A diary from the “Sunlit Uplands” written by Clarissa Cork.
My week (18th May – 24th May)
Tuesday 18th May 2022
My day started at about half past six when I woke up and realised that I was in the middle of a nightmare. I was living in 1509 (or was it earlier?) and the rich lords of the manor were taking food out of the mouths of starving children, the starving children in their rags and pale faces were looking at me pleadingly and begging for food. Meanwhile, in my dream, the lords of the manor (on horseback) are laughing at the poor, and as they ride off to their castles, they’re shouting across to each other, telling each other how much money they’ll give each other from the poor boxes they raided from the church. (Certainly NOT like Robin Hood).
Back in 2022, I glanced at my phone and saw the Guardian headlines: Liz Truss (looking fiercer than usual – and that’s quite fierce…) wants to renege on the Irish protocol – she doesn’t seem to care about risking the Good Friday Agreement!! (Does she understand the Good Friday Agreement?).
There is also an article on the poor and the cost-of-living crisis – and how some families are going to MacDonalds to eat, shower and keep warm. We are reading about this daily. I must remind myself that this is happening in one of the richest countries in the world – although I acknowledge that our country’s economy is visibly on a steep decline….
And again, the images of starving people creep back into my head I realise – this is no dystopian nightmare – it’s our dystopian reality.
I try to get back to sleep, but I can’t. I keep returning to my nightmare.
A little later, I realise that I need to acknowledge that it’s another day, and I need to take the dog for a walk into the woods. After a while, the elephant in my room (the combination of Brexit and this government) becomes a small elephant and I almost forget my worries – but they never completely disappear.
I meet a pleasant woman in the woods with her dog, she’s like minded about the situation and the calamity that is Brexit. Apparently, she has avoided the news for two years because she finds it so stressful and worrying. Editors note : The Book of Brexorcism will help.
When I return from my walk, I discover that my husband is decanting my wardrobe (we must move soon) and his plan is that I take some of my many handbags to charity shops or give them away. Being a man, he has no idea about handbags – it is not his specialist subject. He doesn’t realise -after decades of living with a woman – that women need different handbags in a variety of shades and sizes for various different occasions, even though I don’t have many “occasions” any more these days…
Fortunately, he starts watching the football starts so this annoying birth twin of Marie Kondo is distracted for a couple of hours. Hopefully, prolonged by extra time.
Later I go to bed so that I can rerun my nightmare.
Wednesday 18th May 2022
Is it only Wednesday?
So much has happened in “Car Crash Britain”. Apparently, this government have rejected the proposal for a windfall tax that was suggested by the opposition. Perhaps they want to re-enact the Irish Famine? (Actually, it was really called the Irish Hunger because the Irish were allowed). There are people in the government who are descendants of those who played a key role in the Irish Hunger. This resonates with what’s happening today. Some people in the government are even wearing the costumes dating back from that era…
My husband and I have occupational pensions, in addition to our meagre state pensions (We have one of the worst pensions in the developed world). We know we are luckier than so many… yet here we are, in week three of the month and we have run out of housekeeping. I’ll have to have a rummage in the freezer, but if memory serves me correctly there’s nothing that constitutes a meal.
I’m toying with the idea of watching PMQ’s on catch up but then, can I take the emotional hit?
Ok. I did watch it.
It was shambolic. It was even worse than usual. The windfall tax was suggested (again) by Keir Starmer to mitigate the damage of huge fuel rises, but Johnson changed the subject and talked about the trans issue. What has that got to do with the windfall tax? Yet more obfuscation! Most people are focusing on surviving!
People are really suffering, yet this government are giving huge bonuses to people who are already incredibly wealthy.
Living in these times, in this country, with this government, is worse than I could have ever imagined.
I’m going to bed. In utter despair.
Turn despair into action. Join us at Reboot Britain.
Thursday 20th May 2022
Today the police fined more people who were at parties during lockdown at number ten Downing Street. These numerous fines didn’t include the Prime Minister or the Chancellor. Apparently, they were not at these parties. (I thought that I had seen them on photographs in the press. But I must have been imagining it).
The police say that there will be no further investigations into this.
Meanwhile, in the House of Commons SNP MP Mhairi Black makes a powerful and compelling speech about this government’s march towards fascism.
Are these two events related in any way?
Yes, I believe they are.
I know they are.
Saturday 21st May 2022
Today I was talking to one of our granddaughters. She goes to a good secondary school, one of our own daughters went there; also, I have friends who are still teaching, and they confirm that this school is one of the best.
I ask her what she is doing in English (this was her best subject in primary school). She tells me that she’s enjoying English Literature, but English language is a drudge because it’s all about grammar. Apparently, or so she tells me, her English lessons are spent chopping up sentences and learning such things as what adverbial clauses are – so she informs me that her enjoyment of English has virtually disappeared. This is a child who in the past, always had her head in a book.
Thank you, Michael Gove.
(Co-incidentally, I heard almost the exact same thing from a neighbour whose son is in year four in a local primary school (an excellent school: I know it well).
I asked her how her French was going… she said “Fine!”
My mother was a French speaker, so I was brought up with “some French”. We were chatting and this bright girl from a supportive, education-valuing family knew frighteningly little. I discussed this with my daughter and told her that at the same stage she and her siblings knew far more than this. As did I.
I realised with a heavy heart that this is, of course, the Tory plan. Drastically reduce spending on education, pay teachers badly so that people don’t stay long in the profession (they can’t afford to), make it more difficult to achieve reasonable grades because the exams have been made more punitive (and no course work components) and the odds are stacked against state school education. Add to that, the eye watering cost of university and the average child should be totally disenfranchised and disadvantaged.
(And I haven’t even mentioned the added negative impact of the cost of living crisis. It could be a problem if children need to eat as well as learn)
I’m more than convinced – to coin a phrase – that this is about creating a two-tier society: a private education for the rich, and a poorly paid alternative that will keep the masses – “the plebs” – in their place. The bonus being that they will be so uninformed and working so hard for a pittance, they will be too exhausted as a result of doing several jobs simply to survive, that they’ll not informed and/or motivated when it comes to voting. They will probably accept what they’re told in the right-wing press and vote against their own interests.
Oh! Hang on! Isn’t that what happened in the 2015, 2019 elections and Brexit?
But still, with underfunding in place, the Tories will hope that this will continue!
A win:win for the Tories.
I should acknowledge that although I disliked Thatcher and her government, I never felt that she wanted to diminish education. Kenneth Baker (although not overly popular at the time) introduced the 16 plus exam, followed by GCSE exams and I thought that this was a very good system. (Both my husband and I have spent all our working lives in education).
Also, Margaret Thatcher, Edward Heath, John Major and Michael Howard were all state school educated. They also didn’t charge university fees. A good move.
This “new dawn” (or is it “Golden Dawn”?) feels very sinister and very depressing.
Sunday 22nd May 2022
I am working hard not to get depressed. Sorry, I mean MORE depressed.
We decided we would try and watch some good television tonight in order to distract ourselves from depressing times; so, we watched “Grace” with John Sims (such a wonderful actor!) although the plot is grim – but, no spoilers here….
However, you can play “Spot the Tory character” (a game all the viewers can play in the comfort of their own home). He’s easy to spot in this programme.
(Maybe it was the cravat?)
He has no empathy and thinks of “poor people” as inferior and unworthy of consideration. His specialist subject is “Otherness”.
To distract ourselves from the miseries of these times, when the credits are being shown at the beginning, there’s an actor called Craig P……….. . We both used to teach a boy who was also called Craig P. Every time his name comes up, I say to my husband
“Craig’s doing really well, isn’t he? Who’d have thought he’d be so successful? And FAMOUS?”
My husband answers and replies that it’s “great news”.
I’m really getting into this surreal situation, so I add…
“How proud are you on a scale of 1 – 10?”
“SO proud. I cannot find the words” is his deadpan response.
But then he says “C, every time we see his name, we have this conversation at least twice every episode and now I feel that Craig has become a fixture in our lives. Can we stop?”
“OK!” I sigh.
Later, I realise I haven’t read my Sunday paper, but these days it takes real courage to even open the pages.
Am I exaggerating?