First off, the term “Tea Bagger” is a derogatory designation for a Tea Party member in the U.S. I use it all the time though I have never directed it at a particular person, that is until now. Now, without hesitation or reservation, I call one, let us identify her as Mary Mary Quite Contrary, a bloody Tea Bagger. Sorry Mary Mary Quite Contrary, no apology.
I met Mary Mary Quite Contrary at a lunch on the way from Rome to Pompeii. Who would have thought. Mary Mary Quite Contrary is from Texas and once it was established I lived in London, England, she asked what I thought of the National Health Service. My assumed negative answer was implied in her tone. However, I told her I thought the NHS was great, to which her face expressed surprise. I told her that over the past decade numerous surveys indicated that over 90% of people who actually used the NHS gave the service a positive rating. I continued by saying that I thought it tragic that the Tory/Liberal Democrat government was changing forever the NHS. How, she asked. By privatising it, I said. To which she said, “Well, yes, because people don’t like it.”
It was clear she was ideologically challenged. After an internal sigh I looked straight at her and repeated that some 90% of people held the NHS in high regard. I wearily continued that the information the American public received about the NHS during their debate on healthcare was a distortion and misrepresentation of healthcare in Britain, that indeed some of the TV adverts were outright lies. For example, there was an advert that claimed that if Stephen Hawking had been treated by the NHS he would be dead. Of course, Stephen Hawking has been treated by the NHS all his life and is still very much alive.
Mary Mary Quite Contrary would have none of it, explaining how “they” hoped to repeal Obamacare, which she implied was, like the NHS, an evil form of socialism, or communism, or perhaps fascism, or was it Nazism. I doubt she knew the difference between the four. With that self-righteous self-possessed attitude that can drive a reasonable person crazy, though living in Texas and never having visited Britain, she gave the impression she knew better than one who has lived in the UK for twenty-six years and has on more than a few occasion turned to the NHS, the truth about healthcare my side of the waters. The words “fuck you” came to mind, but remained unvoiced. It would have been terribly rude, though perhaps not as rude as having people dying in the streets or or in their homes for lack of care.
I must confess I just didn’t have the energy to get into a confrontation with a Tea Bagger by the name of Mary Mary Quite Contrary so I excused myself saying I had to go to the “toilet.” Americans don’t use the word “toilet,” it being somewhat impolite. I hoped upon hope that using the word “toilet” would, if even slightly, offend her.
Well, that was that really. But later after returning to Rome from Pompeii it bothered me that I didn’t speak more forcefully in defence of the NHS. I kept having those damn conversations in my head that persist like a bad but catchy tune. This is what I wished I had said to Mary Mary Quite Contrary:
“I really don’t care if you want U.S. citizens dying in the streets in support of your ideology as you worship Jesus in your rich church, but at least you could argue your case honestly. It offends me the way you use the NHS to support your social Darwinian position. Don’t make your case by misrepresenting and telling lies about the NHS. I really don’t care about your position, but I do care that you support it through distortions or untruths. Have the conviction in your own beliefs and speak the truth. Have some integrity. Do the research. And stop lying.”
That would have put her in her place! If only I had said it.
I learned that Mary Mary Quite Contrary was leaving for London the next day. This is what I wished I had said about that:
“If you are injured or become ill during your stay in London, the evil socialist NHS will care for you as long as is needed.”
“If you are injured or become ill during your stay in London, live (or die) by your convictions and avoid the evil socialist NHS and seek out a private hospital to care for you. And if you don’t have your insurance papers with you, good luck with that."
After lunch her travelling companion pulled me aside and said, “You’ve meant a true blue Tea Party member.” Mary Mary Quite Contrary of Texas, I can’t say meeting you made my day. Go back to Texas and keep your ideological faith-based nose out of the NHS.
Copyright © 2013 Dale Rominger