​​​​​Posted 7th May 2017

Sack the ******* chef! 

Recent research has concluded there are benefits to the use of intemperate language. It can sometimes increase the persuasiveness of a message (some might say it does the opposite) and venting steam can help to cope with difficult or stressful situations (the too many-to-count, mouth-agape incidents associated with what is loosely termed ‘driving’ here, which I encounter very time I venture onto the roads certainly qualify). Now, it seems, cursing, especially using words of Anglo-Saxon origin (usually body parts or the deployment thereof), can also temporarily increase tolerance to pain and improve physical strength. This is a relief. I say that because, doubtless like millions of others, my waking hours are populated by ‘WTF’ moments as I read and digest the news from around this small, blue orb, of which we are merely the custodians doing an appallingly bad job, and I need all the self-help I can muster - paracetamol no longer cut it.

Prime amongst the ‘stuff’ that catches my attention or, more likely, accosts and mugs me when I’m least expecting it, are the misadventures in the life of our former colony, inappropriately called “The United States’, where they still grapple with the concept let alone the reality of the freedoms their forefathers fought for 240 years ago, and episodes from the destined-to-become long running saga, ‘Brexit’, that has divided the UK more than entrenched, partisan loyalties to ‘Coronation Street’ and ‘Eastenders’ ever have.

In earlier blogs, I have waxed - whether lyrically is not for me to judge - about the manifestations of the madness that has afflicted both partners to the ’special relationship’ within the last year. In fact, I have taken a rest from it recently because there has been SO much that is surreal, despicable and obscene on both sides of the Atlantic that I am becoming inured to it. Plus, I have been giving high priority to my current novel. But now the urge to comment is too great to resist.

While the criminally insane occupant of the Oval Office adds daily to the stockpile of evidence that he is uniquely unfit to be President, the party that clings to his coattails is busily shrugging off any remnant inconveniences of decency and shame in an attempt to pass legislation to turn its agenda of greed and hate forged in hell into a nightmare reality for the American people - those whom technically they serve but, for all practical purposes, have abandoned. The latest casualty, the Affordable Care Act, to be repealed and replaced via a House bill passed at the third attempt on Thursday, has yet to get through the Senate and will not do so without significant amendment. The loud chorus of protest from opponents of this rank betrayal was drowned out only by the precipitate popping of champagne corks as Trump and his cronies celebrated their triumph of evil over good, in a nauseatingly offensive spectacle that also necessitated the gross discourtesy of keeping Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull waiting for three hours in New York.

Regardless of whether the AHCA - the first step in the settlement of a vendetta against President Obama and his signature legislation - actually becomes law, cards have been marked for the midterms. In the least damaging scenario for the Republicans, a handful of deserving Representatives and Senators lose their seats and their majorities in Congress are reduced. Should this bill or one remotely like it pass, the fall-out will be substantial as millions of citizens realise their healthcare is no longer affordable or available and people previously covered become direct victims of right wing avarice at both federal and state levels. In this scenario, a terrible Wrath will be unleashed from all quarters and the consequences for the GOP gamblers considerably more dire than their smugness envisaged.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the economic health of the nation is at stake. With Parliament (rather than its occupants) dissolved in anticipation of the General Election, the gloves are off with the EU and accusations fly. It all started with the dinner party from hell at number 10. Jean-Claude Juncker took exception to foie gras from ducks not force-fed the traditional way and it went downhill from there. The absence of French on the menus (English is losing importance in Europe apparently) didn’t help and David Davies’ tedious jokes were the final straw (well, they would be for anyone). Quite why it only occurred then to Jean-Claude that Theresa May wasn’t listening is a mystery, since she’s been nothing if not consistent in that regard since her ascendancy, but it was exceedingly bad manners in any language to request 'le gourmet bag' for the After Eights and then rubbish the host before what was left of the coffee had gone cold.

Mrs May knows a good galaxy when she sees it and has her heart set on one where Britain makes lots of nice things that Europe and the rest of the world want and won’t tax for the privilege of buying, whilst only those foreigners with skills we need will wish to live with us and, because they have good jobs, won’t ever be a drain on social security. Life in Mr Juncker’s galaxy is guaranteed to be more stark, though not for him - just for those with whom he doesn’t see eye to eye …and who don’t know how to rear ducks. It was Oscar Wilde who said: “After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.” What a pity this wasn’t a good dinner.

Nigel Austin 

author of The Robin Gibson series