OK, there are two rules to writing a column - well, there may be more but let’s assume I didn’t get the memo. First, don’t get personal; it’s tacky, spiteful and unnecessary. Second, as the author Bernice Rubens once said: “Always write in yesterday’s blood.”
In other words, don’t write with anger or too much feeling as the words may not come out right. Feel free to look away now.
Although I concede I can be a grumpy, sarcastic so and so who is at the point in life where I argue out loud with the radio or television when it is used by someone to talk complete nonsense, I know I am cursed by one unfashionable and ultimately unhelpful constant - I like people. Not all of them obviously; indeed individually they often constitute the pain in my neck but, on the whole, I like them, or at least their condition, their potential and their hope.
There are, it seems to me, two kinds of people in the world: those who think there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t. No sorry, cheap joke.
The two kinds of people are: those who like people and those who don’t. Of the latter I don’t mean they don’t like their friends or their mum or the idea of Cheryl Cole. I mean they don’t like the idea of strangers, indeed strangers scare them. Strangers are a drain on resources; they claim benefits, wear hoodies, mug old ladies, most generally “they” aren’t like “me”.
And the thing about misanthropes is they live for something to come along and justify their bile. I think that’s why we have certain newspapers that function as a locus of blame and distaste. The people who don’t like people like to have somewhere to go to feed their loathing, to articulate their prejudice - this government is not afraid to give the people what they want.
I tell you what I hate most about Lord Hutton’s public service pension review (there goes rule two). It’s the “common sense” to which it smugly lays claim.
“We simply can’t afford it” and “public service workers have had it easy for too long”.
Did you see the news story about the vacuous little banker waving £10 notes at a demonstration staged by doctors and nurses in defence of services last week? “Get a job” he shouted at the people with jobs, further demonstrating a level of pig ignorance no pig would be proud of (there goes rule one). It illustrates a division in society that clearly benefits some while punishing others.
Meanwhile it was revealed that America’s richest 400 people now possess more of that country’s wealth than 50% of their population. Are we collectively poorer than we were? No, we are simply serving different interests to the ones that those of us who actually like people would like to see served.
It’s wrong that public service pensions should be changed - if for no other reason than the simple fact that people have worked for years in accordance with a set of rules. That this might now be wiped away on a political whim is both dishonest and unjust.
It remains my view that nurses represent the best of our society, along with doctors, teachers and emergency staff. When they become disposable our way of life changes, when we think it is acceptable to lie to them our standards drop, when we stop valuing the jobs that these professionals do, we all become misanthropes - and that way lies only bitterness and hate.