Wednesday, 19 May 2010

A Parallel Universe?

Today is barely distinguishable from yesterday other than some higher-than-average fallout from BBC Parliament. PMQs* is the worst.

Constituents never seem to understand that I can't actually be watching it on TV - and thus able to discuss it with them as it happens - while I'm working and answering the phone. We can't even watch TV in the office anyway, since The Boss forgot to pay the cable bill and we got cut off. He was lucky he didn't end up in court.

Greg's still uncharacteristically quiet, which is far more worrying than when he isn't; and so is The Boss, who is lying low in Westminster with his mobile thankfully turned off.

He's in trouble as he hasn't replaced his pager since the last one met its fate at the bottom of the Thames, during that phase when he was trying to avoid the Whips after colluding with the then-opposition during a backbench rebellion.

I can't get over Dave "Blancmange-Face" Cameron - Connie's description - being the one to propose action to reduce the gap in public sector pay between the highest and lowest! Am I living in a parallel universe where it's the Tories who care about the gap between rich and poor? I still can't believe the gap actually widened under a Labour government.

I'm always ranting about that to The Boss, but when I referred to Tawney's Equality the other day, he looked at me with a completely blank expression before nodding wisely and making no comment, just like he does in surgeries when he has absolutely no idea what a constituent is talking about. I keep forgetting that I'm the one who studied Politics at university.

The worry doesn't end when I leave work, as I have to go for smear test on my way home. How on earth are you supposed to make conversation in a casual, relaxed way with your knees apart and your bits on display?

The nurse asks me whether I've noticed anything unusual, so I think I'd better mention the blood last time Max and I had sex. I suppose I could just have mentioned the sex, but it doesn't occur to me at the time.

Then she asks, "How often has this happened?" and I say, "Once," which is a dual-purpose answer as I'm not quite sure whether she's referring to the blood or the sex. You can't work for a politician for ten years without learning the value of the dual-purpose answer. She says, "Oh" in a meaningful way and then says I should be referred to the gynaecologist. Marvellous.

When I eventually get home, I'm still so distracted that I put a pack of sanitary towels in the fridge and forget to be cross with Josh, the nascent gang lord. I even wave to Annoying Ellen by accident so that'll just encourage her and, before you know it, she'll be popping round again to "borrow a corkscrew" while preening and posing for Max's benefit.

How an alcoholic can manage without a corkscrew of their own, God only knows. I quite fancy a gin myself, but Max looks disapproving when I suggest it. He's still on the keep-fit mission he began the day after my party. I can't say I've noticed any difference so far.

*PMQs - for the uninitiated, this stands for Prime Minister's Questions.


  1. The gap between rich and poor doesn't matter. What matters is that the poor are getting richer. It's not rocket science.

  2. I did think Labour and the Tories swapped policies and ethics over the last few years.

    I thought it was just me imagining things.

    The Tories giving a monkey's arse about income gaps...who'd have thought eh?

  3. To anonymous:
    Of course the gap matters. If the poor are getting richer, but the gap is widening, any gain in riches at the bottom end of the scale will be eaten up (and more so) by the associated increase in cost of living and general inflation. Don't be so naive.
    From anonymous no.2

  4. Ooh, gosh - think Greg and I have started a debate! Thanks for commenting, you guys.....

  5. To anonymous 2: I'd have to suggest you're looking at the wrong things. "Wealth" and "rich" apply to the consumption of goods and services which is enabled by (amongst other things) "cash". The rich are richer not particularly because they have more money but because they have more ability to consume.

    The poor are getting richer because they too have an increasing power to consume as wealth grows within the economy and as technology brings prices of goods and services down (yes, I know fuel prices always rise, but that's tax and eco-lunacy for you). If it wasn't so, we'd still be in the 1950's or 1960's, instead of seeing living standards rising relatively constantly. In case you're too young to remember, "poor" then meant something very different to whether you only have one flat-screen tv in the house.

    I agree there are many things that can be done to help the poor improve their lot - getting rid of a benefits system that penalises at the rate of >90% on marginal tax rates and allowing people to keep what they earn would be a good start. But don't confuse bank balance and wealth. It's an elementary - some might even say naive - mistake to make.

  6. Try telling that to the people out there struggling to pay the bills and feed their families. Without any flat screen tvs.
    I'm sure they would feel much wealthier if their bank balance was a little less red.

    Anonymous no. 2