I keep hearing about how great it used to be in the past. You must be joking! It stank.
Back in the days of Empire Britain exploited a great deal of the world, robbed their wealth, stole their resources and used cheap labour to create huge wealth. That wealth came back into the aristocracy and the huge stately homes but did not filter down to the workers. Their conditions were appalling.
My Grandfather fought in the First World War. My father’s generation fought in the Second World War. I was in the first generation that didn’t get massacred in war. Fortunately my sons and daughters have not had to fight either. Things are much better. I wouldn’t want that worry.
Times were hard when I was young despite being risen middle class. The house was so cold I got chilblains every winter. There was no central heating, telephone and we got the first TV on the block – a little black and white.
My Dad worked in Fleet Street in London. He worked six days a week. Left the house at six thirty and got back at six thirty. He ate his tea, read the newspapers, watched a little TV and went to bed at ten. On Sunday he cut the roast and mowed the grass. He had two weeks holiday a year.
From where I stood he had no life. He had no possessions. His life was hard and regimented. He wore his suit and toed the line.
Britain was great? No. The aristocracy and wealthy creamed it all off. The middle class were subservient and knew their place and the working class worked hard for low wages in dangerous conditions. One of my classmates was killed at work in the first three weeks after he left school. Thank heavens for unions and a decent wage. Thank heavens for the health and safety that the unions fought for. They had to be wrested from a screaming management.
My father was a man of great integrity, intelligence and principles – but he was a product of his time. Because of his poor background he was shunned by management and ostracised. He knew his place and just got on with it. There was such a rigid class system that it was claustrophobic. If you were part of it you got on and had it made. The Old Boys’ network ruled. The Rotary Club and Masons, the all-male clubs in London. It was obscene.
I was offered Rotary and Masons and turned them down flat. I will have nothing to do with secret societies scratching each others backs. The Old Boy network and class system stink worse than a room of dead rats.
Women were second-class citizens – good for typing, shop-work and nursing.
Racism was extant. My father believed that a white Englishman was better than everybody else. He was racist and refused to employ foreigners, blacks or Asians. He had an impossible test he gave any applicants he did not like. We would argue like mad about it.
Where is this greatness?
Back in the early twentieth century we were a major power. Yes we were. That was because we robbed our empire and stole all the raw materials and exploited our own working population. The profits went to the rich and powerful.
We were respected? I’m not so sure about that. We were feared because we were so brutal, but respected?
So we are heading back to greatness when everything was great. So where is this wealth coming from now? We have no empire anymore. The working class don’t want to work for low pay and be exploited and we have little manufacturing and resources.
I had a great life. I had fun fighting for a liberal world and an outgoing society. I wanted fun, freedom, fairness and equality and had a great life fighting for it. I have a life with possessions and travel and a standard of living that my parents could only have dreamed of.
Great – this is the greatest it’s ever been!