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Sunday, 7 October 2007

"Blood and stomach pills!"

My father sometimes used this phrase when feeling a trifle heated about one thing or another - which was pretty often, starting with the choice of tunes on the Light Service, which is what they called radio 1 in medieval times.

It sprang to my lips when I realised I have mislaid somewhere in cyberland a painstakingly prepared, utterly riveting description of our trip to Havana, complete with enough boring holiday pics to put a regiment to sleep.

Don't imagine you've escaped, though. I shall reconstitute the whole thing and slip it in when you least expect it. Come to think of it, that sounds trifle obscene, doesn't it?

But enough of these preliminary frolics. Let us turn from the obscene to the ridiculous, of which I saw a couple of examples in the past 48 hours. The first was a ludicrous little invitation from some halfwit in local government inviting "Black and Minority Ethnic Elderly (Over 50) to attend an event where they would learn about their "entitlements".

I saw this on a bus between Roedean and Brighton Station. I was on that bus because I had just been to see my black and minority ethnic granddaughter playing net-ball and it happens that more than half my family is black and minority ethnic; and in fact I have been mingling with black and minority ethnic people since the age of 18 when a black and minority ethnic bongo-player called Bizi passed me my first joint in a rather dodgy Moss Side jazz club.

And you know what I learned from my intimate acquaintance with these black and minority ethnic folk? Many are quite as bright as everyone else, and would feel as insulted as you and me if some patronising twat from the council with absolutely nothing useful to do but piss away tax-payers' money thought us so thick we needed to have our own little get-together to explain these things.

But of course the minute most people get that little sniff of authority they seem to imagine we're all as thick pig shit. Gordon Brown explained he's not going to hold an election not because the polls said he will lose, but because he doesn't want to be judged on his "competence" but on his "vision".

Er, pull the other one, Gordon. This one's got bells on it.

Who knows what might happen if you were really judged on competence? Would you get three cheers from the soldiers in Iraq you arranged a photo-opportunity with last week? I looked at their faces. Were they all thinking how competent you were to keep back the funding to supply them with better body armour? Who knows? Or were they thinking you were using them to try to look good? Who knows?

But you want to be judged on your "vision".

Haven't we had enough of vision in this country. Tony Bliar had one every week, as far as I can make out - and many were not just "visions". They were strategic visions. I bet many were so strategic and visionary they were downright iconic.

I have no brief for Cameron, but I'll lay odds that the chief reason why many voters started to think he might just conceivably not make a total balls of things was that he stopped talking vaguely and started being specific.

If you want to persuade people, one fact is worth a truckload of waffle. Why do politicians find this so hard to understand?

But I digress, because it seems visions are far more relevant nowadays than competence. I read that, allegedly, the man who got fired from BBC 1 last week
lost his job because his boss was likely to end up in trouble. His boss? Who could be more important than the guy running the programmes? Why, a woman whose job is "Head of Vision".

Head of what ?

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