Where to begin with this?
Today I received a envelope, addressed to 'The resident', sent to one of my residences (OK, so shoot me! - lol) with the envelope helpfully marked 'THIS IS NOT A CIRCULAR' and bearing the legends of 'The Scottish Government' and 'NHS Scotland. Inside I find a letter which addresses me as 'Dear Sir or Madam'. There are two other enclosures within the envelope: firstly, and excitingly (I being of the 'Vicky'-type, aka 'Little Britain') a 'High Street Gift Voucher' for £5.00 (GB5.00) and a leaflet put out by something called the 'Scottish Centre for Social Research' and entitled 'The Scottish Health Survey'. We'll return to this a little later, never fear.
For the moment I want to focus on on the voucher for GBP5.00. It is headed up 'Love2shop' - they've got my number obviously! In any case it appears to be a perfectly valid voucher, which it seems I can spend at a variety of high street outlets (mentioned on the voucher are: Principles, HMV, Homebase, Boots, Virgin Megastores, Iceland, Woolworths, Wilkinson, River Island, Warehouse, WHSmith, H.Samuel, Focus, New Look, Carphone Warehouse, Halfords, Adams Kids, Comet, BHS, Mothercare, Waterstone's, and JJB) - it's even got a holographic logo on it and serial numbers on the back so I plan to go spend this money in the next few days; if these idiots are mad enough to squander our money (my taxes) in this way I'm unapologetic about recouping a very small small portion of this squandered money, To be quite honest I've never heard of a few of these outlets, but there are quite a few of the outlets named locally, so I won't find it too difficult.
Now, back to the leaflet accompanying the letter and shopping voucher! It explains that earlier surveys have been carried out in 1995, 1998 and 2003 and that from 2008 it will take place yearly. Apparently around 6,000 adults and 2,000 children are invited to take part each time. According to the letter I will be visited (or at least one of my addresses will be visited) in the 'next few days' by a named interviewer (whom I do not name here; she is, after all, just a 'paid lackey'). In any case the 'objectivity' of this whole exercise may be judged by perusing the 'Did you know?' section:
- A third of men and women think that their general health is 'very good';
- Around 1 in 5 men and women and just over 1 in 10 children eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day;
- Around 3 in 10 men and women smoke cigarettes, smoking rates have been steadily declining since 1995;
- Younger adults are more likely to smoke, but older people who smoke tend to smoke more cigarettes per day;
- About 1 in 4 men drink more than 21 units of alcohol a week and about 1 in 6 women drink more than 14 units;
- Men spend an average of 7 hours per week being physically active and women spend and average of 5 hours;
- Men are more likely than women to take part in sport while women are more likely than men to do heavy housework;
- Three quarters of boys and nearly two-thirds of girls aged 2-15 spend at least an hour a day doing physical activities;
- About 2 in 5 men and women have a long-standing illness, this rises to 2 in 3 of those aged 75 and over.
Some of these statements may appear intrusive or controversial (many are both in my view) and the 'What are the questions about?' segment are, in my view, both facile and patronising.
I have not yet decided whether I shall meet with the person who is scheduled to visit me in the next few days. Meantime I must register my protest at the Scottish Executive's profligacy with taxpayers' money'- I doubt I am the only one who believes the Scottish Excecutive (aka 'Scottish Government') must have far too much money available if it can afford to send out GBP5.00 vouchers to all and sundry to try and persuade them to allow such intrusion and self-exposure to its agenda - ultimately it is taxpayers (such as me) who are paying for this largesse so it seems, apart from anything else, rather a 'circular' way of going about its business.