Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Why we should Ban the Burka

The recent controversy surrounding the Islamic practice of Muslim women wearing the Burka or the Niqab has produced a variety of conflicting opinions. These have ranged from those advocating a complete ban in all public places, to those who believe their views are more libertarian and who see the issue as a matter of personal freedom. 

Both of these opposing views have their committed adherents, who passionately advocate their points of view, believing that their arguments are those which best reflect the values of a tolerant, pluralistic society.

My own take on this matter, is that the covering of the face in public places should, except in very specific and defined circumstances, be made illegal. I argue this, not simply for reasons of security, although that is clearly a grave concern where individuals, by their choice of dress, identify themselves as adherents of a religion infamous for its well documented violence against non-believers: but also, because if we wish to live in a tolerant and harmonious society, then we should not allow members of a specific sub section of that society to conceal their identity.

Personally, I would refuse to interact in anyway with someone who had chosen to hide their face and this would make it impossible for me to have any kind of social intercourse with them. The clear implication of this, would be to exclude a whole set of citizens from our collective social space and would mark them out as non-existent. Under such circumstances it would be impossible to create a situation where I could treat all members of our country's shared social space equally and would undermine the possibility of creating a society of mutual trust, tolerance, respect and understanding.

In refusing to recognise, or acknowledge a masked person, I would be doing no more than granting their apparent desire for complete anonymity, although such a response on my part would effectively be to deny the existence of  anyone choosing to wear a burka, or niqab. Such a situation would not be desirable, since it would foster suspicion and mutual alienation, making social cohesion impossible and would inevitably create an atmosphere of mistrust and hostility. 

Another important consideration, is that the wearing of the face veil makes a statement, and no matter what the wearer believes that statement to be, for many in the non-Muslim community the statement is this: "I am a believer in the teachings of Islamic scripture and a committed follower of the prophet Mohammad."  Given the knowledge which we in the West now regretfully have of the teachings of Islam and the example of its revered prophet, we are at least justified in being suspicious of anyone making such a clear statement of their beliefs and loyalties.

Inevitably, suspicion breeds antagonism which can so easily lead to ridicule, hatred and contempt and although not necessarily justified, such feelings are understandable in the face of a garment which makes such a provocative and divisive statement of the wearer's rejection of our country's values and traditions.

As a final reason for a ban there is the coercive and misogynistic attitude of Muslim men in insisting, or advocating, that women should be hidden from public view. They may try to justify this practice on the grounds of female piety and modesty, but it's discriminatory in the extreme and denies women full and equal human rights and robs them of their dignity, denying them the unfettered participation in the wider society to which they are entitled and which they so richly deserve.

Friday, 1 June 2018

The Myth of Islamophobia

When I first encountered the word 'Islamophobia' I was very confused and not at all certain what it was meant to signify and what I was meant to infer when I heard or saw it. However, it soon became apparent from its use and by examining its origin (invented by The Muslim Brotherhood) and by understanding the viewpoints of the people who used it, that it is intended as a derogatory term to categorise anyone, who makes any criticism of Islam, Muslims, or Islamic ideas, beliefs and actions as Islamophobic, and by implication, racist and reprehensible. This, despite the irrefutable evidence that Islam is not, and never has been, a race.

This raised the question for me: can Islamophobia be real? Well, let's analyse this conundrum.

A phobia is defined in The Oxford English Dictionary as an 'irrational fear.' Now, since Islam has proven itself to be a violent and very dangerous ideology, which has slaughtered thousands who disagree with its actions and beliefs, and has inspired deadly attacks upon, often wholly innocent people whom it perceives as its enemies, fearing it, cannot conceivably be described as irrational. Therefore, fear of Islam is not irrational and so, ipso-facto, cannot be a phobia. This leads to the inevitable conclusion that Islamophobia is not real.

In fact, the only possible incidence of genuine Islamophobia which might occur, would be if a self-professed and committed Muslim were to fear Islam without good reason. Such a fear could perhaps be thought irrational if it had no evidence based cause.  This must mean, that the only true incidence of Islamophobia (if it exists at all) could only properly be ascribed to a Muslim who possess no reason to fear his own declared faith, yet for some irrational reason, does so. 

Given the above, one can only conclude that the word 'Islamophobia' is an invention designed to intimidate and silence those who raise quite legitimate concerns about the truth, value and dangers of Islamic doctrines, beliefs and actions. In other words, labeling someone, or some statement as Islamophobic, is designed to silence debate and frighten those brave enough to confront the so called religion of peace with a few hard facts about its history and current barbarism.

Friday, 6 April 2018

The Gender Pay Gap and Other Inequalities

The British government in its infinite stupidity has bowed to pressure from the loonies of left-wing new-wave feminism and forced large organisations and businesses to spend precious time and valuable resources producing largely meaningless statistics regarding their gender pay disparities. This fruitless waste of time has proven what all truly perceptive people already knew, that by and large, overall and generally speaking, men in these large organisations tend to earn more than women.  Well, there's a surprise! The sad truth is that, the cost of this ridiculous exercise could have been saved by the government simply by asking an averagely intelligent member of the public for their view on the issue.

However, now that this futile exercise has been undertaken, the government has the excuse it needs to put in place strategies to tackle what it claims is unfair gender remuneration in the work place. It will undoubtedly come up with plans to increase the number of women in top positions, thus increasing their relative levels of pay. Unfortunately, these plans are likely to include such strategies as all women short lists  at job interviews, persuading the nation's schoolgirls to study accountancy and promoting people to senior management positions on the basis of gender instead of talent and ability. Such strategies are not only likely to be spectacularly unsuccessful, but also massively expensive. Having myself given the issue some cursory thought I've come up with a much cheaper, and I believe a much more easily implemented solution.

As gender is now viewed by many in the LGBT community and beyond as a social construct, why not simply provide some small financial incentive to a certain percentage of men in top positions to transition from male to female? This would at once be a cheaper option and would also solve the so called gender pay gap at a stroke. There would of course, be some small cost in providing gender neutral toilets and an alternative wardrobe for the agreeable candidates, but this would amount to no more than the price of make-up, wigs, dresses, hosiery, over-sized stiletto-heeled shoes and padded bras. Those who desired to fully transgender and wished to have their genitals removed, could perhaps be given the added incentive of having their surgery provided free under the National Health Service. As long as the number of men willing to transition was appropriate we could achieve perfect pay parity between the genders, thus providing a cheap and simple solution to what would otherwise  be a very complex issue.

Of course, the real problem of unfair remuneration in the work place goes far beyond the issue of gender. If it's judged unfair in general to pay men more than women, then what about all the other criteria which may affect pay inequality? For example, are tall attractive people generally paid more than short ugly people? Are right-handed people paid more than left-handed people? Are hard working diligent people paid more than feckless lazy people? Are blue-eyed people paid more than brown-eyed people? Are intelligent people paid more than unintelligent people? Are able-bodied people paid more than disabled people? Inevitably, there's no easy fix for many of these disparities. It would prove much more costly to make short people tall, unless one was prepared to use the rack and even if more humanely, one could enlist the co-operation of reluctant surgeons, it would still prove immensely expensive and troublesome to achieve. The list of potential reasons for inequality are almost infinite. I think we need the answers to some of these other issues which may affect relative pay. After all, in a society where all inequality is perceived as discrimination we need to ensure that no identifiable sub-group is unfairly treated.

Witnessing our politicians and politically correct media muppets considering all the other possible reasons for pay differentials would provide great fun for all of us interested observers, who would immensely enjoy seeing what depths of insanity might be plumbed by the efforts to achieve the fairness so desired by the advocates of human rights and social justice.

Ultimately however, the only way to absolutely ensure that there is no perceivable pay gap for whatever reason, would be to pay everyone in work exactly the same, regardless of age, education, talent, ability, effort, experience, or indeed, gender. The resulting society would of course, make North Korea look like paradise on earth by comparison, but would I'm sure be welcomed by the nihilistic masochists of left-wing idealism.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Ten reasons to vote to leave The European Union

The European Project continues

 1. Leaving the European Union is the only way to ensure the restitution of U.K. sovereignty. By remaining members The European Courts will continue to impose laws upon our country which run counter to the interests and wishes of the British people. This will make it difficult at best and impossible at worst for us to protect our citizens from terrorism. It will also allow the continued imposition of undemocratic rules and regulations which dictate every aspect of our lives. By voting to leave we shall take back the rights and powers to make our own laws sovereign once again and re-establish the supremacy of the British House of Commons and the British courts as the final arbiters of U.K law.

2. By voting to leave we shall finally regain control of our borders and have the absolute right to determine who is allowed to come here as an immigrant. If we should be foolish enough to vote to stay, then we must expect an ever increasing number of migrants to come from Europe to settle here. Inevitably, many of these migrants will be those currently fleeing conflicts occurring in Islamic countries. This will swell the number of our citizens who hold beliefs which run counter to our traditional western values, and who we know from bitter experience, will harbour some, who wish to harm us and who desire to impose upon us the humourless barbarism of Islamic law. The only way to guarantee that this does not occur is to vote to leave the European Union.

3.  The European project of ever closer political, social and financial union of its member countries is doomed to failure. This is largely due to the undemocratic nature of the European institutions and the disastrous policy of allowing millions of Muslim migrants to settle in the all the major European countries. This short sighted policy has, and will continue, to result in ongoing difficulties, as the doctrines of Islam and the European traditions of freedom and tolerance are incompatible. This clear incompatibility will continue and increase as the numbers of Muslims living in Europe continues to grow. Outpacing the reproductive trend of native populations, it is only a matter of time before the tensions between Islamic immigrants and the indigenous populations of many European countries results in either open conflict, or subjugation by a deeply barbaric culture. If we wish to prevent this scenario playing out in Great Britain then we need to vote to leave the European Union and ensure that we prevent any further spread of Islamic culture within our society.

4. We must resist the arguments being generated by those who wish us to remain members of the European Union. Their arguments concerning the consequences of voting to leave are mere speculation. The uncertainties of leaving will I believe, offer new opportunities which will far outweigh the certainties of remaining. Should we prove too cowardly to opt for taking control of our own destiny then we can be certain to reap the whirlwind of ever closer European integration. We don’t need a crystal ball to see where the European project is headed. More integration, more harmonisation, more migrants, more rules, more regulations, more unwelcome laws, more bureaucracy, more interference, more costs and all at the price of less freedom, less autonomy, and less sovereignty.

5. It looks increasingly likely that, in return for a deal on migrants Turkey will be given an accelerated passage to full membership of the E.U. This will allow a further 79 million, mainly Muslim people, free and unfettered access to all the member states of the European Union. Should we vote to remain, this will of course, include unrestricted access to the U. K. These new rights will apply in addition to the rights soon to be granted to all the migrants currently waiting asylum and citizenship in Europe and who will also have the right to come and settle here in Great Britain. This will be a disaster, not only for the cohesion of European societies, but also for the ability of our nation to protect its own citizens and control its own destiny.

6. Ever since the end of the war in 1945 there has been a steady and relentless erosion of the values of the European enlightenment. This has been largely driven by the rise of four regressive dogmas. These are: multiculturalism, political correctness, and moral and cultural relativism. This four-pronged attack upon the values of liberalism, tolerance and freedom has been inspired and strengthened by the European project, which has focussed upon human rights instead of human responsibilities and which has encouraged a culture of entitlement and grievance. Any society which promotes the human rights of its citizens to the exclusion of their human responsibilities is a society destined for the plug-hole of history. The complete failure of the politicians and bureaucrats of post-war Europe to recognise this has been a significant factor in the failure of Western societies to prevent the diminution of enlightenment values and protect the British traditions of freedom of speech and equality under the law. Should we vote to remain in the European Union, then I believe we shall see a further erosion of the moral and cultural identity of our nation.

7. To argue that we will be financially better off inside the cocoon of the European Union and its single market is a counsel of despair. It demonstrates a total lack of confidence in our own abilities and resourcefulness. It also shows a lamentable lack of imagination as it promotes the idea that the most important constituent in human happiness is individual wealth.  Personally, I would rather see a drop in my income than anymore surrender of my freedoms and culture. If we wish to build new trading relationships with the world then we must have the courage to leave the E.U. and negotiate with all the new and emerging markets across the globe to promote the excellence of our products and the value of our services. To imagine that we shall not be able to achieve this is a failure of vision, courage and determination, qualities which I believe the British people have in abundance.

8. Had the European project been an unqualified success then the arguments for us remaining members would be much more persuasive. However, it is clear to everyone that our membership has come with very high costs and very few benefits. The monetary union and the adoption of the ‘Euro’ has been an unqualified disaster for many countries, and if we’d taken the advice of the British Europhiles at the time and joined, it would have been an unqualified disaster for us too. In this forthcoming referendum we would be ill-advised to listen to those who lack the confidence, courage and vision to believe that we are perfectly capable of managing our own affairs. After all, trusting the European politicians, judges and bureaucrats to make our lives better and more prosperous has not proven a roaring success up to now. We must therefore, grasp this once in a lifetime opportunity to retake control of our own affairs and determine our own future without constant interference from the unelected bureaucrats of Brussels.

9. The predicted financial disaster resulting from a vote to leave forecast by bankers and financial commentators, should of course be treated with considerable scepticism. We must remember that, by and large, these are the same infallible individuals who proved such competent managers of the nation’s finances during the banking crises of 2008, the effects of which are still keenly felt by us all. My own inclination is to listen to their opinions and advice and then endeavour to do precisely the opposite to what they recommend. The more I hear dire warnings of the consequences of leaving the more persuaded I become that leaving is the sensible strategy.

10. Before coming to decision as to which way to vote we should all carefully examine the views from both sides and ask ourselves exactly what is the motivation of each individual for their specific arguments. For many, it will of course, be for perceived self-interest. For others there will be political motives for career advancement and even perhaps a genuine belief in ever closer political and social integration with our European neighbours. The print and broadcast media will also have their own, not always apparent agenda and will inevitably campaign according to the prejudices of their owners. In the end though, the decision will be ours. All I can do is to set out my personal beliefs and reasons for wishing to leave and hope that my arguments may persuade some of you to join me in trying to take back control of our own destiny.

Please feel free to add your comments below.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

 Sayeeda Warsi puts religion before reason

The resignation of Baroness Sayeeda Warsi from the government in protest over David Cameron's failure to sufficiently censure Israel over their attack upon Hamas in Gaza, should come as no surprise. Her departure from government must be welcomed by all who value freedom, democracy and the right to defend oneself against terrorism.
The undeservedly ennobled Baroness, is a Muslim, and as such, clearly has a partisan view of the conflict between the democratic state of Israel and the terrorists of Hamas. 
She readily criticises Israel for its actions to protect itself from the attacks from Gaza, yet makes no equivalent criticism of the Palestinians for their constant unprovoked attacks upon Israel. Nor does she criticise Hamas for siting its rockets in locations of high population density.
Without any sense of irony, she states in her resignation letter to David Cameron, "our approach and language during the current crisis in Gaza is morally indefensible." What is quite clearly morally indefensible is having at the heart of the British government, an unelected Muslim who promotes faith above reason and who fails to unequivocally support the actions of our democratic ally to defend itself against the terrorism of Hamas. An organisation, whose stated aim is the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of all its Jewish citizens.
The morally relative liberal elite, who so fulsomely praise the unelected Baroness for her "principled" stand over Gaza, should reflect upon whom, in this conflict, are our true enemies. It is not the citizens of the democratic state of Israel, who have never threatened us, or criticised our values. It is rather the terrorists of Hamas, who hate and despise all that we hold dear and who would destroy Israel and its democratic way of life in an instant and without regret if they only had the power and the opportunity.
We need to choose the causes we support very carefully, and not allow our understandable sorrow and regret at the death of Palestinian civilians, to persuade us to lay the blame for those deaths where it does not belong.
I do not believe that, if there had been no provocation from the terrorists of Hamas, that Israel would have mounted any kind of attack upon Gaza. Israel cannot be blamed for responding militarily to constant unproved attacks upon its citizens. Neither can it be blamed or censured for having superior forces or superior fire-power. Neither of which, it would have had to deploy if it had not been continuously and cynically provoked.  
So it is good that, by resigning, Baroness Warsi has revealed her prejudice in favour of the terrorists of Hamas, and that she has finally left the government.
All we can hope, is that David Cameron takes this opportunity to reflect upon the wisdom of ennobling and promoting her in the first place and appointing her to positions of influence and responsibility
We, should be thankful that, this divisive and partisan politician has resigned and celebrate her departure from an official position of power and authority. 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Cameron: committed Christian or mendacious manipulator?

So, once again we have to witness the unedifying spectacle of 'Saint Cameron the Committed' lecture the nation upon the virtues of the Christian faith.

His stance upon matters of belief would be slightly less nauseating if his policies and political ideals better reflected Christian values, but his claim that he believes in injecting  evangelical Christianity into the heart of the body politic rings very hollow indeed.  For, in the face of his party's callous and heartless disregard for the most defenseless and poorest in our community he proves both himself and his privileged bedfellows, a bunch of contemptible hypocrites.

His demonstrably false statement that this is still a Christian country is deluded, as is his apparent belief in an invisible sky-god, for which there is not a scrap of evidence. In fact, I much prefer to cast him in the role of a cynical opportunist than a believer in bronze-age desert myths. Since if he's the first, then he's ideally suited to high political office, but if he's the latter, and truly believes in the existence of the Christian God, then he's not of sound enough mind to manage a whelk-stall in Whitstable. 

I genuinely fear for the future of humanity when an Oxford educated politician can claim to believe in the truth of Christianity without fear of incredulous derision forcing him from public life. We shall not even begin to free humanity from fear, ignorance, prejudice and hatred until we inject a large dose of rationality into our public discourse.

As a very minimum I expect politicians to get on with the job of protecting and improving the lives of the citizens who elected them, not preaching the virtues of one set of incredible and unsubstantiated beliefs over another.

So come on Dave, let's have a little less religious nonsense and a little more productive action. You won't see-off U.K.I.P. with an appeal to the comforts offered by a little piety, or  a lot of prayer. 

Is this atheist Ed's reaction to the news that Dave really believes in God?

Monday, 23 December 2013

 Marks & Muslims

Apparently, there's been a bit of backlash against Marks & Spencer because one of its check-out personnel in a London store refused to serve a customer wishing to purchase pork and alcohol, as it offended against their Muslim beliefs.

I must say, that such a refusal on the part of an employee of a major British food retailer, offends against my beliefs. 

How can it possibly be acceptable for a Muslim to refuse to serve a customer buying perfectly legal goods, yet at the same time be perfectly OK for them to work and take wages from a company which sells those goods? Massive double standards here surely? Yet no more than we've come to expect from the religion of peace and permanent offence.

Marks and Spencer have absolutely no business employing people who refuse to serve customers the items which they legitimately sell. In fact, such a refusal should be immediate grounds for dismissal. If M&S imagine that pandering to the ridiculous sensitivities of religious minorities earns them some special status in the diversity driven insanity of political correctness, then they may just find, that their consideration for the rights of their Muslim employees, clashes very seriously with the rights of their customers. 

Whats the next step I wonder, in their desire not to offend Muslim beliefs? Stop selling pork and alcohol altogether? Pause all trading six times a day for prayers? Allow all Muslim women to work in a burqa? Encourage all male empolyees to grow beards? Perhaps they'll start insisting that all customers must remove their shoes before entering their stores?

I for one, would not take kindly by being told I could not be served certain items as it offended against the religoius sensibilities of the employee working at the check-out. In fact, if I ever found myself in such an unfortunate and deeply offensive situation, I would leave all my intended purchases at the check-out, and walk away empty-handed, never to return.

I hear that many customers are calling for a boycott of all M & S stores, until they change their policy. I'm very happy to join their ranks.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Religion and Racism

Reading recent articles and watching various media posts regarding religion, particularly, although not exclusively, about Islam, there is clearly an unwelcome tendency to characterise certain critical comments about faith, as racist.

I firmly believe that religious beliefs  are both qualitatively and quantitatively different from race, and that the two should never be confused. It can never be racist to criticise someone's beliefs, since specific beliefs are not an unalterable defining human characteristic, whereas race, clearly is.

People can not choose their race, they can however choose their religion. Even Judaism, which superficially, might seem to be assigned exclusively to a particular race, is of course, no different from any any other belief system. There are many famous Jewish atheists for example, and one can convert to Judaism no matter what one's racial origins. Also, one can stop believing in the teachings of any faith; although in Islam it would be unwise to announce this publicly, since the  penalty for apostasy, is death. A powerful disincentive to stating that one is no longer a believer.

Despite this, there are brave ex-Muslims, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who've been courageous enough to publicly announce their rejection of Islam, and who now suffer the consequences of requiring constant police protection.  

This tendency, to characterise criticism of Islam as racist, is having some very unfortunate consequences. not least, upon freedom of speech. No one, should ever be granted the right in law, not to be offended. Indeed, being critical of beliefs, especially when those beliefs are held without demonstrable evidence, is not merely a human right, but I believe, a human duty.

If, as a society, we wish to preserve our hard won freedoms, then we need to confront those who would conflate criticism of religion with racism and strenuously resist their efforts to make criticising faith a criminal offence.

Note to readers: Please click on the comments tab below if you'd like to express your view.


Tuesday, 28 May 2013

In Defense of our Civil Liberties

Dave monitoring the Nation's emails

The tragic, yet unsurprising murder of a British soldier on the streets of London by two Islamic terrorists, has predictably inspired a call from certain politicians for the immediate revival of the discredited and oppressive Communications Data Bill. 

Well there's a surprise! Thwarted by the Liberal Democrats in their attempt to impose their totalitarian instincts upon the law abiding population of our democracy, these political control freaks once again clamour for the introduction of laws, which at best will insidiously invade everyone's privacy, and at worst give the government completely unwarranted powers to snoop and pry into every aspect of the population's internet and telephonic activity.

If I'd seen one jot of evidence, that giving the government and other agencies the right to view all our on-line activity would prevent acts of terror by Islamic extremists, then there might just be some justification for monitoring everybody's emails, telephone calls and social media posts. But, as informed and intelligent observers of national security issues have already observed: 'If you're searching for a needle in a haystack, it does not help to make the haystack bigger.' It also needs to be reiterated that: 'We cannot ensure the security, freedom and liberty of the people by extinguishing  the very principles which guarantee their existence.'

If we respond to threats of terrorism by passing into law legislation which allows the authorities to monitor everyone's private communications, then the terrorists have effectively won. At least, to the extent that they've undermined our hard fought freedoms and eroded our precious civil liberties.

It is rarely justified and never libertarian to erode the freedom and privacy of the population. To use the tragic death of Drummer Lee Rigby as an excuse to record everyone's private communications is a smoke-screen to allow the authorities to move one step closed to becoming the worst kind of surveillance state.

'It is not the government's job to monitor the people. It's the people's job to monitor the government.' 

I'm sure there is a potential price to pay for maintaining the liberty and freedom of our citizens. It may be, that some people will continue to die at the hands of Islamic terrorists, but the way to combat this threat is not to make every citizen a suspect. It is to robustly tackle the root causes of the problem, which is a course of action the government is clearly reluctant to take.

While we have politicians like Boris Johnson, the misguided Mayor of London, stating publicly that the brutal murder of a serving British soldier on the streets of our capital had nothing to do with the religion of Islam, then some of those entrusted with our safety are clearly refusing to acknowledge the truth and failing to recognise the real causes of the threats we all face from Islamic terrorism.

The clear wellsprings of the actions of Islamic terrorists are unquestionably religious, and specifically, some of the key teachings of the religion of Islam. To pretend otherwise, is a monumental failure of intelligence, honesty, reason, and most damningly, of courage.

If we in the West, are to have any chance of combating, let alone defeating the life denying medieval desert philosophy of Mohammedanism, then we must at least begin to acknowledge, that many Muslims truly believe in the teachings of The Koran, and wish to see Sharia Law and Islamic philosophy established across the entire world. Many Islamic fundamentalists have repeatedly asserted their hatred of democracy and their contempt for 'western values.' In many cases, citing their religion as the major justification for the murder of those who disagree with them.

To pretend that Islamic terrorism is simply a response to our intervention in the affairs of Muslim societies is disingenuous, dishonest and extremely dangerous.

If we, in the democratic nations of the world, are not prepared to defend our principles, in case we may offend our clearly stated enemies, then we shall have no cause to be surprised when totalitarian barbarism and tyranny rule every aspect of our lives. 

If we're not willing to fight vigorously for what we believe in, then we will most certainly and deservedly, lose. 

Note to readers: This post is a follow-up to an earlier article I wrote called 'The Surveillance Society,' which can be found under 'Older Posts.'  Your comments are welcome. 

Thursday, 24 January 2013

A Visit to the Doctor

Yesterday afternoon I had an appointment to see the doctor. I say ‘the doctor,’ because it is almost impossible to book an appointment with the same practitioner for each visit.

This was an appointment insisted upon by my local medical practice, to discuss the results of an enforced blood-test to determine whether, on balance, my regular blood-pressure medication was doing me more harm than good.

Upon arrival I had to stand in a long queue to book-in with the practice receptionist, who was so deeply engrossed in a telephone conversation she was completely oblivious to the growing number of elderly patients waiting at her window to register their attendance.

I asked the rather short and portly woman in front of me, how long she’d been waiting, but she said she couldn’t be certain, because due to a chronic urinary-tract infection she’d been forced to leave the queue several times to visit the toilet, and had therefore, relinquished her place on at least three occasions to others with more robust bladders.

Despite this being too much information, I was gallant enough to promise that, if she felt compelled to visit the toilet again I’d save her place in the queue. She seemed genuinely grateful at this uncharacteristic act of consideration of her problem.

By the time the receptionist had concluded her telephone conversation and attended to all those in front of me, I was fifteen minutes late for my allotted appointment. When I pointed this out to her, and suggested that it may be a good idea to employ an additional person to answer, or make telephone calls, she responded with the information that it didn’t matter, because Dr Duffy was running thirty minutes late, and there were still four patients ahead of me.

Resigned to a further interminable wait, I climbed the two flights of stairs to the waiting area, there to be greeted by the sight of a room full of sick people, who seemed in varying states of irreversible decline.

I took the only free, intensely uncomfortable chair next to a care-worn mother, whose violent hacking cough and shivering frame, did not auger well for my future prospects of avoiding influenza this winter.  Upon her lap a revolting, snotty nosed three-year-old boy, who was obviously suffering from ‘Terminal Tantrum Syndrome’ squirmed and complained unceasingly, despite several loud warnings from his mother of an imminent smack, which of course, never materialised.

Rising to select a magazine to browse through from the few remaining dog-eared out-of-date publications scattered on a small badly stained coffee-table I was disappointed to see that, the only four left were:  Men’s Health: February 2004: How to Cope with Your Hysterectomy: indeterminate date, as cover was ripped: Summer Brides June 1998 and Women’s Weekly Nov 2005. More in despair than hope, I selected ‘Summer Brides’ and settled down to enjoy the photos of skinny models in ridiculous frocks and advertisements for exotic underwear to make the wedding night a little more enticing than simply sleeping with one’s wife.

Slowly, as various doctors emerged from their consulting rooms to summon their next patient the number of the infirm and clearly dying began to diminish. ‘Patient’ is certainly what most of them had had to be.  At least the dwindling numbers gave me the opportunity to move away from the germ-infested mother and her whining infant.

When, fifty-seven minutes after my appointed time, Dr Duffy finally emerged to call my name, I was, needless to say, wound up like the proverbial watch-spring.

Upon entering her consulting room she apologised for the long wait, but offered no explanation as to its cause. I told her that it didn’t matter, as I’d been so intrigued and impressed by a photograph of a wedding gown in Summer Brides June 1998, that I was seriously considering getting a divorce, booking myself in to a private transgender clinic and undergoing a sex change operation, so I could remarry as an attractive women in stunningly beautiful white dress,

She smiled, that kind of sickly, insincere, pitying smile, which one often receives from those who believe themselves to be superior.

Anyway, you may be pleased to know that Dr Duffy informed me that my blood-test results were all normal, but that, inexplicably my blood-pressure was higher than she would have liked. I said nothing.

James Rainsford:  January 2013

Note to readers: If you enjoyed this post please click on the tab below and leave me a comment. Thanks, James.