Just what I say: Brian Nicholls

Date: Monday 27th March 2017

ONE of my granddad’s (printable) favourite sayings was “You can’t argue with ignorance”. He was right and yet despite the truth of it I’ll wager that all of us have tried … and failed. There is a lot of ignorance about. Some people are, as the rest of us would say, “Just plain ignorant”, which means they lack manners or tact or any of the social graces. Others just lack any useful knowledge or intellect though there are very few people who are so ignorant that they know absolutely nothing about anything.

Most people usually make a point of knowing at least one fact with which to impress their fellows, though it must get tedious to hear the same amazing fact trotted out all of the time. When I was a student, my mate and I were in a pub in the West Midlands one afternoon (lectures or pub — no contest) and got into conversation with the regular afternoon dipsos. When they found out we were students one just had to display his astounding knowledge which was Eienstein’s theory of general relativity or, as he kept slurring “Einstein’s theory of revalativity — E = Mc squared, I’m royt ay oi,” which is Black Country for I am right am I not?

Such ignorance based on poor education can be easily understood and even ill mannered ignorance can be tolerated but the brand of ignorance which I cannot stand is that of those who have influence and who can influence the opinions of the rest of us but who do it by being wilfully ignorant by ignoring facts and realities which don’t suit their case or agenda. We see it all the time. A common ignorance displayed repeatedly in the media and particularly by certain individuals on television and those who are attempting to persuade us of the unfair advantages old people enjoy in comparison to the financially beleaguered younger generations.

Apparently old people are getting older, duh! We are living much longer (hooray) but in doing so we are suffering from more “health issues” (boo) which leads to old people becoming an increasing burden on the health service and on the care system and to make matters far worse old people do not contribute to financing the NHS or the care system because retired people do not pay tax.

This ignorance of reality which is glibly trotted out on television and is seized upon and repeated by those in the media who are equally ignorant of reality but just accept the myth until it has suddenly become rock solid fact which we all start to accept without question.

Just this week the influential Dr. Clare Gerada, former chairman of the Royal College of GPs and who has been working on a report about how to finance NHS care for older people, compounded the ignorance by saying that older people who use the health service most contribute the least while younger workers who need it least pay the most and therefore we must find a way of getting old people to contribute more.

I never did like that woman, who has previously featured in this column for her opposition to health screening for the over forties. Now she seems to be advocating the idea that those who use the health service most pay more which is totally contrary to the whole ethos and concept of the founding fathers of the NHS and a worrying view from a leading doctor particularly as the whole idea is based on ignorance.

For the benefit and defence of the scrounging, freeloading generation of baby-boomer geriatrics and for the information and edification of those who will retire in the future, probably at the age of 90, the tax gatherers at HMRC make no distinction or exemption from the avaricious money grabbing of the state just because you have retired and get your pension.

Pensioners get exactly the same personal income tax allowance as those in work. There are no signs on petrol pumps which say that the 78.5 pence per litre plus 20 per cent. VAT do not apply to people with grey hair. All direct and indirect taxes still apply as anyone who saved for their retirement or who paid into a work or private pension scheme soon find out.

Yet the myth is still pedalled as truth. Ignorance of the true facts which is then used to play on our own ignorance is dangerous but successful. It worked a treat when Cameron’s government turned its guns on the pensions of public sector workers.

Not only were those pensions downgraded and devalued but those who swallowed the myth about unfair gold plated pensions and joined in the clamour to make things fairer will now have realised that picking on one group in society because we are told they are being treated better than we are just rebounds on us all. Having succeeded with the public sector it was easy to shred the pension rights and protections of everyone else.

Ignorance is not bliss it is dangerous and, despite what my granda said, we must argue with it or we will be handing over our pensions to the NHS and the tax man — unless you are a banker or an MP of course.

I WAS in a Tesco store the other day, which is a very unusual occurrence, but I was nearby and just wanted a few things but didn’t actually get them. I couldn’t get near the shelves. That, unlike my patronage of Tesco, is quite usual but that is normally because slow shoppers and trolley skaters get in my way.

What is a trolley skater you ask? Those are the people who do not push supermarket trolleys but who lean over and on them and sort of ice skate with splayed feet and they are a pain but the sport of supermarket trolley skating is growing faster than women’s soccer.

It was not other customers who were in the way but hoards of people in Tesco livery pushing huge skip-like things with blue boxes on them while reading from hand held instruments which resembled Star Trek communicators as they picked items from the shelves. In one aisle there were seven of these people and their wagons.

The clue to their purpose is on the side of Tesco vans and wagons which says, “You shop, we drop”. The shopping in question is on-line (damned computers and damn people with “busy lives”) and the dropping when they bring a load of things you didn’t order to your house. On-line shopping is a growing trend but this store in particular and Tesco in general should consider what effect all these personal shoppers clogging the place up have on those old fashioned people who want to see what they are buying, which is good idea if you shop at Tesco.

Perhaps Tesco don’t care because they have decided this is one of those things which we will end up doing whether we want to or not. It’s a form of tyranny which makes anyone who doesn’t want to do Internet banking or Internet gas payments or Internet tax returns or Internet lavatory visits feel like an inadequate moron or a dinosaur.

Just like all of our utility and communications and banking industries they believe it is more efficient if we never see or speak to a real person and they can ignore us and just keep referring us to their websites. Tesco’s logo didn’t work for me. I did shop and then dropped except what I dropped was Tesco and went somewhere else.

I AM not a curmudgeon because I do work for and support charity fund-raising but I do dislike the BBC version of fund-raising.

This week is Red Nose Day or is it week or even two months? We barely see a red nose on the streets these days. All we get is the BBC crowing about how wonderful the BBC is and a load of celebrities poncing about in endless programs which we are supposed to find so amusing that we keep reaching for our credit cards and that is the limit of our input. It is such a lazy, banal and clichéd way of fund-raising that, despite the multi-millions they raise, it is somehow meaningless.

It’s great for the BBC because they get to produce lots of poor quality programs but we can’t complain because they are for “cherity”. It’s even greater for the army of celebs who appear because they get good publicity and we think they are good people for doing their bit for charity when, in reality, the woman with the collection box on a cold and wet Saturday in Appleby is more deserving of our admiration than these self seekers will ever be.

Cynical, moi? You better believe it.