Thursday, June 17, 2010

Boweled out

Rogues by Pants

The most frightful storm is raging outside. Happily I have already been to the letterbox. There were two items. The first I opened was from my local MP asking me to participate in a sham public consultation exercise to do with water conservation. Maybe he could backdate that to the 1950s and we might be in with a chance of approaching a point. I make a mental note to bump rainwater tank further up my to-get list.

The second letter had the Australian Government logo on it. Naturally I froze. I admit that lately I have become paranoid about getting into trouble for breaking one of the vast numbers of local, state or federal laws that have made their way onto the statute books in the quarter century I was absent from this country. I do not like letters from Government with my actual name on them.

Friends in Melbourne were recently fined $2,000 for removing a rotten limb from a tree that was overhanging a footpath. It was probably cheaper than being sued by a passerby for allowing it to fall on their IVF twins, killing both instantly. What I do to the Seat of Pants trees is more akin to barbarism than arborism. They do have a particularly nasty habit of growing sideways towards windows and fences and I do have a bow saw. There can be only one winner in this situation.

Back to the letter. It is about bowel cancer. Oh jolly. With this hideous gale blowing outside, I certainly needed that to cheer me up. It begins,

Did you know that around 80 Australians die each week from bowel cancer?

No sir, I did not know that. I consider myself intellectually enriched, and ever-so-slightly squeamish. The letter informs me that I have been 'invited' to participate in the 'National Bowel Cancer Screening Program'. Gosh, I think I might be washing out my organic waste container that day.

I plan to RSVP in the negative and perhaps request a rain check along the lines of 'if I actually do get sick one day, that would be the time I would love to receive your profuse concern. In the meantime, please note it is my firm view that bugging people who are in fact well is not sensible prioritising, however easier it may be than attending to the suffering of the people who are sick right now.'

But wait, I am wondering if this 'invitation to participate' is more of a directive than a request, for further down I read,

If you are already being treated for bowel cancer or have a health condition which your doctor suggests may be affected by participating in the Program (sic), you can choose to opt-off (sic).
It's not sounding particularly voluntary at this point. You have to get a note from your doctor to exempt you from paying much closer attention to your own poo than is strictly desirable? I also notice that there is a unique number attached to my name which is not my Medicare number or my Tax File Number and that 'opting-off' requires the completion of a form. To think that one of the reasons I wanted to get out of Britain was the escalating authoritarian creep. You can't even have a dump in peace in this country.

Needless to say, I will be scouring the fine print for disobedience opportunities that do not culminate in a summons. I am prepared to accept that further down the line there might be repercussions. It's hardly worth living if you spend your life in fret over illnesses you probably won't get.

You may be interested in this interview with British-based academic John Adams who has identified an institutional disorder which he has named Compulsive Risk Assessment Psychosis, the acronym for which is CRAP. I think we may have an application of CRAP theory here.

Fortunately I had the presence of mind to visit the woodshed before the storm and I have a roaring fire going. Both letters will be going into it in the next few minutes...