Charters for the charterless

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The Independent Online
YOU MAY have noticed that there have been no new citizen's charters from the John Major septic think-tank recently. This is because it has been pointed out to William Waldegrave that all the charters so far have been weighted towards the consumer. They haven't helped the consumer. But they have been weighted towards him. Therefore, there has been a lot of pressure on Mr Waldegrave from Mr Major and other interested parties (a curiously old-fashioned phrase that makes it sound as if someone is actually interested in these charters, which, of course, nobody is) to produce a few new charters that make the supplier feel good as well.

Therefore, I can reveal now that during the course of the Tory administration (or 1993, whichever is longer), the following new charters will be brought out to mollify the supplier.

The Doctor's Charter: Patients have been mollycoddled long enough. It is about time doctors got a bit of protection, too. This charter will protect the average GP against being badly treated by at least 30 types of substandard patients, including well people; people with a psychological need to be chummy with a doctor; people who are too stupid to follow instructions; people who were at death's door but didn't want to bother the doctor; people who read about a new disease in the Daily Mirror and think they have got it; and bogus patients. (Bogus patients are classed as those who deserve only a bogus doctor.)

There will be a special measure of protection against those particularly difficult patients who insist on dying, even though they have been perfectly well looked after.

The Barman's Charter: From now on, the average barman will be protected against customers who, in one evening, use more than 10 dreaded pub expressions such as 'Well, it beats working', 'He's well to the right of Genghis Khan', 'It's what your right arm is for', 'It's the story of my life', 'Usual tipple, George?', 'What's your poison?', and many, many more.

Train Guard's Charter: The Government has always sympathised with British Rail travellers, though never to the extent of actually investing in BR, and now it is taking the side of the ticket collector as well. This charter will indemnify all ticket collectors against passengers who thought that Supersavers were valid on this train, who thought that this was the train to Reading and who were sure they had their tickets on them when they started. It will also protect them against first-class passengers who call them 'My good man' or who are on their mobile phones at ticket collection time.

The Dentist's Charter: To protect dentists against all patients with bad breath.

The Bookseller's Charter (also Librarian's Charter): To afford booksellers some measure of protection against the customer who comes in and says, 'I want a copy of the new travel book by the young man who was on Wogan the other day, or do I mean John Dunn? Anyway, he had travelled around Asia Minor with his trombone and he was ever so nice, or do I mean round the south of France with his donkey? Anyway, it sounded a really funny book and apparently it has just come out in time for Christmas, yes, R L Stevenson, that was his name, oh, dead is he? Well, I don't think I'll bother, then . . .'

The Sentry's Charter: To give all sentries protection against tourists who pose with them for photographs, by giving the sentry either financial compensation or a chance to have a go at the tourists with a sword.

The Restaurant Waiter's Charter: This will protect waiters against all diners who a) ask for dishes on the menu to be explained; b) ask what the waiter would recommend today; c) ask for their table to be changed; d) send the wine back even though there's nothing wrong with it that isn't usually wrong with such a cheap wine; e) refuse the free sprinkle of black pepper from the big peppermill; f) etc, etc.

The Monarch's Charter: A new high-level charter that will provide protection for, say, the Queen, against, say, everyone else. It has often been said in the past in defence of the Royal Family that they cannot answer back to criticism. But was it just that they couldn't be bothered? Or even that they chose not to answer back, feeling that their supposed inability to answer back was actually their strongest card? Now, at last, with the advent of the charter (as part of John Major's tax deal), we will be able to find out whether they really want to hit back.