Little Things

Well, I was going to show you pictures of the shoes I dyed. But you can’t really tell the difference in photos. They were brown, and I dyed them black. You can see the difference in real life though. They’re Birkenstocks and very comfy, and I couldn’t find any other shoes I wanted to buy, so I dyed them instead. Very pleased with the result.

Yesterday I spent over an hour on hold on the phone. Forty five minutes to the doctors, and twenty minutes to the Department of Work and Pensions, who pay my benefit. Hubby gets really impatient and frustrated when he’s on hold, but I try not to. I play computer games instead. Crosswords, jigsaws, Solitaire.

It could be argued, and is regularly harrumphed about in our house, that it’s a deliberate government strategy to make everybody so cross about the NHS that private medicine becomes the preferred option. I’m sure that is the case. But we both strongly believe in a health service that is available free to those in clinical need.

I’ve started Christmas shopping. Yes, in September. I usually start about now. Amazon and Marks and Spencer do particularly well out of this household. The lists have been in progress from very early on in the year. All the teenage grandchildren get multi-shop vouchers now. Wish lists are only consulted for adults, and even then we sometimes use them as a basis for buying something else connected. There will be lots of parcels arriving shortly. (We also keep the Post Office and various other parcel delivery services in business.)

And Covid. What a mess. Government playing Whack a Mole again. I don’t understand why pubs are allowed to be open. It’s madness. I understand that it’s awful for businesses too but, surely to goodness, health comes first. Or so you would think. Mm.

Feeling a bit ranty.

Went to a hustings on Wednesday night about the NHS. Five Parliamentary candidates were there, Labour, Tory, Lib-Dem, Green and UKIP.

Questions were asked by the audience and taken by the panel, with time to read them first.

I sat next to a guy who was clearly a rabid right-wing Tory.  Every time equality, or tax, or narrowing the gap between rich and poor, was mentioned, he tutted loudly or groaned aloud (along with a sizeable portion of the rest of the audience). At one point somebody else, while making a point, said he was a member of the union UNISON. And this guy next to me muttered “There’s a surprise”. I couldn’t hold back any longer. Up to that point I had managed to contain myself, and clap loudly the Labour or Green candidates, and ostentatiously *not* clap the Tory/UKIP candidates. But this was a step too far. So I turned to him and said “That’s a Bad Thing, is it?” and he had no response.

How can people openly be scornful of equality? what is wrong with equality? How is it a Bad Thing? I suppose if you’re very rich you just don’t want to share your goodies with the very poor. The attitude seems to be that rich people are rich because they’re better, somehow, innately superior, and poor people are poor because they’re just stupid or inferior in some way. I have actually heard this said. There seems to be a selfish meanness among many middle-class people. Resentful of the poor, who are portrayed as taking away their “hard-earned” money, and resentful of the rich, who are what they aspire to be.

It’s just mean, mean-spirited, nasty and selfish. I’d happily pay more tax if it would make a fairer society, or help the NHS. It would make hardly any difference to me, and so much difference to those less fortunate.

What is bad about being in a trade union? I suppose if you’re a boss of a company you see the union as a barrier to exploiting the workforce even more than they’re already exploited. But if you’re an employee, being in a union is absolutely essential to make sure you aren’t taken advantage of (to put it mildly), summarily sacked, employed with unfair or unreasonable terms and conditions, bullied – the list goes on.

Is tax a bad thing? If you’re really rich you can maybe afford your own security guards, private health and private education. So you wouldn’t, like normal people, like me, need state-provided health care, education or police. In Scandinavia the taxes are much higher, but then the state-provided services are much better. And it’s a much fairer, more equal, society.

How do rich people manage in a recession? they sell a house abroad, or possibly a field, or maybe a horse or two.

How do poor people manage in a recession? they decide whether to eat or heat the house (for which they may be paying extortionate rent). They go to food banks and eat what they’re given.

Take a look at this page. It explains in detail how benefits are dished out. You can clearly see that a very large proportion is on pensions, but the right-wing would have us believe most of the money is spent on “skivers” rather than “strivers”. Why are the poor demonised? let’s have a go at the bankers, who caused, let’s not forget, a global recession, not just one in this country. And they’re still laughing all the way to the, erm, bank.

I saw one stupid rich woman post on the internet that the way for poor people to eat better is to “plant a small orchard”. What planet does she live on? where does she think they will plant one tree, never mind several? how does she think they can afford to buy a tree? how long do trees take to bear fruit? Honestly. And I can’t remember which politician said that poor people don’t know how to cook, and when she was called on it, her excuse was “oh I was speaking unscripted.” That means she meant it, and wasn’t following the autocue. That’s not ok.

There is a sharply defined class system in this country. There is a forelock-tugging sycophancy to anybody remotely royal/rich/upper class. Why? I was delighted to hear Andy Murray’s wedding today described as “Scotland’s Royal Wedding”. At least he’s done something to deserve the adoration and fuss. Go you, Andy Murray.

During the French Revolution, there was undisguised panic by the upper classes in this country. What if the masses decided to revolt like those across the Channel? I don’t understand, I really don’t, why there isn’t a “Peasants’ Revolt” brewing now. Maybe there is, and the media just aren’t covering it, because the media know on which side their bread is buttered, and by whom.

Social media helps. Stuff that isn’t broadcast by the press is often on facebook. There are lobbying groups like sumofus.org and 38degrees.com. Owen Jones is a very interesting, articulate guy. Go and see him if you can. He’s on TV a lot and very good.

Think I’m done now. But I’m still quite cross.

 

Feeling a bit ranty

Went to see Owen Jones on Wednesday night. He is amazing. A left wing journalist now author, he’s inspirational. And I knew I would get all harrumphy, and I am.

So here’s what I think.

  • Let’s stop blaming poor people for being poor.
  • Let’s stop blaming immigrants for taking our jobs (they’re not) or claiming benefits (they’re not).
  • Let’s place the blame squarely where it belongs. With the bankers, the powerful wealthy, those who made huge mistakes (or even possibly committed fraud), and caused the recession.
  • Rich people, when money is tighter, have to decide whether to sell the horses, the paddock, or possibly even their holiday home abroad.
  • Poor people, when money is tighter, have to decide whether to eat or keep warm. Or whether to eat or catch the bus to work.
  • The government, and the media is actively complicit in this, like to divide us up into groups, and then set us all against each other. That way they stay powerful. For example the phrase “workers and shirkers” implies that people at work don’t need to claim benefits, but people without jobs do. The greater part of benefits claimed is actually by people who are in work, but are so poorly paid that they still can’t afford to live.
  • A proper living wage, properly enforced, would make a huge difference to this state of affairs.
  • Immigrants are blamed because they are immigrants. It’s a visceral, tribal response to anybody who is different, or “other” from us. But we’re all people. We all need warmth, food, shelter, and somewhere to bring up our children. As long as we all obey the law of the land we live in, what’s the problem?
  • And don’t even get me started on religion.