26 Dec 2008

The State Is Our Shepherd

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Hugo Rifkind survived Xmas without the advice of Britain’s Labour Government. It was obviously a Xmas miracle.

For all I know, this column is coming to you from beyond the grave. As I write, it is Christmas Eve. As you read, it is Boxing Day. I can’t really see myself making it through. You see, despite my best efforts, I have utterly failed to get hold of a copy of the Government’s festive safety leaflet, Tis the Season to be Careful.

Tis, tis it? Oh dear. I wonder what will get me? Will I sever an artery with scissors while excitedly opening a present? Take a lethal elbow to the nose, thanks to somebody else’s overenthusiastic tug on a Christmas cracker? Maybe I’ll get drunk and sit in the fireplace, or blow up the house by putting a gravy boat in the microwave. Maybe, who knows, I’ll fit the whole turkey over my head and, as the complete antithesis of that “Blind man sees” story that was in the newspapers the other day, run around excitedly until I fall off the landing. You know, like Joey would have done, if they’d had stairs in that apartment in Friends.

Alas, there is just no knowing. For the Government handed out 150,000 leaflets advising people on how not to kill themselves at Christmas, and my household didn’t end up with one. I’m feeling terribly exposed. And there must be plenty of other families in the same boat.

Maybe you read this now as the only survivor of your own little festive apocalypse. Under the dining room table, naked except for a party hat, beating off the advances of your snarling, brandy-butter-crazed family dog with the charred remains of grandma’s thighbone. “Nooooo!” you will be wailing. “If only I had been appraised of the stark and leafleted warnings of Baroness Morgan of Drefelin, the Minister for Children, in conjunction with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents! Woe! Woe!” Sob, growl, thunk. ..

Once you stop resenting nanny, you start to rely on her. If nanny tells you to stop smoking in pubs, you probably stop smoking in pubs. But, in time, you also stop thinking about whether you ought to smoke in pubs or not. And worse, if somebody else lights up next to you, you expect nanny to do something about it. It’s not your business or even really his. It’s just nanny’s business. You’ve both become morons.

Now nanny is telling you not to hurt yourself over Christmas. Chances are, you weren’t really planning to, anyway. Chances are, moreover, that you probably thought you were quite well equipped to avoid hurting yourself at Christmas all by yourself.

But nanny disagrees. Nanny doesn’t think that you are up to it. And, in time, you’ll probably start to believe her. In time, as a result, you will grow to consider your wellbeing at Christmas not to be your own problem at all, but to be nanny’s problem entirely. And that’s nuts.

In other words, you used to have a duty not to burn down your house and slaughter your entire family. Now, because nanny has taken on that duty, you have a right not to burn down your house and slaughter your entire family. Needless to say, this makes no sense at all.

Still, don’t come crying to me. It’s nanny’s fault, not mine. And anyway, as discussed, I’m probably dead.

Read the whole thing.


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