The adage that “Every little bit helps” is a con. It isn’t true. It doesn’t work – especially when what you really need is a lot.

Hate to sound ungrateful but that’s the way it is. It’s the way it has always been. A few quid thrown Carlisle’s way to regenerate a close to defunct city centre won’t come close.

Nice idea and all, but nobody is fooling anyone. And – unusually, for me - I feel sympathy for the poor councillors who now have to come up with a £150,000 high street saviour scheme, likely to meet unquestioning, universal approval.

Good luck with that, guys. If you can pave our sorry retail centre with gold, using your 100th share of a paltry pot, you’ll deserve your own chapter in the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. And I mean it – I genuinely hope you earn that place of high praise.

No one has any right to be surprised at the way crumbs are being cast around from the big table now. Stands to reason. When popularity campaigns are underway, the “Every little bit helps” principle is the first to take shape.

Like recruiting a TV celebrity chef to sort the hospital meals debacle, for instance. That won’t work either. There’s more to NHS catering woes than an absence of Bake Off quality quiche.

When my late mum was in hospital for long weeks – blind and virtually immobile – her food, which was pretty dire to say the least, was left beyond her reach. She didn’t know it was there, until I visited – by which time it was inedible.

I took food in daily and fed her. But her water was also left in the same way (as in out of her way) which was a deep concern.

“Please don’t make a fuss. They’re busy,” she would say, through raspy throat and parched lips.

I tried not to. Because they were – as she insisted kindly - busy. But now that there’s a plan to bring Prue Leith in to oomph up hospital food, I have to wonder what good miraculous menus will do for frail patients unable to help themselves, on wards with not enough staff to feed them.

Sometimes the big picture is the hardest one to see. Usually because the big picture, even when glanced momentarily, looks complex, difficult, too-long neglected. And expensive.

NHS budgets, which can’t run to funding enough doctors, nurses, cleaners, technicians – people, in fact – aren’t easily going to afford finest quality healthy food from farmers’ markets. Neither are hospitals likely to be able to update often antiquated kitchens in a hurry, nor recruit in-house cooks able to produce around 1,000 wholesome meals a day without breaking a sweat... and the bank. The failings of the NHS are all easily identifiable, within the big picture. None of them will be fixed cheaply because they are inextricably linked. Similarly, the critical challenges facing town and city centre high streets have been glaringly obvious for years. There’s no single solution – none that could be bought for £150,000 anyway.

Too little, rather too late, merely adds insult to injury. It also gives us someone to blame when too little didn’t work. Which is perhaps the general idea - during a popularity pageant.

What can councillors do with their little windfall to revitalise a retail centre wounded by internet shopping, commercial rents set by greed, shrinking disposable incomes, less than efficient public transport, national chains throwing in the towel and independents valiantly clinging on by their fingertips?

“It will make a difference,” said council leader John Mallinson. “Perhaps in the future, more bespoke, smaller businesses will creep in and we need to do what we can to assist that. The high street will evolve, becoming more residential, with more cultural and leisure offerings.”

He doesn’t know. Naturally he doesn’t. Nobody knows. Perhaps more creeping businesses; perhaps more homes; perhaps more continental markets - to provide culture, leisure and lost earnings for existing, struggling traders.

Big picture, see? It’s the devil’s own canvas and when we look on it, from a hospital ward or another boarded up store in an empty high street, we know the truth.

“Every little bit helps” is a con.