I almost published this post prematurely, then my ageing brain promptly pushed it back into the recesses of my mind & it has sat, festering, in draft form for several weeks. Now, however, it is shouting at me to be finished and sent out into the wide world.I suppose there is some relevance with the new Labiour leader having been elected on an anti-austerity platform so I’m about to attempot to knock it into shape and put it out there.
We visited friends in the Cotswolds recently. (A teacher & a students nurse before you ask) and I think I’ve twigged now why middle England, assuming that is middle England, think that everything is just hunky dory right now.
We visited some of the lovely small towns and villages there. Beautiful places with rivers running through them with ducks and the occasional swan, nice little tea shops with tables outside and pubs with good English food. (The prices surprised me actually as being generally no more than we pay up here so I assume the “higher cost of living” in the south is mostly due to house prices.)
I live in The North. My particular bit isn’t especially deprived, although some places nearby definitely are, but the overall feeling is downbeat. There is an air of tired resignation at the thought of who knows how many more years of Tory poshboys taking the piss, selling off national assets to their chums & winding down essential services. The north used to be reasonably prosperous because we had industry. We had coal and steel, cotton and wool. The workers worked hard, but latterly at least, could earn decent money. There was indeed a certain dignity to it all.
That’s gone. The pits are gone, the steelworks are gone, the mills are gone – many of them turned into rather nice apartments for young professionals. I live in a former mill cottage. Our mill is gone too. Several years ago there was a planning application to turn it into apartments. It was turned down because it was listed. Luckily the application went through though after the mill mysteriously caught fire.
The North is trying its best. We’re trying to buldoze through the austerity and the lack of real industries, we don’t have the ones where men in expensive suits mainlining coffee (do they still do that?) move imaginary money around the world using computers programmed to panic at rumours of takeovers and natural disasters in far-off lands.
I’ve looked at a few jobs recently, There’s a charity organisation that has just started advertising jobs as well as volunteer posts. All but 3 or 4 were in London. (Why do charities do that? Wouldn’t their money go a lot further if they were out here in the sticks?) I read today that wages are rising faster than they have for six years. I’m not sure who is getting that, nobody I know.
But back to my main point.
I think I get now, why some people, in some parts of the country think everything is lovely now, because, for them, it is. They are in nice well-paid jobs, they know all the right people so they can move to other, better paid jobs when they feel like a change. They can buy nice food in nice shops and send their nice children off for riding lessons and buy them nice ponies. Even their street drinkers are nice.Of course they don’t have a problem with the way things are being run, because, for them, there is no problem. They don’t see what those of us in other parts of the country are seeing. And if we complain about it, they think we’re just not trying hard enough, because look! They have worked hard havern’t they and everything has worked out well, surely, if the rest of us work hard, everything will work out for us too. And all those dreadful “benefit scrounger” reality shows are just reinforcing their view. I don’t know how we can help them to see that it’s not that simple, except by their coming and experiencing life for the rest of the country directly. And that’s not going to happen is it?