Now that Dr No is out, he can write more freely of his past. Details he before kept back can now be brought forward, free of the anxiety of unintentional exposure. Indeed, this was one of a number of reasons why Dr No lifted the veil. He can now write of where he trained, the places he has worked, and the doctors, some outstanding and some rather less so, that he has known over the years; and of the capers and calamities that have lightened and darkened his career. For with a name comes the history. Anonymity, like virginity, once lost, is forever gone; that which was hidden has now become known. And – he might add, for those who detected a valedictory note in Dr No’s last post – let him assure them that, just as the ex-virgin rarely forsakes future carnal knowledge, so the ex-anonymous Dr No has no plans to forsake further appearances. Rather the opposite, in fact, but never, of course, to the extent of wanton promiscuity…
Dr No has always had Dylan high on his list of Desert Island Discs. He even thinks Dylan is a bit like Shakespeare, even the Bible: we should get a complete set, without needing to ask for it. But if he had to choose one for now, it might just be this one.
Sixteen banners united over the field
Where the good shepherd grieves
Desperate men, desperate women divided
Spreading their wings ’neath the falling leaves
Speaking on the Today programme, their business reporter did his best to put some heat into a cold December morning. ‘Despicable cartel like practices,’ he flamed, quite putting Humph and the rest of the gang in the shade, over OFT allegations that UK private healthcare providers have rigged the market. The lady from the OFT stayed cool, although she did concede that the performance of the market was ‘perhaps not optimal’. To Dr No, the turn of phrase made about as much sense as if NASA public relations had used the words to describe the performance of the space shuttle Challenger on its last fateful flight.
The OFT, Monitor’s big brother, have been investigating the £5 billion UK private healthcare market, and – provisionally – it does not like what it saw. Provisionally – no one’s sticking their neck out here – it found ‘a number of features that, individually or in combination, prevent, restrict or distort competition’ – or cartels and rigged markets to the rest of us. Private healthcare, it appears – provisionally, of course – to be not so much about stitching up patients with subcutaneous Dexon, as stitching them up financially, in a web of cartels, restrictions and misinformation. The OFT plans – provisionally, as they don’t jump guns at the OFT – to refer the market to the Competition Commission.
Ian Hislop spent much of last night’s Have I Got News for You looking like un lapin apeuré caught in the headlights. Kirsty Young, the thinking Jock’s crumpet, kept both hands on the wheel. The man behind the wheel behind the headlights was one Lord Justice Leveson, chief pongo at the eponymous inquiry into, inter alia, the culture, practices, and ethics of the British press. The fear is that the headlights will turn into ray-guns, and before too long Hislop not to mention other upstanding members of the Great British Press will go up in flames, to be left standing, like smouldering stumps after a bush fire, the charcoaled reminders of a once free press.