This may go beyond many people’s understanding. (Or so it may seem.) What is being poor all about? I read an article today about so-called Middle-Class families who are poor. “What?” I hear you say. “How can a Middle-Class family be poor?” Surely that is beyond people’s understanding? The article mentions the circumstances of a man who chose a career in writing instead of following some of his peers into the less creative stressed fuelled profession of banking.
Already, a myriad of responses may be forming in your mind. “He made the choice.” “You can’t just expect to succeed.” “What lazy arrogance is this?” “He’s got his head in the clouds.” Strangely enough, the article was centred around another writer; a mother of three. “What’s the father doing about it?” I have just read the article again and there does not appear to be a reference to any father. Curiouser and curiouser perhaps?
It also mentions something about her sons having to be content with store-cupboard meals featuring chickpeas. “CHICKPEAS?” Doesn’t it seem outrageous that someone claiming poverty is fretting about giving her growing children chickpeas?
“Just keep that roof over your heads,” my cousin would say. “Even if you have to have egg and chips every night.”
I can’t really see my cousin, a hard-working pragmatist with an outgoing natural sense of fun saying the same thing about chickpeas.
Already, we may be discovering how fluid the term “poor” is. It is such a hot potato of a subject. To me “poor” is a very slippery word. For one, it has a variety of meanings and implications. It is also most definitely linked to expectation. From what we have achieved or missed, welcomed or rejected, we can judge how poor or rich we are. Rich-now there’s another word. How about how successful or how happy we are? I’m not going to pass any opinion about the piece in today’s Times 2. (Monday May 9th) It’s impossible to draw any firm conclusions from such a subject with no real terms of definition. All I can say is that I do not feel sorry for her. But it was an interesting read and it prompted me to start writing about it.
In terms of what I’ve expected therefore, I have seen poverty. I have seen every penny being accounted for in food, utilities and entertainment. I’ve looked at my bank balance on the fifth of the month and realised that I have sixteen pounds left until the last working day of the same month. My word, that is not pretty. I have also had whole years go by without being able to do what I really wanted because of a desperate lack of funds.
We’re back to expectations now. were my expectations too high? Was it too much to expect for a person with a good degree and profession? Should I really want to own my own home, run a reliable car, stock a decent wine rack and have three holidays a year?
Well I sort of hoped I would be able to but it has taken a bit longer and a few oceans have passed under my bridge. Suffice to say, life is a rich tapestry and perhaps expectations are best referred to as ambitions. And some ambitions do take a long time. I don’t do the three holidays a year by the way but we do keep a good wine rack.
“Hang on,” I hear you say. “How come you’ve come thus far in your ramblings without mentioning the poverty of the homeless, those who need food banks, the real poverty we see abroad on the news or even those Wayne and Waynetta scroungers who’ve never done a day’s work in their lives?”
“Now look here,” I say in reply. “How long have you got? I’m just responding to an article I read. I wasn’t planning to tackle anything global today.” So I leave you with some more food for thought:(Chickpeas and eggs equally acceptable.)
Are wealth and poverty restricted solely to financial circumstances? How do you measure success? Surely money is nothing more than one player in a cast of thousands? But everyone’s life is so much more than an epic film. Isn’t it? So for my final word; sometimes you just have to cut your cloth and count your blessings. Thank you for reading.