Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Family and friends - it's time.

The Rigbys are spending the summer holidays visiting, and being visited by, as many of the multitude of Rigby relatives and friends as possible in the few weeks between now and the end of August.

Because of this Mrs R doesn't expect to be either near her computer, a newspaper or a television very often - which will actually be quite a nice change. She's sure the world will carry on turning and, maybe, the sun will keep shining too.

Just think, last August the Libyan was sent home to die - but didn't. Teddy Kennedy did die, and the government of the day was telling us we were unpatriotic to criticise the MoD ... and ministers and their chums tried to dirty the character of General Dannatt and, of course, Mr Brown went to Afghanistan for a photo-op.

It all seems a million light years away.

One of the nicest things about this summer is that it is Mr Brown-free. It makes quite a nice change really. Mrs R wonders, sometimes, if he'll ever get his book written - he does seem to have 'missed the boat' a bit, because others have got their word in first and whatever does end up being published is likely to look either a bit jaded and weary, or as yet another attack, designed to wound and hurt others whilst he tries to retain the upper hand. But, frankly, Mrs R doesn't care, and she has absolutely no interest in reading a single word of his memoirs. Why bother? We've all lived through those thirteen years and are suffering the consequences of his 'prudence'.

And that, really, is why all the British Rigbys are spending the summer visiting each other and staying for a few hours, or a few days - long enough to talk without embarrassing silences, but not long enough to be in the way. You see, without exception all the Rigbys and Rigby-friends are a bit strapped for cash these days.

One thing that would be nice, a bit of a sweetener in these stony-broke times, something small to help make a lot of people feel as if they count - even though Mr Clegg has already dismissed the idea - is to revisit the smoking ban. You see, although not many Rigbys smoke tobacco there are enough who do to make going out in a group a bit of a chore. It's no longer 'fun' when some need to get up and walk outside a pub, and it's not nice to be sitting in a beer garden having a natter with friends only to be accosted by moaning non-smoking total strangers who complain that their 'fresh air' is being polluted by a whiff of smoke. They could, after all, go inside where there's a guarantee, enshrined in harsh laws, that says the insides of pubs and clubs have to be totally smokeless. It's what they wanted, but now, because of the sunshine, they want the outside too. It spoils things a bit, even for the non-smoker Rigbys and Rigby-friends.

It would be nice, don't you think, if the coalition could offer pubs and, maybe even eating places, the right to choose whether to be smoke-free or not. Then people could choose whether to go to those places, or not.

Mrs Spelman said, only yesterday, that all women should be free to choose the clothes they wear, even though others might disapprove of, or are even fearful of the look of, certain items of clothing. Her thoughts were endorsed by Mr Damian Green. They said it's about choice. It's also, Mrs Rigby thinks, about living with the consequences of making certain choices - because women who wear face-hiding burquas might find they can't go into a bank, or can't go and talk to an MP - they might have to get somebody else to do it for them, which could sometimes be a bit awkward. But, it's their choice.

The coalition has hinted that nobody should be heckled or nagged or legislated and fined into submission. So, if a pub or club chooses to allow smoking it could quite easily have big signs outside, same as places in many other European countries, and people can choose whether to go through the door - or not. That's the grown-up way, isn't it?

So, let's hope, that along with the sunshine and the other 'freedoms' we're all meant to be getting back, let's see the government treat grown-ups like grown-ups.

It's time.


JuliaM said...

"The coalition has hinted that nobody should be heckled or nagged or legislated and fined into submission."

Yes, but they forgot to add '...except when it's for your own good.'

Already, the cracks are beginning to appear. But then, let's face it, 'a breath of fresh air after Brown' really is damning with faint praise, isn't it? I mean, who wouldn't be? ;)

Enjoy your hols!

Witterings From Witney said...

Yes indeed, Mrs. R. enjoy your hols!

Unfortunately, as JuliaM intimates, politics is all about 'control' of the people.

James Higham said...

and people can choose whether to go through the door - or not

The very thing the agenda dictates does not happen.

subrosa said...

Enjoy the sunshine Mrs R. You may well find it one of the most enjoyable holidays you've ever had. Then again ... :)