Sunday, 22 March 2009

No bus pass, no chance

I've just been reading through the Council of Ministers monthly meeting minutes of recent months and found a particularly hilarious gem.
Now I’ve always held that individuals decades past their sell-by date are kept on government ‘advisory bodies’ in favour of the clued up: that way civil servants can rubberstamp predecided policies, however dumb.
But can you believe that the government’s representative on one international body was actually, at the time of appointment a few years ago, known to all in that specialist community to have been diagnosed with Altzheimers? Admittedly, this is a ‘specialist community’ so parochial as to be positively incestuous, but staggeringly the person involved has only been replaced in recent months, by which time the illness was in the final and most tragic stage.
I first moved beyond just suspecting such phenomena twenty years ago, when the chair of a very august and powerful Manx body told me his greatest fear was that one day they’d fail to get a quorum on an important issue because most government appointees had popped their clogs before it was put to the vote. He also told me it was not unknown to take silence as a vote for the status quo on prickly issues, even if the silence was only interrupted by snores.
Then again, a few years back I was also at the AGM of a local charity which is the sole government consultant on ‘their’ special interest. The fossil chairing talked about recruiting ‘new blood’ to the committee. As a forty-something with an extremely informed interest in the client group my ears pricked up, until it became clear that they considered anyone under 65 as too immature, and would only act on introductions from clergy. I’m not ageist, and all for retired people putting their life experience to good use, but the client group here was severely deprived people in their twenties!
The lesson seems clear. Before volunteering for any of those government liason committees you see in statutory local newspaper advertisements, get a note from your doctor. If he can’t confirm you’re close to dementia, and if you can’t back that up with another note from a clergyman confirming your illiteracy and total disengagement from anything resembling modern life, you will waste a perfectly good postage stamp.

No comments: