I heard the most extraordinary comment made in a radio programme, when I was half asleep in the middle of the night, a couple of days ago, concerning money spent by the Ministry Of Defence, presumably on general maintenance and repair contracts on public buildings owned or leased by them. So far as I recall what happens is that the relevant Ministry goes out to tender, probably annually, to an approved list of contractors who submit a detailed schedule of costs for various tasks. Then, throughout the following year, this contractor would be instructed to carry out maintenance or repairs, based on this schedule, or using the schedule as a basis, for calculating the cost to be invoiced to the Ministry. How on earth then did it come to pass that the MOD, allegedly, as it was reported on the radio, pay Â£22 to replace a light bulb costing no more than 65 p and pay over Â£102 for a few screws costing no more than around Â£1. Of course, there may be much more to this than we have been told,.Â The bulb may well be at the top ofÂ a 150 foot high tower and the screws needed to be replaced in an abnormally inaccessible position. However, Â had this been the case one would have thought it not necessary to report these two seemingly ridiculous costs on the national news. If indeed these were the amounts paid for just ordinarily maintenance or repair items then when do we hear about the sacking of the totally incompetent civil servant who negotiated the schedule in the first instance and was responsible for authorising the work in this particular case. If this happened in private life with a commercial firm the person responsible would be sacked so fast they wouldn’t know what happened to them but when it is a union protected public servant it seems almost impossible to get rid of them however incompetent they may be.
I’m only too aware that the last few entries on this blog have been of a rather negative for downbeat nature, for that I apologise, but it just happens that these were current news issues. I now compound my conduct by reporting on England’s latest disaster in the World Series Cricket in India. Two wickets lost in the first over for three runs. It was only due to stirling 97 partnership between Trott andÂ Priorthat EnglandÂ managed to get 171 all out in the 45th over. South Africa looks like making little of this patheticÂ score, reaching 124Â for 43 , giving the appearance of coasting to an easy victory, but, in the event, in a nail-biting finish, were polished off by England, in a terrific performance, who won by six runs, in the 48th over.
Unless you are a sports fanatic you cannot understand how seriously some people take such matters. A friend of mine, who is mad on cricket said, rather irreverently and, I considered, in bad taste, there are three things he will remember as long as he lives.
The date and where he was when Kennedy was assassinated; the day Diana died and the day that Ireland beat England in the World Series Cricket!