BY DOMINIC WIGHTMAN
“No” has often been a problem for me. Especially when the gutless or apparatchiks are telling me. If the brick wall is made of sound bricks then no problem.
I recall ignoring no when I was told I could not sit on one side of a boat from Mumbai to Elephanta – it was tilting horrifically as it filled up with local Indians all being directed by the brainless captain to sit on one side of the boat (these boats used to regularly capsize). I recall ignoring no when a strategically incompetent rugby captain told me to wait before running a penalty in the dying minutes of a game we were in danger of losing. I recall ignoring no when I fell in love with my wife and many naysayers around me told me not to return to increasingly bloody Venezuela to court her.
I admit there have been times I have regretted submitting. The time a spiritless think tank director slashed the facts from a report on the horrors of extremists running religious schools “in case we get sued”. The time a craven business colleague turned down a risky deal which would have been a winner. I really can’t think of any other examples.
I hear reports that a Conservative MP has been told in recent months by whips that he should not mention the word “socialism”. Can you believe it? Faced with Corbyn and his sick bunch of antisemitic Trots? Now that would really be a time for regretting submitting.
Which brings me to my father in law.
My father in law has cancer. He was in a hospital in a town in southern Venezuela until recently when Venezuelan hospital workers went on strike. He was forced to get a lift in a car (no ambulances) and move into one of his son’s bedrooms. The cancer cannot be treated as it has metastasised to such a degree that tumours have spread to many areas of his body and some are inoperable. One tumour has broken his spine – I cannot imagine that level of pain. Venezuela is in such a perilous state under the Chavistas that there are no pharma suppliers willing to risk doing business with the country so pharmaceuticals are really scarce and cost billions of bolivars. When the hospitals are open they can manage saline drips but patients need to bring their own food and have family members bring and change sheets. Recently, the head of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department, Alejandro Werner, forecast that Venezuela’s annual inflation rate will reach 1,000,000% by year’s end – thus cashing dollars into bolivars is a fairly pointless process and you lose massive value overnight. Bank transfers are frozen over a certain amount – the kind of amounts required to buy chemo or radiotherapy from private clinics. My father in law is made of tough stuff and he’s a trooper; getting by on painkillers snaffled from a foreign land (the same brand we were recently prescribed for one of our Labradors) and herbal remedies crushed by pestle and mortar in a relative’s home then mixed into a revolting sludge he daily forces himself to drink by the litre.
My father in law should have died several weeks ago. He hasn’t. He is a tough and proud old bugger – the same man carrying a machete who I first met. He says no to death. ( I am forever grateful he said yes to me and put down the machete).
So what can you do?
If anyone tells you that the prescription for Britain’s problems is socialism, or that you cannot mention the murderous “s” word, just say no too.