Natalie Haynes: Yes, ministers, the hair shirt rules are a daily reality for most people

 

Share
Related Topics

Could there be a more oppressed minority in our society than cabinet ministers? I know you might want to wave words like the disabled or impoverished children around, but really, it's time for some proper perspective. Downing Street has forbidden ministers from using the Olympic lanes. Heck, they've even forbidden them from using cars to get to the Olympics. Take a deep breath and whisper it: they have been told to use the Tube, almost exactly like everyone else who wants to go to the Games.

The deprivation must be almost unthinkable. And it doesn't end there: even if they are prepared to buy a ticket for a family member to accompany them to an event at which they are supposed to be working – insofar as one can work at, say, a diving event when one isn't even the diver – they can't. Purely because some nasty-minded taxpayer might think that if cabinet ministers are supposed to be schmoozing some VIPs, they might make a bit more of an effort if they hadn't taken their wives to chat to instead.

No wonder these have been described as "hair shirt rules". Being asked to talk to a guest while watching some archery is surely the toughest job of all. One cabinet minister has even suggested that after enduring public transport (a plight which would make any child sewing trainers together in a slum shake its head in mute pity), they might not actually feel like being nice to their official guests.

Oddly, it doesn't seem to have occurred to any of these tragic, put-upon creatures that every single person working at the Olympic site – every cleaner, every burger-flipper, every ticket-checker – will have had to endure precisely the same thing every day of their working lives. Hair shirts, by the standards of a cabinet minister, is regular work for their voters.

Pretty much the defining characteristic of the service industry is that you have to schlep to work, often on hot, overcrowded public transport, and then when you get there, you have to be nice to people. Not just to one person, but to dozens of them, all day, until you clock off. And you don't even get to sit down and watch some fella run the 400 metres while you do it.

www.nataliehaynes.com

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Science Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Key stage 3 and 4 Teacher requi...

RE Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Teacher of Religious Education ...

A Level Chemistry Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: A Level Chemistry Teacher - Humb...

NQT Secondary Teachers

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is actively r...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Cameron's unexpected tax pledges give the Tories home advantage

Andrew Grice
President Barack Obama walks with U.S. Secret Service agents to Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Calif., May 8, 2014.  

Obama's Secret Service has become sloppy with its delusions of Hollywood grandeur

David Usborne
Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence