Matthew Bell: Rant & Rave (15/04/12)


I've never really understood what T S Eliot meant when he said: "April is the cruellest month, mixing memory with desire." Well, now I do. He was talking about the Great Central Heating Debate. When is it time to switch off?

Since I've started paying bills, late in life, I've taken the view that stoking up a boiler to heat miles of ancient piping, for it to make odd clanking noises and send all the warmth out the window, because radiators are always under windows – someone please explain – is an extravagance too far. I switch it off the minute February ends.

Sadly, housemates don't agree, and a never-ending game of hit-the-boiler-button follows.

So I was looking forward to April, the first month when you really can argue spring is here. But April has let me down. It's freezing, and the boiler bunnies are winning.

Eliot was right: April is the cruellest month, because it mixes a desire to be warm with memories of massive heating bills.


Three cheers, and a throaty little cough, for Andrew McCombe. He's the surgeon who has attacked the NHS for, er, cutting back on tonsillectomies. Apparently they've decided removing tonsils is a waste of time, and have placed the operation on a list of treatments of "limited benefit".

Mr McCombe says this is nonsense, pointing out there's been a 40 per cent rise in children being admitted to A&E with tonsillitis, which is obviously a much bigger waste of everyone's time.

Of course, the edict is just another NHS wheeze to save money. And as someone who was never allowed to have their tonsils out, because my old man, being a doctor, knew better, I now get tonsillitis about every six weeks.

So, can I beg all parents to give their children the joys of a tonsil-free life? Take them out now. Do it yourself.

On second thoughts, maybe not: my grandfather always remembered having his hoiked out on the kitchen table, a chloroformed handkerchief administered from behind. Well, wasn't it to stop such home horrors that the NHS was created?

This is one cut we could do without.