails on the same day you’ve left two answerphone messages already does nothing to hasten my reply; actually, it just irritates me.

However—despite the hassles, not because of them—I’ve been moved to share some of my insights with the candidates. Why? Because I love my country and I hate stupidity. Please listen carefully as I intend to say this just once.

Let’s begin by looking at what you can learn from others. From my thorough analysis of the 2010 British election, we can take away important lessons from the three candidates there:

  • David Cameron teaches us that if you look doughy in life, you will look five times more doughy on television. Get yourself camera-ready, but don’t go crazy with the hair product or make-up (or fake tan).
  • Gordon Brown  teaches us that doing things that don’t come naturally (in his case smiling) is not going to fool anyone.
  • Nick Clegg teaches us that if you make promises that you cannot keep, you will end up curled in the foetal position because an entire nation sees you as pathetic and/or bastard-like.

One thing that is important to remember is that this is a debate—not a campaign speech. This means you are going to be required to actually listen to what the other person is saying. I know it’s hard to listen to someone else besides yourself speak, but it really is quite important. First of all, not listening appears rude and no one wants a rude president. Secondly, if you’re going to argue against something, it’s relatively important to know exactly what that is. Just arguing against everything a person says simply because they’re a Republican or Democrat just makes you look like an idiot. Even Republicans know that.

It’s also essential that you actually listen to yourself when you speak; after all, the voting public will be listening as well. Use key terms like “community,” “responsibility” and “logic.” But use them wisely. Let’s say you are arguing against raising taxes, saying that it’s more “logical” that when financial resources are low to stop spending (on foolish things like health and social care) and save instead. Fine. So surely you’ll be applying this same “logic” to green issues as well, arguing that we should save our environmental resources (especially since we can’t replace them), yes? See? See why it’s important to listen to the things you say? Come on now, THINK.

Don’t interrupt the other person by saying “Imma let you finish but…” Once something becomes an internet meme, it’s no longer funny. In fact, no jokes full stop. Leave the political humor to Todd Akin—that guy is hilarious with the stupid stuff he says!

Lastly, President Obama, no singing. I mean you’re good and all, but a debate is just simply the wrong venue for an impromptu concert.

Best of luck to you both!

Apologies: The Good, The Bad and The Tuneful

22 Sep

Apologies should be rather simple affairs. A good apology needs to do three things:

  • be genuine
  • admit responsibility
  • indicate a willingness to change

At this point, you’re probably with me. You’re probably thinking of all the times you’ve been wronged and how you deserved an apology which embraces the three concepts outlined above. However, just hold up there, Nelly. Let’s talk about you for a second here. When was the last time you gave a real apology? When you said sorry for bumping into that old man on the bus, were you genuinely remorseful? I actually saw you and could tell that you didn’t mean it at all. So maybe you shouldn’t get up on your high horse and actually listen and learn.

Nick Clegg should have listened and learned as well. By now you have seen/read about/ridiculed/sung along with his recent apology video.

You know I have a bit of a soft spot for old Cleggers—I can’t help it, I tend to take pity of the pathetic and lonely in our society. But if he was intending to win back supporters with a heartfelt mea culpa, he failed miserably. Let’s analyse!

We made a promise before the election that we would vote against any rise in fees under any circumstances. But that was a mistake. It was a pledge made with the best of intentions, but we shouldn’t have made a promise we weren’t absolutely sure we could deliver. I shouldn’t have committed to a policy that was so expensive when there was no money around, not least when the most likely way we’d end up in government was in coalition with Labor or the Conservatives who were both committed to put fees up. I know that we fought to get the best policy we could in those circumstances, but I also realise that isn’t the point. There’s no easy way to say this: we made a pledge, we didn’t stick to it, and for that, I am sorry. When you’ve made a mistake, you should apologise. But more important, most important of all, you’ve got to learn from your mistakes. And that’s what we will do. I will never again make a pledge unless as a party, we are absolutely clear about how we can keep it.

Here’s why it’s crap:

Is it genuine?
No, I don’t believe it to be. Why not? Because I don’t believe what Nick Clegg says anymore. Sorry, liars, but this is what happens when you lie. It’s hard for others to believe anything you say after you prove that you say things that aren’t true.

Does he admit responsibility?
No. He blames it on his innocence, his confusion about how the government machine works. “There was no money around”? Really? There was enough money for seventy four launches of the Big Society, there was enough money for loads of bullshit, because that’s how government works. Everyone—even the Lib Dems—knows that’s how government works.

Also, by claiming “the most likely way we’d end up in government was in coalition,” Clegg is saying the Liberal Democrats never had a chance. That wasn’t what he was saying before the election, and it’s not what people believed after the debates. I know it’s hard to imagine now, but many people voted for the Lib Dems because they wanted Nick Clegg to be prime minister. For him to now say, ‘we didn’t know how hard government is, the big boy rules are way tougher than we thought,’ well, that’s just poor, Nick.

Does it indicate a willingness to change?
No, even though he wanted it to. If we look closely at the “learn from your mistakes” section, we see that what he’s really saying is that he won’t make pledges anymore unless he’s sure he can keep them. But nothing in politics is ever guaranteed. What he should have said is in future he will keep his promises.

As I’ve said before, it’s wisest to avoid having to apologise by not fucking up in the first place. But we’re all humans and humans do mistakes. It’s never easy to make a public apology—from Jimmy Swaggart’s to David Letterman’s—it’s a difficult act to pull off. Perhaps Nick Clegg should have studied the master of the political apology: Richard Nixon.

It’s clearly genuine as the regret is written all over his face. By repeating “I let down,” he shows he is taking full responsibility for his mistake. And was he willing to change? Well, he never tried to cover up any break-ins ever again. In fact, in 1982, when he had to bust out his car window because he’d locked the keys inside, he took out a full page ad in the New York Times detailing the entire event. Nixon’s apology changed his legacy forever. Did you hear those tributes that poured in after he died? People were able to forget about his criminal actions, the thousands of people killed by his military decisions, and the tons of other damage he did to American society and democracy. The flags were at half mast for a whole month, for Christ’s sake!

That could have been you, Nick!

The Supreme Court For Dummies

30 Jun

In theory, the US government is a simple set of checks and balances. However, in reality, it’s so comically complicated that even American elementary schools can’t help but acknowledge the government’s circus-like qualities.


This week one of the branches—the judiciary—has been all over the news media. To understand why, we need a quick reminder of how the Supreme Court works and why it’s so crucial to the American way of life.

Many are unaware of how important Aristotle was to the founding fathers of the United States. Seriously, they were all over him like white on rice. Aristotle talked about three types of government: democracy, oligarchy and polity. James Madison and the rest of the Philadelphia Convention lot decided that they were such big Aristotle fans that they would embrace all three.

Democracy, defined by the big A as “rule by the majority,” takes place in Congress, the legislative branch. Congress is made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives. When a new law comes to each group, members shout “Yea” or “Nay” and whichever side is the loudest has the majority and therefore wins. (Note: in the mid 1900s, they added paper ballots as well as some laws were incorrectly passed due to the presence of Sen. William “Big Mouth” Billingsley, whose voice the Speaker of the House ruled “unfairly blessed in the decibel department.”)

Oligarchy exists in the executive branch.  An oligarchy is rule by the few. In this case, the few are those gentlemen who have been elected the President of the United States. Aristotle also said that oligarchy was rule by the wealthy and he wasn’t half right there, my friends. The President’s job is to give some speeches, appear posthumously on coins and, in recent years, be incorrectly blamed for a global economic crisis in an attempt to disguise some of the citizenry’s inherently racist beliefs. It’s a tough job, but he does get to live in a big white house for free while doing it.

This cover is so not indicative of plot.

This leaves us with polity; this is a form of government where all citizens take turns to rule and is what the Supreme Court is all about. Every July 4 the United States holds an event similar to the one in “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. The Vice President drags a great big box onto the North Lawn, inside of which are slips of paper containing the names of every US citizen (over the age of eighteen, obviously). I forgot to mention that there’s a big crank on the side of the box. At exactly twelve noon, the festivities begin. (This event is thoughtfully broadcast live on all three major networks, and on a slight delay on Fox.) The First Lady gives the crank a few twirls (hence, Michelle Obama’s impressive bicep muscles), mixing up the papers inside. Over the box is one of those claw things which is carefully guided by the President into the box to select a single piece of paper. He continues doing this until he gets so frustrated that he quits (most recently this was after the ninth go). Then he reads aloud each name from the slips and introduces them as this year’s lucky “Justices.”

The Justices then go home to pack and in October are shipped off to the “Supreme Court,” a sort of Big Brother-type set up where they live, eat and sleep together while reading over and hearing arguments about the decisions they’ll be asked to make. Monthly, they each take turns in the Diary Room, sharing their insights, asking for additional information and talking about how much they miss their families.

Eventually they’ll all come together to make a collective decision about the right or wrong-ness of the issues put before them, and this is what they have been doing just recently. They then get a big party and get out so the cleaners can get to work in preparing the Supreme Court for the next year’s chosen few.

There have been some big topics on the table this year, and I’m sure it’s been difficult. They had to decide on issues as varied as prisoners’ rights, copyright protection, forced euthanasia of sick livestock and if US citizens born in Jerusalem can list Israel as their birthplace on their passports. I’d have loved to have been a fly on the wall for some of those conversations!

The decisions that got the most media attention were, of course, whether or not the Health Care Act was legit (their decision: yes); whether or not individual states could actually let people rather than corporations decide election results (their decision: no); and whether or not individual states can allow police to harass people with brown skin and/or interestingly spelled surnames (their decision: yes and no).

I will admit, though, that the Supreme Court decision that really blew my mind was when they ruled on the unconstitutionality of the Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise marriage. I just did not see that coming. I’m really wondering if that case would have come up at all had James Van Der Beek‘s name not been selected last July.

Doctor, Doctor, I Feel Like A Pair Of Wigwams*

21 Jun

According to the Guardian, it’s possible that at least 26,000 patients may have been affected by today’s “go-slow” industrial action by doctors.  The BMA will meet to decide whether or not to do another day.

It’s a difficult situation—most doctors make decent salaries compared to many but at the same time the Government’s mucking about with their pensions just doesn’t seem right. However, I shan’t be dipping my toes in the tidal wave of that argument tonight. Surely this Government, with its abundance of fresh new ideas, will be able to propose a satisfying solution, yes?

However, there is something that we the people can do to help ease the financial costs of the NHS.  My first recommendation is to be glad it’s around. I’m not saying that everything in the National Health Service is tip-top nor am I saying that we shouldn’t speak up against the problems. I myself have personally left over 53 cards in the suggestion box at the Royal Infirmary in the last twelve months. However, even as I was carefully writing out my complaint about the Matron’s disdainful look when I suggested my friend might prefer a north-facing bed, I did so gratefully for we are lucky to have the NHS and we mustn’t forget that.

Of course, I come from a country where health care for all means socialism and socialism is as evil as cursing children, kicking puppies and burying your grandma alive as soon as she’s got a little cough. Many Americans’ belief in individualism leads to a rather self-centred approach: I do for me, you do for you and ne’er the two shall meet (unless, of course, I need you to come put out my house fire, fix the pothole on my road, or stop this murderer from murdering me).

I don’t personally subscribe to this belief. I pay my taxes to benefit my community. I just don’t have the time to run school systems, police stations, libraries, etc. Though officials from all these institutions continue to contact me for input, I just can’t squeeze them into my tightly booked schedule. So instead, I throw some money their way. Does this mean I am always happy with how the money is spent? No. So I speak out: by voting or striking or filling suggestion boxes or hissing loudly whenever George Osborne comes on the telly.

It’s all about perspective really: one way of looking at it is that I pay my taxes to keep the NHS running so that when I am sick or hurt I can get help. Most things that benefit my community benefit me as well. However, even if I look at it as I am paying for someone else’s health care, then surely it must work both ways—someone else is paying for my health care.

Save this little boy’s money from evil!

Unfortunately, many Americans have a third perspective. They imagine that health care for all means that at the end of a long day of work, sweat dripping from their brow, they’ll be approached by a poor, toothless Jerry-Springer-reject sauntering up and demanding their hard-earned money to get a boob job for his common law wife (who is also his cousin). And they’ll be forced to hand over their wallets because that’s how socialized medicine works in their world.

However, it’s not just enough to be grateful to the NHS, we can also be mindful. Just because we have doctors available to us doesn’t mean that we should get stupid about using NHS resources. It’s not always necessary for us to go to the doctor. For example, even though some surgeries had fewer patients today, no one died (except for the people who did obviously). A lot of the times we book appointments when what’s really needed is not medical expertise, but common sense. Say you’ve got snuffly nose and a bit of a headache, you probably just need a good meal, hot bath and hard sleep. On the other hand, if you’ve just been shot in the eye with a staple gun, a trip to A&E would be appropriate. It’s about being sensible.

Sadly I’ll be unable to attend any meetings between the BMA and Andrew Lansley in the next few weeks, so fingers crossed, a compromise can be reached without me. We do live in frightful times, finance-wise, but we mustn’t let these difficulties hurt our country’s most valuable asset: the NHS and/or Jimmy Carr’s career.

*Don’t worry, you’re just too tense.