Friday, 21 February 2014

I stand in solidarity with individuals who Squat

I stand in solidarity with individuals who Squat, who have been evicted, who sleep in doorways, under bridges, on London night buses and in council owned parks.

I stand with you who sleep in London Parks, who live in the various encampments on public land,  as well as victims of eviction, repossession and intimidation from banks and those who realize their chains and slave away at their jobs to ensure their own sanity and the safety of their family

Those of you who pay for your homes and offer space to others without exchanges of money are greatly appreciated and I love you for your openness and kindness towards others.

Words like “unfair” are common in discussions with individuals who work and slave 40+ hours a week and consider jobless and homeless people lazy. Those who take action and claim space are viewed as going outside social norms. You can have whatever views you choose. I see squatting from different perspectives. Most homeless people have been tossed aside by society. Whether it’s because of abuse in the home, the rejection of societal norms, following a spiritual path or the lack of perceived opportunities for lower-income earners, we take a chance at fate by doing something out of the ordinary. We play our cards; that’s all anyone could do. We’re not all professional card players.

There is nothing wrong with the use of empty space. There’s nothing wrong in reclaiming corporate or empty council property. I believe there are only communal and shared spaces. The concept of ownership is a tricky subject. How can a corporation claim that they own a building when they cannot possibly own the resources other corporations stole by extracting from ecosystems on a planet which has no way of being owned? How can any institution say they own property when the land is something for all to experience and partake in? We aren’t born owning anything; we simply exist as other life exists with us. Corporations, however, do claim ownership, and this is wrong. If you were to visit a forest and sit underneath an apple tree, you would not claim that you own the tree. You might claim it to be yours for the time being, but only insofar as you are using it. I don’t see how the use of chopped-up trees, metals, glues, vinyl, paints, etc. is any different. To call it a home only means it has an intention to be a container for a specific use. Homes are containers used for protection from the elements, privacy, sleep, cooking, storage, social space and peace of mind. I perceive that I may need space for these ends and I claim space and use it for some of those purposes, depending on where it is I am. When I am done respecting my chopped-up trees, I’ll move on and someone else can utilize what has been created and left.

Living in a home is a privilege and is something which is taken for granted. Please take the time to check for yourself. Most people don’t understand what it’s like living with uncertainty while your physical health and mental sanity deteriorate because of stress and anxiety or constantly being woken up and asked to move. Excuse me, I was sleeping and not bothering anyone. And if someone is bothered, it’s their discomfort about their status they should be worrying about. People start looking at you differently or looking away from you because you’re not wasting water and are dirtier than they are and you carry what belongings you have in your pack or recycled carrier bags, like your portable bed, i.e. a sleeping roll. They judge you for having the freedom of travel, for having no institutionalized work, for searching for a good spot to rest, for living with spontaneity and ingenuity. It fills the heart to sleep under the stars or to finally find a solid place to store the junk you’re carrying so you can rest your back. Maybe there’s even a nice bed and no rats. But, oh, a basement in an old factory without mold and rats is utopia itself!

There is more constructed empty space than there are houseless people. There are few old-growth forests left in the world as a result of this exaggerated construction. Let us honour what we have destroyed and then created, make use of what is available, and have no regrets about it.

Capitalism is changing the weather

Capitalism is changing the weather. More fundamentally, it is changing the climate. It has been estimated that before the year 2030, 100 million people will die as a result of the changing climate. Ninety percent of these deaths will occur in poor countries.

The ‘climate crisis’ should now be spoken of as the climate catastrophe, because this is what it is for the majority of the people on earth. The droughts of prolonged periods of abnormally low rainfall, melting icecaps of once-permanent ice, tropical storms amongst the most powerful and destructive may become commonplace here in Britain, and of course the bizarre weather we have been experiencing is just the beginning.

Only today (at the time of writing) an earthquake hits the Bristol Channel, houses rocking and residents speaking to the BBC likened the tremors to a "heavy truck going up the road". All this on top of the flooding cannot be ignored, the climate, our climate is changing and has been for some considerable time now.

The dominant economic system is the driving force of climate change.  It is based upon the exploitation of first coal and then oil, all of which contributes greenhouse gases to the environment, resulting in increasing global temperatures. The innermost logic of this economic system is the accumulation of capital.  Whatever serves profit thrives. Currently a large part of the capitalist machine is fueled by oil and coal. The vast majority of scientific investigation points directly to the burning of oil and coal as having already raised the temperature of the Earth by 1.5 degree Fahrenheit, with the possibility of raising it over ten degrees by the end of this century. To do this would make life on earth unrecognizable, like something out of a science fiction movie. This may happen by the time today’s infants enter old age.

It seems that if the fundamental driving force of capitalism is the further accumulation of capital, it would make sense not to change the ecology so much that you severely reduce the number of producers and consumers, threaten food production, and endanger the future of humanity.  Without civilization, how can capitalism continue?  Right now, the most potent anti-civilizational force on the planet is capitalism.

Capitalists confront us by driving the rate of destruction ever upward, while becoming increasingly irrational in seeking out the remaining oil, coal and gas supplies.  The tar sands extraction process in Canada, ‘fracking’ to get at natural gas reserves (which is causing earthquakes), mountain-top removal in Appalachia, oil drilling off the coasts and efforts to do so in pristine parts of Alaska, all for a form of energy which is literally killing millions of people, is simple madness.

Perhaps members of the ruling class simply do not care about the future of civilization, or what kind of future their children or grandchildren will have. Perhaps they think they will be dead before things get too bad. Perhaps today’s continued profit is more important than the future disintegration of society, and the end of civilization as we know it. Perhaps they think they have enough money that the devastation that awaits will not really affect them. Or perhaps they just think they will adapt to a changing environment.

Regardless of the thinking of capitalists and the ruling class, and whatever debates they may be having about how to respond, we must confront the realities of the climate catastrophe and develop a movement to create a society that does not change the weather. It is really up to us, and what we do in the next decade. To not act is to allow millions of people, primarily poor people of color in impoverished nations, to suffer and die

The climate crisis offers damning evidence that capitalism is madness. The situation offers the opportunity for us to argue for the fundamental transformation of society as the only alternative to a barbarous future.  Almost every aspect of modern life is contributing to the changing climate, from air transportation, to our reliance on cars, to how goods are produced and transported, how our food is grown, and how we light and heat our homes.  The common theme that runs through all these things, and what must be changed, is that they are all aspects of a capitalist economy and ideology.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

a new inner voice is calling out!”

With fourteen short months (although for many it will be neither here nor there, or even matter that much) to go to the general election, we can say one thing with some certainty. The coalition that David Cameron leads will have been able to have served it’s time in office unrestrained and without any real opposition from the official parliamentary opposition namely the Labour Party now led by Ed Miliband and the entourage that he surrounds himself with.

What little opposition that there has been to this government of the rich has come from outside of parliament, first the students then the occupation movement that set-up camp in the City of London outside the famous tourist attraction of St. Pauls Cathedral that sits at the top of Ludgate Hill until they were violently removed, and of course let us not forget the many hundreds of sick and disabled people who have taken to our streets to defend a welfare system put through the shredder.

We should not feel disappointed or dispirited by the way things have worked out in regard to opposing the coalition and it’s program of forced austerity. As they say Rome wasn't built in a day, and a new movement for real change takes time to build; but I do believe with all my hart that many are now for the first time in their lives beginning to question just what sort of society it is we live in, and in whose interest is it run in, and who and whom do governments really serve at the end of it all.

At the end of the day, there is something brewing deep down in the sole and conscience of many, if you like a new sense of right and wrong, a new inner voice that is calling out. I would not say calling out for justice as there is no such thing in a capitalist run society such as this.

In the fullness of time, leaps forward by working people to improve their lives, such as having a decent paid job, owning or renting a decent home, ensuring our children receive a free and fair education, that the sick and old are looked after with compassion and real care, the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of all, have and are still being taken away. All these hard won gains won over many years by working people have been chipped away at by both Labour and Conservative administrations.

Standing in elections is a waste of time and money, nothing more than a false hope without a new down, just the same old same old!”

Ken Livingstone the former Mayor of London wrote a book called If Voting Changed Anything, They'd Abolish It (1987), and how right he was back then.

It’s alright for some in Britain today who have the money, the hard cash to buy say - a Ferrari starting price £140,000, as reported in today's news 677 Ferraris were sold in this country last year, which overtook Germany as the company’s strongest European market, just to add that in addition the luxury car manufacturer to the rich and famous was named the world’s most powerful brand, I think that’s about right and very fitting whilst the many struggle to find the bus fare to visit the local dole office to sign on. The truth is that many of us find ourselves confined to the areas in which we live, the cost of transport being so expensive these days imprisons us whether we like it or not.

As I sit write and compose this post I catch a glimpse from the corner of my eye of an aircraft taking off from London city airport and heading towards some european destination or other, the plain fact is, that the thousands below can’t afford or have never been on such a vehicle of the air, we are all held captive and trapped in different degrees of poverty.

There is no official recognition of 'transport poverty' yet it is a daily reality for millions of people across Britain. For decades transport and planning policy has focused on the needs of motorists, but nearly half of all households are struggling with the costs of car ownership. The absence of practical alternatives – including inadequate and expensive public transport and hostile walking and cycling environments – is forcing millions of people to choose between debt and social exclusion.

Transport poverty is a complex issue but its impact is clear. Our transport planning system penalises people who cannot afford a car, who struggle to cover rising public transport fares and who lack access to public or private transport because of age, disability or where they live.

I may have now gone off on one in regard to ‘transport poverty’ which was not my intention, however there are indeed many sides to poverty, and this is just another one that we don’t hear much about, but its real and affects many, can you just imagine families kept apart because of the costs involved, and in this day and age?

We are swimming in a sea of poverty, thousands of families are living in abject poverty, food banks, low pay, homelessness and much, much more - a new inner voice is calling out!”

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Regal Con Game

Times are hard for British capitalism today so our rulers have had to cut costs. They have slashed welfare benefits, put a cap on government workers’ wages and introduce a bedroom tax and once more a nasty piece of legislation that has hurt thousands. However, there are some things of course that are sacrosanct. 'The Queen has received a £5m boost in the funds she receives from the taxpayer to carry out her official duties. The sovereign grant, which covers the running costs of the Queen's household, was set at £36.1m for the 2013-14 financial year’ To the ruling class she is worth every pound, for she and her large extended family help to keep the workers thinking they are one nation and give them spectacular royal events. Essential to disguise their exploitation and some will say this is money well spent?”

The British House of Commons' public accounts committee released a 35-page report that said the queen received 31 million pounds, from taxpayers for 2012-2013, but overspending had whittled down the royal Reserve Fund to 1 million pounds at the end of that period.

The report criticizes the queen's household and the treasury for its financial planning and management.

"It is not clear to us that the Treasury is sufficiently challenging in its scrutiny of the Household's financial affairs, or that the new funding arrangements sufficiently incentivise the Household to find greater efficiency savings".

It's not the first time the royal family has been told to tighten its belt. Last October, the public accounts committee lectured the queen's treasurer, Sir Alan Reid, about why the royals exceeded their budget of 31 million pounds and spent 33.3 million.

The royal train service cost £200,000 pounds last year, but royal travel spending did fall to £4.5 million pounds in 2012-2013 from 5 million pounds in 2007-2008. The royals have lower helicopter maintenance to thank for that, which was most recently 2.7 million, compared to £3 million in the previous year.

However, the royals are spending more on their utilities: £9.9 million pounds in 2012-2013, compared with £8.2 million in 2007-2008.

Of note, the Queen is worth an estimated £395.30 million, according to Wealth-X, a firm that researches ultra-high net worth individuals.

Of the family estimates have put Prince Charles as being worth an estimated £221.62 million, Prince William is worth an estimated £11.98 million, while his brother Harry is estimated to have £9.58 million.

Whilst it is indeed noble and great for the two young Princes to get up early one morning and help out with the floods that have hit better off parts of the country, it is notable that no crumbs full off the royal tables or any food is offered to food banks to help feed the Queens impoverished and penniless subjects many of whom are indeed starving whilst she runs lavish gigs like the one the other night for the BAFTAs. The Queen hosted the event at Buckingham Palace, Rada students performed songs from the musical Oh! What A Lovely War, and why didn't veteran actress Helen Mirren have anything to say about this song of violence?”

Sunday, 16 February 2014

more poisons seem to be entering our food chain

Food is essential for life. It should be pure, nutritious and free from any type of adulteration for proper maintenance of human health.

Despite the many improvement in production, processing and packaging, more poisons seem to be entering our food chain. For example Indian spices and 'masalas' add taste and flavour to food and also help in digestion. Some spices like turmeric have an antiseptic effect on the body. But what is most important is the quality of these ingredients. Every consumer wants to get maximum quantity of a commodity for as low a price as possible. This attitude of the consumer being coupled with the intention of the traders to increase the margin of profit, where the quality of the commodity gets reduced through addition of a baser substance and / or removal of vital elements also commonly known as food adulteration.

Results found by a council laboratory in West Yorkshire reveal that almost 40% of 900 food samples were not what they were advertised, or were mislabelled in some way. The tests were part of a general surveillance programme by the local authority, and as part of checks focusing on products prone to being counterfeited.

Herbal slimming tea containing neither tea nor herbs, but rather glucose powder mixed with prescription obesity medication at 13 times the normal dose; beef mince that contained pork or poultry products. Ham was often made using poultry that was coloured pink in the production process. Illegal additives found in fruit juices included brominated vegetable oil, which is meant to be used as a flame retardant and is linked to behavioural problems in rats at high doses.  A product labelled as vodka was in fact made from isopropanol, used in antifreeze and as an industrial solvent.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

The gap between wages and property prices is widening

If salaries had kept pace with house price inflation in the last 15 years, you would be paid more than twice as much now. That would mean the average wage would be more than £55,000, according to housing charity Shelter, rather than the official £25,932.

The gap between wages and property prices is widening as salaries remain static and home values soar leaving average earners needing a £29,000 pay increase to be as well off in relation to property prices as they were in 1997.

Worst hit are those in the London borough of Hackney where pay would need to be four times higher than the current average to have kept pace with property.
Average earners take home £31,304 in Hackney, but if wages had matched property inflation, the salary would stand at £131,924. In Westminster the gap climbs to £105,375.

Workers outside London have also been hit by the double-whammy of effective pay freezes and soaring home prices. People on average wages in Watford and Brighton & Hove would need an extra £47,000 each year to keep up with local house price inflation, while those in Manchester would need to earn £34,000 more.

Soaring house prices have left people being forced to take out larger mortgages with the average first-time buyer loan climbing 11.4 per cent in 2013 to reach £122,040.

Meanwhile official figures have revealed that more than 3.3 million 20-to-34-year-olds were living with their parents last year in the UK.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

all to force workers to settle for lower wages

It has been the policy of every UK government (and those of most other countries) for over 30 years to ensure that unemployment is prevented from falling below what is often described by economists as a “sustainable”, “natural”, “structural” or “equilibrium” rate of unemployment (these terms are interchangeable).
On the rare occasions that this policy is discussed in the mainstream media we find that economists, journalists, and politicians usually reveal themselves to be in favour of using unemployment to exert what is deemed to be the necessary “downward pressure on wages” in the name of controlling inflation.

My intention here, is to shine a spotlight on what has long been standard and usual government policy regardless of which party is in power – namely, deliberately creating insecurity and poverty through unemployment, and thereby putting downward pressure on wages for those who are in employment.

It is sometimes said that there is no longer a commitment to full employment – this  implies that governments are merely being passive and docile in not pursuing policies which would otherwise result in higher levels of employment. The reality is that governments and their institutions study the labour “market” very closely, and actively pursue policies which are designed to ensure unemployment is not allowed to fall to a level euphemistically described as “unsustainably low”.

The most damning evidence for this despicable policy can be found in the minutes of the monthly meetings of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of England which have been published since June 1997. Here`s an example from its December 1997 meeting, where the minutes recorded the MPC`s concern with the different effectiveness of long and short-term unemployment in pushing wages down:

“The empirical evidence in general supported a more powerful role for short-term unemployment in putting downward pressure on wages. Some studies suggested that only short-term unemployment mattered. But recent Bank research had suggested that, although short-term unemployment was more important, the potential downward effect of long-term unemployment on wages should not be disregarded.”

The late 1990s was a period when the high level of employment generated by the boom caused great concerns in the powers that be that unemployment was too low, leading several mainstream media outlets, including the BBC, to openly and uncritically report the efforts of the Bank of England to raise unemployment through higher interest rates. Below are 2 extracts from articles and editorials, which are from, or refer to, the period June-September 1998 to illustrate the point.

From “How wage inflation has been tamed”, By Lea Paterson, Independent (UK), published 16 February 1999:

EIGHT MONTHS ago the Bank of England was so concerned about inflationary pressures in the labour market that it hiked UK interest rates up to 7.5 per cent. Unemployment was unsustainably low, the Bank said, and would have to rise in order to keep inflation in check.

A Financial Times editorial (subscription required) entitled “Bank calls the turn” which was published on September 11th 1998 was blatant in calling for an increase in unemployment of up to half a million:

“unemployment must now be allowed to rise – perhaps by 500,000 – to bring the economy back to a non-inflationary path”

As Australian economist Bill Mitchell has pointed out there is an issue of human rights violation in the maintenance of a “reserve army of labour” in the form of mass unemployment, he writes:

  In 1945, the Charter of the United Nations was signed and ratified by 50 member nations. Article 55 defines full employment as a necessary condition for stability and well-being among people, while Article 56 requires that all members commit themselves to using their policy powers to ensure that full employment, among other socio-economic goals are achieved.

These noble aims coincided with the beginning of the period known as the “Golden age of Capitalism”, where the UK and many other countries enjoyed low unemployment combined with high rates of economic growth. The deliberate reintroduction of mass unemployment in the 1970s & 80s was a reaction by elites to what they perceived to be the negative consequences of low unemployment.

The devastating cuts being experienced in many countries at present are a more obvious cause of unemployment than the interest rate manipulations of central banks during booms. In the UK, the last time big cuts were made to government spending was under the administration of Margaret Thatcher when large cuts in public spending were combined with very high interest rates to devastating effect. The bogeyman at that time was inflation, the new bogeymen this time are deficits and national debt. It is no coincidence that the policies prescribed as cures for both hyped-up crises just happen to lead to very high levels of unemployment – this is the real crisis! The fear of unemployment is being used by employers (including the state) to force workers to settle for lower wages.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

let it rain

If it don’t rain, then it pours -  it's hard to find the perfect time to say ... So let it rain.

For many thousands the sound of rain upon a rooftop must be foreboding and fill one with apprehension, especially in parts of the country that have been under the water for weeks now and with no sign of a let up. And as I look out of my kitchen window the rain carried by strong winds pricks my conscience, is this the result and consequence of man-made climate change?  Is it the factor in the extreme weather that has hit much of the UK in recent months?”

More than 130 severe flood warnings - indicating a threat to life - have been issued since December. In contrast, there were only nine in the whole of 2012.

More than 5,000 properties have been flooded over this period, although the Environment Agency says investment in flood defences over the past decade has protected a further 1.3 million properties, a defensive answer yet, prickly and paranoid if ever there was one.

While our politicians engaged in a not so colourful (but highly unproductive) 24 hours of finger-pointing about who is responsible for the floods, rain continues to fall and water levels continue to rise across southern England, one can not help thinking what if any effect will this have on the outcome of the next general election. Middle England that land hard fought over by the upper echelons of politicians, has had high ranking visits from royalty to both Cameron and sidekick Cleggy, and yet nothing from Miliband?

Do the politicians learn anything, must be a question often asked, was not the flooding of 2007, the wettest since records began, with extreme levels rainfall compressed into relatively short periods of time. Readers may recall the familiar pictures on television and in newspapers - striking images of Tewkesbury Abbey, reporters standing knee deep in filthy water in empty housing estates and shots of flooded infrastructure

The hard facts are even more compelling. 55,000 properties were flooded. Around 7,000 people were rescued from the flood waters by the emergency services and lets not forget that 13 people died.
We also saw the largest loss of essential services since World War II, with almost half a million people without mains water or electricity and transport networks failed.

The floods that devastated England ranked as the most expensive in the world in 2007.

South Yorkshire and Hull, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and the Thames Valley back then have now been joined by many other parts of the country, as rivers show signs of not being able to handle rising sea levels, around this little island land that seems to be sinking, and as the coastline falls apart like it was suffering from tooth decay.  

"Most people accept that, with climate change, (floods) are likely to be more frequent."  David Cameron

Cameron the great leader has been caught in the perfect storm, which will cost him dearly come the election, a government hell bent and determined on austerity and cuts is now unable to explain in simple language what the cuts have really done to endanger life, indeed yet again taken life. Cut’s that have not just destroyed property, in some cases beyond repair, and not just property but what people have been working towards all their lives, to be able to have a decent home and enjoy a trouble free life for themselves and their families, now floating in a field or down a swollen river.

It’s a hard way for middle England to wake up, but maybe it’s time it did - it’s high tide or bust!”

Friday, 7 February 2014

‘The Night Has A Thousand Eyes’ (before CCTV)

The town that I grew-up in Scunthorpe in North Lincolnshire, it’s people are very unique in many different ways, the town famous for it’s football team and of course it’s once great steel works now somewhat shrunken in size to once it was, remains a place on earth where its people have and enjoy a great sense of humour, that is the quality of being amusing or comic. I have always been of the opinion that despite everything that working class people and their families go through and are indeed put through, our humour remains our towering strength, and long may it remain so.

Underneath I have reproduced an excellent example of this working class humour, a post written by Arthur Catflap, and I have no idea if that’s his real name, that will have to remain a mystery. The post written for the Scunthorpe Independent News, a citizen led local news source for Scunthorpe, that I’ve been following for a few years now and which enjoys a large and growing following around the world is not surprising really as Arthur's post captures in his own words the funny side of life.                  

‘The Night Has A Thousand Eyes’

Now back in the 1963 there was a song riding high in the charts, sung by Booby Vee, called ‘The Night Has A Thousand Eyes’. In addition, on hearing this the other day it set me thinking. Today we claim in Britain, to be the most watched people in the world CCTV everywhere, ANP (Automatic Number plate Recognition) readers, mobile phone footprint and others; our daily life is always under scrutiny. However, I beg to differ for in my youth back in the 1950’s – 1960’s everyone everywhere was under close observation. Not a street in Scunthorpe was free from prying eyes, and information overload.

No stranger or local was excluded from observation, from the what, when and where was happening in the local neighbourhood, everything was observed, noted and disseminated at speed. All events transmitted via a system, not unlike today’s information superhighway, sometimes even faster, and often encrypted, so little ears where not able to understand.
Who or what was this phenomenon, who operated it, how efficient was it (very). Furthermore, in the days when even having a telephone in the home was rare, having a phone was the domain of doctors, accountants, and the local factory manager. In my day 1950’- 60’s my mum, aunt, nana, and neighbours and people down the street all combined to create a vast local network of local information.

How did it work? First you have to understand how life was different back then, most housewives (That’s was the term used back then, my spellchecker recommends homemaker) with children, stayed at home, working mothers were a rarity then (Back in 1951, only around 16% of mothers worked outside of the home.) In fact if you became pregnant this may well result in the loss of you job (Back in the 1960s, you could still quite legally lose your job if you got pregnant,) no maternity leave back then.

So how did this information network operate? First there was what was called the curtain twitching, on observing some activity in the street, the art of moving the net curtain slightly to observe, without been observed oneself, a true art in itself. Or the window had a large plant usually a large spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) these proved popular in the centre of the window, this allowing observation without curtain movement, my grandma, used one of theses to effect, and would even shame a SAS officer for concealment.

Now the information had to de disseminated, first area of information exchange the garden wall, hedge, or fence. Positing of information one to another, up and down the street. This was comically used in an act by the Northern comedian Norman Evans (1901-1962) in his (Over The garden Wall Too Routine) that was popular in the 1950,s.

watch Norman Evans Over the wall

Though looking at the clip it may remind you of a later act, made famous by Les Dawson and Roy Barraclough in the 1970’s-1980 as Cissie and Ada (Ada Shufflebotham or Sidebottom and Cissie Braithwaite) in fact was homage to Norman Evans act. In addition, for your information, Dawson explained that this mouthing of words (or “mee-mawing”) was a habit of Lancashire mill workers trying to communicate over the tremendous racket of the looms, and then resorted to in daily life for indelicate subjects.

watch  Cissie & Ada – The Art Gallery.

And the full characterization representing this sort of neighbourhood tittle-tattle, or the neighbourhood know-all, and social commentator was crafted in Coronation Street, in the form of fearsome Ena Sharpeles (Violet Carson) as portrayed in the soap in the 1960’s. There were such women back then, and I now fondly recall seeing every day. (Actor Michael Melia has claimed in an interview that he thought the character of Ena was “the most forbidding face on the street. A harridan in a hair-net with a surly expression that could stop a grown-man in his tracks.”) These were the guardians, purveyors of social norms and commentary back then.
Then onward the next information exchange was usually the street corner, a famous information node. In the event of something urgent, a collection around a front door was necessary for fast dissemination of facts and events. In addition, would still give twitter, a run for its money, for speed.

However, the most important area for information or today the server was the corner shop, a fountain of all knowledge, rumour, Chinese whispers, and “did you know?” In addition, even at times some shopping as well! Even home to the payday loan of its day the SLATE (a record of a person’s debit or credit (in pubs and shops formerly written on a slate):Five quid,’ said the barman. ‘Put it on my slate,’ I suggested.)

It is most likely very difficult today to imagine just how the corner shop was part of the neighbourhood, before the supermarkets arrived (Self service back then) there were hundreds of them even in Scunthorpe.

watch Ena at the corner shop.

This was where information, was remarked on, and judgment passed, and then dispatched onwards, to people from other streets, for distribution over the garden walls, and so the cycle began again, closing the circle.

As for encryption so little boys/girls ears did not understand are as follows, often spoken in hushed terms. Not wedded “living over the brush”( The phrase, “living over the brush”, used to describe an unmarried couple who live together, originated in the tunnel building days of the 19th Century. If a boy and a girl (usually camp followers from the towns, prostitutes in reality) took a liking to each other than the other men and women would respect them as man and wife. They could not afford church wedding so, holding hands; they jumped over a brush or broom handle held by two older people. They were then “married” in the eyes of their peers).

The new washing machine is “On the never-never” (using a system of payment in which part of the cost of something is paid immediately and then small regular payments are made until the debt is reduced to nothing) back then known as Higher Purchase, today just credit.
In fact, one local company now long gone used instruct its delivery men, make a noise when delivering the goods. As this, no doubt would attract attention, curtains moving up and down the street. In addition, might create more orders for goods, it worked.

“Jezebel” my favourite but was in my adolescence before understood it (we was innocent then) once one of the most defining names given to a woman back then. (A woman who was regarded as evil and scheming).

There were lots and lots of long-lost words and metaphors, now long abandoned or deemed inappropriate as the world, society and attitudes changed at speed into the 1970’s. In some ways for me a lost time but I was there, and people do not always believe how it was within living memory.

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