I was born in 1951, one of the last generation of people in the UK to be allocated a ration card, and grew up in a world so far removed from the one I now inhabit that it takes some believing.
I am lucky in that I remember quite vividly things from my childhood that have contributed to who I am and to my bewilderment at the current state of affairs.
It is almost beyond belief that within 70 years of the end of the “war to end all wars”, the victor over a tyrannical national socialist political and military movement, a once free and proud sovereign nation, could be on the brink of becoming a vassal state of a group of nations created as part of a failed social experiment that is little different from the NAZI dream it fought so hard to defeat.
That the experiment is doomed to failure even more quickly if the UK votes to Leave only makes the whole thing seem even more absurd than it actually is, if that is at all possible.
But that’s not really what this piece is about, it’s about “victims” and the creation of victims, those amongst us that modern society and liberal perceived wisdom have convinced they have no worth or value, that all they are fit for is a life on benefits or a life scrabbling about with unfortunates from other countries for a few crumbs from that EU cake.
The large village I grew up in was a thriving mining community, it had its problems, it had poverty and disability, I well remember children affected by polio, people with “club foot”, ex-forces with limbs missing, what I don’t remember are any professional victims.
There are two people in particular I want to tell you about, one is a guy called Wilf Robson who I assume is no longer with us (he was considerably older than me) and the other is an old class mate from Junior School, who I’ll call Smithy, to protect the innocent.
Wilf Robson suffered from Kyphosis, which means he had a hunched back, his eyesight wasn’t great either but this guy was an ordinary bloke, I have no doubt that in his own space he might have considered his bad luck, but to us kids he was just Wilf. He worked for my grandfather and after my grandfather’s death he carried on working the business for my grandmother, he looked after his widowed mother (I believe Mr Robson died in the war), rode his “sit up and beg” with consummate ease, one trouser leg tucked into a sock to avoid the chain, and he loved to go fishing.
|Child’s ration book|
What he wasn’t, as far as I could see, but I was just a kid, was a victim, nobody got hold of him and told him he needed counselling, nobody, to my knowledge told him he was handicapped, he didn’t stand on street corners and demand justice (social or economic) for Kyphosis sufferers, he didn’t try to make a living out of his disability (but he did make a living), he just got on with it. He had a great sense of humour, was able to laugh at his own failings and saw the best in everyone, I never saw or heard anyone take the mickey out of him either. Truth is that the victim industry hadn’t yet got going, people like Wilf had two choices, make the best of a bad lot or give up, in those days giving up was rarely a choice for British people, the wartime spirit was still very much in evidence.
Smithy was at school with me from 1956 to 1962 so I knew him well, he came from a large family whose Dad was on the “pan-crack” having been invalided out of the mines and not able to work, his mum may have done some odd jobs but his family was poor. Not poor like today, they couldn’t afford visits to the tattooist, or a quarter of skunk every week and I’m sure that if they had a television it wasn’t a 50 inch HD job, fixed to the wall and surrounded by twee signs saying “Home is where the Heart Is”. He was poor in a glasses held together with sellotape, pair of black plimsolls on his feet kind of way, and although he was skinny he never said no to a slice of bread and dripping or the odd plain scone.
Anyway, as far as we were concerned, Smithy was thick, I think today he would have been called dyslexic, and no matter what anyone tried they couldn’t get him to read and write and consequently he could be a bit disruptive. The only people that ever came to school in an official capacity were the nit nurse and the cruelty man, we all had nits at one time or another and Smithy’s parents weren’t child beaters, so he never came to anyone’s attention, there were no educational psychologists to “help” him in those days and I don’t think either ADHD or Ritalin had been invented. I was lucky enough, at 11 to go to a Grammar school, (unfortunately it turned into a bog standard comprehensive very soon after) but it meant that I caught a bus to school and Smithy went to the village Secondary Modern. I saw him occasionally and he was always his cheerful self, full of mischief but a determined little guy, who was going to get somewhere in life and he did, without anyone interfering, without anyone telling him he had an illness, or that he had a psychological problem. Like Wilf he just got on with it.
Can you imagine the same thing happening today, and this is not a denigration of people with disabilities, it’s an observation. Wilf and Smithy would be categorised, maybe institutionalised, and they would both certainly have been made to feel different, because making people feel different and “special” is an industry and industry needs clients.
Just ask TrigglyPuff or Sadiq Khan or David Cameron or Jess Phillips or Nicky Campbell, or Russell Brand, or Tony Blair, or Alistair Campbell or William Hague or Peter Mandleson or any one of thousands of other victim creators, because according to them we can’t make it on our own anymore and neither can we make it as a country.
Vote Leave, we were great once and we can be again.