Do you believe in socialism or the labour party? And other questions. #rantmodeon

I’ve just been reading an excellent post on Jim Webster’s blog about education. If you haven’t tried Jim’s blog you really should, all his posts are thought provoking, interesting and grounded common sense. Jim is smart.

He talks about education: what we should teach our children, what he’d like to see them taught, how we should teach our children and whether, actually, everyone needs to go to university. He makes the good point that because so many of our political leaders have been university educated, they tend to think that what worked for them will work for everyone – ergo that everyone should be able to go to university. And Jim makes the point that we’ve sort of dropped the ‘be able’ from that sentence, so now it’s considered essential that you go to uni if you want to make anything of yourself. But it doesn’t always work like that.

And it got me thinking about Education, and politics and also thinking, ‘Yep.’ And before I knew where I was, up popped a parallel rant. My American friends will not like this, because I do imply, at one point, that America doesn’t always look like an idyll to me and I have learned this doesn’t always go down well.

OK so, first up, I should fess up that I am university educated. I went to university because I hadn’t a smecking clue what I was going to do with my life and uni meant three more years to think. You didn’t have pay nearly as much for it in those days, of course, so you could do that – they introduced crippling fee loans the year after I left.

To me education is a tool, and it’s a tool for life. So, to me children need to come out of it with life skills. They need to be able to run a budget, fix stuff and also be furnished with the knowledge to be able to think independently. The more facts you have at your fingertips, the more information you are exposed to, the greater your capacity for understanding, and rationalising, what goes on around you. But you do have to be taught how to use them. Once you are, the better you are at that rationalisation process, the less likely you will be to follow a political party, or extreme religion, blindly, like a brainwashed sheep, without any thought to the veracity, ethics or long term effects – let alone truth – of what they tell you you ought to believe.

What university did for me was show me that there is never any cut and dried, there are always shades of grey. And I wonder if maybe one of the problems the US is facing, now, is the culmination of years and years of every single issue being pitched to them as binary: Right or Wrong, black or white, a cartoon of life as it never has been nor ever will be; simplified into extremes without middle ground. I suppose if you bludgeon people into believing like that then, after enough time, they become polarised – look at any republican and democrat ‘debating’ something on Facebook and you will see what I mean. Each side sees the other as Morally Wrong, possibly even evil and there’s a trend to suggest that the tactic on both sides is ‘he who shouts loudest and acts nastiest wins’. In many instances, it’s a simple slanging match and no actual debate is ever entered into. If it is there tends to be a suggestion that whatever each protagonist’s party says is right because the party said it. Like the party leaders did the thinking so no-one else has to.

So the first thing I’d teach kids is the difference between old-fashioned, proper right and wrong – you know as in not being a complete and utter bastard to everyone you meet or behaving like a shit – as opposed to the pseudo spun political party ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ that some folks put into the void in their soul where the original sentiment should be. And then I would teach them to judge everything against that knowledge of good and bad.

These days, I find it impossible to look at anything without seeing the grey. Lots and lots of grey. Which is how I find myself in the odd position of having voted for all the major political parties here in the UK despite being, pretty much, a socialist – yes I genuinely believe we should re-nationalise our assets. BUT in a radically different way than was done before. I suppose that’s the point, I believe in socialism, but not necessarily in the Labour Party.

Then, perhaps our Government could do something radical too – it could set an example. At every level it fails to do this. From letting Google off masses of tax because it’s too busy chasing the 0.08% or whatever it is who are supposed to be defrauding social services. The logic of that is like turning your back on a suitcase full of easy money and, instead, concentrating on chiselling off a 50 pence piece that someone’s glued to the pavement for a laugh. Here’s another one, stating that you’re not going to condemn torture, because you want to strike a deal with the saviour of the American Way – or alternatively the Nylon-haired hate-carrot – from across the water who thinks torture is a Good Idea.

Here’s another example at grass roots level. My granny was a school governor. She said that the school she was a governor of needed new portacabin classrooms for the cost of their budget for the whole year. They asked for funding from Government/Council and were refused. So then they worked out that if they were really thrifty they could save enough money out of their budget for the classrooms over five years. They put this to local government and were told that any unspent cash at the end of the year is evidence of over-provision and it would be cut from the next year’s budget. If that’s how bureaucracy rewards long term planning how is anyone going to learn about saving up versus instant gratification? How will it help people whose ambition is ‘to be famous’ accept that unfortunately, their entire class cannot all be the next Katie Price.

So somehow I think we also need to find a way to educate kids that there is more to life than digital options: more than black or white, success or failure. There is the middle ground of contentment. At the least we ought to define ‘success’ slightly differently – as happiness, perhaps? It seems to me that we have a nation of people who aspire to degrees and business and money. Yet again and again, the successful people I meet who are happy are the artisans, engineers … people who MADE stuff. Then again, I suspect, that because the successful people I meet are inventors, the underlying trait in them all is actual brain power rather than education level. Interestingly, most cite things like family, or job satisfaction as s source of happiness, rather than what they earn doing it.

Also, while the world is never fair, I wonder if it would be good, at school, to ask kids this:

Imagine you live in a country where there is a civil war. Imagine what it would be like trying to earn a living, buy food, get an education for your kids, get health care, dental care. As well as that, imagine that in this war torn place, you live in the equivalent of a garden shed, with no heat, no electricity, no running water and you cook on a fire. You walk everywhere because you can’t even afford to buy a bicycle. There’s not much food so you have to grow most of what you eat. You don’t eat meat. A constant supply of eggs is far more valuable than chicken stew for a night. Yet, imagine that among all this, you still have a mobile phone, that you can see the internet, and you see pictures of people in a country where there is no war and even the poorest people earn more in a year than you can imagine earning in a lifetime. They have heat, light, bicycles, cars and free healthcare. They have public transport and free education. And they are complaining that they have nothing and saying they will not work for this unimaginably huge salary they are earning.

What are you going to do when you see that? Well, I don’t know but I imagine you look at that and you think that yes, you could go there, because you have never had a lot of the stuff they take for granted, and you wouldn’t need it. You could live as you are now, but there, saving yourself the cost of the luxuries they assume as their right and happily do those jobs they won’t or can’t do for a profit. I’d guess you’d think, ‘I’ll be minting it!’ Your children would be educated – something you could only dream of where you are. They will learn English, maths and science. They will be able to become something instead of dying in this hut or being drafted into the army and shot in battle before they are twelve.

Now I know life is never fair, but McOther grew up in North America: the US first, for a couple of years, and then Canada. Originally he came from Scotland. In Scotland, McOther’s dad played in a band every night, worked a day job and repaired other people’s washing machines at the weekend while McOther’s mum looked after the kids. Even so, money was still tight. Then, when McOther was ten, someone in a park asked him if he was Catholic or Protestant. He gave the wrong answer and the person smashed a bottle over his head. His parents decided they would move to a place where their kids would get a good education, everyone could afford a car, the standard of living was higher and no-one did that moronic, brainwashed, dickwad sectarian shit.

Does that make them bad people? Wanting a better, safer future for their kids?

I’d say not. They left their home, their family and everything they knew and made a new start. For their kids.

These immigrants aren’t ‘taking our jobs’. They’re doing stuff we refused to do or just weren’t doing – for whatever reason. Maybe, the reason all those Polish plumbers came to Britain was because, after years of Blair, our young people had been taught that they were above going into a trade, so there weren’t enough plumbers in the UK. Back in the late 90s, I lived in East Anglia and if you wanted anything more than small job done, every plumber had a waiting list months long.

People from third world countries can live a lot more frugally than we do, even here, because the stuff we see as our basic right is untold luxury to many of them. Should we blame them that they are able and prepared to work for less, or should we be blaming the businesses who were happy to employ them for those wages? Or should we be blaming ourselves, for insisting on rock bottom prices, for shopping in supermarkets who pay their suppliers less for the goods than they cost to produce. Or a system which thinks that leaving over 70,000 perfectly edible cauliflowers that are too bumpy, too small, or the wrong colour for the supermarkets in a field to rot is a ‘good’ result because a few extra thousand were sold in the ‘knobbly’ range. Perhaps those 70,000 cauliflowers in that one field, multiplied to the power of however many fields of cauliflowers there are, is the difference between the farmer using cheap imported labour and being able to source labour locally, or employ casual labourers. A friend’s son has autism, he finds it very hard to hold down a conventional job but he loved doing casual farm work. He was good at it too. But now there are no jobs for him, the work is contracted out to gangers who provide itinerant labourers from abroad.

So yes, by all means put some limits on immigration but show our kids the value of the freedoms we have, that we take for granted, that these people can only dream of.

Edited to add: Also, right now, there are refugees. We are talking about a situation we haven’t seen since the 1930s. At the moment, if you read up on how we treated Jews, fleeing Nazi persecution and how we are currently treating refugees, our forefathers look a lot more generous of spirit and kindly than we do.

Lastly, shouldn’t be be teaching kids what the world is actually like, and how much stuff actually costs rather than that it’s their oyster?

Should we be teaching our kids that they can’t have it all now? Should we be teaching kids to save up, and ourselves to pay what things actually cost so British workers in the few industries we have left can earn a living wage? And shouldn’t our government be going after the big money: making companies like Google actually pay their tax? And telling people who endorse torture that the British nation does not.

I guess what I’m saying is that maybe education should be a bit less about the facts kids know, and more about what they learn, which, over and above the facts and figures, should be, basically, how to be this bloke.


Picture scrounged from Oldroadapples


Filed under General Wittering

37 responses to “Do you believe in socialism or the labour party? And other questions. #rantmodeon

  1. All of the above. Go, MT!!

  2. Dear me. Perhaps not a good idea to read an MT rant at 7 am. So you can have one in return.
    Are too young to remember the old quote ‘I would vote Labour but I’m socialist’?
    I think I’ve voted everything too, def green, labour, tory, flying yoga party … I do think they are all a crock of shit these days. I’m disgusted with the ‘socialist’ party in power in gib. I voted for approx half the candidates, partner voted for all of them. Like other Gib socialists, we won’t be voting for them again.
    On education, will visit blog when woken up. I think education can get quite heated. I’ve enjoyed studying it both at school and as a specific assignment topic in journalism college.
    Truth is, I don’t think university should be paid for by students, contributory maintenance yes, but fees? No. Why not charge for state schooling on that principle? I was amazed when I got to university. Thought it was going to be full of Really. Clever. People. They were all just like me, well, more or less. Would I go if it put me in debt? Would. I. Hell. I’d use OU or something which I did for my MBA while I was in full-time work.
    Partner left school at 15, and did a five-year apprenticeship. Kept his paper rounds (5) as they paid more money than his day job. He’s a pretty happy person too. So it’s not just making something, I think it’s the whole aspect of creativity that contributes.
    Quite honestly, I still see no reason for scrapping ye olde fashioned grammar, sec mod and tech system. Only problem is pigeon-holing kids too early. He didn’t enjoy school, apart from woodwork and metalwork, so would have been better off in a technical college. But he did come from a top deprived area with crap education.
    Which brings me onto trades. And immigration. And workers’ rights. And trade unions. (Socialism remember?) Give me one reason why a qualified local person can not get a job in his trade while other unqualified people (Spanish, Portuguese) can? I’ll give you the answer. It’s because Gibraltarians and Brits have a reputation for not wanting to be abused whereas the others will work all day (and overtime without overtime rates) for peanuts and in illegal unsafe conditions. Is that what you mean by people not being willing to work? In his last job, he worked from 8–5.30 up ten floors of scaffolding, with a half hour lunch break. Not willing to work?
    And on agriculture. Our friend who worked in it all her life was gradually pushed out by yes, eastern eurpeans working under a ganger, sleeping 20 to a caravan, and working for less money. There’s only one person benefits from that, and that’s the employer.
    Have you read The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists?
    And on thinking. Took me years before I learned to think for myself. Some might say that was fortunate. But that was due to parental indoctrination. Fine balance between bringing up polite responsible respectful kids and teaching them sedition and rebellion, I mean, critical thinking.

    • Bollocks I am so fucking inarticulate. I do believe in workers rights. Watched a Who Do You Think You Are with Ricky Tomlinson the other night and as he discovered generation after generation of his family died in industrial accidents due to shit working conditions he got more and more angry at the social injustice of it all. And I did with him.

      So yes that’s true, unwilling to work is the wrong way to put it, I graduated in a recession and I do know about wanting to work. But when I finally got work as a temporary cleaner after two years of trying it was liberating. My working conditions were brilliant and the boss remarked that I worked much harder and more cheerfully than most people he’d employed, who seemed to consider themselves above work like that and there in penance. Then again that was a long time ago and they were probably all Thatchers yuppies brought low.

      And I never put in the qualifier, which is that low paid jobs should be part government funded. So if benefits are worth Β£25k per person pretty much everything should be be made up to that, I think it’s better than it was with tax credits and stuff but I’m pretty sure some of the low paid jobs still don’t come up to that level. I’d happily pay more income tax if I thought it would help there. Where would the money come from? I believe our utilities, trains etc should be renationalised. By which I mean that they should be allowed to run as independent businesses with the government as the shareholder. They should, maybe, be run small, in regions or sub divided to keep them nimble. No shite ‘procurement procedures’ that mean they can only work with companies with turnover over 100k so are unable to employ fledgling or local businesses. Their boards should commit to a minimum profit share to government each year have the power, and independence from the government, to be able to tell it to fuck off if infrastructural funds are required. so successive governments don’t bleed them dry like last time. It can’t happen, I know, but it should.

      And yes, actually, I do think there should be limits on immigration, but it’s harder when people are willing to risk their lives crossing the sea in shonky boats, and dying in their hundreds, to start afresh here.

      And if people were prepared to value creativity it would be a start. A friend of a friend was told by their publisher that a nationwide store here wanted to buy 150,000 copies of their book. Royalties on that? Just over Β£70.



      • No, not inarticulate. Just depends what you write and how someone perceives it. I read a similar discussion on a forum about Mexican workers doing the crap jobs for low wages in America. Same theme, different country. As this is a public blog, I won’t detail specific examples of crap conditions and accidents over here.

        Maybe we all graduated in recessions. I did too. But, given I lived ooop north, went to university in the north, it would have struck well sooner. My first job was a govt funded one. I mean, who employs a history and archaeology graduate? Ay, Thatcher. One of the most talked about UK politicians ever. I won’t digress down that road πŸ˜€

        No. I don’t think low-paid jobs should be govt funded. That means greedy bosses (qv ragged trousers) get away with lots of profit as per usual, and the taxpayer funds it. Seriously? Oh nos. Can’t be arsed to quote recent figures I read, but CEOs and Directors are earning (hah, que laugh) 200 times what their employees earn. Used to be 10–20 times (which is bad enough). The one per cent of richesse worldwide will soon be earning more than the other 99%. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

        Anyways. How many people would pay a decent rate for things? Either, can’t afford (valid), choose not to (invalid). Flat screen tvs, new kitchens, endless foreign holidays always come first.

        I do agree on nationalisation. I liked British Rail. And don’t even mention the NHS. Or PFI. Talk about mortgaging the future.

        They come across the Straits here on pateras (rafts). But the solution isn’t employing all these people in the UK (or even Spain or Gib), living in shite accommodation, (look at all the greedy landlords renting out crap rooms and earning nice money), paying them a low wage, and putting locals out of work, eg the two agricultural workers we both know; the solution is to pay better wages to average workers. Desperation pushes the rate down. Rich win, poor get poorer.

        And don’t tell me that all immigrants get a raw deal. Mate of ours works in UK seven days a week twelve hours a day (he’s British and 62). At weekends, there are extra employees, Bulgarian. Nice council job during the week, and want the Β£175 a day for the weekends. People are doing well out of the uk. Did you read about child benefit being paid at uk rates for people to send back to families in wherever? I must look that up on snopes, but I wouldn’t disbelieve it. I mean really? And I have to wait till year dot to get a fucking half arsed pension after paying forty per cent tax? And can’t get medical care if I return to the uk?

        Ouch to the book non-deal. That is terrible. Was that the pub co deal? I do think publishing is at quite a crossroads 😦

      • I think it’s a balance though. We used to be able to save up for stuff. The bosses are greedy but at the moment workers are suffering.

        Also I think the immigrant situation is very different at the moment in that we probably have more refugees, now: genuine refugees, than there have been since the 1930s and 40s.

        So at the moment maybe things are not typical. I do agree immigration should be limited, but what we have at the moment is not so much immigration as headlong flight.

        The book deal was set up by the publisher. I’m not sure if the person is with them anymore though. Yeh re crossroads in publishing. Scratching my head about that one. I do more and more marketing and stuff each month to earn the same income. It’s kind of frustrating.

      • People can’t afford houses. Actually I couldn’t in the SE in the 80s. Needed a parental loan, note, loan, not fucking gift. And I bought my own car. And I paid for driving lessons. Sorry where was I? Oh yes, saving up. We went to a party in Hemel given by one of A’s friends. Housewarming thing. Endless furniture was under plastic wrappers. We had dust sheets for curtains and slept on camping mats, until we could afford a futon. Aspirations. Ours were bricks and mortar. Solid investment. Unlike iphones, tvs, new kitchens blah blah.
        Well, you know I’m not there, but even when I was, there were more and more immigrants every year. Even in freezing cold Newcastle. But, even as a nice person, why is the uk the right place fir every single immigrant or refugee? Let’s look at space. Canada, Australia and USA have more space. Wages? Well higher in Lux, Switz and Germany.
        Should the uk really prioritise refugees/immigrants over ild and vulnerable people? No more old people’s homes. No continuing care. No disability benefits without some unqualified wanker assessing you. Capital assets get eaten up in care homes. No wonder young people get nowhere, they get no inheritance. Times change, and brutally so.
        The UK isn’t the bread basket of the world any more, but maybe we mix in different uk circles. I doubt my university friends suffer. Or mix with the hoi.
        Hey, if you get an income that’s more than many do!

      • I remember moving into our first house with a bed, a chest of drawers and a mattress in the drawing room. McOther had a TV in his rented room so we had that.

        Sadly, without immigrants, my parents, octogenarian, dementia x 2, would have four visits a day. Luckily two lovely ladies who hale, originally, from Zambia, live in. They work with two local carers, who are also lovely.

        Also hear you re disability, as my friend and her daughter were asked, ‘is your achondroplasia any better?’
        ‘No, it’s achondroplasia. It’s not going to get better.’
        Or my parents, having to be reassessed for their disabled badge – one of the joys of wheelchair friendly buildings is that there are miles and miles of corridor to walk down so if you’re not in a wheelchair, you are screwed!

        I don’t think the UK does prioritise immigrants over old folks, but what they do like is things that make business run smoothly. And sadly, cheap labour does that.

        I think, having managed people, I assume folks running businesses are people like myself, or McOther’s inventor friends. I haven’t run into tight bosses, although landlords, yes, many!

        Also with the NHS, it has more users but the funding doesn’t seem to rise with the number of people needing it. My parents’ doctor has 2000 patients registered to him, personally. My parents are legally entitled to continuing care and if I wanted to spend the next 8 – 10 years going through the high courts to get it and doing nothing else with my life but chasing it, I could have it. But I’m too physically and emotionally exhausted with the whole caring process to do that. And having discussed it with them, so are they. That might mean I’m too cossetted and not desperate enough, or it may mean I have different priorities. I want to enjoy the company of my husband and son. I can’t do that and chase the continuing care. I resigned myself to never seeing a penny years ago.

        I graduated in 1990 and I have friends who went to university a couple of years after me who are still paying off their student loans.

        I think I do mix with an ecclectic crowd, people who don’t actually want that much stuff, or follow vocations, and the odd self made person. I am not going to argue the toss about hard times with a British Northerner and get into a licking ‘t road clean wi’ ‘tongue debate.

        Although living in a supposedly ‘affluent’ area – and boy oh boy did some of the northerners at uni hate me accordingly – it didn’t seem to make much difference. I grew up with 80% unemployment. Factories (electronics) and industry closing all around us. Skilled labourers washed up with no prospects, school leavers with no job and no future (one of the reasons I went to uni). So there we go, at least, I had a hint at what it must have been like. But the immigration thing … that’s the choice for all of us, isn’t it?

        1. Stay and try to fix things.
        2. Stay and whinge endlessly about the fact things are different and drag down any efforts anyone else makes to help the community adapt or move on.
        3. Go find a new life.

        I don’t think I suffer now, McOther is doing OK. But I am sure the wrong people are. And I am also sure that, put up against Britain’s attitude to jews fleeing persecution in the 1930s and 40s, my country’s attitude to Syrian refugees and it’s behaviour, today, will not come up looking good.

      • This is sounding so Pythonish.

        You had a bed?

        And furniture?

        I have no issue with commonwealth immigrants, or Polish or Czech who were there for us years ago. Just those who cut the going rate. Like the Estonian who worked in Gib long enough to pay off her mortgage and go home. And that contributes what? to the local economy?

        And what is the pay rate for carers. Enough to buy a home. I. Think. Not.

        You don’t think immigrants beat old people? Now, let’s get this clear. My grandma went into an old people’s home in her dotage. That no longer happens. Instead we fund lotsa people from who knows where with homes and benefits. I’m not buying it, at all.

        Tight bosses? Not met ’em? Protected world.

        One of the NHS probs is a) silly use of Gps b) silly use of A&E and c) incompetence

        When I was at university, southerners all thought the north was Coronation St.

        So Syrian refugees are more important than British working class? Really? Read Mike Robbins book πŸ™‚ link in a min

      • It does sound like python. Bed yes, sofa no – it was a mattress – and telly yes, because we were 28 and 33 by that time. McOther waited for 8 years after we met before he felt he could afford to marry anyone. Phnark. There’s a Scotsman for you.

        Clearly the southerners you met at uni were knobs. Then again, in my view there are two kinds of people, those who are arseholes and those who are not. My first night at uni I met arseholes. I passed a room on my corridor with the door open and so I waved and said hi to the folks in there. It went silent but they did say hello back. Good start I thought. Then I started my period. Later, at about 2 am, they were playing their music full blast and I had a full on evil bastard thumping period headache and delightful stomach cramps. So I went and explained I had a migraine – because though too thick to see they were hostile – I did realise that trying to explain about periods to these guys was not an option. So I asked if they would be able to turn it down or shut the door. The guy whose room it was said I should turn it down myself. I thanked him profusely, and did, but not that much. Then I said ‘cheery night then’ closed their door and went back to my own room, where all was blissfully quiet. About ten minutes later I was just on the brink of sleep when someone started banging on the wall. I leapt up and locked the door, just as someone kicked it hard enough to make it rattle. Then it was kicked again, repeatedly, as if someone was trying to get in and people started banging on the wall as well and shouting ‘fuck off you southern c**t!’ ‘Try sleeping now you fucking southern bitch’ ‘we’re coming for you you southern cow.’ etc. All the insults were ‘southern’ something. From then on, I was a ‘Southern Bitch’ and with a very few brave and lovely exceptions, it was hard to strike up a conversation with anyone. It was OK in the end – never let it be said that the southern c**t didn’t try to integrate – I did some art, and then suddenly I was cool and my geographical origins were no longer a problem. It was one of the weirdest chapters of my life.

        It had genuinely never crossed my mind that I would ever vilified and hated for nothing more than my place of birth (and possibly having a thumping bastard headache). Until that point I’d never seen anyone display bigotry about northerners at home and I was completely unaware of the North South divide. But there you go. Ever since then, I have felt a bit uncomfortable every time someone northern meets me for the first time. Just in case they hate me for my birth crime too (phnark).

        And I’m explaining this, not to get at northerners, but to try and show why I feel so much sympathy for these people. Because barring two years in 6th form, from the age of 10 to the age of about 30, I’ve always had a Draco Malfoy and I did take it to heart, a lot. I was a well meaning cheerful kid, I just wanted to be friends, But I was to posh, too common, too immature, too brash, too rich (yeh right), not rich enough, too privileged, not privileged enough, too frivolous, too deep, too base, too working class, not working class enough … and it’s all such a load of shite because all I am is me, for fuck’s sake, and the rest is just made up labels and shit.

        Maybe I’m just an arsehole. Or maybe I’m an arsehole magnet, I don’t know. But all those years, with interchangeable Draco Malfoy’s, thinking up ludicrous reasons to hate me, I have come to sympathise keenly with anyone who gets gyp for similarly random and pointless reasons. And that could be why, when I look at the news and see Syrians in boats, I just see people, fellow human beings, folks like my Mum and Dad or my brother or my little boy. Suffering. And I have compassion. I have compassion for anyone who is in the shit because I know, personally, how it feels to be hated for the most trivial pathetic ‘reasons’. And I am married to a man whose parents did exactly what your Estonian lady did, but they moved to get a better education for their kids.

        The pay rate for carers is as much a week, as I earned in a month in the highest paid job I ever did. Things have moved on a lot. In 1994 when my grandma went into an old people’s home we had to pay for it. And the lotsa folks with homes and benefits from god knows where will fare no better when they get old. The State sees old people as a bunch of leeches with nothing to contribute. It seems to have selective memory loss over their NI payments. I often think the policy is to give them the minimum of care and hope they can be persuaded to die as quickly as possible.

        On bosses, yes, we are the sum of our experiences and I have a weird working background. The arts, which was good mostly, transport and motorsport – which are, basically, vocations. I have met two dickhead bosses. One, I suspect, thought I was too posh (gah where do these idiots get this?). One worked for a university I worked for and was a nightmare but she was having a bit of a melt down personally, I think. All the other bosses I’ve met have been decent people – flawed for sure – but decent, well meaning and wanting the best for their workers. But then, I have to confess that, to the last one, they’ve all been folks without degrees who have worked up from the bottom, and any others I know are folks who have built up their businesses from a point when they were the only employee. And I think that does make for a different outlook from a boss if he actually knows what it’s like to do the donkey work. I am very aware, when occasionally, I meet a group of professionals from the real world, how much of a third wheel I am in normal society. But the worlds of transport, arts and inventions/inventors are all havens for eccentrics, so I fit right in. So yes, I may not have met the usual petty minded, money grubber boss. Do link me the book. It sounds an interesting read.

        On a tangent, there’s a lovely story I heard about one of my bosses.

        It’s Christmas, everyone’s going home, and they’re going on the bus. The services were all really full so they were running two coaches at a time on some. Because they didn’t have the staff to do that for extended periods, everyone in the office who could drive a coach, took a shift. So off went Mr Bloggs, down to the bus station to drive the Gatwick service.

        He filled the coach barring this one seat that was occupied by the bag of the man in the seat next to it. Having driven the route loads of times as a driver, our hero knew it would be very busy further along the route and he wanted to take every person he could so there was more room on the dupe (second bus) – so he asked this guy to move the bag so one more person could get on. The guy got arsey and refused. The driver insisted. The bloke stood up and started shouting. The driver ordered him off. The bloke said,

        ‘I’m disgusted at your behaviour, I’m going to write to the Managing Director of this company and he’ll have your job. What is your name?’
        ‘Mr Bloggs,’ said the driver.
        ‘Good and your managing director?’
        Mr Bloggs got out his business card and handed it to the man.
        ‘That’s his card.’
        ‘Mr Bloggs, Managing Director,’ it said, with the address.
        There was a moment of silence and then Mr Bloggs said.
        ‘I won’t be sacking myself. So please take your bag off the seat and sit down, or get off my bus.’
        The man sat down and took his bag off the seat.

        When I worked at a surveyors as a secretary, on Christmas Eve, the MD got the receptionist to show him how the switchboard worked and then sent us all down to the pub for the afternoon while he manned the phones.

        I’ve got more stories like that. Maybe I’ve just been lucky.

        Agree re the three silly NHS probs. Really frustrating.

        No, I don’t think Syrian refugees should be prioritised over British workers, but I have this daft thing about being a citizen of the world, and they are people, in distress, and my personal belief system is, I’m afraid, what would Jesus do? (don’t laugh). And clearly, he would help folks in distress and YES at home as well. Looking at the way the immigrants integrated up to and after WW2, I think many of them would be a valuable asset. They are doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, scientists, journalists as well as labourers. And most of us, even the really brassic folks, do have more than the clothes we stand up in because we haven’t paid our life savings to cross the ocean in a crap rubber boat which we’ve fallen out of and come up with nothing but what’s in our pockets.

        We need proper sheltered accommodation for the mentally ill, we need proper care for the homeless, we should not need food banks. Yes, we should get our house in order, too but … we have a chance to help victims of a monstrous evil, and if we do that, then, in a few years’ time, we may need their help to fight it, and if we have helped them, they will be grateful or at least admire our altruistic ethics and hopefully they and we will stand united against the forces of evil, from whichever way they come. If we don’t help these folks, they won’t be there to help us when the time comes and, frankly, why should they? And I fear the time will come.

        So there are my jumbled thoughts!



      • Before I forget, book linky. It’s about a trendy supposedly liberal leftish sort of London couple who take in a refugee, colombian from memory. It’s satirical and quite funny in places. A good read although I think it was scanned in so there are silly errors.

        Whereas we married after four months πŸ˜€ Irresponsible impetuous travellers that we were.

        No, not knobs, just no idea of life north of Watford Gap. Or even Watford. I’d have been freaked by your uni incident. Ugh. My main problems were school related. Parents worked on market whereas everyone else’s parents were doctors, dentists, lawyers, architects … you get the idea. So parents had wrong job for posh school. Even if they had required dosh. Meanwhile, although we lived in a detached house with mega garden, it was surrounded by terrace houses and a council estate opposite. And, I. Wore. The. Wrong. School. Uniform. The posh girls’ school from the local city. So I got insults hurled at me, usually by girls, the boys had a different interest, and I was attacked one day, daylight, walking through a snicket. Reason: wrong school uniform. So, different, but not dissimilar experiences. I’m wondering who hasn’t been bullied. Partner was picked on to give money over. Soon stopped when he took up martial arts.

        I don’t know about the refugee thing. Maybe because we see different news, well, I don’t, cause we no longer have a telly, but I’ve seen so much news coverage in the past in print and on tv of pateras crossing to Spain from N Africa that I’m probably immune. How to determine which deprived country gets priority? That’s a bit like saying who gets a mastectomy? A woman with breast cancer or a woman who wants to look like a man?

        Pay for carers may have gone up. Is it enough to get a mortgage and buy a house? In the south east? I hate the way the uk treats old people 😦 Yes, it’s well known within the care home industry that once the price of the house, sold to pay the fees, has been used up, that those patients, I mean residents, seem to pop off rather quickly. Anyways as the pension age flies into the stratosphere and everyone will have to work until they literally drop at work, care homes may face a recession.

        I had two crap bosses. Which is probably par for the course. T’ others were decentish. Good tangential story πŸ˜€

        Where would Jesus or Mohammed or Buddha or Yahweh get the money from? We could say strip the MOD budget even further and stop getting involved in wars that aren’t our business, but that isn’t how the UK works. When I was a kid, the UK population was nearly 55 mill. Now it’s 70 or so. That’s a hell of an increase for a small country that also has emigrants, me included. Nothing wrong with post-war immigration. Czechs and Polish who flew for us in WW2 (I follow a free czech air force blog, fascinating insight into their contribution), and Commonwealth countries, whether India/Pakistan/Caribbean, or the later refugees from the Idi Amin terror.

        But, when you come from a heavily populated Muslim area, with third (?) generations taking up terrorism, grooming and raping white non-Muslim children/women, people being afraid to go out at night, it’s going to skew views. Where I come from has one of the main Sharia UK courts and school. It’s a no-go area for whites and was the scene of a riot. These are frightened people we are talking about, living in areas of high deprivation. They don’t have time or interest to think about other deprived and frightened people. Sure it’s relative. But that’s easy to say when we don’t live there. Or live that life.

        We can’t afford to house the homeless, provide adequate mental health care, or ensure people don’t need food banks. We also can’t afford expensive drugs for x, y and z. I read recently about rubbish collection being reduced from once a week to once every whenever. Libraries open for shorter hours. There are cutbacks everywhere. How many people though, are willing to take a drop in their standard of living when the Joneses have more?

        I admire your idealistic stance. What say that in three generations time those Syrian refugees will be demanding Islamic rights and going to train/fight in wherever is the latest Muslim terrorist war and/or bombing London? Those who know their history … Plus, it ain’t our altruism that’s admired, it’s the money, benefits, housing, consumerism, free healthcare, and capitalist consumerist society. Which we all contribute to, some more than others. Reminds me, must write a pikey update!

      • Yeh, I can see where you’re coming from with what you say about where you grew up (I was very like you in that parents weren’t posh enough but school – and the accent in my case – was too posh for the locals). Actually, I think we need to try and deport more of the shit heads, too. Deporting people for supporting or inciting hate is fine. Indeed, I once remember seeing a bunch of blokes marching in Luton or somewhere, on TV. I can’t remember what their beef was but it involved marching with ‘Death to the police’ with ‘we hate Britain’ posters.

        Now, there, I would be very tempted, were I immigration, to say, ‘you hate Britain, you fuck off then!’ and deport the ringleaders back to whichever country their forefathers came from. If it was more than one country, marvellous, they’d have a choice, but they could definitely go there and get knotted! πŸ˜‰

        It just goes to show. We are all the sum of our own experiences in many ways, and had I grown up in a place like the one you describe, I might well have a different view. I know there are areas where Sharia law is allowed but it is not supposed to stand as law in the UK, although yes, try telling that to the different families.

        So people coming in should be made to learn English, properly, and in an ideal world, spread about so they don’t all end up living in a huge ghetto where they make no effort to integrate. I am almost certain, too, that when people leave the old country and settle elsewhere they hang on to their national identity with all their might. So then you get this dichotomy what while the home nation moves on, the overseas community gets stuck in a microcosm of the past.



        On 30 January 2017 at 11:54, M T McGuire Authorholic wrote:


      • Truth is, where I grew up was always full of immigrants. They just changed over the years. Irish, then Pakistani, prob Eastern European now.

        And while the Irish might speak English, many Asians didn’t. Here in Spain and Gib, we speak Spanish as do Moroccans, Indians, and other non-nationals. Why not? Stupid not to.

        Yes, plenty of Pakistanis didn’t speak English, and didn’t integrate. Great word ‘integrate’. Ever tried ‘integrating’ in a community that doesn’t speak your language? That has a different culture? To be fair to immigrants it ain’t easy. But that’s a whole nother post. I don’t think the overseas community is stuck in the past at all, rather, dissatisfied with the present. I knew Pakistanis of different ages. Back then, the young ones were easy going, friendly and happy to embrace Brit culture/values/whatever. The older ones were more rigid and conscious of their status in their community. For whatever reason, you are right, we have a terrible dichotomy with the later generations from the original 50s immigrants 😦

      • I wonder if it’s a case of too many people from the same place arriving at the same time. They’re going to stick together rather than join in. So yes, also with you in that were I to to live somewhere else, I’d learn the language. Chief reason for not wanting to is that I could never get to the same level of nuance in another language as in English. That’s a whole other post right there, McOther would have loved to have lived abroad, whereas I would make a bad exile. πŸ˜‰

      • I think it is a time thing, and it runs in cycles. Could be Polish, Czech, Irish, Pakistani, Indian. After a while they are accepted. Have to say the latest radical Muslim lot who are not even immigrants are causing probs.

        I spent years being more fluent in Spanish than A, but a few years on a building site with Spaniards and Moroccans soon altered that. Nuances.
        Very, very difficult. No time for that right now. Every techy and white good is falling apart!!

      • Yeh, I can believe that you learn fast if you have to! Hope the white goods are soon sorted.

  3. Reblogged this on Cynthia Reyes – Author and commented:
    I didn’t go to church today, but this post from author MT McGuire is as good a sermon as any I’ve heard. A provocative, thoughtful piece that makes me sit up in the back pew of my church here at home. (Yes, I’m a devoted back-pew Anglican.)

  4. Hi MT,
    Would you like to run for President of the US? Then we might have a “great” country again! Thank you for your wise and thoughtful ramblings on education, life, happiness, economics and more. This US citizen is willing to hear constructive criticism of our country. We have a lot that could be improved, starting with removing money from politics, and scaling back the military. Those two alone would dramatically more our country forward and give us the money to address social and environmental issues.

    blessings, Brad

  5. Whew! I am reminded of a book a read a couple of years back about why both sides of the issues in the USA view the other as morally wrong. While it is not directly about education, concepts of knowledge, beliefs, and critical thinking are woven into the analysis. Sorry to say that the author is a univeristy professor in the USA. That probably disqualifies it from the get-go. Just kidding. — Oscar

  6. Kev

    I love to laugh over a good rant between two friends. Thanks for the entertainment mT and Rough! 🀣

    • Yep we do like a good debate every now and again. πŸ˜‰

    • At least we can agree to disagree. And agree on some things. Too many people can’t 😦

      • Yes, absolutely! AND actually, it really made me think.

        Any view anyone holds, they will start with their own perception of something – or at least I tend to. It’s really hard to remember, that sometimes another person’s experience of the same thing will be so completely different. I might well feel the same as you if I grew up where you did and saw the things you’ve seen. Also, there’s a whole raft of stuff where we may well agree that I’ve kind of assumed people will get from what I’ve said, without actually mentioning it. Also made me think how Trump, who is a really crap communicator, could actually be seeing it, as opposed to how he seems to be looking at it.

        Really interesting insight into the psychological machinations of actually debating stuff with others as well. It’s hard to do it on the internet though, because I really need the non-verbal side to do it properly. πŸ˜‰

      • Hey, at least we entertain people! I think, while I have my own views/leanings, I do tend to consider the other view as well, but that might be a journo thing where we had to get both/all sides of a story.
        Trump isn’t that much of a crap communicator. He is POTUS. He got his message across to enough people. Maybe not the majority, but he well swung the electoral colleges. (I really don’t understand US politics.) Although I wouldn’t vote for him in a blue fit,million years, under pain of torture (ok maybe that one), I can see why people did. In essence some of it was ‘We don’t want Hills’ ‘We are sick of the same old tosh’ (without realising he is no different), patriotic MAGA aspirations, anti women, anti immigrants, anti islam, right wing fundy xtian, and the blue collar vote. His impeachment/resignation can’t come quickly enough.
        Internet debates on blogs aren’t easy because most people just make one line comments. I know a few – mostly Canadian – bloggers who do write great comments. Not just about politics, but on anything and everything.
        But a debate is better than ‘shut up, you are an idiot’ which happens all too often. And I’m sure I’ve probably said that!

  7. Posted a reminder to us in USA what our Constitution does (not) say about Presdiential Executive Orders (nothing), along with concepts of power and authority. I found a way to compare President Trump to Jack Cade in Henry VI, Part 2. You’ll enjoy the comparison and grand quote from Act IV. Enjoy. Oscar

  8. Pingback: Do you believe in socialism or the labour party? And other questions. #rantmodeon | Hamgee University Press

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