I have written about Tuesday before, elsewhere, and noted that it and I have had many meetings and no good has ever come of them. We go way back, to school. Term always began on a Tuesday and it bore all the worst lessons such as Double Latin or Craft with Muggsy* and all the worst dinners like the chicken supreme with the precise texture of snot.
Tuesday is much crueller than Monday. Monday is still in too much of a daze to really hurt you but Tuesday knows exactly what it’s doing and tells you what it’s going to do before it does it. Were you aware that virtually a seventh of your life consists of Tuesday? Or that 98% of dental appointments are on a Tuesday, or that the Royal Mail is required by law to deliver nothing on Tuesdays except utility bills and unpleasantly-surprising credit card statements?
Nobody ever saves a treat for Tuesday; you get your dullest meal of the week out of the way on it which is why all the takeaways are closed. Saturday bursts into the room with a tray of bacon butties and a crate of beers and Friday is a genial sort but Tuesday is a flinty-eyed former Inspector of Taxes with a thin moustache and grey skin bent at a plain desk in a windowless office under a single electric bulb frowning at a loud clock which ticks at half-speed. It is well known that time moves twice as slowly on a Tuesday. Yet still we persist with it. Who knows why? This is how the world ends, fizzling out on a Tuesday afternoon.
And yet, since giving up office life and setting up on my own, I have discovered something incredible: it is perfectly possible to simply do away with Tuesday. Just ignore it, blot it out the calendar. I can’t tell you how much more enjoyable life is, freed from the tyranny of having a visit from the toad Tuesday every single week of the year.
*Muggsy was a very fat man with a keen hatred of children who nonetheless decided to become a teacher
In a revelatory month, I think I might also have found the best live rock performance ever. It’s Neil Young & Crazy Horse at a big glitzy charity jamboree in honour of Bruce Springsteen from a few years ago, recently screened on Sky Arts.
Now I’m very much a Springsteen man but even I thought this gala tribute showbizzy smugfest was grotesquely sycophantic. The audience is all Sean Penn and his progressive millionaire pals, and various artistes like Sting and Mumford come on and perform very tasteful, very musical Bruce covers.
Neil Young, on the other hand, chooses Born in the USA – a song about being a jobless, homeless Vietnam vet – and does it exactly in the style of a jobless, homeless Vietnam vet: one who has never played a guitar or sung before. He even looks like one. It’s a fearful tuneless racket, and at the end, to the befuddlement of the millionaires, he shouts ‘Bruuuuuce’ over and over in a way that may or may not be satirical.
Sadly the official footage has been removed from Youtube, but this amateur video just enhances the punk brilliance.
Talking of punks: hooray! Charles Moore is back doing his weekly column in the Speccie. Very well, ‘punk’ may be pushing it, but nobody is more adept at sticking two fingers up to prevailing modes of thought and coming up with an angle showing that everyone is wrong about something, which is what the Speccie is for. There’s a good one here in which he questions an old chestnut from the Lady Chatterley’s Lover trial…
[The] prosecutor Mervyn Griffith-Jones… famously asked the jury: ‘Is it a book that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read?’ For this he was much mocked. But the novel is about the behaviour of a wife (Lady Chatterley) with a servant (Mellors, the gamekeeper). Nine of the jury were men: surely Griffith-Jones was making the sort of joke he thought would appeal to them.
Rings much truer than the accepted story that Griffith-Jones was an unfeasibly out-of-touch snob, doesn’t it?
Moore then adds:
It is, of course, fatal in English public life to make a joke.
The case of Sir Tim Hunt, forced out of his professional positions without trial for making what he says were “meant to be light hearted ironic remarks” is immensely dispiriting. Not so much because of the bullying and hysteria from Twitter prigs – that’s just an everyday function of Twitter and priggishness – but because the UCL listened to it and acted upon it.
Surely it was conclusively proven in the recent General Election that the alternative-reality concerns of people who use Twitter have nothing whatsoever to do with actual life, and can be safely ignored?
Andy Burnham is the Twitter-reality candidate for the Labour leadership – the kind who calls it ‘our NHS’. I’ve met nobody in actual human reality who refers to the health service thus (and I’ve been on the lookout because I’m keen to use Frank Key’s rejoinder and talk about ‘our Department for Work and Pensions’ and ‘our Trident’).
Our NHS (‘RNHS’?), argues Douglas Murray here, has now become so dominant and untouchable an institution that it has filled the religious vacuum in modern Britain, and virtually every aspect of our lives – from what we put in our bodies to when we have children – can be morally evaluated by the extent to which we hinder or help the permanent crisis of NHS funding.
An opt-in health insurance system allows you to take whatever risks you are willing to pay for with your own body, whereas the NHS gives everybody an interest in everybody else’s body. And without strong ethical or moral guidance from any other source this rampant utilitarianism becomes the dominant ethic in the land. It does seem to have some idea of a life well lived: a non-smoking, non-drinking fitness fanatic who starts a family in their most productive years and has the decency to die at just the moment when they risk taking out more money than they have put in.
It will keep the NHS in perpetual business, of course. And it may be that one day we will be able to produce a comprehensive budget breakdown for how to live the new ideal life. But this new more-than religion still leaves one noticeably gaping question: what is it all for?
It’s a convincing article. Yet as with all mad ideologies, the internal contradictions of RNHSism contain the seeds of its destruction. For it is patently obvious that those ‘enemies of the state’ who supposedly drain resources by drinking, smoking and getting fat actually do the precise opposite – and it is the healthy long-lived who will in the end finish off our NHS with their full set of blamelessly-accumulated non-fatal ailments. They will need their eyes, ears, hips, teeth, knees, rectums, lower backs, prostates and breasts constantly attended to before popping their clogs of cancer or a stroke or heart disease anyway. It cannot possibly work: we need a new religion.
On one recent Tuesday (before I’d had the good sense to abolish it), I set aside a few hours to build the girls’ flat-pack bunkbeds. I started at four in the afternoon, thinking to have plenty of time before it was tucking-in time. It took me two hours merely to dismantle and remove their old beds from the room. By midnight the girls were fast asleep on the sofa downstairs and I was a bloody, weeping, half-crazed mess of a man with a hammer in one hand and a bradawl in the other, swearing aimlessly. The great majority of the ‘manual labour’ I’ve ever had to do in my life has involved tapping at computer keys and making cups of tea, so my hands are basically those of the 16 year-old apprentice in his first week of job experience, before he becomes all calloused and gnarly. It took a week for the sores on my hands to heal from all the screwdriving.
But I got them built in the end and fine, solid, quality bunkbeds they are too – not even Ikea. A few nights later I came upstairs to check on the girls. One was asleep in a sort of soft toy nest in the landing. The other? Curled up on the floor, snoring happily, next to the @!*&ing bunkbeds.
Well that’s it from me for today’s Diary. I won’t see you tomorrow because I’ll be doing something like watching the new Jurassic Park in 3D or eating Lebanese food or swimming or looking at Renaissance artworks, and you’ll still be having Tuesday. Suckers!