Friday, 5 November 2010

A Life without work part 2...Remember when everybody used to work?

A Life without work, ( part 1 reviewed here ) while not nearly as uplifting as Reggie Perrin ( see below) was supposed to be, hit the mark from the first second. Part two which aired last week, covered York in 2010 and asked the question, has anything changed in a century. Using prototypical examples of key demographics Richard Bilton, walks us through the life of the young unemployed, the chronic unemployed, the single mum, the older unemployed, the living on the edge unemployed, all the while asking if the reforms created from the original study by  Seebhom Rowntree, have made a difference. In a few words Yes and no.  Yes for the single mum who no longer has to struggle half as much as the lady in 1910 who's husband died or left her had to. Overall the desperation of the workhouse and abject poverty no longer hover like the grim reaper, but it has robbed some of the need to look for work. While I would never advocate the wholesale destruction of the social safety net we have today, I find it sad that a job centre employee has to convince large groups of young people of the importance of getting off social assistance. Surely the welfare state is not the zenith of life one should be aspiring to?  While the state should keep people from the depravity of 1910 like poverty, it should do all it can to move people off the rolls and into proper full time well remunerated work.

The other problem that comes to light is that in some sectors where work should exist, and in fact does, desperate English parasitical men are stealing the jobs of those who have been the victims of bankruptcy of private firms. Why wasn't the man and his mates who lost work when the firm closed , not made to get first shot at work on the contract that had just lost it's long term workers? These same workers that had been doing the same work on the same spot since it was state owned?  Then to see this man who is a highly trained professional being steered towards CV classes and the possibility of call centre work or other such low paying work. The program answered as many questions as it raised and I would hope people from all parties watched this. We need to make the next step where validation of motherhood is as important as the validation of skilled labour and the chance to do it within 25 miles of home. The country is filled with the remnants of industry that used to employ millions, empty factories, mills, rail yards, ship yards and coal pits that were closed down by that (fill in own expletive) Margaret Thatcher in favour of foreign capital. Now that the Chinese are themselves closing down parts of their manufacturing base, just where are we supposed to get the things they used to make? Why right at home of course, but where from exactly, who has the skills, who will rebuild the factories turned into lofts and housing projects? I don't know the answers to those questions , but I suspect they are in the hands of the next government after this one.

One of the overwhelmingly depressing aspects of the program was that the statistics of 1910 were near perfectly mirrored in 2010. If you are a man, if you are living alone, of you are not a single mother, you are living about as close to desperation as is humanly possible without actually falling through the chasms. Seems compassion comes only when you are attached to something cute under the age of 10. Older workers, young men, and women who haven't gotten pregnant, in some areas, have about as much hope of finding a job as it does of it not raining . The fact that the system appears to be built around helping people survive and and move up the ladder is based on the good intentions of those running it, the reality is that the best they have achieved is keeping the least of our society from losing all hope. We need to get a government that will tackle the real problem of a sick economy. The real problem of having shipped so many jobs out of Britain that there isn't enough to keep most people busy and in decent wages. I doubt seriously the ConDemn government is capable of seeing beyond the needs of the super wealthy and the upper middle classes that voted for them. As and when Labour are back, they need to start the job of rebuilding the old industrial infrastructure and farming base that used to exist. Rebuild the factories, the rails and the shipyard, reopen the mines, save the farmers, then maybe the call centre job won't be the first last and only option open.

The fact that untalented young people with an overblown ego, see the only way out is to ape American pop culture on X factor and dress as oddly as possible is a symptom of a greater illness. The idea that you could aspire to something is gone. The notion of ambition was killed off when you saw your father, uncle, grand father and the rest of your neighbourhood pensioned off and become the last of..... The greatest ambition is now to become famous, that's it just become famous. Because if you do, even for 5 minutes, not even Marshal McLuhan's 15 minutes, you can achieve financial security from the exclusive deals you'll get before the next flash in the pan shows up.  Sadly or for the good, that even seems to be harder and harder to do. More and more of the human race and by extension, your neighbours are surplus to requirement. What if anything are we to do?

I'd never watched Reggie Perrin before, and considering what a massive Martin Clunes fan I am, it makes me to wonder why I missed the first series last year. A few friends had banged on about it and as they seemed to know of what they'd spoke most of the time, I took a chance. I watched episode one of the new series last night. Reggie Perrin is a disjointed sitcom written in two parts. Part 1 where you get an As Time goes by feel where two adults have a conversation that just happens to be funny, then it switches into part 2 where you enter wacky sitcom land ( his office). The entire thing would more palatable if it didn't have the geet annoying laugh track throughout, telling me when to laugh or titter or not. Every time I think the laugh track is gone, it interrupts a perfectly good bit of dialogue between Reggie and his wife or his office. I do not like Reggie Perrin, I do not like laugh tracks and I do not like being told where to laugh nor do I trust producers who think so little of what they have done they feel the need to add a laugh track just insure we know what the funny bits are supposed to be. As and when the laugh track is taken off, I will give it a shot, but not as it stands now.  Well at least Martin Clunes gets to eat till his next bit of decent acting...Vogon bad scale 4 ...

And as not to leave you on a totally depressing note....Watch Russell Howard's Good News, he made me laugh.

No comments: