The dream of narcissus is become our reality

After six years of trying painfully to suggest he can achieve something unique in British politics, David Cameron finally got his wish fulfilled yesterday: he became the first Prime Minister in history to have his only brainchild pronounced dead before it had ever become life. Most of the larger UK charities got together and, based on Cameldung’s Big Society record to date, told him that the Big Society didn’t exist other than in his minute brain, within which there could not possibly be room for a practically sized placenta. It must therefore be dead.

‘Is there life before death?’ is a question that hasn’t troubled philosophers that much over the millennia, largely because it always seemed a daft question to ask: how could you have a death before something had been alive? But Dave has now shown that a political idea can remain ethereal as a kind of virtual foetus, and then fade away through a lack of any substance enabling its birth as a physical reality. The BS was a synapse that went instantly into relapse, a brainwave too small to surf, a soundbite unable to feed due to an absence of teeth.

By contrast, almost any other animated process can take shape as a life-form at some point, but today we all got a shock when it transpired that very much alive human beings could go into a local “cottage” hospital or GP for actual surgery, and die in very short order. This wasn’t so much a life after death issue as a life and death debate: you could use Primary Care to have your life prolonged, and instant death would be your only reward.

Here in the UK, we’re used to the apparently irrational hospital cure-in-reverse: you’re admitted for an ingrowing eyelash, and succumb to MRSA within 36 hours. This, however, was different. What we had here was a flagrant accusation of incompetence. Naturally, the fact that the warning came from surgeons who work in major hospitals cast a cloud of doubt over the validity of the charge; but either way it is, let’s face it, a very rum world indeed in which the NHS finally achieves a real internal market by having the primary care and big hospital sectors slug it out for share of the Cure Space.

After all, you can see what’s going on here: Branson is going to try his usual shtick of being David taking on Goliath, and so – seeing it coming – the top consultants decide to get their retaliation in first. I can also see what’s coming down the road….the usual Branson shake-up of expectations via an audacious product development programme. We’ll have Virgin GP walk-in brain transplants, easy-to-swallow self-locating pacemakers, and plastic surgeons picking patients up from home to perform the op in a limo to the airport, where a Virgin Flight is waiting to whisk them off to St Lucia for a 5-star recuperation package.

It’s all about exploiting the well-heeled narcissism niche, and here again Sir Richard Branson has had a major insight: no new market on the planet is growing faster than neocon narcissism. Wherever you look, the New Narcissists are walking the streets of the City, bumping into other pedestrians as they stare at the permanent mirror in front of their eyes – fixed there using a cantilever bolted into each ear. (The entire operation can be performed by Virgin doctors who come to your office, guaranteeing to complete the op during the lunch hour.)

I knew narcissism futures were going gangbusters, but not how much until I read this morning about some investment banker’s wife in a Times Agony column. Her daughter complained to the Column Aunt that her mum had fallen into tertiary narcissism, and asked if she should therefore ‘cut off all contact’. The journalist gave some wishy-washy answer, but I would merely have asked, ‘Even if you did, would she notice?’ It seems to me that the only way to keep the relationship close would be for the daughter to wear a mirror mask at all times when At Home with her mama.

But you can see the connection in this seemingly aimless little trilogy of madness, surely? The country is run by fantasists, the NHS is about to be run by anarchists, the City is run by narcissists, and all of them ignore the Islamists. This will inevitably create a Britain controlled by onanists.

It is time to flee to France, and take up life as an online terrorist.