Cycling in the rain

I am cycling in the rain. It is cold weather and of course wet. But I have invested at some stage in an all-in colourful weather gear, so though I may look garish I am seen from a distance and I am dry. And not cold.

The creation of the welfare state and it’s social security system was like a state version of the above: think ahead, save for a rainy day. Prepare for eventualities. All sorts of things that the middle classes felt that the working classes seldom prepared for.

tiresThe middle and upper classes already had their own form of welfare state. They often had medical insurance, pensions, and money put aside for a rainy day.

So you can look at the welfare state as a system that mimicked what the middle classes had been doing for generations: be prepared was the motto.

The Christmas before last a Tory Lady got herself into hot water because she said that poor people can’t cook. This outraged the usual defenders of the poor, who circle the poor like hyenas to see off anyone who so much as suggests that the poor are not some group of noble sufferers.

And of course we all like to laugh at Tory Ladies who we know, know little about managing on a morsel.

It’s a sport. But what about the central issue: do the poor know how to cook? Well some of them do. But many of them don’t. Is it a wise piece of advice to say to someone who has little, that they might do better if they learned to cook? Or is it an insult?

The earlier formation of the welfare state was based on the basis that only by state imposition could you improve the lot of poor people. The Tory Lady in question nearly 70 years ago would have fitted in well with the creators of the welfare state. Back then Progressives – a nice ‘catchall’ term that includes all political persuasions – did not believe in the sanctity of the poor.

There weren’t hoardes of defenders of the poor popping up on the BBC, in the Guardian and on local radio saying “you leave the poor alone.” Or “ how can they cook when they can’t afford gas and ingredients ?”

Back then, they had an overall look at the parlous nature of many poor people, at their poor diet, at their dependency on sugar and palliatives like cigarettes and beer. And concluded that cooking would be a saviour to their lives. And that cookery would be introduced into schools.

Milk, cod liver oil, orange juice, exercise, regular health checks, all were imposed on the poorest in society. By people who didn’t mince their words about the quality of eating that the poor laboured under.

letsnhsI wish my poor mother had picked up some of the post war tips about cooking. She could make nothing out of something. But she was a slum liver and there there seemed to exist a contempt for all governmental edicts. So she carried on the murdering of the cabbage and the carrot, the despoiling of the butchers pound of mince.

But back to could the poor do with cookery lessons? Many that I know could do with with some guidance to make the most out of their limited income.

Maybe doing the cooking might raise their esteem and give them transferable skills. Whatever, all we know is that the hyenas will be circulating around the perimeters of poverty to defend the supposed sanctity of the poor. As if suggesting how they might manage their poverty and get some esteem out of it, was a crime.

The irony is that most of the defending hyenas of the poor had grandparents who did exactly that: make the most out of dire circumstances and Middle-classed their way out of poverty.

Bikes don’t just throw up muddy muck. They become like metaphors for getting a lot out if a little.


%d bloggers like this: