The new Christmas food according to The Guardian

No, not turkey kebab, turkey taro nor millet and turkey, despite our new national vibrancy:

One Christmas my mother gave me Helen Forrester’s memoir Twopence to Cross the Mersey. What timing! I was warm, overfed on mince peas…..

Hmm, maybe the subs have been at one of those booze advent calendars?

Looking at the actual complaint though:

Forrester was born in 1919 to socialites who built a glittering life on the tick. Then her father went bankrupt in the Great Depression, leaving his family of seven children with only the clothes they stood up in. They decamped to Liverpool, across the Mersey from Forrester’s grandmother, but could never summon up twopence for the ferry. The book is a calm, sad account of a childhood of bitter cold and near-starvation. Her mother numbed her misery with aspirin; her father sought out parish handouts. They lived in a single room. Forrester left school to care for the children, waking at dawn to creep along the street skimming half an inch from the milk bottles on the doorsteps, so that her baby brother would survive.

I never forgot it. It comes to mind when I see the remains of Grenfell Tower, or read about food banks, or people dying with empty cupboards and half-completed government paperwork on the table. It made me realise that poverty isn’t a natural law, nor is it symptomatic of lack of moral fibre. It is a monstrous and an avoidable evil and, so long as society harbours vast inequality, it will always be lying in wait.

There’s something that the dim bint is missing. Missing very badly.

Leave aside the level of whatever welfare state there was at the time (it wasn’t that bad actually, not by the standards of the time etc). Think instead of average incomes. £165 a year for the nation as a whole. Upgrade that to current day incomes and its some £44,000. Upgrade it by goods and services inflation instead, to give us actual living standards and it’s more like £19,000. That’s the average income for the nation.

Two adults and 7 children on £19,000 a year? Yup, that’s poverty by modern standards, isn’t it? It’s also not an evil, it’s not something to do with inequality even. It’s just that the past was poor, poorer than any of us ever realise. The point being that it’s this very capitalism and free markets which have risen us up out of that shit.

No, really. Note that by using the average we’re not addressing distribution of incomes at all. That structural inequality and all that shit are being entirely ignored. The difference between 19 and 44 has been provided by economic growth, nowt else.

20 comments on “The new Christmas food according to The Guardian

  1. The Guardian allegedly is concerned with the environment and so should point out that it is irresponsible for people to have so many children – that leads to over population and habitat destruction.

    @”It made me realise that poverty isn’t a natural law, nor is it symptomatic of lack of moral fibre. It is a monstrous and an avoidable evil”
    Not true without modern technology in the past poverty was unavoidable – it is hard to feed yourself with pre 1700 technology.

  2. I remember reading stats a while back that showed that, corrected for inflation, someone on welfare in the UK now has greater disposable income than someone on average earnings back in the 70’s.

    The Western world really is a very much richer place than even 40 years ago.

  3. The Forresters make unlikely victims for a guardianista, being socialites who built a glittering life on the tick which makes them not only class enemies but parasites.

    Then her father went bankrupt in the Great Depression, leaving his family of seven children with only the clothes they stood up in and countless accounts unsettled with local tradespeople who could ill afford the losses.

    Never daunted, Forrester follows in her father’s footsteps by thievery, waking at dawn to creep along the street skimming half an inch from the milk bottles on the doorsteps, so that her baby brother would survive.

  4. The most effective way of returning to that level of poverty is to create the society the Guardian believes in. Look around the world and the history books for numerous examples.

  5. Of course we are better off than in the past. My father went barefoot in the summer until he left school and got a full-time job – well, in the summer. He went to a church school and got boots on loan for the winter. All the kids did. And guess where: Liverpool. In the 1920s.

  6. These days, ‘being poor’ means that Wayne has to make do with an iPhone 4.

    And living with Mummy and Daddy in a £650k house in the Home Counties having blown £30k on a media studies degree and turning your nose up at warehouse work.

  7. Her parents were “socialites who built a glittering life on the tick”. Lost all my sympathy right there.

    These days you’d at least claim your father was a “businessman”, like James Stunt; rather than just the modern equivalent of families who run up vast amounts of credit card and store card debt.

  8. It made me realise that poverty isn’t a natural law, nor is it symptomatic of lack of moral fibre. It is a monstrous and an avoidable evil and, so long as society harbours vast inequality, it will always be lying in wait.

    This is a fascinating little passage. Poverty is the natural law actually. Most people add nothing to society and hence their net contribution is nil. There is something in Western society that has raised us above bare starvation. But it is a fragile flower whatever it is.

    “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as “bad luck.”

    The natural state of mankind is Zimbabwe. But with fewer productive White people. However notice she slips from poverty to inequality. As if the struggle against inequality has ever produced anything but poverty while allowing a natural inequality has usually produced wealth.

  9. What is interesting about that is how utterly unintellectual most of those people are – and how superficial their petty understanding of poverty is. This is arm chair poverty porn, not actually something they feel deeply.

    One of my most striking childhood memories is watching the telly with my parents, aged eight, the faces of four black women starkly lit, lined up in profile, singing the intro to the Specials song Free Nelson Mandela.

    Idiocracy right there.

    I was a doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley in 1996 when Richard Wilkinson’s Unhealthy Societies was published.

    Her searing experience of poverty is something she remembers reading from her time as an older student in Berkeley.

    Peter Singer’s Practical Ethics issues a very strong challenge that is hard to meet.

    He is so caught up in the issue he has not read anything about poverty at all.

    Despite starting off as a student of economic history, I spent a lot of time with anthropologists and became increasingly interested in hunting and gathering societies. I was particularly influenced first by Richard Lee and Irven DeVore’s Man the Hunter (1968) and then more particularly by Marshall Sahlins’ Stone Age Economics (1972).

    He is not dumb but his reading has nothing to do with poverty at all.

    I’m mixed race and grew up poor, on a council estate in Bolton in the 1970s. I’m not sure that I ever had my eyes closed to inequality and injustice. I didn’t need a book to open them. I could just look around. But in my teens when I started reading Zola (I think my first was Germinal), it was a revelation to me that poverty and inequality could be the subject of fiction. Then I discovered George Orwell

    So she started out with Zola and then moved to Orwell? Yeah. Sure. Monica Ali must be pretty much the most comfortable middle class writer in Britain today. Despite her meaningless posturing.

    Always having due regard to the famous strictures of Chinua Achebe, nevertheless Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, which I read when I was maybe 17, made me question many things.

    Nothing to do with poverty but a High School reading assignment I would guess.

    I read The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919) by John Maynard Keynes well over 30 years ago and it powerfully stuck with me.

    Jeff, son, me old china plate, you are well over sixty years old. Don’t boast about reading a thin little discredited text you should have read as an undergraduate. Also, of course, nothing to do with poverty. A hard peace? As if.

    All in all it looks like a bunch of rent-a-quotes who would go to the opening of a chip packet if the Guardian bunged them some money.

  10. “half-completed government paperwork”

    But it must have been the greed of the rich that denied this poor person their fair dues. And we must also have more govt control over everything.

    Then it will all be better. Most assuredly.

  11. I was a doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley in 1996 when Richard Wilkinson’s Unhealthy Societies was published.

    The far-left author of the discredited “The Spirit Level”? I think it is.

  12. A family with a fucking waster for a father end up poor. In a past age when there was less anyway.

    My family came thro the Depression. Without needing to steal anybody else’s milk–literally or metaphorically. They had to work hard as did most people.

    So Guardian “writers” fuck off you pack of middle class marxian cunts.

  13. The book is actually fascinating, and one feels a real rage at, and contempt for, the feckless parents: amongst other things, they would buy a new sofa on hire purchase, whilst three of their children slept on a door for a bedbed, and froze under their newspaper bed-clothes.

    Despite all of this, and her mother’s deliberate attempts to sabotage her, Helen does—gradually, and fighting all the way—work her way out of poverty.

    Personally, this book (and its sequels) are what I tell people to read when they whinge on about poverty in this century.

    DK

  14. Ecks,not everybody can live up to your exacting standards and may occasionaly have to ‘steal’ a little milk way back when…go fuck yourself.

  15. No fuck you Thud.

    If they had to steal to absolutely survive –well that is one thing. Humble-bragging about it –or standing by while Guardian MC/CM pricks use your circs to do so–in bullshit of support evil mass-murdering causes is another,.

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