The laugh of a child, the fall of rain in a forest, the skimming of a stone, the cracking of the top of a creme brulee, the NHS, the Strip the Willow when everyone knows what they're doing, catching your partner's eye with a knowing look across a crowded room.
Yes, that Luther Vandross really knew what he was talking about when he said the best things in life are free. Though I'm sure the NHS was the furthest thing from his mind when he penned these particular words.
But, of course, the NHS is not free. If I break my leg, I can go get a stookie, ask people to write their name on it and in 12 weeks, once my leg is healed, I'll be able to go out climbing trees again, clearly not having learned my lesson from 12 weeks prior. And this part of the process is free of course.
But the other side, the various health boards who have to pay for nurses, doctors, medicines, hospital beds, scalpels and scrumptious hospital dinners, not to mention the plastercast that makes my stookie every 12 weeks, well they are having a tough, tough time of it these days. They are desperately struggling to make their books balance. And it's not medicines and hospital beds that are dragging their profit and loss statements into the red, that wouldn't be so bad, but it is interest payments. Last time I checked, interest payments didn't stop cancer, perform transplants or make better stookies. And yet this is where a significant portion of our taxes are going.
The best things in life may be free for romantic head-in-the-cloud types like myself, but the cold heart of big business has no time for such things. They like profit, and fair play to them, that's how the private sector works.
Now, how much profit will these private companies make out of the UK taxpayer for having new shiny hospitals built earlier (at the expense of existing h ostpitals that were arguably working perfectly well anyway)? Well, 23 billion pounds over the next 30 years. 23 BILLION pounds...!
I have only recently learned about PFI and how it all works, and this was managed thanks to Julie MacNulty who is standing as an independent candidate in Coatbridge and Chryston (and in the Central regional vote). Julie has a blurb on PFI for Dummies on her blog which is, quite simply, mandatory reading for any Scottish voter who doesn't know about PFI already. Please, please read it.
I can't actually fathom how the powers that be in the Labour party decided this was a good idea. Well, I can actually as there is only one possible explanation for wasting so much money over 30 years. To look good in the short term... And sad to say, looking good and PR has been the achilles heel for New Labour. A movement that sucked us in, did some good for a while and then somewhat unravelled as it became clear it had less in the tank as it would have liked to have suggested.
Labour have seriously mismanaged our finances here and I urge people to learn more about this colossal waste of money, listen closely to the health debates and also to understand how to back-pedal our way out of this financial mess by attending one or more of Allyson Pollack's lectures.
Now, I believe that Andy Kerr and Lewis MacDonald are the health ministers for Scotland. Andy has a background in Consultancy work and land development. Lewis was a history lecturer, a parliamentary researcher and a cabinet adviser before becoming an elected representative himself.
I am not saying we need doctors and nurses to be the minsters for health, but would it not be beneficial to have (1) some accountants in there helping with decisions and (2) some people with a more vested interest in the NHS and some experience of how the sprawling entity works on the inside. There seems to be too many cheques and too many balances that don't balance for my liking. Noone is taking control of the money that is being frittered away. Which is our money that is being frittered away of course, not that that seems to matter for those in power seemingly.
The NHS being free at the point of use, and not building up a huge credit bill, would seem to be the most popular option for funding this behemoth. So let's vote in Julie MacNulty and Jean Turner to keep the pressure on the Health Ministers to do the right thing.
Our love affair with the NHS is sure to continue, but if we can't keep up the interest payments as and when they fall due, I daresay it won't be an Endless Love.
Ok, I'm off to get my Luther Vandross Greatest Hits album out now. And maybe crack into a cheeky wee creme brulee while I'm at it.