Monday, 14 March 2011

East End and Living off the Land

Children are really truly wonderful, all of them, in their own small special way, and I was reminded of this, this last weekend gone, when a good friend and her young daughter descended and spent the weekend guesting-over. And what a treat it was, just to share the world of a two and a half, well really, soon to be a three year old girl; frankly, a real privilege, and the pleasure of her company, well it was for me inspiring. This young child brought home to me why I am a socialist; why I must continue to write posts for this blog site and on-line journal, with if I can then regular entries about personal experiences as well as continuing to advocate the socialist case. Those who come to read and visit the blog, possibly regularly, will have noticed posts have fallen back a little, two excuses I offer, home decorating and work have got in the way, along with the need to take a break and do some serious thinking or kind of take some time out I suppose; but I am pleased to say that we are back and with a new burst of energy thanks to a young three year old comrade.

Continuing on from our last post, and all of nearly three weeks on now; the Barking Road that runs through Canning Town is still looking like a building site, traffic has been diverted as workmen lay new pavements, all a part of the great grand and august  plan to tart-up the area in preparation for the Olympics, and of course along with the construction of new housing which will mean that Canning Town will look much different in the time to come as we see the gentrification, the restoration (allegedly) of this run-down urban area by the so-called middle classes (resulting in the displacement of low-income residents).

Now I think that children, and that’s our children, they are important and wheresoever they exist in this big old world (well maybe not so big), and no mater what race, creed or doctrine (religious or political) they happen to live under, and hopefully my anointed words are not too clumsy or ill-chosen in this respect. The interminable biological dependence of humankind's suckling’s, compared with that of other mammals has been modified and extended by different societies in many different ways. In modern capitalism we have defined and expanded the state of childhood to a far greater extent than ever before.

If we question what it is that we teach children, however, it is then obvious that it has little to do with becoming capable, able and autonomous adults. From time to time, employer’ organisations complain that school leavers lack numeracy, literacy and a willingness to work for their living. Every few years, the examination system is revamped in an effort to improve the selection of the most able and diligent youngsters, and to raise the general standard of attainment. But, after years of this process that we call education, some adolescents still leave school with almost nothing to show for the time they have been under adult instruction and the money that has been invested in the education system.

We now have a record number of young and unemployed, and with all indications that for the youth, and this generation, things won't improve any time soon. But, let’s not look at his generation too closely, although they should not be forgotten or deserted by those of us in the Labour and Trade Union Movement. However I’ve been observing a group of friends, trying to learn something about what has happened to them during the last two or three generations back, and how life has panned out for them since the Thatcher and New Labour years.

These relatively but still young people ranging from and in their late twenties and early forties, and in the words of one of them ‘Live off the Land’. They are a very remarkable group, and I have found great friendship amongst them. However they are the victims of a system that has betrayed them, underemployment and unemployment has meant and entailed that they live life sometimes on the other side of the tracks, and sometimes (on certain occasions or in certain cases but not always) that means breaching the law in order to make ends meet, now please don’t get me wrong, getting hold of scrap metal is their forte and speciality. With a forest of scrap-yards in the East End they try to get by from one week to the next, their task made that much harder these days with unemployed and homeless Eastern Europeans competing for any old scrap they can lay their hands on. Now I tell this story because it has to be told, and the more pitiful it is when I tell you that that in order to make a living the Eastern Europeans regally turn-out the bins in blocks of flats looking for any morsel of cooper they can add to their harvesting.

So, ‘Living off the Land’ takes on a new meaning in the urban sand bar of a city desert, as if this rich city was arid land with little or no vegetation, well maybe for some but not all.

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