Until their backs are broken and their dreams are stolen…

It has been a strange few weeks. Many, many things have made me want to write, however I seem to be having some kind of temporary brain-freeze.

I really want to say something about Margaret Thatcher. Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter will have seen me foaming (or, at least, retweeting other people’s foamings) over the cost of the funeral whilst the rest of us are suffering benefit cuts, tax credit cuts, loss of public services and seeing funding to vital community projects slashed in the name of ‘austerity’. But, you know what? I’m out of words. Everything that could be said, has been said far, far better than I could say it. So, here are some pictures of two people who deserve a million times more respect than the Iron Lady. Also, a song.

atleemomowlam

The The’s ‘Heartland’

Released 27 years ago, this song is still as relevant today as it was back then.

Beneath the old iron bridges, across the Victorian parks,
and all the frightened people running home before dark,
Past the Saturday morning cinema–
that lies crumbling to the ground,
and the piss stinking shopping centre in the new side of town.
I’ve come to smell the seasons change, and watch the city,
as the sun goes down again.

Here comes another winter, of long shadows & high hopes,
Here comes another winter, waiting for utopia,
Waiting for hell to freeze over.

This is the land, where nothing changes,
the land of red buses & blue blooded babies,
This is the place, where pensioners are raped,
and the hearts are being cut, from the welfare state,
Let the poor drink the milk, while the rich eat the honey,
Let the bums count their blessings, while they count the money.

So many people, can’t express what’s on their minds,
Nobody knows them & nobody ever will,
Until their backs are broken & their dreams are stolen,
and they can’t get what they want, then they’re gonna get angry..
Well it ain’t written in the papers, but its written on the walls
The way this country is divided to fall,
So the cranes are moving on the skyline–
Trying to knock down this town
But the stains on the heartland, can never be removed,
from this country, that’s sick, sad, and confused.

The ammunition’s being passed, and the lords been praised,
But the wars on the televisions will never be explained,
All the bankers gettin sweaty, beneath their white collars,
As the pound in our pocket, turns into a dollar.

This is the 51st state–of the U. S. A.

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Yes, we have no bananas….(or sweets, crisps, frozen pizza or sanity)

 

When I was young, back in the Dark Ages, I used to spend weekends with my grandparents. Saturday afternoon was spent with my maternal grandparents, Nanny and Grampa. Sundays were spent with Nanna and Grandad, my paternal grandparents.

It was a time of playing in Nanny and Grampa’s garden or helping to harvest the vegetables or soft fruits; or walks on the beach with Nanna if the weather was fine. This, however, was Wales. The weather was frequently shocking, and we would need to stay indoors.

Weekend afternoon TV in the 70s and 80s seemed to be wall-to-wall black and white films. Thanks to West Wales’ unfortunate climate, I am pretty sure I have watched just about every Cary Grant, Fred and Ginger, and Second World War film ever made.

Terrible weather and film matinees also made for some rather marvellous stories of my grandparents’ past. How Grampa met Nanny when he lent her money for some Corn Silk Powder when they worked at the same factory. How Nanna was stuck, unceremoniously, into a rubbish bin by Len Bateman on a double-date (the other couple being her best friend and Grandad). And, of course, the war stories. Grampa was in the Navy, and saved the whole ship from sinking by plugging a torpedo hole with his bare hands. Grandad was in the Army, and taught Field Marshall Montgomery everything he knew, whilst seeing off the enemy single-handedly, armed with nothing but a tooth-pick and a tin of sardines.

As much as I loved my grandfathers’ hugely embroidered tales of bravery and derring-do (I swear they used to try and out-do each other with the most elaborate embellishments just to see our eyes widen in astonishment); I loved the stories from the Home Front just as much. So many stories of real life, of how my grandmothers managed with their young husbands fighting overseas. Stories of rationing, of air-raids, of streets being bombed, of friends being killed.

 

Fast forward seventy years and here we are, sitting in a warm house. The boys are playing Playstation, I am about to pop the dinner in the electric oven. Tonight we shall all have bath using the seemingly endless supply of hot water we have at the touch of a button. We have a choice about what to have for dinner tonight, and a cupboard full of food. We can pop to the shop later for chocolate, and wine; and if the boys dirty their uniforms, I can simply pop them in the washing machine, no bother at all. If clothes get damaged, no problem – we’ll just drive off to one of the multitude of well-appointed shops and buy new.

Our society, even in a time of ‘double-dip recession’ take so much for granted. Every time we throw away that bag of salad that is two days out of date (the one we didn’t use because we popped by the chippy instead), every time we jump in the shower ‘to pick ourselves up’, every time we pop a load of washing in the tumble-drier, or buy a new outfit to cheer ourselves up.

Imagine what it would be like to have very little choice in what you could eat. Shops with bare shelves; coupons for new clothes; strict rationing on household fuel to heat the home, cook food and heat water. How would your child react to only being able to have 12oz of sweets a month, not a day?

How would we manage on war rationing?

That’s what we intend to find out……..my children are going to love me, aren’t they?