Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Down Among The Z Men

Alternatively, out and about with the halt and the lame. I had occasion, further details of which you will not want to know, to visit my doctor this week in deepest South London. Now, for historical reasons, this is my doctor - but his practice is in a part of the capital which I would not normally choose to visit except in a very fast car. Which was not going to stop. It is not that it is dangerous, or even particularly diverse. It is just shit. And what stunned me, in the mid-morning time when I was there, was the horror of what must be daily life for the bulk of the population. Strip away all those who were at work (probably not as many as we are led to believe), and you are left with people either wearing hoodies and don't-fuck-with-me expressions or those needing some sort of aid with which to ambulate. Sticks, frames, prams containing the future people using sticks and frames. The third world with a veneer of semi-civilisation. Children pushing children probably 15 or 16 years younger than they are and to whom they have recently given birth. Get on a bus and you enter a Breughel-like hell of disability, despair and pain. I tell you, I had to give my suit a particularly vigorous brushing afterwards. Oh, and Tony, I thought things could only get better?

25 comments:

jane said...

yes it's hell down among the proles isn't it. where do you live Gran? I mean this nicely.

stalin's gran said...

Doesn't matter where, though, as I said, that was Slontown. And I don't think these people are "proles" in the way that you might use the word. The point is that things were meant to change, or was that just too much to hope for? There is as much poverty and despair as there ever was. Possibly more, New boss, old boss, same boss. And I looked from pig to man...Nothing has happened. Fortunately, I don't have to see it all the time - but it is always there. And what is the political class worried about? How soon an elected Prime Minister will give way to an unelected one....

barbara worth said...

Gran

I guess you must have some link to that part of town - lived there in a previous life or something. Do you feel it is getting better or worse?

Taking the big view, I think there is probably a bit less poverty around than when I was a kid in the 1960s, but it is certainly still a huge factor. However, I think you have put your finger on a few things which have changed drastically over the years, e.g.

Mass unemployment of poorly educated young men (hence the ones hanging round with the fuck-off expressions) as there are so few unskilled jobs

Explosion of young single mums

Huge gap between rich and poor old people

However, the one no-one talks about is just how long people are living into old age and with disabilities which would have killed them a very few years ago. I also suspect doctors were far more "interventionist" in the past. If you had a stroke, they would treat you for the first few days to see if you rallied then if not, quietly "let you go". Now you are saved but we don't have a coherent strategy for looking after you if you don't have the money and family back-up to arrange your own care. By the same token, people are living into old age and suffering diseases like Alzheimer's when 20 years ago they would have died of a heart attack before they got old enough for the dementia to kick in. I'm not saying this was good (or bad), but we just have not begun to address the implications.

stalin's gran said...

Barbara - very good points there. It is fascinating, not sure that's the right word, horrifying might be better, when you step outside the normal 9 to 5 and look at what is really happening. Vast swathes of society have nothing to do and no point to their lives. Instead of doing something about it, we apply sticking plasters (dole, disability benefit, job seekers' allowance etc) and pretend it doesn't exist. Sorry to sound like an old socilaist - oh, shit, I am.

stalin's gran said...

socialist! Them socilaists are just splitters!

stalin's gran said...

socialist! Them socilaists are just splitters!

stalin's gran said...

socialist! Them socilaists are just splitters!

stalin's gran said...

socialist! Them socilaists are just splitters!

stalin's gran said...

socialist! Them socilaists are just splitters!

stalin's gran said...

socialist! Them socilaists are just splitters!

stalin's gran said...

socialist! Them socilaists are just splitters!

stalin's gran said...

socialist! Them socilaists are just splitters!

stalin's gran said...

socialist! Them socilaists are just splitters!

stalin's gran said...

socialist! Them socilaists are just splitters!

stalin's gran said...

socialist! Them socilaists are just splitters!

stalin's gran said...

I think I have made the point.....

barbara worth said...

"Vast swathes of society have nothing to do and no point to their lives"

I think that's as much the problem as material poverty- and the two are of course linked.

I think this profound emotional/ spiritual lack- the hole in the soul to use the recovery industry jargon- is at the root of many of the things you saw. The young girls have babies so they have an identity as a mum and something to love. The boys form gangs and pursue the illusion of "respect". IMHO simple redistribution of wealth will never improve this. However, if I go on I shall start to sound like Glenn Hoddle (or rather even more like Glenn Hoddle than usual).

barbara worth said...

"Vast swathes of society have nothing to do and no point to their lives"

I think that's as much the problem as material poverty- and the two are of course linked.

I think this profound emotional/ spiritual lack- the hole in the soul to use the recovery industry jargon- is at the root of many of the things you saw. The young girls have babies so they have an identity as a mum and something to love. The boys form gangs and pursue the illusion of "respect". IMHO simple redistribution of wealth will never improve this. However, if I go on I shall start to sound like Glenn Hoddle (or rather even more like Glenn Hoddle than usual).

barbara worth said...

"Vast swathes of society have nothing to do and no point to their lives"

I think that's as much the problem as material poverty- and the two are of course linked.

I think this profound emotional/ spiritual lack- the hole in the soul to use the recovery industry jargon- is at the root of many of the things you saw. The young girls have babies so they have an identity as a mum and something to love. The boys form gangs and pursue the illusion of "respect". IMHO simple redistribution of wealth will never improve this. However, if I go on I shall start to sound like Glenn Hoddle (or rather even more like Glenn Hoddle than usual).

jane said...

Things HAVE changed Gran, not enough, it is never enough, there is probably nearly as much poverty as when I was growing up in the 1960s but there is less of it than there was 10 years ago. Not much to crow about I know. Girls I was at school with (a grammar school in a nice enough town in England, thought itself a cut above the three sec mods that served the same town) got pregnant at 15 -mostly they got married and the young boys they married f***ed off pretty soon and they were back with Mum. My best friend at primary school, mum white English, dad West Indian (as we called it then) had her front door kicked in because of her family being "mixed" and a teacher at school said to her in others' hearing (including mine) "Well, what do you expect?". Those things don't get said now. Those attitudes affected a generation and are only now disappearing - the casual racism of then - Enoch Powell a mainstream politician and the London dockers marching in his support, peak-time telly with Love Thy Neighbour (for those too young to remember, a "comedy" the sole joke of which was that the family next door was black) - no, ordinary British people won't stand for it any more. I'm not saying there are no problems, just that I am optimistic (still) about change for the better continuing, just too slowly of course.

stalin's gran said...

Jane - I don't agree that things have changed for the better. I do not mean I believe that there was some kind of working class "poor but honourable" golden age in the past, a sort of Ealing Comedy with a bit of hunger thrown in. But it is true that the continuation of poverty plus the collapse of communities have made things wortse.

Sam Brady said...

Brilliant! You are the George Orwell of our day. But lacking his compassion and his pretensions.

Look, things are going demonstrably wrong in precisely the way you describe because of two main reasons...

1. The hideous British welfare state has produced such a depressing, lifeblood-draining dependency culture.

2. The working classes (of which I am a proud member) no longer know how to live morally upright lives because no one teaches them: not the churches (which have turned into middle class sociology clubs); not feckless modern parents; and certainly not the thick, left-wing moaners who comprise the teaching trade (it long since cased to be a profession).
SAM BRADY.

Sam Brady said...

Brilliant! You are the George Orwell of our day. But lacking his compassion and his pretensions.

Look, things are going demonstrably wrong in precisely the way you describe because of two main reasons...

1. The hideous British welfare state has produced such a depressing, lifeblood-draining dependency culture.

2. The working classes (of which I am a proud member) no longer know how to live morally upright lives because no one teaches them: not the churches (which have turned into middle class sociology clubs); not feckless modern parents; and certainly not the thick, left-wing moaners who comprise the teaching trade (it long since cased to be a profession).
SAM BRADY.

stalin's gran said...

Sam - I am sorry you think I have no compassion, but glad you think I do not have pretension. I used to idolise Orwell (Blair) when I was young and stupid. Until I read it all again and realised what a patronising, fake c**t he actually was. He was also a pretty shit writer. Ever read any of his poems? Makes Thomas Hardy look like a poetic genius. Searching out the worst pubs he could find to take his friends to! Inventing the concept of the proles. Wanker! His bleat as about the fact that the middle-class (well, in his case, Eton, so upper-middle-class I guess) got fucked by socialism, although not, unfortunately, in Britain. As they should have been.

UK Daily Pundit said...

But it is true that the continuation of poverty plus the collapse of communities have made things worse.
In many communities there have been improvements. In many more, particualrly in the larger cities there hasn't and it's hard to see if there ever will be. I think of some of the boroughs and communties in London and the sheer size of them must surely make them unmanageable.
And I well remember a time when you spoke to your neighbours and didn't need to lock your doors. But that was only because our neighbours spoke English and we didn't have anything worth stealing. Apart from a deluxe twin-handled mangle.