This afternoon we were captivated by a little Wren, busying itself in the undergrowth of a hedge that lines the bridleway from the Welsh Venison Centre (we prefer to think of it as The Deer Sanctuary) to Tal-y-bryn. We had stopped to listen to a Robin singing his heart out / fiercely claiming his territory, but the noisy harrumphing of the Wren drew our attention away. These tiny birds are barely the size of a child’s hand but make a real racket. Indeed, my twitcher app tells me in a Top Trumps sort of way that “weight for weight the Wren’s song is ten times louder than a crowing cockerel”.
Last week, the Mayor of New York, Bill De Blasio, announced free access to health care for all New Yorkers. For British citizens a universal right to free health care might not sound radical – it is something those of us under the age of seventy have enjoyed our entire lives. But medical bills are the single biggest cause of bankruptcy in the USA. Having witnessed some of those closest to me requiring urgent access to our free British National Health Service over three successive New Years, I am in full agreement with the Mayor when he says that “[h]ealthcare is a right not a privilege reserved for those who can afford it”, but also reminded that it is a “right” that most global citizens do not actually enjoy.
Ms Markontour has not been well in the New Year, but the one upside is that we have had lots of time to discover and catch up on Curious Under The Stars, a magical and uplifting BBC radio drama. Having the privilege of sitting listening to it while gazing out on to the ever-beautiful landscape of the Brecon Beacons has made it all the more enchanting.
Radio Four’s new series, ‘Economics with Subtitles’, got off to a great start with a programme explaining why GDP growth is not a useful indicator of the success of a society. “Economics is the only discipline where endless growth is regarded as a good thing”, says presenter Steve Bugeja, quoting a character in a Jonathan Frantzen novel, ”In biology there’s a word for that – and it’s cancer.”
If anyone has yet to see ‘To Provide All People’, Owen Sheers’ incredible ‘poem in the voice of the NHS’, dramatised by the BBC, then you are missing out on the television event of the year.