The word class is a common word. Have you ever counted the number of times you have heard or spoken it in one day? Neither have I. It is a word used with assurance. We know what we mean when we use it. But like the word traditional, I find it a very slippery term. We can put certain values to the word traditional. It can be a comforting word. Traditional baking. Oooh I can smell it. Traditional sweets made in the old-fashioned way. Then there are other types of tradition. In Victorian times it was traditional for children to go out to work with their parents. The went down coal mines. All those hours of darkness and filth, crawling about over hard rock. Where was the toilet? What if the poor child picking bits of cotton from under the clattering looms had diarrhoea?
Enough! I consider myself working class. But I am entering my sixth decade as middle class. When did I change? Shrugs shoulders whilst muttering a teenage style “duuno.” I shop at Waitrose, have a mortgage, renew the car every three years, go to classical music concerts, have a monthly wine order and like malt whisky. I had piano and cello lessons. In fact I became a piano teacher. Yes, but I went round in a battered old cortina and fixed cars. I would turn up at some pupil’s houses asking to use the bathroom so I could actually clean my hands. “Got any swarfega?” I went to the pub and I lived in Seacombe.
I’m old enough to remember early televisons. They were standing stones. A symphony of polished veneer placed proudly in the corner. There was no such thing as round the clock telly. There would be afternoon shutdowns. It wasn’t a TV society. Over the years, we have seen the development of the real TV society. Now it is merging with the small screens of our smart phones and touch screen pads. One of my uncles told me that every time we watched it, someone at the other end could see into our living room.
They would have seen into the main room of my nan’s council house. There was also a kitchen, a pantry, a coal hole and a bathroom. Although the toilet was part of the house, it had its own outside door. We all slept in one room. Of course, it was a coal fire with one of those funny hanging hooks to turn the hot water on. My dad sprayed cars in Standard Triumph and Mum did a variety of jobs. She was a clever lady my mum. She was brilliant with numbers, could play the piano, make hats and knit for England. But like my dad, she left school early. They met while working at English Electric.
Can you imagine the delight at moving to our very own house? It meant leaving the fields of Fazakerley for the urban jungle of Seacombe. Now we had a parlour. Firstly it housed the train set then a snooker table. We were popular; we had a snooker table. Dad was into making things. He made the fire place for the parlour. With my uncles, they replaced the old sash windows. We didn’t get anyone in. That was too middle class.
We needed the money to feed ourselves and for my mum and dad to enjoy their weekends in the Labour Club. They worked so hard. If you spend forty or more hours working in a factory or office, you deserve to enjoy yourself. Dad always took the over-time. You don’t turn down the chance for money.
Neither did I. Because while I was doing my day job in a primary school, I began to teach the piano for extra money. And what did I do with that extra money? I called in at the local pub to get my fix of adult conversation. After a long day of child talk, I needed to speak to grown-ups. Well that’s my excuse. Now I’ve retired because I have MS. But my telly is big and I watch football. I still come up with ways of saving money. Does that make me working class? Are my roots the defining factor? I know other people have other ideas. We all have valid views and good reasons for them. These are my ramblings. Thank-you for reading.
“The greatest uncertainty associated with leaving the EU is that no country has ever done it before, so no one can predict the exact result.”
The above is from “The Week”, in which it aims to give a reasoned, succinct and balanced summary of the main issues. It’s a short but complex article. Would you be inclined to read it through? It covers trade, investment, the membership fee, immigration and security. The last two points are the most tangible for us common people. You can really whip up public passion with those two topics. You can also play the patriot card and proclaim our pride as an independent island nation, needing to break away from the dominance of the germans et al. Equally so, one could claim that once out of the EU, bigger fish will set their greedy little sights on us as easy pickings; the Americans, the Chinese, even the Indians and, (dare I say it?) the Russians.
Let us take two scenarios; an in and out one. This is where we do joined up thinking. It’s quite easy to do if you’re sitting on a bus or lying awake at night. At school we may have called it brain storming. But this phrase was replaced as a thought shower due to fears of association with mental illness. I wonder if that was an EU directive? (No!)
Firstly, we vote out: Hundreds of thousands of European migrants will no longer be allowed to work in the UK. There will be chaos at the airports. Cheap labour will disappear. No-one will be available to pick or pack our home-grown fruit and vegetables. Food will go to waste. Prices will rise. The nation will be less inclined to eat fresh food. A deal will be struck with whoever to import cheap produce. It will be inferior or GM produced. Foreign food gangs will go underground as an illegal trade is established. The money saved on donations to the European kitty will be creamed off by most wealthy. The population’s health will suffer. The NHS will eat itself.
This may sound ludicrous that someone like me could possibly expect this to be accurate or realistic; of course, it is pure conjecture.
So let’s conjecturise about staying: (I’m claiming that as a new word.) Everyone comes to the UK. There is mass seasonal migration into and around the country. The housing shortage goes into meltdown. Workers camps emerge at the roadside. They begin to infiltrate the more typical British professions. We will now have to deal with East European accents at call centres. Polish and Romanian become core subjects. The increasing burden of non-english speaking children destroys the education system.
Equally ludicrous. But isn’t the political bandwagon also using a similar dogma based on such flimsy predictions? What gets humans going? How do you get people to follow your way? Scare them or tempt them. Set up lifestyle ideals. Give them that yellow brick road.
Perhaps you could put together you own thought storm or brain shower (whatever), focusing on what will affect you. Just do it in your head.(I rather like this joined up, semi chain reaction type of theorising.) Then search your conscience. Forget the politicians. There are plenty of reasoned arguments set out for and against on pages like the link above. Try “The Conversation”, another independent online blog site which avoids the fire and brimstone scare-mongering. Know before you vote. And if you already know, know a bit more. Again, I’m just throwing ideas around, trying not to let it do my head in.
Thank-you for reading.