Magazine article The Spectator

Standing Room

Magazine article The Spectator

Standing Room

Article excerpt

When I was young, being given 'options' was a treat. It felt empowering - as though I were in complete control of my destiny. 'Do you want to play Monopoly or Careers?'

'You have a choice - a Zoom or a Fab, what will it be?'

'If you have a bath now and get ready for bed you can stay up and watch either Top of the Pops or The Persuaders - you decide.'

In those halcyon, carefree, pre-health and safety days both choices were always presented as being agonisingly fabulous, and much of the thrill derived from the deliberation itself.

Now that I'm an adult I've done a complete volte-face on options. I loathe them. They no longer represent freedom of choice - instead they're just decisions loaded with potentially irrevocable consequences.

In theory, all human, patient and customer rights should be cause for celebration. They're in place to give power back to the people; yet in reality they're a legal form of 'blame-shifting'. The pros pass the buck back to the ignorant, and thus absolve themselves from any liability.

I recently visited an emergency dentist because I was suffering from toothache.

'Aagh, ' said the dentist looking into my mouth. 'I could easily leave this tooth where it is and try giving you a strong course of antibiotics. Or I could take it out here and now. If I extract it, you'd in all probability have to have an implant at a later date.

Alternatively, you could just leave the hole to heal and see how you get on. What would you like me to do? …

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