But no she is asking “Are you at Oxford? “, her question prompted by my choice of reading material, James Attlee’s Isolarion, a book about the other Oxford, away from the dreaming spires, on the Cowley road where Arab butchers jostle cheek by jowl with Ghanaian fishmongers and Brazilian craft shops. Apparently she has just bought the book for her son who used to live in that area of Oxford. She has recognized it by the distinctive cover. She asks if I am enjoying the book and I admit that I am. We chat a little bit more and then, waving goodbye to her, I enter the tube station, marvelling at another random London morning experience….
With the recent failed terror attacks in the UK, the talking head pundits are out in force- in the newspapers, the television and on the radio. Everyone peddles their own peculiar brand of analyses, trying to explain why educated professionals would engage in terror. The focus is now on the NHS and foreign health professionals who work in it. Two summers ago, it was on disaffected young British Muslims living in inner-city areas in the UK. The hoary old debate about what fuels the terrorists continues- on one side those who argue, it’s all about Islam, stupid. On the other, those who scream that it’s all about Iraq and the government’s foreign policy. Both sides refuse to see any merit in the other side’s argument. Yet the answer seems obvious to me- it’s a combination of both. You can see how a “moderate” could be tempted to a greater fundamentalism and then violence by current global issues and injustices. You can also see that there are fundamentalists who will not be appeased, no matter what foreign policy is adopted. Like all things the truth lies somewhere in the middle but our politicians and pundits prefer a polarized debate….
Gordon Brown managed to pull off the image of freshness with his cabinet reshuffle. I think the choice of a woman Home Secretary is particularly inspired, coming after the bully boy tactics of John Reid, David Blunkett and co…Not that Jacqui Smith is a pushover judging from her previous role as Chief Whip…The measured response to the attempted terror was positive although somewhat marred by Brown’s last-ditch playing to the gallery pledge to bring in new systems of vetting for foreigners working in the NHS. What can new vetting systems do? Will he do a thorough criminal and security check on every single nurse and doctor of foreign extraction working in the NHS? Will he include the second generation? Remember that overseas doctors and nurses are estimated to constitute some 30-40 per cent of the NHS workforce…
Meanwhile in Nigeria, Yar’adua finally sends his list of ministers to the Senate. It’s still secret- not sure why- but the names being bandied about do not inspire confidence. In many ways it is beginning to look like Obasanjo’s first cabinet- full of yesterday’s men and women, political jobbers and others of doubtful provenance, but I’ll hold my fire till the real list emerges….One cheering point might be that the new president seems intent on running a fairly tight ship…there are “only” 35 names on the list- here’s hoping he doesn’t appoint a slew of Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants, Personal Assistants and so forth as Obasanjo did in his first term..
Meanwhile in response (I assume) to my previous post on The World is Flat, I'm sent this link.