You may have noticed I don’t bang on as often as I used to.
While this might be a blessed relief to you, I find the long-established habit of “noticing nonsense to write about” is yet to re-pace itself. Consequently, the drivel I have shared with you for years now collects in my head competing with other bits of drivel to get out and breathe.
“What are you going to write about?” asks my wife, not remotely caring about the answer because she is an occupational therapist. “Dunno,” I mumble, “Currently, I’m toying with Paul McCartney, the right to die, Lady Gaga’s new hat, the French, some new campaign by the Royal College of Nursing that I have already forgotten about but it might not have started yet, and accident and emergency waiting times.”
“Good idea,” she lies.
“The Archbishop of Canterbury, giving up smoking, vampires, Heathrow, courgettes, suicide, the new series of Dr Who, lying…”
“Badly written books about sex, fish oil, Mars - the planet not the chocolate bar - GCSE results, mountains, Mars the chocolate bar…”
“Yes,” she says, “Well, off you go then…”
But there is an elephant in the room, which is as annoying as it sounds and it goes by the name of Jeremy Hunt. I think we could patent a new game called Guess the Scenario where contestants get to imagine the bizarre circumstances in which a clearly distracted David Cameron shouted “Who doesn’t mind doing health for a bit?” and set about finding a health secretary. I’ll start with: he threw the portfolio into the air and it landed on Theresa May who, in an unusual display of wit, gave it to a surprised Gary Barlow, who giggled and handed it to Beyoncé who, in turn, lobbed it over a confused Steven Gerrard into the surprised lap of Jeremy Hunt who had forgotten the question and simply grinned like an old cat with a penchant for recreational drugs and said: “Sir, Beyoncé threw health at me.”
It is possible that Mr Hunt is the best man for the job but that begs the question: what job? Given that he is on record as believing in the nonsense that is magic water (he calls it homeopathy) and is against abortion and hybrid stem cell research, nobody is going to accuse him of being progressive. More worryingly is that in 2009 he joined with Michael Gove in calling for the NHS to be dismantled, claiming it was no longer relevant. One can only imagine he had been told that all the ill people had got better.
Perhaps his views are better informed now or have been tempered by power. Perhaps he is more circumspect or mindful that the modern politician serves something other than his seemingly random beliefs.
But two other possibilities seem more likely and a lot more frightening. The first is that this government want someone with those beliefs overseeing the health service - that putting a right-winger who considers the NHS outdated and irrelevant and would probably quite like to sell it to Sir Richard Branson is the perfect manifestation of their political intent. The second is that Cameron is so utterly disdainful of health and its place in his “vision” that it really doesn’t matter who is in charge, so he gives it to whoever is left in the room when he handed out the jobs.
What is the lesser of those two evils? Disdain or indifference? And what does it say about the NHS that the best political future we can hope for is that nobody cares enough to be any more destructive than they already have been?
Mark Radcliffe is senior lecturer, and author of Gabriel’s Angel