(Beautiful art work by Rob Ryan)
I’m in bed because I had a bad night and I’m feeling lousy. I’m about to watch (again) an episode of Agatha Christie’s Marple because I find it soothing, and I need soothing because I am dreading a Tory win tomorrow. I feel angry, upset and full of dread. I’ve done my bit – which is admittedly very limited – donated to the Labour party, shared posts on Facebook and tweets on Twitter, we have a poster in the window, and of course I will be voting tomorrow.
This morning I read a very moving article in the Guardian by Philip Pullman.
Writing about the immediate post war years, when Clement Attlee was prime minister and the NHS was founded, he says: ‘There was a common understanding of the value of civic decency. There really was such a thing, and many of us really believed in it. My parents and grandparents did; my teachers did.‘
I believed it too. Feeling safe as a little kid in London, living in Notting Hill Gate, which had a friendly village-like atmosphere, I was free to walk on my own to school, to pay 6d for a tube ticket to South Kensington to visit my Nan and Grandad, or to walk through the underground subway to Exhibition Road and the museums. The majority of people were kindly and decent.
My grandparents lived in South Kensington, yes, a very posh area of London, but they lived in a block of council flats, built for working class families after the war.
Now these flats are on the market for millions, or for rentals of £2k plus a month. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had those vicious spikes outside to stop homeless people sleeping in the entrance ways.
Life wasn’t perfect, of course it wasn’t. Children were abused, women were raped, a lot of people were very poor, xenophobia was rife. Not perfect. But to my mind, even without my nostalgia goggles on, it was fairer, kinder and more compassionate than now.
Now, to quote Philip Pullman again, ‘we have to develop, or perhaps evolve, a moral understanding that is wider and more clear-sighted than the one displayed by our current leaders.’