Helen Martin: Freedom? You must be joking

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IF you are already tearing your landline out in fury after yet another double-glazing, solar panel, PPI or “nothing” phone call, at least you might now expect new and more varied people to be pestering the bejaysus out of you and your family.

Prepare to hear from Scottish Canals, Quality Meat Scotland, the Botanics, VisitScotland and CalMac. No guarantee that they’ll phone mind you, as they may have nothing to sell you. But they will probably have your name, gender, date of birth, where you were born, any names you’ve had, your NHS number, your mother’s maiden name, your postcode, your GP, any military record and any information held on you relating to medical research, especially likely if you’ve had cancer.

Last week it emerged that the SNP government was considering handing all this personal information, which is held on the NHS database, to HMRC so that they could identify Scottish taxpayers, thereby making sure Scotland gets every penny it should when the new Scottish rate of income tax comes in.

Himself hasn’t seen a GP for at least 20 years, possibly 30. Nor has he seen a doctor professionally, or been admitted to hospital. He hasn’t taken part in any routine health tests. As far as the NHS is concerned, he dropped off the radar decades ago. He may be unusual but he can’t be unique. So the plan for the taxman is flawed.

A few days ago everything turned a bit more sinister with the news that the taxman was only the start of it. The government has a list of public sector bodies and employees who might also be given access to all this personal data, stuff we have always been led to believe is private. Who else’s business is it, apart from an insurer perhaps, that you have had cancer, or a sex change, and why on earth do the Forestry Commission and Cairngorm National Park need to know how many times you’ve been married?

For me, this has all been the final straw. After the referendum I joined the SNP. I am now considering 
asking for my fiver back. They have made it clear through proposed spy and nanny-state legislation that the average Scot isn’t capable of enough independent thought to blow his own nose, let alone run a country.

We are treated like the hapless drunks in English sitcoms. Drink has to be priced out of our reach to stop us becoming intoxicated. That, along with removing the licences of those caught behind the wheel after one pint, is the genius strategy designed to end heavy drinking, addiction and the risk of blootered drivers mowing down and murdering the innocent. Even more might be driven to drink by giving up university or losing their homes when their jobs in brewing, distilling and pubs disappear.

Hardly surprising then that we can’t raise our own children without a “named person” to shadow us as state guardian. We must of course be prevented from force-feeding kids deep-fried Mars Bars and gallons of Irn-Bru.

Now, looking at us through SNP eyes, I realise we are a very stupid nation. We have little freedom and deserve none. We need to be looked after and protected from ourselves. Independence? How about having us all sectioned for our own safety?

Fifty Shades of Hypocrisy

FOR once when I say “call me old-fashioned”, I really mean it. I’m about to sound like an old prude. I’ve never read Fifty Shades of Grey, nor am I planning to go and see the movie.

I doubt it would teach me much, though how can I say that if I haven’t read it, preferring murder investigations, serial killers or psycho-thrillers?

But I do find it rather hypocritical that the middle-aged are lecturing the young about accessing porn online, questioning their attitudes towards casual sex and complaining that young men now expect girls to be up for anything no matter how kinky – then queueing up in droves and drooling to see what Christian Grey and Ana Steele can do with a whip, handcuffs and a blindfold.

I’m not tickled pink

WONDER how it went.

“Well team, how do we make this bus appeal to women?”

“Oooohh, Harriet, let’s make it candy pink. Every girlie loves pink, we could paint our nails to match.”

“Brilliant, let’s do it.”

Welcome to my hell’s kitchen

HAVING a new kitchen installed involves emptying and demolishing the old one. A kitchen is like a haggis. Once you get stuck into it the volume of the contents seems to double. Every other room is now full of decanted boxes and unending kitchen rubbish accumulated because “it might come in handy”.

We are camping with a kettle and a toaster. The dog has become a discombobulated creature with sad eyes who can’t remember where his food bowl is. The cat is having a great time supervising the works and exploring places he shouldn’t. I’ve done my back in and Himself is nobly tolerating it all because in his view there was nothing wrong with the old kitchen.

This is thousands of pounds of indulgence when a mangle, a spit on an open fire and a good scrubbing brush should be enough to keep any woman happy. Perhaps I should take him to see 50 Shades after all.