So, one of the things you learn when you deal with council members, politicians, NHS honchos etc, is the slippery language of politics/business.
This can be anything from outright lying to question dodging, to anything in between. Anything that means whatever question you want an answer to never actually gets answered, but it takes about twenty minutes not to answer it.
This is in the hope that while you are waiting for some kind of sense to spill forth from someone’s mouth, you will get so bored, you will either wander off and find something else to do, or top yourself.
Also, that there will not be enough time for you to get through the formalities before the meeting is over and none of the really juicy questions have even been put on the table.
Luckily for me, having been trained by small children over many years, I have the ability to keep powering on, even when the talk leads to the dullest of matters. See my capacity to absorb information about the world of Minecraft for reference. Also the life and works of Taylor Swift. I am like the dromedary of tedious meetings. I can go for hours and hours.
I’m also pretty good with repetition. Having been trained again, by the most flexible of tiny terrorists, my own children. Not only can I keep saying: ‘But why?’ for about the time it takes new universes to form and spawn sentient life, I am also really good at hanging on tenaciously to the things other people say and not letting go. Jezza Paxman has got nothing on me.
The language of this bureaucratic landscape (for mental image think T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, but without the lyrical poetry and more percentages) is littered with hearty, emotive words that really tug on the heart strings or try to. You will find that these people would ‘love’ to help you. They almost always ‘completely understand where you’re coming from’ until they conclusively prove that they have no more idea of where you’re coming from than I have of how to fly to Mars on a pencil shaving.
This language of overblown sympathy and emotional trigger words is the stuff that Donald Trump uses so successfully. Other people who were really good at it were Hitler and Mussolini. This gives you a base line for the level of interaction and personal integrity we are dealing with here.
There is an awful lot of use of the word ‘but’ in this world. I would ‘love’ to help you ‘but’ I am an evil overlord bent on your destruction and am therefore unable to actually give a toss or move my face into more than a rictus simulacrum of sympathy. How unfortunate.
When they say unfortunate, it usually means for them, not you.
See also the use of the word ‘sorry’. Rather than being sorry for you, this can mean:
- I am sorry that you asked that question because it the answer is going to reflect very poorly on me.
- I am sorry that you found that out.
- I am sorry that I cannot just push you into that hole, because you are getting in my way.
- I am sorry that everyone is watching me, so I cannot push you into that hole, even though it is really tempting.
There is also a great deal of trying. The word trying I find interesting. In the immortal lines of Inigo Montoya:
‘You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.’
I hear it and it means that you are indeed trying. You are trying my patience.
You want me to hear that you are trying to help me.
I know that you are trying, by straining every sinew in your body and mind, not to help me at all (p.s. I know that minds don’t have sinews. I got A at GCSE biology).
So far, our CCG have tried to help us by:
Repetitively going over the same ground. Repeating their letter almost verbatim whenever asked for information.
Sending out vast screeds of information in the hope that the immortal truth that ‘bullshit baffles brains’ will win the day.
Routinely ignoring all requests to have actual questions answered with anything other than a grain of truth and a soupçon of spin.
Lying by omission. (See this article in Pulse magazine. I say the Lentens asked for help from the CCG. The CCG say they did not because they did not ask for help from April to December 2015. We all know the Lentens asked for help in March 2015. How convenient of them to omit March from their statement).
Offering help that is deeply flawed and has problems all of its own that they are not prepared to go into because it would not serve their purpose.
Denying the evidence placed before them by arguing exceptions based on recommendations which are considered to be extraordinary rather than ordinary.
Point blank lying, by claiming they have no control over finances which could help our GP when all evidence points to the contrary.
Refusing to engage with direct questions they cannot answer without looking shabby.
Obfuscation in general and specific terms.
When we have our meeting with them, it is very likely they will offer us some kind of solution which is neither practical, fair, nor desirable. They will use their considerable powers of spin to try and make it look like we are being unreasonable in turning down whatever it is that they offer.
They will trot out their buzz words of ‘sympathy’ and ‘understanding’ and ‘trying’. They will bring in their new, best and shiny buzz word for occasions just such as these. The word ‘reasonable’ will be bandied about a great deal. I suspect that the word ‘reluctantly’ might make an appearance. I’d put money on ‘sorrow’ creeping in.
Let me use my own emotive language. After all, I’m a writer. It’s what I do.
What they will try to offer us is a plaster on a suppurating wound. When we point out that a plaster will only seal in the germs and make the infection worse, and that what we are asking for is for the physician to heal thyself, we will be ignored.
When we, quite rightly, turn down the solution that will only kill our patient slowly and cause them more pain, they will paint us as the bad guys. They will tell you that they wanted to help the patient, but they couldn’t because we wouldn’t let them, even though they tried their very hardest, and they are very, very sorry for our loss.
They will say this, despite the fact that they are the ones who are holding the pillow over the face of our front line services and smiling and smiling and still being villains while the very life is squeezed out of it at their hands.