Friday, 19 December 2008

Kicks all the Boxes

A Huf Haus prefabricated in Germany.

The archbishop of Canterbury and our prime minister disagree over the morality of the government's plans for Britain to spend its way out of recession. The archbish has suggested that the high-spending "solution" to the economic crisis is like 'an addict returning to the drug' and has encouraged us to ignore the Government's encouragement to go shopping to save the economy saying,
'It is about what is sustainable in the long term and if this is going to drive us back into the same spin, I do not think that is going to help us. I hope people will understand that spending itself is about need before it is about serving the economy in the abstract.'
I don't, nor do I want to, disagree.
My old dad finds some humour in the fact that he was born during a recession, in 1926, the year of the General Strike in the UK, but his parents were able to send all three sons (at the age of seven) to a public boarding school, so I doubt dad was at all familiar with the full implications of living through hard times.
In 1931 in Swansea 10,000 people were out of work and 2,000 families were on the means test. Dylan Thomas wrote:

Remember the procession of the old-young men
From dole queue to corner and back again,
From the pinched, packed streets to the peak of slag
In the bite of the winters with shovel and bag,
With a drooping fag and a turned up collar,
Stamping for the cold at the ill lit corner,
Dragging through the squalor with their hearts like lead,
Staring at the hunger and the shut pit-head,
Nothing in their pockets, nothing home to eat,
Lagging from the slag heap to the pinched, packed street.
Remember the procession of the old-young men.
It shall never happen again.
But it has, hasn't it. And to put things back where they were (before this recent recession) our British government advocates that we buy lots of things. How extraordinarily(?) short-sighted to think that where we need to be is where we were! How extraordinarily(?) lacking in hindsight!
And why that Huf Haus? Well, it's handsome, but its purpose here is by its very non-essentiality to provide a contrast to the redundancies taking place today in Britain even though those redundancies are occurring in places where there was very evidently a high degree of needlessness. Unless there were nowhere else to go, what might one need from MFI, or from Woolworths?
Few, if any, of us have avoided it, but how very much we have been deluded into thinking that anything more than safe food, safe water, some clothing and a dry shelter are what we, most of us, need. That is unlikely to be a starting point which any of us Westerners might choose, but it is a baseline above which one always finds (blindingly?), obvious evidence of, at best, unfairly distributed good fortune.
The poem is read during the film Wales - Green Mountain, Black Mountain part of A War Films Anthology from the Imperial War Museum.