Have I gone mad?

I’m wondering if I’ve gone mad.

There’s this issue that I just can’t think about without one question occurring to me. For me, it is blindingly obvious, absolutely basic and impossible to avoid if you want to talk about the issue.

And the thing is, it doesn’t appear to have occurred to anyone else.

I’ve read plenty of media stories about the issue, and I’ve not found one that asks, answers or even obliquely mentions this blindingly obvious question.

The problem gets worse than that, however.

I’ve waded through lots of public comments on the topic too, and none of those mention the blindingly obvious question. Not even from those who usually are so very good at taking pot shots when the newspaper they love to hate gets it wrong.

But the problem is even worse than that.

I’ve taken a look at what some pressure groups have been saying on the issue. No dice; no question.

And it’s even worse than that.

Because it’s not a new issue. It’s one that has been going on for decades. Courtesy of the internet, I’ve been reading up on what has been said about the issue a few times before. No mention of the blindingly obvious question then or now.

Yet even there it doesn’t end. It gets worse still.

For there are the official press releases over the years from the government departments that have been roped into the issue at various times.

Now, what’s strange about these is that asking the blindingly obvious question would have been an easy way for those departments to head off criticism. And yet they never seem to have asked it. Nor, on being asked it by me, has their press team known the answer.

It’s just me and my lonesome belief in this question and the need to answer it. It has me mesmerised; I cannot see the issue without seeing the question.

We have politicians, media, the public, all discussing the issue over decades and never asking the blindingly obvious question. (Or if anyone has – and surely for the love of bar charts, someone has somewhere – it has been so low profile and infrequent that my searches have failed to find the cases.)

How can that be?

When you see things completely differently from the whole world, is it the whole world that has gone mad or is it you?

Oh, and what is the question? Let’s see if I can lure you into my island of sanity / insanity by leading you up to it.

Let’s start with unemployment. Imagine only talking about job losses when discussing unemployment and never, ever mentioning how many jobs have been created or what the net figure is. Only ever talking about the number of job losses and saying how awful they are.

When someone talks about job losses only and says how awful things are as a result, the blindingly obvious, absolutely basic and impossible to avoid if you want to talk about the issue is: “ah, but how many jobs have also been created?”.

It might be less than the number lost, in which case bad news. It might be more, in which it’s good news. Either way, talking about the job market and only talking about losses, never mentioning how many new jobs there are, would be daft, right?

So – take your leap with me – how come people talk about how many school playing fields have been sold off and don’t mention how many new ones have been created?

(And yes, there have been new ones: I’ve read stories about some of them, seen photos of some of them, even checked up the existence of one on satellite photography and caught a match mid-game. How many? I have no idea. Just as no-one else has.)

Here then I am left with my dilemma. For me, that question is essential. For the rest of the world, it appears not.

Either I’m mad or the rest of the world is.

You ponder that, I’m off to find solace in chocolate.

8 responses to “Have I gone mad?”

  1. Interesting Mark but a little disingenuous. You are as aware as anyone else that there is a significant net loss of jobs and that the number of 'NEETS' is growing not subsiding, reflecting a serious crisis in youth employment and storing up problems for the future in terms of an untrained workforce. Further, there is also a a huge net loss in basic area of playing field space available to school age children. It mirrors an almost similar situation in the 1980s when swathes of playing fields were lost. I understand you are trying to keep up Lib Dem morale, but, let's be honest, you are clutching at strawsl.

    • Stewart – you've posted your comment on my blog about school playing fields, so not 100% sure what you're responding to regarding NEETS other than presumably not that post itself? At a guess perhaps my tweet about the latest NEETS figures published this week, but those latest figures do show a fall in the number of NEETS, so I'm not sure how describing figures showing a fall as, er…, showing a fall is "disingenuous"?

      As for playing fields, here's a simple challenge: how many new school playing fields have been created per year for each of the last, say, 10 years? I've no idea and I'm pretty sure no-one else has either – certainly I've not been able to find anyone who does! What that also means is that as we do know some new playing fields have been created that also no-one knows if the total has gone up or down over the last 10 years. So how do you know it's true to say that "there is also a huge net loss in basic area of playing field space"? Can you point me to the figures which show that to be true? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't – my point is that no-one has the evidence to show one way or the other, so the smart reaction is not to act as if we did know.

    • Mark, I will try and find the exact figures, which I admit may be difficult so give me some time. I will also try and ascertain not only basic data on net area of playing fields lost, but also on where playing fields have been lost or gained as the location is as important as the numbers. BTW do you remember me from York University (Ted Royle's first year class on E.P. Thompson in 1988)?

    • PS Were you the mature student in Ted's group in the first year? Hello again! All that training in very regular essay writing was good practice for blogging as it turns out.

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