Tuesday, 12 May 2009

'We all do it...'

Yesterday we had to get out early. I had at last got round to having a blood test. I'm regularly checked for my valproate (which I take to stop fits) level and liver function. But this one was special. It was a fasting test because I was having my sugar and chloresterol levels checked, which I'd asked for after finding out that two of my brothers had high chloresterol levels. It would be foolish, I thought, to add an avoidable complication to my MND. So the vampire nurse stuck the needle in, while I looked the other way, and extracted two test tubes full of my blood. She's very good, I have to say. And now I wait until Thursday to find out whether I have to give up cakes, croissants and cream and go to a diet of porridge and fruit and veg....

Meanwhile the Parliamentary scandal rumbles on with accounts of swimming pools and country estates. Stephen Fry, the well-known political guru, was interviewed last night and said something like, 'This is all a storm in a teacup. I've done it. You've done it. We all do it (i.e. fiddle our expenses). It's not that important. It really isn't.' In one sense he's right. Politics is about far more important things such as tackling world poverty and injustice, restoring the economy and caring for the vulnerable.... But he's also profoundly wrong. 'Little' things are symptoms of big conditions. So little acts of kindness are signs of a kind heart. And conversely when 'minor' fiddles become accepted as normal, it's a sign that our norm has become crooked. Stephen, not Fry, told me at the weekend that taxi-drivers hand out blank receipts to business clients as a matter of course. The implication is, 'Fill it in yourself, guv, and make a few quid in the process.' In fact, I subsequently learned that they'll hand out a stack of blank receipts. Well, to be blunt, it's not honest. But it's endemic in our culture. And that IS important. A culture that is endemically dishonest contains the seeds of its own self-destruction. I wish that Stephen Fry, without sounding sanctimonious, had said something more like, 'Journalists are the last people who should be throwing stones about fiddling expenses, and neither am I nor most of the population, because we all do it, but we shouldn't; and LET'S CLEAN UP OUR ACT, all us, starting with each of us.'

No comments:

Post a Comment