Next week (I) shall begin my operations on my hat, on which you know my principal hopes of happiness depend.’

Jane Austen, Personal Correspondence.

One cannot help but love her – and adopt her writing style!  Her humour is woven throughout her words.  Often biting – usually biting – her observations and opinions are nothing if not forthcoming in her criticism of society and its daily rituals.  Class and etiquette, very much to the fore, there is a wealth of material to be gleaned from her world and, the master of irony and sarcasm that she is, she never fails to make me smile.  I happen to have a little five-year diary – a Jane-a-day – containing 365 of her wonderful witticisms, a gift from Becca three years ago now.  The opening quote heads the page for the 26th February – but I stickered it for future use!

Forever a fan of the unusual – the ridiculous, the silly, the incongruous – it is the element of surprise which keeps one on one’s toes; wards off insufferable boredom.  I have always claimed that my chosen epitaph would be, ‘At least she was never boring!’.  In a world soon to be totally bereft of the individual – nay, a world soon to be bereft of actual human beings – I believe that is an accolade worth coveting.  Now, where was I going with that?  Who knows but staring at a blank page with only an hour to come up with one thousand words of wit and wisdom, I looked to Jane Austen for succour.  Some may, now, be looking for a dictionary – or not.  Who needs a book with tangible pages and a wealth of knowledge between its covers when one has dumb-ed down technology aimed at the lowest common denominator at one’s fingertips?

Every day, I write a few lines in my Jane-a-day.  If I miss one, I catch up.  Similarly, I keep a little A5 diary with a page per day; have done for many years.  I was, actually, all of twelve-years-old when I began recording my thoughts and activities daily.  Admittedly, there have been missed years along the way – certainly, the children years – but, from school to university and beyond, I documented my activities and inner thoughts, religiously.  Beyond the early, riveting years when I penned my hour of rising, choice of breakfast, games, late prep and what was Number One in the charts, my entries did become increasingly more interesting and, reading them now is nothing short of a proverbial time machine!  My life in a book.  Old ticket stubs, party invitations, cards, scribbled notes I have kept plus extra pages shoved in following some notable event – disastrous or otherwise – worthy of every detail …  It’s all there, in a large tub.   The thing is, what is it that drives some of us to document our lives; to keep mementoes and souvenirs?  Why do I feel compelled to put my thoughts on paper every day?  Sometimes, at uni, there would be blank pages galore – too busy – but they never stayed blank.  I would sit for hours filling every one of them …

That same compulsion remains.  I went to Edinburgh on Friday and stayed overnight.  No matter, I would write today but, to be honest, I am out of steam.  The news forever consumed by Gaza, petty politics and the increasingly unpalatable disputes over gender, it is just depressing – never mind, scary.  Yes, scary!  What of the Chancellor’s announcement, on Wednesday, of the proposed £3.4 billion investment in NHS technology?  Help pay for more modern computers, yes, but for AI assistants to write up doctors’ notes and link up patients’ records faster?  Sorry?  Doctors’ notes?  One can’t even see a doctor!  Worse, approximately £340 million has been earmarked for a new app designed to crunch the data on step counts and heart rates, which many phones already capture – not mine – with a view to offering personalised health advice and suggesting potential screenings and treatments.  Run for the hills – fast!  Digital health cards.  Monitoring.  Fail to achieve 10,000 steps, daily, and be denied treatment on the NHS.  Exceed the ‘recommended’ weekly alcohol allowance and be denied treatment on the NHS.  Refuse an experimental mRNA vaccine and be denied treatment on the NHS!  The slippery slope to … Hell.  Meanwhile, back to the £3.4 billion investment.  Any of that going towards the salaries of the doctors who no longer see patients, or towards the six-figure remuneration commanded by the post of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Officer for which no specific qualifications are required?  I may have stated earlier that I was a fan of the ridiculous but … faculties intact and still breathing!

Apologies, as ever.  What started off in humour delved, rapidly, into a cynicism borne of reality.  It has taken me longer than an hour – surprise, surprise – but, at least, in the years to come, when Trish-Trash, 2015 onwards, is bound (in individual years) in dark green leather, embossed with gold lettering, there will be no blanks!  Every post, containing pertinent social commentary, of historic value …  Hail, me!

Meritocracy should be at the heart of everything.  All other policies which seek equal outcomes rather than equal opportunities should be binned.’ 

Ben Habib, Deputy Leader of Reform UK.

Huge fan!  Intelligent, rational and fair – a British-Pakistani – I would vote for him in a heartbeat!  The voice of reason, he gives me hope.  Always good to end on hope!

This is Trish, signing off.