So I bought our privatised, more-choice, off-peak super-value return rail tickets which came to £130. On the train, we drank two drinks and munched a pack of crisps that came to £7.10. Two 1-day Tube travel cards, £14.80, one MRI scan £1,785, one hamburger + nachos + sandwich + a litre of bottled water £28.70. We weren’t even at the hotel yet.
One standard twin double room £178.50, breakfast not included, one white-wine spritzer £11.30, 24 hours of Internet £15.00. Pint of beer and pack of Nobby’s Nuts, £5.60
Thirty minutes with a neurological consultant £175. He helped us take the decision to spend £7,000 on an epidural fluid procedure.
Ten minutes on a packed*, noisy Tube system at 7.30 am on a Saturday – with bellowing robots telling us every 3 minutes there was a good service on all Tube lines, £8.60.
Sandwiches and soft drinks at Waterloo for the journey home, £18.90.
Grand total over 24 hours for getting about, getting well, and getting a decent night’s sleep: £9,378.50
*Trust me, the occupants weren’t going on holiday: the absence of luggage and profusion of designer workwear (‘Mayfair Construction Ltd’, ‘Arbrand Hotels’, ‘G4S’) seemed to me evidence of the fact that they were all off to work. At that time on a Saturday forty years ago, the Tubes were empty. With or without its help, the Troika’s 13-day week is rapidly coming true.
Suggested Ed Miliband queries for the next PMQs session.
1. Could the Prime Minister run to a set of teeth for the Rail travel watchdog?
2. Does the Government have any research about what impression was gained of London by visitors both during the Olympics and over the summer as a whole? If not, why not?
3. Once all the NHS Trusts have gone bust due to funds starvation, does the Government have a plan as to how uninsurable 55+ patients with chronic conditions will be able to afford healthcare?
4. Can the Prime Minister explain why ordinary British citizens are taking 7% less of the national wealth than they were twelve years ago, but at the lowest end are working longer hours for less money? Then when he’s finished on that, Ed will have a go at explaining why most of it happened on his boss Gordon Brown’s watch.
5. Could we see some definitive statistics – now all the final, last-minute cock-up Olympic costs are in, and the London economy is returning to some form of normality – to show how many if any of the wild claims for uplift and payback made by Kulturistassar Hunt and Gauleiter Johannson bear any relationship to the truth? In short, how much did it cost and how much will we get back?
6. When will the new Health Warning Secretary come before this House and explain, alongside his colleague the Home Secretary, (a) what their strategy for controlling the corrosive spread of Class A drugs in our Brave New Society might be, and (b) how the NHS will cope with a UK population in excess of seventy million?
If we just for one day cancelled the arse-licking, back-biting, time-wasting format of PMQs, and concentrated instead on these and other simple, damning queries, things would perhaps get more interesting for the 2 in 5 Brits who currently don’t bother to vote.
And if the Prime Minister was forced to answer every question with a direct answer or a don’t know, we could wrap up the whole thing in half the time with twice the effectiveness.