Big Eye, January 10, 2017

EEAST's new  Mercedes Benz 519-based ambulance ANL-161002-135146001
EEAST's new Mercedes Benz 519-based ambulance ANL-161002-135146001
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Well, another year of turmoil and disarray has passed and we would all like to assume that with spring just around the corner and the days lengthening it’s time to ponder your options for the year ahead. Considering your potential and taking stock is important if you want to improve your lot and the world around you but much of what may be lying in wait to ambush us in the coming months will come down to decisions made by our bosses and the nation’s leaders. This, for many of us, is a pretty terrifying prospect and bearing in mind we have even had Tory Grandees briefing against so-called ‘experts’, you begin to wonder who can be relied upon to steer these floundering islands into calmer and warmer waters. We’ve alienated the Europeans, the Russians consider us to be neither threat nor hindrance and our ‘special relationship’ with the USA appears to be less than blooming. Tricky times are made trickier by the fact that we are utterly skint and getting skinter (is that a word?) by the hour and yet we persist in clinging grimly to our jingoist heritage as a sabre-rattling, sea-going, dam-busting people with important messages for the world.

It’s dead easy to be critical from the comfort of an armchair with a cuppa tea and a couple of custard creams and maybe our finances aren’t as bad as most believe. But there must be reasons why every conversation and signal emanating out of The Treasury continues to soften us up to the reality of increasingly savage cuts to services, schools, hospitals and everything else in between from grass cutting to pothole filling. Slowly and surely it is dawning upon us that our blasé “The sun’ll come out tomorrow” attitude might not save the day, and possibly something won’t just turn up!

While your job’s safe and you’ve got your health it is easy to take things for granted and turn a blind eye to the reality of our dangerously creaking NHS and a Social Services ‘safety net’ that has more holes in it than a Swiss cheese. The day will soon arrive when I believe we are going to be forced to choose what sort of society we want to pay for. If you have the cash you’ll continue to pay your private health premiums and enjoy the lovely luxury of hospital suites with sofas and china teacups to ease your discomfort. But what of the poor? The lonely old lady holed up in her chilly flat with her ulcerated legs? She won’t be enjoying these privileges…

Are we brave enough to take off the blinkers and really see what’s now happening to basic services and our ability to look after our sick and vulnerable? Barely coping isn’t good enough. We should be doing more than that. The time is fast approaching when we will be forced to decide between bombers or beds, soldiers or surgeons, armoured cars or ambulances. Or pay more tax?