The Plastic Hippo

September 6, 2014

Wishing on a star

My God; it`s full of stars

My God; it`s full of stars

Politics by anecdote is no politics at all and when a politician justifies flawed policy by spouting spurious anecdotal evidence you can rest assured that there is a great, big, stinking rat somewhere in the vicinity.

When a cabinet minister says “people say to me”; you can bet your hedge fund that the people saying things to cabinet ministers are hedge fund managers. When an MP says “the vast majority of the British people agree with me”; then it is fairly certain that the vast majority of British people agreeing are the Spads that just produced the morning briefing. Anecdotal evidence is worthless and so, here is mine.

Some weeks ago, circumstance, family obligation and the car with the squeaking brakes conveyed us to a fading seaside resort that still boasts a Victorian pier not yet burned down for insurance purposes. The timetable of events required an overnight stay and rather than sleep in the car or in the doorway of an amusement arcade, we checked into a once splendid but now jaded seafront hotel. Seaside hotels, like politicians, are truly horrible but seaside hotels at least offer a cooked breakfast and free use of the cruet. The teen-aged girl who delivered the heart-attacks on a plate was probably employed on minimum wage or was being exploited by the odious Workfare scheme. I asked about cutlery and was directed to the knives and forks “over there”. Being manly, I hunter-gathered the eating irons and was surprised to find that when I returned to the table, a boy of about 13 and unknown to me had occupied my seat and was eating my toast.

The family looked on in puzzlement as I appropriated another chair from an empty table and placed it next to the usurper. “Hello”, he said, “my name`s Joshua” and he held out his hand for a shake. I offered my hand and told him my name. Joshua is not his real name but equipped with a knife and fork he set to with relish at my sausage, bacon and egg. Joshua, it seems, didn`t like mushrooms or tomatoes. Half way through a hash brown, Joshua felt it necessary to show me his socks. Firmly planted either side of the breakfast plate, they both magnificently displayed an image of Buzz Lightyear and were only slightly pungent. Joshua then demanded to know what corporate nonsense adorned my unpleasant feet.

In retrospect, plonking Homer Simpson saying “Hmmm, beer” on the breakfast table might not be considered the height of Victorian etiquette but it did provoke the rest of the family to expose smiley faces, hearts and even “Saturday” to the feast. Emboldened, Joshua rushed to adjacent tables to demand the sock secrets of other guests. All the other breakfasters complied apart from one miserable bastard who pushed his plate away in disgust and went off to complain at the hotel reception desk.

A manager arrived and attempted to quell the carnage with profuse apologies followed shortly by Joshua`s mum who said “There you are. We`ve been looking for you everywhere.” The miserable bastard did not return to finish his breakfast so I later made sure he got his monies worth by sticking a sausage into the exhaust pipe of his BMW. If I were in any way vindictive, I would have gaffer taped a smoked mackerel to his engine block.

After such a brilliant breakfast, the children went for a walk on the beach and I retired to the room to listen to the news on the radio. Iain Duncan Smith was telling lies and anecdotes and I could only imagine force feeding porridge to that miserable bastard in Wormwood Scrubs. I hit the beach and found my son and Joshua throwing pebbles at the sea. When I asked what they thought they would achieve, Joshua said that they wanted the sea to go away so that they could play football on the sand. I picked up a rock and threw it into the surf.

Back on the prom, I met Joshua`s mum.

Obviously, Joshua is exactly the same as any other child of his age and is as exhilarating, as charming, as demanding and as wonderful as any other boy or girl but, as far as the intellect of Iain Duncan Smith stretches, Joshua is an unprofitable liability. It seems that Iain Duncan Smith has decided that people like Joshua and his family do not deserve state support and should be left to fend for themselves as they are a burden on society. Joshua`s right to Disability Living Allowance and its successor, Personal Independence Payment are being questioned by the Department of Work and Pensions even though Joshua`s care and supervision needs are obvious to both child welfare specialists and some bloke in Homer Simpson socks who never got to eat his breakfast.

The benefit his family receive has ceased subject to “an assessment” by the universally discredited ATOS. The family have been waiting for seven months for any news of an assessment date. It is worth pointing out that according to Joshua`s mum, the holiday they were enjoying was paid for by Joshua`s grandparents presumably out of their diminished pensions. Iain Duncan Smith has yet to complete a single day of honest work.

Back on the beach and chucking rocks, Joshua suggested we make a wish every time we managed to skim a pebble into the breakers. Being manly, I got a three across the whitecaps. He demanded to know my wish. “I”, I announced pompously, “wish to travel into space and spend time on the International Space Station”. When Joshua replied that that was his wish too, I said that he should have his own wish. He thought about this for a while and after getting one bounce from a pebble declared that both he and I should visit the International Space Station together. I was thrilled.

Yesterday in parliament, the government suffered considerable defeats in three separate votes on Iain Duncan Smith`s disgraceful Welfare Reforms; not that would notice if you watched the BBC 10 o`clock news. His vindictive Bedroom Tax, labelled by critics as “The Bedroom Tax”, looks set to be consigned to the dustbin reserved for Iain Duncan Smith and no amount of dirty tricks disguised as parliamentary procedure should, in an accountable democracy, save this incompetent and nasty oaf from oblivion. With Cameron posing in front of tanks on golf course greens in Wales however, IDS will probably be elevated to the peerage.

Ironically, it was a private members bill from a doomed Liberal Democrat that provoked some semblance of parliamentary sanity. It seems a shame that only an imminent general election could restore some honour to Clegg`s quislings after they consistently and shamefully voted in favour of the final solution according to IDS.

Too little, too late; you`re finished Clegg.

A special mention should go to Michael Gove in his new role as Tory Chief Whip. With about 70 Tory MPs not bothering to turn up and vote, the level of truancy must qualify Gove for an early return to the Department for Education.

Leaving the fading seaside resort after informing Joshua and his mum that the International Space Station would be passing to the south that evening, the car with the squeaking brakes struggled up the hairpin bends into the hills above the town. Driving home as darkness fell, I decided to amend the shared wish with Joshua.

Instead of us travelling into space, I wished that Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVey, Mark Hoban, Maria Miller, the ridiculous Lord Freud and the rest of the excrescence at the DWP be loaded into the capsule instead. The wish included a slight miscalculation so favoured by the DWP press office that resulted in the space craft missing the ISS by about the 20 metre rule. The consequence of this minor technical error would mean that the capsule would adopt a thousand year elliptical orbit around the solar system which would eventually decay and send the DWP crashing into the heart of the sun.

With his charm, honesty, friendliness, joy, inquisitiveness and absolute innocence, Joshua is diametrically opposed to Iain Duncan Smith who possesses none of those qualities. How on earth this useless piece of flotsam remains in high office is a question that only his God can judge.

Driving on an unlit road at about midnight, I think I saw a shooting star. I made a wish just to be on the safe side. I wished that everyone, including Iain Duncan Smith, had a friend like Joshua.

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