May 01, 2003

NHS with a Delivery Charge

NHS with a Delivery Charge

Here in the land of free medical care, nearly 60% of general practitioners want to charge for making house calls. They don’t agree on how much should be charged. Some GPs in the Northwest would charge as little as £9, but London doctors want £78.

GPs also want to fine patients who miss appointments. That’s right – issue a fine.

Europe is Dying

Europe’s modern enlightened society will not last long. Since the end of the baby boom and the sexual liberation of the 1960s, the birth rate in Western Europe has dropped below the replacement rate. Between women choosing career over family and killing the babies that get in the way of lifestyle choices, there are not enough new little Europeans to replace the ones filling the graveyards and passing through the crematoriums. There are also not enough young workers to support the state pensions of the lop-sided elderly population that continues to live longer and longer.

Even though France has one of the highest birth rates in the EU, to try to get it at the level of replacement, the French government has announced a scheme to get more women to stay at home and care for children. The government pays €800 for the birth of the first child. It then gives the stay-at-home parent €339 a month for the first six months. This is paid for the second and third child as well.

The Accident of Marriage?

A report commissioned by the Anglican Bishop of Guildford and published yesterday criticised the Church for failing to give adequate support to adult relationships other than marriage. It said: “Whether by accident or design, churches support marriage on an exclusive basis.” It said that pastoral support should also be offered to those in “non-married adult relationships” including cohabiting heterosexuals, as well as lesbian and gay couples.

The bishop said: “Considering that Jesus was single and among his most intimate friends were people in all kinds of relationships, some quite dubious, it is clear we are failing to pattern our ministry on this.” I agree. We should follow his pattern of ministry as say, “Go and sin no more.”

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

The King and Fred

Probably the highest profile company headquartered here in the Hereford is Bulmers, the cider producer. It has been sold in the last few days to Scottish & Newcastle, but was originally founded in 1887 by the son of a Hereford clergyman.

Soon after Percy Bulmer started the business using apples from the orchard next to the rectory, he convinced his brother to join him in the venture. His Cambridge-educated brother had been offered the post as tutor to the children of the King of Siam, but he turned it down. The job eventually went to a young woman named Anna Leonowens. The next time you watch the The King and I, think of how different the story would have been if Fred Bulmer hadn’t moved back to Hereford.

Yul Brenner could have probably still played the King, but the role of Fred would have been quite a stretch for Deborah Kerr.

Another Local Claim to Fame

The town of Ludlow, thirty miles north of here and just across the border in Shropshire, has become quite famous these days. It is not known for some of its obvious delights, such as Ludlow Castle, with its very storied past. It has become one of the gastronomic centres of Britain. With a population of less than 10,000, Ludlow has more restaurants in the exclusive Michelin guide than any locality in the UK outside of London.

Now according to a global survey of 300 leading chefs and restaurant critics, the Merchant House has won the Restaurant Magazine Outstanding Value award and was judged fourteenth best restaurant in the world. Not bad for a tiny establishment with seven tables and just one waiter in a sleepy little town in the South Shropshire hills.

Posted by david at May 1, 2003 01:46 AM