"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"

"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"

Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Abyss

To the disgust of many the first thing I do in the mornings when I eventually make it down the stairs [!] is turn on my laptop and log in to facebook to catch up with friends, family and political comrades and opponents! Occasionally something sparks ideas for a blog or other piece of writing.

Today a discussion about the cuts regarding disability living allowance and the proposed cap on total welfare benefits led me into a longer comment than I could fit onto facebook - hence this blog.

I am going to apparently digress a little. Listening to one of those radio 'phone in discussion programmes a couple of days ago. The subject was whether the proposed cap on benefits was a good idea or not, a rather desperate lady [let's call her Mary] had called in and was explaining how although she and her partner had lived and worked in London all their lives, paying their taxes and council taxes, through no fault of their own they had lost their business last year [like so many in this present economic climate] which in turn had led to them losing their house. With three young children settled in schools, they obviously wanted to rent a house in the area in which they had been living but rents were so high that if the proposed cap on benefit went ahead there would not be enough money to pay rent and have money to live, eat, clothe the children and all other bills.

When the radio presenter suggested Mary was, well almost selfish for wanting to stay in a high rent part of London, Mary pointed out that if she stayed there she would be near family who could help out with child care IF she was working. The presenter seemed then to change tack and refused to believe that rents were actually so high.

And this seems to be part of the problem - the refusal of so many to accept the problems that the vulnerable have to face to get out of what E.M.Forster described as 'the abyss' in Howards End:
The boy, Leonard Bast, stood at the extreme verge of gentility. He was not in the abyss, but he could see it, and at times people whom he knew had dropped in, and counted no more

Forster was writing in 1910 and just over 100 years later we are returning to a society that has citizens like Leonard Bast teetering on the edge of falling into the Abyss. Unless we act quickly we could even end up with an underclass of our people living as the communities described in George Gissing's The Nether World in 1889:
But that those who sit here through the livelong day, through every season, through all the years of the life that is granted them, who strain their eyesight, who overtax their muscles, who nurse disease in their frames, who put resolutely from them the thought of what existence might be--that these do it all without prospect or hope of reward save the permission to eat and sleep and bring into the world other creatures to strive with them for bread, surely that thought is yet more marvellous.

I also notice not many seem to be making a call for the restituion of social housing with fairer rents or suggesting that private landlords who are often making large profits renting out properties, some of which may have been built as social housing and previously bought at a reduced price by long term tenants but have since passed into the housing stock, may be 'capped'. After all this is a free market [sometimes difficult to type with my tongue in my cheek]

So Facebook and my friends there, you've done it again, got me so exercised first thing in the morning that I felt a blog coming on.... And Clarice may have to take off her housework rubber gloves and write about The Nether World and Howards End sometime this week.

The photograph shows the splendiferous Samuel West who play Leonard Bass in the film of Howards End.

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