Sylvia Plath had a week to live. London was blanketed with snow; it had never been so bad in living memory. Every morning she would trudge with her two children to the phone box, and leave them freezing in the car, while she made her phone calls. One of those calls was to the telephone service. At the time, the English would distribute phones. She had just moved into the new house, and the workers had not yet had time to install her phone. So like everything that comes from the state, there was a massive waiting list. The lack of phone, the fact she was freezing and feeling quite alone were weighing heavily on her mind. There was more, of course. She was organically ill. She’d attempted suicide before. She was certainly sinking fast. In retrospect, it looks to me like she was perhaps manic in those last fatal months. The furious move from Court Green, her lovely estate in Devon, to Yeat’s old house in London, her unpredictable behavior around her friends… and lastly, her work, the beautiful Ariel poems, which I believe are the finest poems ever crafted in the entire history of mankind. She wrote those quickly, writing four or five or seven of those massive poems per day, in the dark hours before the children awoke. All this has a manic frenzy to it. Even if I am wrong and she was not manic, she was certainly extremely ill. And she knew it. She needed hospital badly. Dr. Horner, her psychiatrist, was trying to get her into a hospital, but the NHS kept turning him down. There was simply no room for a woman with two children. She would just have to wait. Her depression, of course, was not waiting. She attempted to push it back. She took primitive anti-depressants and tried to hang on.
She died before a bed could become available.
Since this happened in 1963, there is a good argument that I’m being facetious by using Sylvia Plath as an example of how awful collective medicine is. So I shall use the modern era, and Madonna.
When Madonna was pregnant with her second child she was living in London with Guy Ritchie. She told a UK paper that she would never have a child in England because the hospitals were all built in the Victorian era, were cold, filthy, horrifying places. The English went crazy defending their precious National Health Service, but Madonna ultimately returned to Los Angeles for the birth of her son. I mention this only because soon there will not even be a place for someone like Madonna, who can afford the best medical care in the world, to go.
There are millions of stories like this from Canada and England, and other places that have attempted socialized medicine. I say “attempted” because it’s never been successful. Never. Anywhere. And tonight, that’s what we’ve signed up for.