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OPINION

'It’s not cheesy or crackers to celebrate public services'

  • 7 Comments

Enough with the cheese. I have put on about 5lbs over the festive period and most of that is Brie and Stilton. Yes, there is some chocolate and mulled wine in there too but, in the main, it was cheese that did the damage.

When people visited I offered: “Tea? Wine? Cheese?” And then: “Cheese? Wine? Oh I know… Brie? We have a lump of Brie the size of Stoke draped over the top of the fridge. Take your coat off and I’ll get some crackers.”

I don’t feel good on it. I have an extra layer made of cheese and I have been having some very odd dreams. They are not just enhanced by the presence of cheese but actually include cheese. In one I fly an intergalactic spaceship made of cheese and I deliver Coldplay to some sort of space pirate in exchange for more cheese. Which isn’t a bad deal if you think about it.

Anyway, I am now immersed in the cheese detox and, although there is a lingering smell of Stilton and it takes longer to lose the weight than it once did, I along with the rest of the world am back at work/in the gym/eschewing dairy products and wondering about a summer holiday. Indeed, I was wondering if perhaps we should all have a party?

Forgive me for picking up so immediately on a pre-Christmas theme but it seems to me the national consciousness for 2011 is firmly set on austerity, cuts and the ongoing disdain for anything that costs money. Wasteful pointless stuff such as education, healthcare, social service, policing and so on. It seems uncritically accepted that the best interests of modern society are served by an assault on the things that civilise us. And I wonder how those of us who spend our time providing those things may respond to that?

And of course people will defend their jobs and services as best they can. There may be demonstrations, strikes and marches as public service workers and students alike are painted as resisters to necessary change - naïve and old fashioned or thuggish troublemakers - either way they are not acting in the best interests of the country or more importantly the economy.

So maybe we should have a party. A party that celebrates public services: the people who provide them and the people who use them. Surely the existence of public services makes us a better, more refined society? We could make some sandwiches, get some bands in - I’m pretty sure Coldplay will play although you’ll have to ask them as they are still a bit miffed with me because of the space pirate thing. In fact, loads of bands will surely come along and spend some time celebrating public services. I’ll bring the cheese.

Because at heart what we do is both useful and is something to be proud of, something to celebrate. It is something that defines the best of a civilised society, not something to be ashamed of or to be considered a burden.

No doubt the unions are going to be busy organising resistance but rather than just march or strike, and thus do what the government predicts and legislates for, perhaps we should first embarrass them by borrowing a park, gathering together as nurses, teachers, students, police, fire-fighters and everyone else in public services and dance, laugh, talk and play. Let’s celebrate public service as a means of defending it, and re-establish some clearer social values for 2011. Happy New Year.

  • 7 Comments

Readers' comments (7)

  • Not so much party attitude around yet, eh? Maybe the current need to feel we are fighting for our professional lives along with our patients is taking up all available energy. Hopefully we'll get to that party eventually. I do agree it might shock them off balance to see us dancing and playing. A bit of public service kung fu?

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  • Better without the hat

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  • What a brilliant idea, having fun and celebrating our service to society. A bit of PMA works better than moaning every time.
    I'll bring the Roquefort!

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  • There is a lot to be said for raising public awareness and support via positive and energising means. Bring it on! It would take some doing but I nominate you as the 'Bob Geldoff' in this plan...you have set my mind a ticking now....!

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  • I think this is a fantastic idea and I second your nomination as co-ordinator of said party!
    We, as public sector workers, have to remind ourselves we do the job and take the grief because we want to feel we are providing a service that is needed. And yes, while people do say what a wonderful job we do, it is difficult to feel appreciated when our pay is frozen, the threat of redundancy hangs over our heads and we seem to have less equipment at hand to simply do our job. And all this at a time when we seem to be experiencing the worst respiratory epidemic, certainly of my career.
    I wonder, do the ministers feel the slightest pang of embarrassment when they are at the mercy of the public sector services...?
    Well, all I can say is.....party on my friends!!

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  • Lets do it! Lets show the country that we are not ashamed of the service we provide, in fact we are proud of ourselves and we are not afraid to celebrate that!

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  • Why not ask Bob Geldpf to help set the thing up, he has the experience and the profile.

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