Thursday, June 30, 2011
project bids, public services in hard times; and the craft of short stories
I’m just taking a short break (hopefully to get the creative juices working). But I have a few useful references to pass on. Amongst all the mythogising of Greece and Greeks that is going on, a rare bit of commonsense. This particular blog has looked at the various statistics to explore whether the Greeks are in fact as lazy as is being asserted (retirement ages, pension, working days etc ) and finds the myths unsubstantiated (although some people might say "fear the Greeks - particularly when tney come bearing statistics"!).
However what is true is that they don’t declare incomes in order to avoid taxation. And, of course, this is not merely true of Greece – I’ve made the same point about Romania - with the incredible time and money people spend on building their own houses - with local labour whose incomes are never declared!
Yesterday the Scottish Government released an independent report they had commissioned from an interesting collection of people last year on the future of public services in the new tough world . What was impressive was that they asked a retired trade unionist to chair it – and did not pack it with their own people (a couple of my left-wing colleagues were on the commission). And the report – despite some unpalatable messages – has been positively received in most quarters. So at least the Scottish tradition lives on – unlike the tribal politics of England.
Time for a stirring Spanish political song from the old guard
And Simon Jenkins has rediscovered the virtues of the classic civil service.
I’m becoming a fan of the short story art form. William Trevor, Carol Shields, Vladimir Nabakov always hold me in thrall. Hanif Kureishi is an impressive novellist whose acquaintance I am only now making – with his Collected Stories. Now back to the grind!