Poor Man’s Goose

I found this tweet interesting:

When I was growing up my mother, whose recipes dated from 1920-60, would cook a dish called Poor Man’s Goose. Given it was made from pork I always thought this was rather odd; now I’m an adult I can see the dish derives its name from the disparity in price between pork and goose.


The Rights of EU Citizens

When I first moved to France I did so as an EU citizen, as you probably guessed. Under EU law, the non-EU spouses of EU citizens residing in an EU country other than their own are entitled to receive a residency card within 3 months of application. In practice, this means the non-EU spouse gets an entry visa in their home country and arrives in the EU country to join their partner: he or she is entitled to stay as long as they like, even once the initial visa expires, and is entitled to work because their rights are statutory and not dependent on receiving a residency card. However, for all practical purposes such as opening a bank account or leaving then re-entering the country, they will need a residency visa.

When I tried to apply for my wife’s in France, I was told there was a 6-week wait before they could accept her application. We waited 6 weeks and the bureaucrat at the prefecture said our paperwork was not in order and the application was rejected. I hired a lawyer who pointed out to the prefecture by law they were not allowed to reject the application for that reason, and the head bureaucrat shrugged and said “So what?”. They made us wait another 6-weeks in contravention of their own laws, so 12 weeks passed before we finally got the application in. EU law says the residency card must be issued within no more than 3 months, but 3 months passed and no card. The bureaucrats at the prefecture shrugged and said “So what?” I called the EU ombudsman to intervene, and they were very helpful, but they couldn’t get the bureaucrats at the prefecture to cooperate. Eventually the ombudsman called the French ministry of the interior and got someone to kick some ass in the prefecture, and we got a notice saying the card was ready for collection: this was some 5 months after the application, and 8 months after we’d first walked into the prefecture. When we went to collect the card they demanded 300 euros, but EU law says it must be issued for free. I called the ombudsman who called the French Interior Minister who called the prefecture who told them to give it to me for free. When the guy handed it over he said “Sorry, but we don’t know any of the EU laws. They don’t give us any training here.”

The whole episode taught me that the rights of EU citizens are enjoyed only at the discretion of the bureaucrat sat in front of you. If they refuse to recognise them, then they’re not really rights at all. Disgracefully, the prefecture insures itself against legal action by capping any compensation lower than what it would cost to hire a lawyer even for a day. I raised this with the ombudsman and warned her that there is a strong sentiment among the British that costs of membership of the EU simply aren’t worth it because the supposed rights we enjoy often don’t materialise in practice, and I had now joined their ranks. This was back in early 2015, so before the Brexit vote. I contacted UKIP to see if they’d be interested in my experience, and they directed me towards some eurosceptic MEPs in Brussels. They asked me for details, I provided them, and never heard a thing back afterwards. For my wife’s part, the experience put her off living in France completely and she skedaddled the day after she got her card and never returned in any meaningful sense.

Although living in France I undoubtedly benefit from my rights as an EU citizen, it is undeniable that these are still subject to the whims of the local bureaucrats. In other words, they’re not rights at all. When I hear everyone wailing about how British citizens might lose their rights in EU countries when the UK leaves, I shrug and recall how we had to stand in line for hours with several hundred Africans on a dozen separate occasions, plus shell out over a thousand wasted euros, in order to exercise those rights. My non-EU colleagues, who weren’t labouring under the illusion of getting any rights recognised by a French prefecture, simply fell in line and went through the normal process. When we compared notes, I couldn’t for the life of me see how their experience was any different from ours.

I get the impression a lot of people who claim to be worried about their rights in the EU after Brexit have never actually tried exercising them. I’m happy to take my chances in whatever regime follows.


We’ve agreed an agreement is necessary

Years ago I was an engineer working with a team that was being sent to site to carry out a load of construction works. Nothing too major, but no matter what the workscope any  company showing up on site has to have in place a Site Safety Plan, which is a document identifying all the risks associated with the works and how they intend to manage them. Any contractor working in the oil and gas business will have a procedure describing how to prepare a Site Safety Plan, and it will typically contain prescriptive instructions such as:

– A hazard identification workshop and risk ranking exercise shall be carried out prior to mobilisation.

– A risk mitigation plan shall be put in place detailing how each identified hazard shall be managed such that the residual risk is as low as reasonably practicable.

– Tool-box talks shall be prepared and tailored to address the residual risks associated with the works.

In short, prior to mobilising to site, the Safety Manager leads an exercise in identifying the risks and mitigating against them, which usually involves compiling (or writing) numerous procedures related to the execution of the works (e.g. excavations, lifting, vehicular transport, etc.) This will all be collated in the Site Safety Plan and communicated to everyone involved, including the owners of the site, and demonstrates that the risks involved with the works have been properly thought about and are being managed. (Bardon will know all this stuff backwards and inside-out, as would anyone who’s spent time on a site.)

Anyway, our Safety Manager was given several weeks to prepare this document, and a few days before mobilisation it was passed to me for review. This is what I read:

– A hazard identification workshop and risk ranking exercise shall be carried out prior to mobilisation.

– A risk mitigation plan shall be put in place detailing how each identified hazard shall be managed such that the residual risk is as low as reasonably practicable.

– Tool-box talks shall be prepared and tailored to address the residual risks associated with the works.

Rather than doing the tasks required, the Safety Manager had simply repeated what we were supposed to do prior to mobilisation. He had completely failed to understand that now was the time to do what was required. Or he had no idea how to, and just winged it. I suspect the latter.

I was reminded of this when I turned on the TV this morning to see Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker telling everyone a deal had been struck such that Brexit talks can now move forward. But when journalists asked for details, such as the shape of the final agreement on the Northern Ireland border, the response was that they’d agreed than an agreement must be reached. Via Gareth Soye on Twitter, I found this excerpt from the report which supposedly gives us more detail:

Since the result of the Brexit vote was known, the question was always how to reconcile a differing regulatory regime either side of the border without putting in place a hard border. This was supposedly something that had to be agreed before the talks could proceed, but in the finest style of a modern corporate manager they’ve just said:

“We will not have a separate regulatory regime for Northern Ireland nor a hard border. Now, moving on…”

I suspect the intention of both May and the EU is that this issue will never come up for serious discussion again because, one way or another, the UK will remain in the EU in all but name.


Help a Liberal Today!

Remember this?

I live in a Muslim neighborhood and it’s making me sick thinking about how terrified everyone must be. I’m going to talk to a Muslim coworker today about who to approach and how, and exactly what I can do.

Time for all those grateful Muslims to repay the kindness:

I’m sure Muslims and Jews just love being accosted at work for their views on the Middle East because some white liberal is “scared”, almost as much as they love random idiots coming up trying to “help” them.


From whence the anger?

Today somebody actually replied to my question on Twitter as to whether the unpaid work done by men gets counted when declaring that women are suffering under the crippling burden of housework, which I wrote about here. Sadly, it wasn’t from the study’s author but a deranged feminist:

Can you imagine being in a relationship with such a person? I can’t, and I think it would be a safe bet that this woman has never had a stable, functioning relationship in her life. I post this because having spent a year or so exploring modern feminism, or third-wave feminism as it’s often called, I have reached the conclusion that much of it is driven by women whose personalities are too poisonous for them to build a relationship with a man of their choosing. That’s not to say all third-wave feminists are single, but a lot of them seem to despise their partners (e.g. Jessica Valenti) or show signs (e.g. Laurie Penny, and the woman in the tweet above) of being such unpleasant characters that no sane man would want anything to do with them.

Which leaves us with an interesting question. Is their obnoxious personality a result of their failing to find a decent partner, or is their failing to find a decent partner a result of their obnoxious personality? My guess is it starts with the latter, then forms a vicious circle.


America’s Embassy in Israel

From the BBC:

US President Donald Trump will recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, senior administration officials have said.

He is due to announce the controversial decision in a speech later.

Mr Trump is also expected to approve moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but not for several years.

Nowhere in this article does it mention that in June the US Senate voted on a resolution to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital which passed by 90-0. To do so would detract from the narrative that Trump is making rash, unilateral decisions which bring the world closer to war.

Israel welcomes the changes but the Palestinians and Arab leaders have warned they will jeopardise any Middle East peace process.

Note they don’t specify which Middle East peace process would be jeopardised, presumably because none exists.

Successive presidents have signed waivers to get round the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which mandates moving the embassy.

Oh. So basically Trump is the first President to actually uphold a law that was passed by Congress over 20 years ago. This is a bad thing, apparently.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud told Mr Trump the relocation of the embassy or recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “would constitute a flagrant provocation of Muslims, all over the world”

Could it be that, having listened to Muslims all over the world spending the first year of his presidency branding him an enemy of Islam, Trump isn’t really interested in what they think at this juncture?

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas warned of “the dangerous consequences such a decision would have to the peace process and to the peace, security and stability of the region and of the world”

Yeah, that might have worked ten or twenty years ago, but it’s now worn so thin you can wear it as a mask and still watch TV.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya called for a “day of rage” this Friday and said “Palestinian people everywhere [would] not allow this conspiracy to pass”

Business as usual, then.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country could sever ties with Israel

I doubt there are many in Israel counting on ties with Turkey since Erdogan’s rise to power.

France, the European Union and the Arab League have also expressed concern.

The Arab League? We have proxy wars raging in Syria and Yemen, Qatar and Saudi Arabia at each other’s throats, Iran and Turkey sending troops to prop up Arab governments, Libya overrun by jihadists and Egypt heading in the same direction. I didn’t even realise the Arab League still existed, but the minutes of their AGM must make interesting reading.

By recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital President Trump is fulfilling a campaign promise. There is no other obvious reason he is doing this now.

Fulfilling campaign promises, enacting Senate resolutions, upholding the law as passed by Congress? Is there nobody who can save us from this monster?!

Administration officials said he would simply be acknowledging reality

A rare trait among modern politicians.

Jordan and Saudi Arabia are custodians of Islam’s holy sites and have issued strong warnings that this move could inflame the Muslim world.

Okay, we’ll add it to the list.

It sounds like the Palestinians will get nothing.

Except for the four or five hundred million dollars per year the US sends them, of course.

Perhaps there is a wider strategy at work but it looks like a workaround so the president can satisfy his pro-Israel voters.

And comply with the Senate, Congress, and the law in a manner that his predecessors refused to.

In other news:

The BBC is to launch a new scheme to help young people identify real news and filter out fake or false information.

They’re perfectly placed to do it.


Another Profile of a Modern American Woman

This story appears in the New York Times:

I was 37, single, unemployed and depressed because in a couple of months I was going to be moving out of my studio apartment on East 23rd Street in Manhattan and in with my mother in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Since taking a buyout at my Wall Street firm, I had devoted myself to two activities: searching for a new job and working out. And I spent a lot of time in my apartment.

One day historians will come up with a term for the cohort of women who thought Sex and the City was a documentary providing lifestyle advice.

My 23rd Street building was near three colleges. When I signed the lease, I didn’t realize the place had so many student renters, people who understandably liked to party. Yet it was the least social time in my life. Most of my friends were married. I had no income, and rent was almost $3,000 a month. I wasn’t dating because I hadn’t figured out how to positively spin my unemployment story.

That’s why you weren’t dating? Uh-huh. Sure.

One afternoon in the elevator, I saw one of the guys from next door in jeans and a T-shirt, his dark hair slightly receding.

“How old are you guys?” I said. “Like, 23?”

“Yeah, well, I’m 23,” he said.

“I’m 37. So I hope you get a younger neighbor the next go-round.”

“I never would have guessed 37,” he said. “I thought you were, like, 26.”

Was he sweet-talking me? I looked the same age as my friends, but maybe the dormlike context had fooled him.

37-year old doesn’t know when a young shitlord is dishing out flattering comments about her age in order to see if she’d be up for a shag. Later, we’ll find out this woman worked in HR and has a Masters in Psychology.

Two weeks later, my friend Diana and I were sitting at a nearby bar, drinking vodka sodas and looking at her Tinder app, when my 23-year-old neighbor popped up.

“Swipe right!” I said. “Tell him you’re out with me.”

She swiped, they matched, and she told him I was with her. I followed up with a text, proud to be out on a Saturday night. Here was proof that I, too, was fun.

Growing old is compulsory. Growing old with dignity is very much optional.

We messaged back and forth; he was on his way home. When I asked if he wanted to join us back at my apartment, he said yes.

I bet he did.

Twenty minutes later Diana and I arrived, and he showed up with a bottle of vodka and cans of Diet Coke.

Some women get given flowers.

Soon he was laughing, saying, “My roommates can’t stand you. And I was always so confused why a 26-year-old was upset about our parties. I thought you were just an old soul.”

As if a 26-year old working in New York doesn’t need to get their head down at night.

Diana and I danced to “Jump” by the Pointer Sisters, a song he didn’t recognize. Before Diana left at 4 a.m., she whispered to me, “He likes you. Hook up.”

Ah, where would women be without the advice of their best friend?

I offered a hushed protest, insisting he was too young. But apparently the neighborly tension had been building, because he and I started kissing right after she left.

When we woke up, hung over, a few hours later, I begged him not to tell his roommates. My transformation from puritanical noise warden to Mrs. Robinson embarrassed me; my dulled brain screamed, “What just happened?”

But I won’t lie: It was also an ego boost. I may not have had a job, a husband or a boyfriend, but at least I could attract an adorable 23-year-old.

Doesn’t take much to boost the ego of a woman pushing forty in New York, does it? Flatter her by lying about her age, match with her mate on Tinder, then turn up at her door with a bottle of vodka. Frankly, most women who aren’t utterly hideous could attract a 23-year old, even an adorable one. What is more difficult is encouraging them to stick around afterwards.

Over the next few weeks, we texted constantly and kept getting together to talk about our dating and employment searches and to fool around. When I asked him if I seemed older, he said, “Not really. Mostly because you aren’t working and you’re around all of the time.”

Not only did she believe him, she recounted it in the New York Times.

I said: “When I graduated high school, you were 4.”

Okay, so…

With him, my usual romantic anxiety disappeared. Instead of projecting my insecurities onto him…

By, for instance, constantly bringing up the age gap?

…and wondering if I was enough, I just had fun because I knew our age gap made a future impossible. And I was moving out soon.

Not that my mind was entirely free of concerns. I worried people would think we were ridiculous. But when I told my coupled-up girlfriends, they said I was living a fantasy.

The first paragraph is rather inconsistent with the first. Was she really having fun, or pouring out her anxiety to everyone she met?

“At least you’re having fun,” a soon-to-be-divorced friend said. “None of us are. I didn’t even want to touch my husband at the end.”

Can we hear from the husband?

Even so, the chasm between my new friend and me was no more glaring than when he said, “Dating is fun. I get to meet lots of people.”

Here’s a tip, ladies: trawling through Tinder looking for a shag is a lot more fun for a 23-year old man than a 37-year old woman.

Dating, for me, was about as fun as my job search. And that was because I approached both in almost exactly the same way: with a strategy, spreadsheets and a lot of anxiety about presenting my best self and hiding my weaknesses.

Including a 277 bullet-point list of requirements every partner must satisfy.

Our honest exchange was so refreshing. Dates my age disguised their fears with arrogance. Within an hour of meeting me, one had boasted about the amount of sex he’d had, and another, on our second date, gave me a heads-up that his large size had caused many of his relationships to end. How considerate of him to warn me!

This is a useful illustration of the dating pool which 37-year old New York women can expect to swim around in. What, there’s no Mr Big in his limousine?

With appropriate romantic prospects, I had been overly polished and protective. Just like the men, I spun stories broadcasting fake confidence.

Those with genuine confidence got their lives in order a decade previously.

But I confided in my neighbor about how hard the year had been and how worried I was about finding a job and a man to love.

Can we check with Manhattan hospitals whether a 23-year old male was admitted over the past year having gnawed off his own arm and survived a three-storey jump from a window?

With nothing at stake, I was charmingly vulnerable.

Or, more accurately, desperate.

One evening as we cuddled in my apartment, with me droning on about my man troubles and career fears, he said, “We get so fixated on the job we want or the person we’re dating because we don’t think there will be another. But there’s always another.”

Sounds as though he had one lined up already.

I thought that was so true. Even wise. But it’s easier to have that attitude, about jobs or love, at 23 than at 37.

I suspect the reason you’re in this predicament at 37 is because you blithely assumed “there will always be another” when you were in your 20s. Wise? Hardly.

Then one night I came home a little too drunk…

Such larks! Only she’s 37 and miserably single. Any idea why?

…and encountered him in the hallway. He was the one who almost always decided when we would hang out, and I complained it wasn’t fair that everything seemed to be on his terms. I was pressuring him, reverting to my worst dating default behavior, and he fled into his apartment.

I’d love to hear the conversation that transpired with his mates after this.

The next day he texted: “maybe we should chill with this. you’ve been a good friend … we complicated it a little though haha.”

This is what’s known as being dumped. By text. How’s that ego holding up?

I knew “haha” was just his millennial way of keeping it light, but here’s the thing: In our “light” relationship, I had let myself be fully known, revealing all of my imperfections, in a way I normally didn’t. With him I was my true self, and it was a revelation.

Is that how you’re gonna spin it? Okay, but recall that the woman who shagged her way around Europe ended her article by saying how much she’d learned from each one-night stand and how it taught her she didn’t need a partner to be happy. I’m about as convinced this time around.

And a conundrum. Because I can’t seem to be my true self when I’m seriously looking for love, when all I’m thinking about is the future. To win the person (or the job, for that matter), we think we have to be the most perfect version of ourselves. When our hearts are on the line, vulnerability can feel impossible.

No wonder sonny-boy scarpered and locked himself in his flat if this is what he had to listen to after each sweaty, drink-fuelled romp. I expect he’s using the fire escape for general egress these days.

I followed up this article by doing some research on the author, and her career history is illuminating:

– English Degree

– Masters in Clinical Psychology

– 5 years in HR, holding onto a position for a maximum of 2 years and 5 months

– 4 years Vice President Equities COO, including “Led projects in business strategy, communications, morale building, hiring, placement, and training”

In short, she’s an HR power-skirt who hopped from one job to another and somehow ended up as a VP in Equities leading projects in business strategy at a major bank. One can imagine what the real bankers thought of her elevation to this post.

What’s amusing, at least to me, is that the car-crash of an article coupled with her career history ticks just about every stereotype I can think of. All that’s missing is a few more years and a bunch of cats.


Do we get our Empire back, then?

This is from a Lib Dem MP:

Wasn’t the supremacy of sovereignty and self-government over economics and political stability the entire basis of the anti-colonial movement?


Plastic in the Ocean

Ocean plastic a ‘planetary crisis’

booms the UN.

Life in the seas risks irreparable damage from a rising tide of plastic waste, the UN oceans chief has warned.

Lisa Svensson said governments, firms and individual people must act far more quickly to halt plastic pollution.

I saw Lisa Svensson on TV this morning and she’s a rather attractive blonde-haired Scandinavian. Imagine how surprised I was to find a wealthy, middle-class white woman complaining about environmental degradation in Africa and not, say, an African.

Ms Svensson had just been saddened by a Kenyan turtle hospital which treats animals that have ingested waste plastic.

She saw a juvenile turtle named Kai, brought in by fishermen a month ago because she was floating on the sea surface.

Plastic waste was immediately suspected, because if turtles have eaten too much plastic it bloats their bellies and they can’t control their buoyancy.

Kai was given laxatives for two weeks to clear out her system, and Ms Svensson witnessed an emotional moment as Kai was carried back to the sea to complete her recovery.

I’ve run out of handkerchiefs already. But enough about Kai the turtle and his laxatives: where’s all this plastic coming from?

“It’s a very happy moment,” she said. “But sadly we can’t be sure that Kai won’t be back again if she eats more plastic.

“It’s heart-breaking, but it’s reality. We just have to do much more to make sure the plastics don’t get into the sea in the first place.”

Fuck me, I said enough about Kai! Okay, here we go:

There’s waste from down the coast as far as Tanzania – but also from Madagascar, the Comoros Islands, Thailand, Indonesia and even a bottle from far-away Japan.

Those famously littering Japanese, eh? Has anyone actually done any concrete research into where the bulk of this plastic is actually coming from? Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of the reports on plastic in the ocean steer well clear of actually identifying the source, but this one tells us (page 7):

Less than 20 percent of leakage originates from ocean-based sources like fisheries and fishing vessels. This means over 80 percent of ocean plastic comes from land-based sources; once plastic is discarded, it is not well managed, and thus leaks into the ocean. Over half of land-based plastic-waste leakage originates in just five countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, referred to in this report as the five focus countries for action.

I’d also hazard a guess that most of the plastic littering the beaches in Africa and giving poor Kai indigestion was discarded locally, either from the land or ships anchored offshore. Here’s a photo I took on a beach in Lagos:

How much of that lot do you think bobbed over from Japan or started life as a carrier bag in a supermarket in Paris? But of course, it is the behaviour of westerners that is the problem:

Tisha Brown from Greenpeace told BBC News: “We welcome that they are looking at a stronger statement, but with billions of tonnes of plastic waste entering the oceans we need much more urgent action.

“We need manufacturers to take responsibility for their products – and we need to look at our consumption patterns that are driving all this.”

“Our” consumption patterns are causing Asians to chuck plastic into rivers. uh-huh.

Finally the article gets around to the underlying problem:

Indonesia – the world’s second biggest plastics polluter after China – has pledged to reduce plastic waste into the ocean 75% by 2025, but some observers doubt legal rules are strong enough to make this happen.

What do they propose as an alternative? Military intervention?

Plastic waste is also on the agenda for this month’s China Council – an influential high level dialogue in which world experts advise China’s leaders on environmental issues.

The Chinese being famously receptive to foreign “experts” telling them what to do.

Kenya itself has banned single-use plastic bags, along with Rwanda, Tanzania and – soon- Sri Lanka. Bangladesh has had controls for many years, especially to stop bags clogging up drains and causing floods.

Ah yes, I wrote about the Kenyan ban on plastic bags here.

But bags are just one part of the problem – there are so many other types of plastic flowing through waterways.

“The UN process is slow,” Ms Svensson admitted. “It could take 10 years to get a UN treaty agreed on plastic litter and a further two years to get it implemented.

“We have to progress through the UN because this is a truly global problem – but we can’t wait that long.

We have five Asian countries chucking plastic into the sea, but we have to go through the laborious, ten-year process of getting a UN treaty because it’s a global problem?

“We need to get much stronger actions from civil society, putting pressure on business to change – they can switch their supply chains very fast. And we need more individual governments to take urgent action too.”

What this means, of course, is making goods and services more expensive and more difficult to obtain for reasonably conscientious and responsible westerners while ignoring those who are actually chucking the plastic in the sea. Oh, and providing cushy 10-year assignments attending UN briefings for a handful of wealthy, middle-class people like Lisa Svensson.

Ms Svensson said the ocean was facing multiple assault from over-fishing; pollution from chemicals, sewage and agriculture; development in coastal areas; climate change; ocean acidification; and over-exploitation of coral reefs.

“This is a planetary emergency,” she said. “I sense there is a momentum now about the need to act. We just have to be much faster.”

As we left Watamu after Kai’s joyous release, I turned back for one last glance at the Indian Ocean. A small boy tossed a plastic bottle over his shoulder into the sparkling water.

I have a feeling this article was written in the wrong language, and published in the wrong place. I get that plastic in the ocean is a serious problem, but why are they always nagging us about it?


Britain’s Secular Youth

A common lament among old religious folk is that youngsters don’t subscribe to the faith with the same level of enthusiasm as previous generations. For instance:

Up to one in five patients are regularly missing GP appointments in Scotland, with younger people the worst offenders, new research has found.

A study of more than 500,000 people in the country, published in the journal The Lancet Public Health, shows young males are most likely to not attend.

Younger, male patients aged 16 to 30 were found to be the worst offenders.

Here’s what a local priest has to say:

Stockport GP Ranjit Gill believes there has been a shift in how the health service is seen by a younger “I want it now” generation.

“The NHS is now, for our younger population, seen as a consumer service, a bit like John Lewis and so perhaps valued differently to the way our older population see the NHS.

“I can’t think of the last time one of my older patients ever missed an appointment.”

Time for some fire and brimstone:

GP practices across the country are already implementing some successful schemes to reduce missed appointments, from text messaging reminders to better patient education and awareness posters detailing the unintended consequences of a patient not attending.

And appeals to the faithful to fill the coffers once again:

But ultimately, we need NHS England’s GP Forward View – promising £2.4bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more GPs – to be delivered in full and as a matter of urgency.

“And we need equivalent promises made and delivered in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so that we can deliver the care our patients need, whatever their circumstances, and wherever in the country they live.

The answer to this ought to be simple: charge people a nominal fee when they book a doctor’s appointment. However, we might have better luck asking the Catholic Church to promote abortions.

(Note also that the article begins with the problem of patients missing appointments in Scotland, and ends with English GPs demanding the immediate delivery of an additional £2.4bn per year.)