Express & Star

RIP to our beloved NHS – it’s had a decent innings

The death is announced of the National Health Service. She was 75.

Last updated
NHS in its infancy, when it had better health

Affectionately known as the NHS, her condition had been causing concern for some time, but the final collapse was rapid.

Hospitals and doctors’ surgeries will remain open for the foreseeable future so that members of the public can pay their respects.

NHS leaves behind a legacy of love and pride. She was there whenever people needed her, and asked nothing in return. This made her popular. Very, very popular. One theory is that this lifetime of public service and ever-increasing demands put on her left her frail and weak and ultimately unable to cope, being a major factor in her demise.

She was conceived at a time of war, and born into a very different and considerably less populated Britain in which she symbolised hope, equality, a world where rich and poor alike did not have to pay for the privilege of health.

NHS was to become an icon of her times who enjoyed religious fervour, and to speak ill of her was to commit blasphemy. In older age there were worrying signs as she stumbled from one health crisis to another, but radical surgery was ruled out for fear that it would do more harm than good, and in any event it would not win votes.

So the consensus was that the best and most pragmatic treatment was the traditional remedy of ever-larger injections of taxpayers’ money.

After all, the politicians said, NHS was the envy of the world. In the end even the politicians stopped saying that but they remained in denial until NHS’s decline in 2022-23 which meant there could no longer be any pretence about the seriousness of the situation with, for instance, little old ladies lying in agony receiving a next-day ambulance service and medical appointments with 951-day waiting times.

NHS’ finest hour was deemed to be the Covid pandemic during which, strangely, the very same politicians who deified her would also highlight the terrible number of UK Covid deaths.

Out of sentiment and habit, further huge injections of taxpayers’ money will be administered to NHS as she lies in state, as we shall all be lost without her and nobody knows what else to do.

One of the key questions for the inquest is how it all came to this.

After an indefinite period of mourning, NHS will be buried in Westminster Abbey, and will have an epitaph inspired by Spike Milligan: “I told you I was ill.”


Just before Christmas I wrote in this place that Jeremy Clarkson should be hung, drawn, and quartered, before being run over by a steamroller driven by Piers Morgan. And that was just for starters.

When Mr Clarkson suggested that Meghan Markle should be paraded naked through the streets and pelted with excrement it attracted nearly 20,000 complaints – a record. There was a letter of protest from MPs, and calls for him to be sacked.

Jeremy Clarkson

Now, I appreciate he has a national profile and more people read his column in the Sun than my ramblings, but nevertheless you may be surprised by the number of complaints received about my piece suggesting, among other things, that he should be dessicated and seasoned and fed to the mice in the Extinction Rebellion offices.

So far as I know the total number of complaints received has been zero. No angry letter from MPs demanding “definitive action” against me. How can this be?

There are a number of possible explanations, and as I cannot read the minds of readers I cannot say which is right.

The one I like best is the possibility that Star readers are sensible and level-headed people and did not take what I said entirely seriously. That would go against a growing modern trend of attack literalism, in which the permanently outraged and offended will seize empowerment by, for example, reporting you to the police for abusive language and incitement if you tell them to take a running jump into a lake.

The explanation that I like less is that in modern discourse it doesn’t matter what you say, but who you say it about, and that there is now a concept of “legitimate targets”.

Or maybe it’s even simpler – and readers agree Mr Clarkson really should be run over by a steamroller.