We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]


As someone often accused of never having one word for a subject, where three hundred and fifty seven will do, I am afraid the following act of collectivized lunacy has simply left me stumped. Gazumped. And just plain flummoxed.

A National Health Service surgeon, from the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, has been suspended on full pay, for a week now, in a row over whether he took too many croutons to go with his lunchtime soup.

No, I am really not making this up.

I particularly like the comment from some idiot going under the name of Lord Warner:

I am reliably informed that there will be no detriment to patients, because the work that that doctor was due to perform will be covered by his colleagues

Tell you what, to save NHS costs let’s sack every surgeon in the entire country except one, who can cover all the rest. There will be no detriment to patients, obviously. We just better make sure we have a fleet of helicopters ready to whizz him about the country and a good supply of amphetamine pills to keep him awake.

Like I said, words fail me. Just pick your own croutons from the following word soup and gently flavour with Basil:

Parasites. Fools. Cretins. Croutons. Bananas. Idiots. The sooner the NHS is privatized the better. Monkey nuts. Lickspittles. Guardian-reading Enemy Class. Arse. Feck. And of course. Drink. Lots and Lots of Drink.

I particularly like Monkey nuts.

20 comments to Croutons

  • toolkien

    I heard this on the news on the way to work this morning. All I can say is the Brits must have some yummy croutons over there.

  • D Anghelone

    Don’t bogart the croutons. Your soup could use some strawberries.

  • Guy Herbert

    Don’t worry, soon everybody will have to follow similar disciplinary procedures to those exemplary ones in the NHS, so it won’t seem particularly wasteful. See here.

  • David Gillies

    This reminds me of the brilliant passage in So Long and Thanks for all the Fish! where we encounter Wonko The Sane. He tells of a moment when he realised that he was the only sane person left in the Universe, and retreated to an inside out house to shut out the madness. I think I must experience Wonko The Sane moments about ten times a week these days. If it’s not the transparent idiocy mentioned above, it’s things like Stephen Pollard’s description of sign language for the deaf at an opera, or an op-ed column in the Dragunia that makes Sheik Yassin sound like a cross between Albert Schweitzer and Robert Baden-Powell.

  • ernest young

    Lord Warner of Brockley, – The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health.

    When asked: “How would you explain your role to the staff here at King’s?”

    Quote: Well I do two things. Firstly, I have to deal with all matters concerning the Department of Health in the House of Lords – legislation, questions and debates. Secondly, I have a specialist area of work as a minister in the department, which covers medicines licensing, the pharmaceuticals industry and pricing; performance management; hospital food; hospital cleanliness and ward house-keeping; the dreaded subject of statistics which is a subject dear to (or perhaps not) the hearts of many health staff. And of course I am responsible for star ratings.

    Yet another one of many.
    Quote: My Lords, before answering those questions, perhaps I may say how much the Government support the theme of today’s 21st National No Smoking Day for smokers “who want out”. We know that more young women have set a quit date with the help of NHS stop smoking services, which have seen a very substantial increase in take-up by young women, of around 100 per cent. The Government have published their consultation paper, Choosing Health?, setting out a number of proposals and ideas to which we are asking people to respond.

    Gentlemen, I do believe that one of those elusive pompous jackasses has raised his head above the parapet, and in so doing, has revealed an actual name of one of those responsible for the parlous state of Government affairs in this country. While realising that he is only one of many bureaucrats, it is encouraging to be able to put a name to one of those mysterious ‘spokesman’, so often refered to in the press.

    He was previously ‘chair’ of the Youth Justice Board, and also ‘chair’ of something called the NCVO, something to do with those ‘volunteer’ people, and the author of many windy, platitudinous statements, other than the one that you quoted, but equally as stupid.

    I think that I may have spelled his title incorrectly, I think it is correctly spelled ‘Broccoli’.

  • Verity

    This man committed an infraction of the standards. OK, not a medical infraction, and no patients were put at risk due to his interest in having an extra set of croutons with his soup, but give these arrogant bastard surgeons an inch and they will be slipping an extra pat of butter onto their rolls when coming off a five hour operation next. Bleeding opportunists!

    I wonder if, between grooming his cat and having his G&T an hour early, he has been making phone calls to hospitals in the US? Just a thought. I hear they have unlimited croutons.

  • LT

    I was particularly annoyed at the American drivetime radio personality this morning that claimed there were “two ways to look at it” and that those two ways were: 1. He does ‘so much good’ that they should let him have the croutons and 2. that he’s rich and should have paid for them and probably stole them. I was miffed that they even framed it in this way, and even more angry that they expressed their favor for #2. Garbage!

  • Ian

    The BBC news I read had nothing to do with croutons: it was about Mr Hope’s taking too much soup.

    Clearly there’s a problem here. A privileged man with surgically-steady hands like Mr Hope will be able to take one ladle full to the brim and slop it in his bowl. But someone in a wheelchair, say, or with substance-misuse needs, might not be able to manage a full ladle. So self-service, while empowering, places the burden of discrimination on the client. She discriminates against herself.

    Ladling soup could instead be left to trained personnel, with regular performance reviews to ensure that disadvantaged groups got more soup to compensate for years of socially-enforced malnutrition or something.

    Moreover, people from agriculturally-underprivileged cultures which think of soup as filling a ladle are disadvantaged at the side of people from richer, Western cultures which think of soup as filling a bowl. Maybe this is where the confusion arose.

    Or else soup could be prepackaged in carefully-controlled portions, in recyclable packaging, with on-the-spot fines (scaled according to income) for anyone throwing the cartons in the bin.

    Something for the social exclusion unit to look at. I remember their first report. Pages and pages whining about poor people being unable to travel to supermarkets and left to being ripped off at corner shops for convenience food, so endangering their health. Never mind that they could get off their arses, buy fresh fruit and veg cheap, and learn to cook.

    Anyway, we’re talking about less than the cost of a disposable swab, aren’t we? And what cretinous jobsworth blew the whistle on this poor fellow?

  • Jeremy

    This whole episode sounds like some insane Monty Python sketch. What I want to know though is what petty little idiot reported this man? And more to the point, what supervisor approved this punishment?

  • Rob Read

    They could call it the Dead Patient Sketch!

  • Verity

    Rob Read – V good!

  • llamas

    Ian – your description runs so true, I cannot help but believe that significant parts of it will duly come to pass.

    In any event, I predict now that the investigation and reports into this matter will have a cost which exceeds the value of the croutons – or soup – in question by not less than 5 full orders of magnitude. Maybe more.

    It’s also indicative of a transfer of accountability away from defined processes. What I mean by that is that Dr Hope’s alleged theft is not being treated as a matter of law. If he stole soup – charge him with petty larceny, or defrauding the innkeeper, or whatever the hell the charge would be, and let him answer to the magistrates. That’s what would have happened to him if he’d done what he is alleged to have done at a restaurant.

    But no – in the hazy netherworld of the quasi-governmental NHS, his actions are being handled as an administrative matter. Much grist for many jobsworths to feed on, for months or years to come. Endless shifting of blame and accountability, much pompous pontificating to try and prop up what is self-evidently the most fatuous, useless, unjustifiable piece of trumpery foolishness to see the light of day in – oh, weeks, now. It’s indicative of the complete and vapid bankruptcy of such organizations that there is not, and will not be, a single person in authority, anywhere in the organization who has the stones to say ‘This is a stupid waste of time. Case closed. Get back to work’. Such a person no longer exists in such organizations.



  • Frank P

    We should not speculate too much about the Mr Hope’s case as it is still soup judice!

    But talking about such incidents in general one usually finds that the underlying cause is crumpet, not croutons. Hell hath no fury like a female patient, theatre nurse, or cafeteria managress scorned.

    Let’s hope that this storm, surrounding the Soup of Good Hope, turns out to be a storm in a teacup. I bet Terence Hope’s so. It certainly takes the biscuit for bureacratic bumbledom this week. Oh broth-er!

  • Verity

    Frank P – Ha ha! Soup-judice.

    Actually, the same thought had occured to me. The complaint, made with a great show of reluctance (“I really feel badly about mentioning this, sir, given that Mr Hope’s one of the most renowned surgeons in Britain. In fact, I was going to keep it to myself until I heard you were worried about costs creeping up, and I thought, well …”) will almost certainly have been made by someone whose charms Mr Hope has unaccountably failed to appreciate. Or even notice.

    It has all the hallmarks, doesn’t it? What’s your guess? Theatre nurse? To narrow the field, I’d say not a patient. Patients who have had brain surgery are much too frightened to be thinking of anything but their own survival, and they’re emotionally dependent in a different way, on their surgeon. Also, I don’t think they’d be in a canteen with the hospital staff.

    So a hospital employee. And probably not someone as upper crust (fr-crouton; I thought I’d be the first to do a bilingual gag) as he is.

  • Verity

    I googled Mr Hope and here’s the lowdown: he’s 57 and makes a measly £80,000 ($146K) a year. Lives in a £700,000 ($1.3m) home. Pretty modest stuff. He’s a consultant and senior lecturer. There’s a 39-day waiting list for brain surgery in Nottingham. The BBC says he took an extra helping of soup and croutons without paying for them! Well, wait ’til David Blunkett hears about this! He’ll take away his mobile phone and ban him from football matches!

    He’s a specialist in vascular neurosurgery. I just have a feeling he would not be a good person to mess with – just in case, you know, you ever ended up in his operating theatre.

    Mr Hope says he didn’t take extra soup, but did help himself to a few extra croutons. The picture in The Telegraph, even though he is in weird gardening clothes with a kind of bobble hat on, demonstrates that he’s pretty darn cute. Frank’s right. Cherchez la femme!

  • Verity

    The NHS just backed down, saying they’d investigated the crouton case and found Mr Hope to be without blame and he’d do four brain operations on Monday. Oh, the smarmy words! Perhaps they got a letter from Mr Hope’s solicitor, who knows?

    Anyway, this was covered in just about every major newspaper in the world – all the Anglophone ones, with breathtaking conformity, headlining along the lines of ‘Brain surgeon in the soup’.

    I am hoping the publicity for this act of moral morons got him enough publicity in the US for the job offers to come pouring in – and for considerably more reward than £80,000/$140K a year without crouton privileges.

  • Dr Eric

    Can I just say – as a part-time, amateur venereolgist in our glorious NH of S [absolutely true job description, I swear!] that those of us who still work in it – even as it crashes about our ears – don’t find the story even remotely surprising. The only surprising bit is that this particular piece of institutionalised cretinism actually made it to the newspapers; there’s plenty more where that came from that you never see or hear of.

  • Enemy of the State

    Frank P writes:

    …as it is still soup judice!

    I’m Sorry, Frank P. That really is a yellow card offence. Please stay at home, on full pay, until the referee meeting to discuss your case can be convened! 😉

    Dr Eric writes:

    …there’s plenty more where that came from that you never see or hear of.

    I’m sure Reuters, the Daily Telegraph, The Sun, and even Samizdata HQ, would be pleased to hear of any such collectivized nonsense. Short of stepping in front of the juggernaut and compromising your livelihood, please, Dr Eric, publicize all such cases, if at all possible or write to Dr Theodore Dalrymple, at the Telegraph, at least. Your catallarchy of related individuals needs you! 🙂

    BTW, are we really that lacking in Red Dwarf fans that no-one out there has yet had it in their hearts to mention either Gazpacho Soup, or the phrase Soup-er? Obviously, all correct spellings of Gazpacho sent in, will plague me with embarrasment forever ;-0

  • Don’t you people have a cache of weapons somewhere? Cripes.

  • Frank P


    Don’t worry, someone has now gotten to the lobotomy of it and Hope is restored. So if we all cease to strain our brains for cerebral puns it could well shorten his patient list.

    Don’t shoot! I surrender.