Skip to main content

In praise of social housing and the welfare state


I will declare an interest. I grew up in a one-parent family on a council estate. I occasionally attended my local comprehensive school. I say occasionally because for the most part I played truant. I spent much of my time skipping school but walking and reading on the local common. It had a windmill which I loved. It later had Wombles but that is another story. I contemplated life under the sun. Like many others, I left school at 15 with no qualifications. My penultimate school report said they  'could see no reason why public money should be wasted on the attempted education of this boy'. So I declare this interest of a privileged upbringing.

Social housing kept a roof over our heads at a rent mum could (barely) afford; and oh how I recall the days  when she couldn't. She worked all hours to keep that roof over our heads. In those early days of Rock-and-Roll, Bill Haley and the Comets, Adam Faith, Billy Fury, Cliff Richard (yes I was/am a fan), the estate had three caretakers and a boiler man. They would maintain it in the style in which we had become accustomed. We had a library too in which I spent most of my early youth. I read Karl Marx in it but decided I was not a Marxist. I read a lot of history -  the industrial revolution - and this history coloured my view of the world. Although the first book I recall reading in the library was Peter Rabbit - not at the same age as reading Karl Marx, although sometimes when reading Das Kapital I longed for the simplicity of Peter Rabbit. In case you wondered I also read Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations. I read Charles Dickens and was struck by how middle class his heroes were even amongst the poverty and the artful dodger.

I hadn't formed a coherent political view but I found myself wanting Labour to win. The Tories had opposed the NHS and the NHS was part of my privileged childhood. I was born when it was born. I grew up with it and had my first tooth pulled with it - a very nasty experience which to this day clouds my view of dentists. I had my first eye test with it and a pair of horned-rimmed glasses - at primary school I became 'four eyes'. I loved my primary school with its free school milk and dinners. I wanted to become a teacher, if only because the teacher got to stand by the radiator on cold winter mornings. We were driven outside on cold winter days to either run around or freeze; most of us chose to run around as cowboys or Indians. I cannot recall what happened to those who didn't run around.  I was always an Indian and that says a lot. (read part 2)

 

Comments

  1. Loved this post. Please continue with next
    chapter

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Fran. Each week I will continue with at least one autobiographical post.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services. It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared. Utilitarian ethics considers the ba

A time for every purpose

All life moves. Or, more precisely, all life moves purposefully.  This is true even for trees and plants.  Movement is essential for maintaining life.  Animals migrate; plants disperse.  Some form of migration is an ingredient of all life.  For many organisms, it is a key function of reproduction.  We don't reproduce merely to create a new organism, but also to disperse the population - finding new fertile ground, or resources. Reproduction is a form of migration. Reproduction isn't merely to replicate. Reproduction produces change and diversity.  While we may have strong resemblences in families, we also have differences.  Creating a difference is how evolution works.  In this sense, nature is a continuous exploratory process, finding what works best.  Nature senses change and responds.  Some of this is immediate and physiological or behavioural; some of it is over generations.  If we look at a forest over long periods of time, we would see that it shifts. There is a movement

Noise pollution puts nature at risk

 "I just want a bit of peace and quiet!" Let's get away from all the hustle and bustle; the sound of endless traffic on the roads, of the trains on the railway, and the planes in the sky; the incessant drone; the noise. We live in a world of man-made noise; screeching, bellowing, on-and-on in an unmelodious cacophony.  This constant background noise has now become a significant health hazard.   With average background levels of 60 decibels, those who live in cities are often exposed to noise over 85 decibels, enough to cause significant hearing loss over time.  It causes stress, high blood pressure, headache and loss of sleep and poor health and well-being.   In nature, noise has content and significance.  From the roar of the lion, the laughing of a hyena,  communication is essential for life; as the warning of danger, for bonding as a group or a pair, finding a mate, or for establishing a position in a hierarchy - chattering works.  Staying in touch is vital to working