Danny: Chumpion of the World

Watching actress Kim Cattrall's visit to Liverpool to trace her ancestry in Who Do You Think You Are? (available for UK only or proxy)(YouTube Link) reminded me of my own delving into genealogy some years ago. It was triggered by the death of my father and recent discovery of a number of half-siblings. Every family is capable of unearthing skeletons and scandals; when they involve celebrities - whose personal lives we think we know - it makes for fascinating TV.

One aspect of trawling through censuses and registers of births, deaths and marriages is the revelation of how far we have come. Families - even non-Catholic ones like mine - traditionally had very large families. My father's traditional greeting to someone with, say, four children was to venture that they didn't have a TV! A less glib appraisal shows us that working class Britain a century ago was subject to such hardship and high mortality rates, that in such families, necessity was the motherhood invention.

Many entries saw children born and dying within the year; other names would disappear from the next census. So, it does not take a sociologist to conclude that health has in the main improved since the creation of a welfare state 'from cradle to grave'. A visitor from could pick holes in that - citing the outbreak of mass obesity -but that also affects the USA in particular.

You can see where I'm going.

Tory MEP Daniel Hannon may be dismissed by Cameron as having a few eccentric ideas, but his views are not atypical of the Tories. The NHS may not be perfect but without it, how many of us would be in a position to ponder who do we think we are?