Queen D has blown a fuse. It’s a biggie. Not just the Philippe Starck lamp, but the whole wretched circuit, sockets and all.
Time to call in an expert, Bill the Sparks, owner of a smart little van and a neat box of tricks straight from the engine room of the Death Star. No more poking around with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers for electricians unless a swift visit to casualty with hair on fire is the preferred option. Bill is an expert. He knows stuff about electricity and he can fix it when it goes wrong.
He has my respect, as does anyone in the maintenance game. I have no more desire to hang upside down in an attic looking for light transformers like some manic bat than I have to crawl under sinks shining a torch up my waste disposal. I love genuine experts, the ones with big tools, proper kit and the right attitude. My gynae and car mechanic both snap on gloves at the first sign of action. I love that. If someone’s going to tinker about under my bonnet, I want them properly scrubbed up.
We need experts and geeks. I am in awe of anyone single-minded enough to want to spend their lives studying the life cycle of a fire ant or splitting bits of space. There’s always a chance these people with scopes will change our lives, even by accident. Microwave ovens came about because a physicist noticed chocolate melting in his pocket while he was playing with beams. Velcro was invented because a botanist studied thistles.
But experts are having a bad time of it. The world is indulging in a spot of expert baiting, rubbishing science and dismissing facts. Trump is at the front, driving it with his fake news agenda and an army of fans and followers, including the educated and monied middle class on both sides of the Atlantic. Michael Gove jumped into his seat on the bandwagon – “I think the people of this country have had enough of experts” – and on clambered half the population.
Trump, Gove and their ilk play a dangerous power game, making fact and truth dirty words. There’s nothing more irritating for a mad leader to be told by experts his tweets, soundbites and rhetoric are riddled with lies and fiction.
We’re all playing the game in our own way. The internet has turned us into know-it-alls. We hoover up endless rubbish and like mad hoarders, stuff our brains with tosh we are unable or unwilling to ditch. We rummage through the stash searching for anything which passes for real and then pronounce on every subject, from politics to pandas, breast feeding to world economics. Discernment is dead. We can’t tell the difference between truth and trash, but we don’t like being challenged. Too often, dross has gloss and the truth is usually too dull for words.
And while we sneer at scientists, experts and authority, we worship the tin gods of our age, the rich and famous. If Gwyneth says eat ladybird thighs to make your eyebrows grow, bring on the ladybird traps. If Vicky La Posh is declared fashion industry queen, worship her and ignore her company’s disastrous balance sheet. There is no known link between celebrity and brain power, but you’d never believe it from the pronouncements spouting from our loony luminaries, wrapped up as fact and lapped up by their adoring fans.
It’s a bit of a “what did the Romans ever do for us?” moment. Take immunization. Decades of research brought the miracle of injections protecting us against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. All it took was one doctor, Andrew Wakefield, declaring a link between MMR vaccinations and autism, to put millions of children at risk as parents refused to allow them to be immunized. Despite the disgrace of Wakefield, the debunking of everything he said, and overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary – those pesky experts again – some parents still refuse the vaccine. Fingers in their ears, they refuse to be proved wrong, so cases of measles are on the rise.
HRT is another one. A report came out in 2002 linking HRT to increased risk of breast cancer, heart attack and strokes. Despite years of meticulous research before 2002 declaring HRT to be safe, millions of women immediately stopped taking it and doctors stopped prescribing it. Recent new research discredits the report, and shows not only that HRT is safe, it’s a wonder drug, cutting the chance of developing dementia by up to 60% and dramatically increasing bone flexibility. How long before women remove their fingers and listen to the experts? Years, at a guess.
Not me. Queen D couldn’t get her hands on HRT fast enough at the first sign of middle age madness. Allow me a small rant. If there was ever a Big Plan, the human female breeding system was the brainchild of a cloud-squatting bastard man-god binging on misogyny. Who else would design such a catastrophe? A girl child is scarcely out of nappies before her mother is sighing and saying, “She’s bloody hormonal already.” Puberty is hell, followed by three decades of monthly egg pops, each one marked by manic mood swings, crunching agonies and a pile of Lady Macbeth’s laundry. “Out, out, damned clot.” The misery is relieved by pregnancy. Bonuses? No bleeding. Penalties? Vomit for weeks on end, balloon into a football and squeeze out a melon which will transform your cute cookie cupcake into the back end of a helicopter gunship. Breeding years are followed by a decade of menopausal temper tantrums, weeping, hemorrhages and boiling sweats. Any surviving wrung out husks crawl towards the grave for a bit of peace.
You’d think a wonder drug which not only eliminates hot flushes, mood swings and night sweats, but actually decreases the chance of developing dementia and delivers bounce to bones would be snapped up and downed in handfuls by grateful women.
But no. That would mean doctors, the vast alternative medicine industry and its desperate sage-chomping customers have to listen to experts and change their minds. You might as well chow down on ground-up mouse testicles and water weed than Black Cohosh for hot flushes, but why let fact get in the way of fiction? Especially when for a mere forty quid, you can buy a bottle of 28 pills full of hot air and fictitious claims in the sure knowledge they will do fuck all, but will quickly bring your bank balance to a neat zero.
Changing minds is like chasing rainbows. Hopeless. Frustrating. A waste of time. Scare people, and the damage is done. We trusted economists, and the world banking system collapsed. Bankers are now pariahs. We knew there was no dossier, but we went to war. Blair is now the devil.
Without belief, there is no faith. Without faith, in the future, in ourselves, we have nothing. We must reclaim basic truths and relocate our trust in fact not fiction. We need experts. If we say we don’t, the lights will go out forever.