October 30, 2003

Throw mama from the train

I dunno who Polly Toynbee is -- some Guardian columnist, so I guess she's a "leftie" or whatever you want to call them. Anyway, Peter Briffa makes fun of her a lot. This article of hers that he quoted made my hairs stand on end just a bit. She's talking about some politician Over There:

True, you will have to charm the decrepit blimps and blue rinses from the shires into voting for you.

Ooer! That'll get them in the sticks. Here in the States grandma, gramps, and the attack dogs in the AARP that protect their every interest are still mostly sacrosanct to both sides of the political spectrum -- on the right, because that's where they get most of their votes, and no one kills the goose that lays the golden egg; and on the left, because lefties still want to be seen as "compassionate." Obviously the left in Britain has no such constraints... I don't know if that means our handling of the over-fifty-five constituent is better or worse here than in the UK, I just know that if I read or hear anything from any foreigner about how badly we treat our old people in the USA as compared with the ROTW I will have yet another reason to just giggle for hours.

Posted by Andrea Harris at October 30, 2003 10:58 PM

Actually, I don't think she was so much sneering at old people as at a certain class of old people---that stodgy, respectable lot that populated so many Miss Marple novels: retired colonels, gossipy flower-botherers, overstuffed roast beef eaters---that sort of thing.

Whatever Polly Toynbee is she's a terrible, terrible writer. When Bush gave his 9/02 speech to the UN, she said that he "pointed his silver-tongued gun with some delicacy". That ought to win some sort of prize for Worst Metaphor.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at October 31, 2003 at 12:18 AM

She's also no spring chicken herself. For the past twenty years at least she's been hovering in a permanent middle-age that only people on tv ever seem to exist in. Must be the vitamins.

Posted by: Peter Briffa at October 31, 2003 at 03:29 AM

I thought I'd take this chance on Halloween to throw in a gratuitous mention of how France treats its elderly as well.

Posted by: charles austin at October 31, 2003 at 10:12 AM

Yeah, I think Angie's right about the reference. I thought "blimp" implied a Tory voter.

But Angie, why did you have to reprint that prize-winning metaphor? It's evil. I'm never going to get it out of my head. It's meaningless, yet vaguely obscene in some way I can't quite grasp. It's some kind of weird brain-frying koan.

...runs off screaming...

Posted by: Moira Breen at October 31, 2003 at 12:52 PM

"Colonel Blimp" was some sort of British cartoon character in the period between WWI and WWII. I believe that sneering at "blimps" generally has an anti-military connotation.

Posted by: David Foster at October 31, 2003 at 09:52 PM

*Debtor's Prison* ... the elderly are also getting a raw deal. The Oldie is a hugely entertaining magazine for those who are old enough to have benefited from a real education. In the March issue it reports that prisons are to build extra facilities for oldie prisoners, including those suffering from Alzheimer’s. The main reason is that England and Wales are the only countries in Europe that still jail debtors, especially those who default on local taxes, which are in the process of increasing by ten times the rate of inflation.
One couple of 74 and 78 were jailed for 28 days for alleged non payment of a £600 community charge. The husband was suffering from severe epilepsy and arthritis, while the wife, who suffered from asthma and arthritis, was doubly incontinent and wheel chair-bound. An illiterate 71 year old, suffering from terminal cancer, was also jailed, though the sentence was ultimately quashed. At the same time courts were ordered not to jail burglars, as the prisons were over-crowded. Thus not only do the old live out the dregs of their lives in fear of crime (with good statistical reason) and degrading poverty, they must add to that the possibility of imprisonment.
Now that the Chancer of the Exchequer has orchestrated a collapse of the pension system for those outside the public service, the number of old people who cannot cope is certain to rise steeply. Not only are their incomes reduced, but they are required to pay more and more tax to maintain the ever growing bureaucratic army of public employees on generous salaries and pensions (seven million and rising).
What can you say about a Government that is not only mad and incompetent but also unbelievably cruel?

Posted by: John Anderson at November 1, 2003 at 07:59 PM

Oops, should have noted that the above is a copy, not my own work...

Posted by: John Anderson, again at November 1, 2003 at 08:00 PM