Look to your grandparents to find out what life was like and to see the future threat.

I was born at War’s end as part of the Baby boom created by soldiers returning from the hell of WWII.

My generation are the grandparents (in somme cases great grandparents) of Today’s generation.

It is important that we let them know the conditions that we grew up in, so that they understand why their world is as it is.

Our grandparents were born in the Victorian Era. They shaped our our parents World, hence ours and hence that of the present generation.

Unless the present generation get a feel of what life was like for their grandparents and their G.G. grandparents, their grandchildren will curse them for condemning them to return to the existence that their G.G. grandparents struggled to escape.

The images created by Dickens etc. don’t truly catch the conditions for commoners (as condescending a term as pleb is Today) in Victorian England.

These are images created by and for the Middle/Upper classes, who could afford books (Oliver Twist gives a glimpse of the cost of second hand books) and who had had the Education, necessary, to read them

The books don’t catch the wretchedness of the poor living in housing that Orwell tried to describe in The Road toWigan Pier. They don’t capture the gnawing hunger that caused people to risk execution for stealing a loaf of bread. They don’t capture the struggle to survive represented by the Little Match Girl.

It was a time when commoners died young, in pain and in squalor. Few married, because life  was too uncertain.

Moving forward to my parent’s era, Communism had scared the upper classes into realising that the commoners could turn nasty, unless they were given better consideration.

Soldiers had returned from the trenches, where they had seen friends murdered by the callous orders of their own officers (The film Gallipoli softens the contempt of the classes for each other). Trained in the use of weaponry and “infected” by conversations with soldiers of our Russian allies. The ruling classes tried to palliate the workers in a Capitalist Economy, which was dependent on Labour and which had squandered that same commodity in the Trenches.

Between the Wars, my parents grew up in The Depression, which was a great aid in restraining union power.  My father told me of tramping 10 miles to join a queue of 200 men waiting outside a factory, in case another worker hadn’t got to work on time.  In Liverpool, this casual employment of dockers  created a lasting resentment by a workforce dependent on such bits of temporary employment to eke out a living. To an extent, it explains the strong union militancy existing between Scouser’s and Tory Government’s. It also helps explain the strong bonds between Scouser’s.

Unfortunately, the rape of the German economy by France, as part of the Armistice, led to the rise of Hitler.

That rise was financed by Capitalists, whose attention was focussed on Communist Russia and its growing influence.

Today’s generation has had their faces rubbed into the horrors of Al Qaeda atrocities, which are trivialities compared to the devastation seen by my parents’ generation. Almost all had friends or relative’s die in that period and many saw much worse scenes than those captured by TV camera’s in recent years.

The result of that conflict was a much strengthened Democracy and the birth of The Welfare State.

My generation grew up under the shadow of “The Bomb”, many fatherless, but we grew up without seeing our grandparents die in poverty and without losing our friends to treatable illnesses.

I would have undoubtedly been carried off by the Asian Flu epidemic but for the NHS.

When we talk of the deprivations of rationing in WWII, it gives a clue to what life was like during the Depression. Rationing ensured that we all got an equal share of the food available. It was a hardship for the ruling classes, despite their access to the Black Market, but for the average child growing up during rationing, it was actually a blessing, causing their average adult height to increase by about 3cm.

(Interesting to contrast the average height of commoners in Victorian Britain, under 5′ with their height today, over 6′)

When you dip into images of the past, you can find a strong contrast between the version portrayed and the reality.

For instance, my teen years were in the Swinging Sixties :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMfFRiSTFu4    and    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbyAZQ45uww

but these are also images of that era:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5DnTx6BztQThere aren’t many images of Bombed houses in that video footage, although from my house I could see four such. My street was cobbled except for patches down the middle of the road, where the bomb shelters had been placed. A few hundred yards away we had prefabs, hastily erected to house those who had lost their homes. These were so comfortable that owners in London protested the demolition of the last ones, just a few years ago. It’s strange that in privatised Britain we can’t provide enough homes for those who need them and that the only solution, by politicians, to this problem has been the ineptitude of the “Bedroom Tax”. Almost all our images of the past have been taken by those with comfortable lifestyles. I’d like to see more pictures of working class habitat’s being put on line to nable the present generation to see what their children face, unless they resist the changes now under way.
 

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3 Responses to “Look to your grandparents to find out what life was like and to see the future threat.”

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