What sort of a person are you? Do you give to Red-Nose Day, recycle your empty gin bottles and vote in the X-Factor? Are you the sort that combs the internet and compares prices? Do you shop around for gas and electricity?
I tried it once, for gas. I put in the address of Lilley Towers into a comparison web-site and told them about my modest twenty eight bedrooms, double glazing in the servant's quarters and hit the go-button. The computer had a bit of a think and decided I should switch from British Gas to Southern Electric.
And that was where the shemozzle began. I had two bills from different suppliers, one an estimate. I had stroppy letters, welcome letters and we miss you letters. I had bribery letters; we love you letters and threatening letters. I even had emails and texts. Shortly after I switched I was persuaded to change the tariff I was on and I am now no better off than when I started. Somehow, I don't think competition in the utility business has worked.
It seems Ofgem doesn't think so, either. Boss-Gas has told energy firms they must offer simpler tariffs to help consumers compare prices. Well, it's a bit late, mate!
So concerned is he, he is threatening to force these firms to auction off up to a fifth of the electricity they generate, making room for new companies. And, no doubt even more complexity, costs and confusion. Nice one!
The regulator said that customers were "bamboozled" by a complex system of tariffs, which have increased from 180 to more than 300 since 2008. Too right, so; where has Boss-Gas been since 2008?
By the way British Gas operating profits have risen from �65 per household in September, to �90 in November, a 38% rise. This is not regulation it is a rip-off.
Call me old-fashioned but it doesn't strike me that Boss-Gass is quite on top of the job. He's let the gas companies make the running and I don't think he stands much of a chance of shoving the gas back up the pipe.
I read this story and thought of the Braggadocio just appointed to run Off-sick, the quaintly named Monitor. Regular readers will know we have highlighted David (2) Bennet a couple of times and generally he wouldn't be worth mentioning again. He's best avoided. Ex-McKinsey, did a spell, helping Tony at Number 10 and after, presumably they didn't want him back?
Mr Off-Sick makes much of the fact that he has worked in the utilities business! If I was him I'd keep quiet about that! Better to pretend he was a gang-master, or sex-trafficker.
We reported, last week, in an interview with the Times, Dave (2) ......compared the NHS to the utility companies and 'ripe for dismemberment'. He went on; "It is too easy to say; 'how can you compare buying electricity with buying healthcare?' There are differences but there are important similarities ...... we have done this in other sectors."
He boasted; "I've worked in lots of different countries in the energy sectors, in power and gas, doing exactly this..."
Well, may I suggest he might like to go back and see if he can sort out Boss-Gas before he tries his hand at the NHS.
I have previously made the obvious point; the NHS is a whole system with interdependent services. They are called clinical linkages. A day or two ago a reader sent me this link to a really neat graphic (Must see) of Clinical Linkages for 24 hour services. It is the first time they have been mapped in this way. Excellent!
The services are clinically intertwined; they are also, just as importantly, financially interrelated. The income from the soft services, the cold, elective work, the target for Mr Off-Sick's 'dismemberment', help to pay for the less lucrative and risky services such as paediatrics.
Of course, there are too many hospitals and the health economy can't support them all. A sensible, well worked and tough reconfiguration programme is needed to deliver the right services, in the right place, with a soft landing.
What is not needed is the 'dismemberment' of services in a moment of market madness by an unelected, mad-axe-man whose only claim to fame is; he used to be a gas man.
Leaving the NHS or changing jobs - give us your new e-mail address and we'll keep mailing to you.