Thursday, 3 April 2014
Monday, 31 March 2014
The emotional abuse or neglect of children is to become illegal if the proposed new 'Cinderella Law' is introduced. Crimes such as the withholding of love toward a child could become an imprisonable offence, carrying a sentence of up to ten years!
Goodness knows where this would have left my late father who, by and large, could only show affection to cats and whom I now firmly suspect was on the autistic spectrum. Would my sister and I have been taken into care?
On a more serious note, while the sentiment of stamping out emotional abuse and psychological harm is admirable, how on earth would it be policed and established beyond reasonable doubt, let alone enforced? Prior to which would be the more pressing urgency to have 'neglect' and 'abuse' legally defined and categorised, to exclude the parent who makes their child do its homework each night, refuses to buy it the latest branded trainers and disallows it to live on ice cream and marshmallows! (always a childhood dream of mine). Notwithstanding, there are plenty of parents who are simply not very good at parenting or have psychological impairments to expressing emotion like my father. They may not mean to ignore or act inconsistently to their children and their children may love them in spite of their shortcomings or, what may appear to outside eyes, a latter-day Dickensian scenario. Then there's the opposite scenario of 'loving neglect' - where children may have all the gadgets, holidays and ponies that money can buy - and a whole string of au pairs or nannies - just very little time spent with their actual parents. Sending children to boarding school too could potentially be classed as emotional neglect or abuse, depending on who you ask/which boarding school (an ex of mine was very badly affected by being packed off to boarding school from the age of eight). And what of all the ill-educated parents who have little idea of how to stimulate and intellectually nourish their children and consider that to feed, clothe and send them off to school each day is enough? From what I have read, this law almost assumes that all parents are middle-class and well educated, therefore any neglect must be deliberate.
Curiously however, there is no mention of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), the syndrome in which the resident parent effectively coaches or coerces a child into hating a formerly beloved non-resident parent (and sometimes that non-resident parents' entire side of the family) post divorce/relationship breakdown, using much emotional manipulation up to and including threats of dire consequences if the child defies them. Some resident parents even make false criminal allegations to paint their former partners in the darkest possible light or get them into trouble with the law.
PAS can happen to children of any age - it is merely the tactics which change. The good news is that PAS is provable by means of The Warshak Test, a psychological test developed by leading PAS authority, Dr Richard Warshak, which could easily be insisted upon by a judge in cases where mediation is refused or a child is reported as not wishing to see the non-resident parent. The resident parent could then face losing their maintenance payments, and potentially custody of the child or a prison term in extreme cases if it is proven that they are deliberately psychologically harming their child by obstructing a relationship with the non-resident parent out of their own need for revenge or spite, rather than acting in the child's best interests, (and why on earth are children still not required to appear in UK family courts?) How is a judge supposed to establish the truth from a third party report, or even the hardly unbiased word of the resident parent, who may be largely responsible for the child not wishing to see the other parent?!
I believe that stamping out the emotional abuse of PAS would be a much easier ask for the family courts to address than the decidedly grey and uncharted territory of how much parental love and attention is enough to produce a healthy, happy and productive new member of society.
Some childcare experts would furthermore argue that, at the lower end of the scale, being allowed to get bored or frustrated sometimes is an essential part of child development in its own right as the child who is never allowed to grow bored or frustrated never fully develops their creative side or the resilience and independence they will need to survive adult life.
Friday, 21 March 2014
My new employer? KF Properties, owned by Keith Freedman, devisor of Brutus jeans and Trimfit shirts in the days when teenagers were newly invented and needed something to wear in-between Teddy Boy and New Romantic, who subsequently decided to go into property and now owns properties in a number of locations including Germany - strapline - 'accommodating the world'.
Then, just as I was getting my teeth into the role and getting to know my new residents and contractors, dismissal, purely because I dared to ask if KF Properties provided a pension (would this even have happened if I were a man?). On this basis, I was told that I 'obviously wasn't going to be staying if I wasn't happy and should therefore leave as my line manager Jitendra Patel ('JP') did not want to have to keep recruiting new property managers'. This made no sense to me as what did he imagine he would have to do all over again by dismissing me? And I was later informed he had already gone through four in two years, so surely it must have occurred to him that there might be a long-term staff retention issue which needed addressing.
But needing the job I was still happy to sign the contract and commit to staying for the foreseeable future (no employee can surely promise to stay beyond the foreseeable future), not least for the sake of my CV and not wishing to look like a job hopper. As for how long I stayed after that, well that was surely up to my new employer as much as myself, commitment being a two-way street.
Maybe I should have spotted the warning signs. It was a strange interview. I had been told in two separate emails to wait in my car outside the premises and Mr Patel would come and summon me when he was ready. I duly replied with details of what car I would be waiting in and arrived ten minutes before my interview. I waited, and waited, and waited. Until 20 minutes into my interview, I ventured out of the car, walked up to the office and tentatively rang the bell, expecting that the previous interview must have overran. Mr Patel answered the door looking harassed and told me I was late. I apologised and told him I had been advised in two separate emails to wait for him to collect me from my car. He then said he had been out looking for me (not true as I had anxiously been checking at momentary intervals to see if anyone was approaching the car). We moved on to discuss the job and he showed me round. Before the end of the interview he invited me for a second interview, after which he spent five minutes advising me on how to buy the cheapest rail ticket to reach their Head Office in London,
During the second interview at their head office in London, I met JP and Mr Brutus himself, Keith Freedman, who displayed the laconic air of a retired rock star who didn't have to try too hard, in a black laminate and leather-chaired board room whose walls were lined with Trimfit shirts and Brutus products. The interview was fairly informal, more of a chat about what they needed, rather than a grilling. After Mr Freedman left, Mr Patel detained me in the boardroom to tell me about the problems he had had with his previous property manager. Apparently she had thrown out all the office furniture and replaced it without his consent, double-locked him out of the Brighton and Hove office when he tried to visit and refused to meet with him on Saturday mornings as required. Moreover he alleged she had done very little of the work he had asked her to do and standards were sliding and the property vacancy rate was rising. I was suitably appalled and assured him he would have no such problems with me. He did look a bit pained when I presented my full-price rail ticket for reimbursement, though I explained that I might not have made the interview on time if I'd waited for an off-peak train.
I was told I would know by the end of the week if I had the job. On Friday at 4.50pm, I finally had the call saying I had the job and could I start the following Tuesday? I said yes and accepted the emailed offer letter in writing (no mention of pensions), but it did state that that there was no sick pay scheme, which didn't bother me unduly as I am seldom sick. JP seemed delighted and said he would have my contract ready in a few days, but not to worry, he would make sure I got paid. He had also arranged to have the property manager who had retired a few years before to come in two days a week for the first month to help train me.
I started on the Tuesday and met Peter L, a charming gentleman of retirement age who had apparently left because he wanted to go part-time and they wanted someone full-time. He seemed to think that KF Properties were a good employer once you got used to their 'funny little ways', but had always had his own property management business with his son as well and also wanted to spend more time with his wife in their retirement, so full-time was not for him.
The first few days were pretty full on as I got on top of all the phone messages, emails, assorted admin and building works and then proceeded to get to grips with the lettings side as well. I let my first flat within days and was busily getting all the other vacant flats up to scratch. Some things about the job surprised me such as the website inferring that all KF properties were high-end, but the Brighton and Hove ones were actually quite basic and the former seafront hotel had faded floral communal carpets which looked forty years old if they were a day and were curling at the edges and worn on the stair treads, a scruffy carpeted 60s lift, mismatched chandelier bulbs and a rear elevation which had not been painted or had its windows cleaned in years. (strangely, the tenants seemed to be expected to clean their own exterior windows, even at high level, and quite rightly were complaining about this). However I thought better of tackling anything more than the chandelier bulbs in my first week, most of which were not working in any case, leaving one lobby in almost complete darkness and a risk to Health and Safety.
JP seemed pleased with my progress and I met with him on Saturday morning. He brought my contract but neither of us had time to look at it as we had so much work to discuss. He asked me to check it and I could return it the following Saturday when we met again. I finally had time to read it after the weekend and was surprised to find there was no pension provision and no mention of one for the future, not least in light of government requirements to bring one in. I questioned this and a few minor points in a friendly letter making it clear I was entirely open to negotiation, albeit letting a duty phone allowance (for the phone I was expected to carry and respond to 24/7) and the requirement I could do no work for any other party while I worked for KF Properties pass. I was also apparently not allowed to take a day off for the three months of my probation, which seemed a little unreasonable, but a job was a job and a recession is a recession. However the codicil asking me to sign away my 48 hrs European working rights was labelled as 'optional' and I was invited to cross it out if I did not want to sign it so I did. JP later let it slip in a somewhat hysterical phone call that this clause had been rather less than optional.
I emailed my points to him and went to work next day, thinking no more about it, then at the and of the afternoon read his reply, which answered each point until the last point about pensions where he gave me one week's notice to leave!
I pleaded with JP to reverse his decision and then received a phone call in which he seemed to assume that because I had only served a week and was on three months probation, I had no employment rights and he could treat me how he liked with no comeback. I pointed out that he still needed a valid reason to dismiss me and there was such a thing as an 'automatically unfair dismissal' and he shouted me down on this. Plus how could he dismiss me for wishing to question a contract (which he had asked me to check) when I was presumably expected to negotiate rent raises from the tenants? There was no reasoning with him though. Apparently the great man had also spoken and dismissed I was.
However being tighter than his own 'crotch-crushing' jeans, I was still required by Mr Brutus to work my week's notice rather than being paid to leave immediately.
That last week was particularly difficult as I served the tenants and contractors each day trying to be cheerful and professional and solve as many of their problems as I could and accomplish as much work as I could until the end (it wasn't their fault they were about to lose their latest property manager after all), but the few people I told at the end were extremely shocked. As for me I am still in shock and my polite request for a settlement agreement has fallen on deaf ears.
I certainly never expected a multi-million pound jeans tycoon and property mogul to behave like a cowboy. Then again, with no mention of Health and Safety either (normally the legal bane of one's life in property management) perhaps I shouldn't have been so surprised.
Wednesday, 5 March 2014
She was a figure of widescale derision, perhaps hardly surprisingly when she demanded that the word 'knickers' be removed from the Beatles 'I Am A Walrus' prior to broadcast on TV, complained about Mick Jagger's suggestive microphone positioning and as for Chuck Berry - he could keep his disgusting 'Ding-A-Ling!' to himself, stateside! All these and more legendary demands for 'public decency' long before two young comedians thought to wind her up with their TV comedy show The Mary Whitehouse Experience.
Now I read we children had reason to be more grateful to this retired RE teacher than we imagined as she was the one who exposed that PIE (the Paedophile Information Exchange - yes they really were that blatant back then) was being partly funded by government money and even had supporters from within the Home Office. Not only had PIE hitched its bandwagon to The National Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty) where it found naive support among some now-senior political figures (sic recent scandal), it had attempted to do the same with feminism and the Gay Liberation Front. In an age of 'anything goes', it chanced its arm to sneak in and pretend to be a valid maligned minority group arguing for its rights to be recognised and enshrined in law just like any other. Not to mention the rights of children to sleep with ancient raddled adults (don't remember waving my junior placard on that particular protest).
Had Mary Whitehouse not shone a timely torch on PIE and their activities, who knows how much further PIE might have got?
Here is a chilling BBC interview with two of the proponents of PIE arguing for the age of consent to be abolished, incest to be legalised, and claiming that it is child molesters who are the dodgy ones out to exploit children - 'paedophiles love children' - the term paedophile meaning 'lover of children'. The interviewer seems worryingly out of his depth too in coming up with effective counter-arguments or killer questions.
Of course even in this area Mary Whitehouse did not always get her moral compass right. When her National Viewers and Listeners Association decided to dish out annual awards to what they considered fine and upstandingly wholesome British TV shows, Jimmy Savile won one for 'Jim'll Fix It' and Mrs Whitehouse was quoted as sighing; 'If only they were all like that nice Mr Savile.'
How she must be turning in her grave now, poor dear.
At the end of the day though Mrs W was proven right in her suspicion that standards were in steep decline. Nowadays you don't even have to wait for the 9pm watershed to witness scenes of gratuitous sex, violence and swearing on TV. Then computer games, the internet and mobile devices came along. Now any individual of any age can watch anything, anytime, almost anywhere. It's like the nation has lost any sense of responsibility towards its young or vulnerable. Either that or I am getting old and this isn't really happening. On the flip side at least most youngsters know what a paedophile is these days (without it having to be explained to them by a broadcaster) and forewarned is forearmed. The law also takes paedophile crimes seriously nowadays as oppose to just sweeping them under the carpet and encouraging any victims brave enough to come forward to just forget about it as the law would have done in the 70s and 80s. Though as broadcaster Matthew Parris opines, plenty of right-minded individuals were as horrified by PIE in the 1970s/80s as we would be today, and it is thanks to their efforts then that PIE was eventually forced to officially disband in 1984, mission for acceptance, legal rights and protection for their activities unaccomplished. Thankfully.
Monday, 24 February 2014
I've always been fascinated by saints, angels and all things spiritual or psychic, so naturally I felt compelled to go along to the Mind, Body and Spirit Show at Hove Town Hall last weekend when I saw it was on.
Happily my boyfriend is willing to try most things once, not least where lunch is involved! Having dandered around all the crystal and angel stalls and consumed said lunch, we decided to have a reading with one of the psychics, Ann Sinclair (pictured). Unfortunately she didn't do couples, so since my boyfriend has had such a tough time over the last few years I gave the reading to him in the hope he might derive some comfort from it.
Thursday, 20 February 2014
It was fine for academics to engineer university education to suit themselves and their research, writing, lecture tour and sabbatical activities in the past when Universities were free for students to attend and even paid students to attend them via the student grant.
Thursday, 13 February 2014
Visiting my widowed mother in Ireland last week, I happened upon a dusty but trashy looking old paperback in a bookcase called 'How To Be Rich' by J. Paul Getty. I picked it up and was surprised to find it a riveting read, elegant in its straight talking economy of words, as it detailed Mr Getty's rise to success from his early wildcatting days as an oil (black gold rush) seeker in early 20th century California through all his subsequent triumphs and failures along the way, refreshingly devoid of business bullsh*t speak, but sharing his business wisdom with all who wished to learn.
Friday, 24 January 2014
It freely admits there can be no legislation to inure against the vicissitudes of the human heart, let alone to prevent couples evolving in differing directions as they grow older or one or both stumbling and falling at life's hurdles or temptations.
And as a friend recently commented, so many couples don't see too far beyond looks and sexual chemistry when they first meet. Making a supreme effort to be on our best behaviour and impress the other in the early days, leaving our oddities, anger management issues and screwed-up bits to emerge or be discovered at a later date doesn't help in relationship mistake prevention either. Or 'heart and safety' as I like to call it!
That said, it would take a naive individual to regard the past through rose-tinted spectacles and assume that just because more marriages lasted, they were happy and successful. Many a tale could probably be told behind the local newspaper photographs of smiling golden anniversary couples cutting their celebration cakes..
Until relatively recently, aside from the social stigma and shame of divorce, there were prohibitive socio-economic reasons why unhappy couples couldn't part, particularly for women, if they did not have their own bank accounts or resources. The law did not make it possible for most ordinary people to access or afford divorce until after WWII, and even then the grounds were severely limited, and often involved a private detective being hired to track illicit couples down to seaside resorts to provide grounds. People also tended to have shorter lifespans so lengthy marriages were not such a scary prospect for the majority, and for some, freedom was likely to present itself by the pre-deceasement of at least one spouse.
The populace also tended to have far lower expectations of what happiness was (take Jane Eyre - beautifully written - but are she and Mr Rochester really the great romance the reader is lead to believe?), though some would argue that expectations have become unrealistically high. Women's Liberation has been no mean influence in this and the relationship power balance has had to shift significantly from former times in order to accommodate the relatively recent notion of equality between the sexes. To this day, not all individuals find themselves emotionally and intellectually equipped to conduct a relationship on equal footing and therein will always lie tensions, sometimes in the form of a timebomb for the future of that marriage or relationship.
Just as society adapts to gender equality and all that that entails, it emerges that many modern youngsters are seeing hardcore pornography years before their first kiss with a real girl or boy, risking serious psychological and behavioural consequences as a result, not least the ability to form loving and meaningful real-life relationships with partners who don't resemble porn stars in looks or behavioural extremes when the time comes.
Once successfully formed however, relationships face financial pressures like never before. An unintended consequence of Woman's Liberation was that two incomes coming into a household quickly equated to house price rises commensurate with two incomes coming into the household. Couples may have hoped for a surfeit of cash to spoil themselves with when both were working, but that's not what happened. And part-time working or being a full-time housewife/mother was quickly taken away as a choice for many married women, adding to the pressures on a marriage, if that was not what they wanted. Now even two full-time average incomes are no longer enough to get on the property ladder for most young couples and 50 year or even lifetime mortgages are being devised. This on top of enhanced University fee loans which will take as long as 25 years to pay off and parental help to pay the large deposit required. Is it any wonder that the age at which couples marry is getting later and later, ditto the childbearing age for women? Debt has become the uninvited third party in the marital bed for many, as capable of rending a couple asunder as any other risk.
Another modern relationship risk is the societal shift towards child-centredness, particularly amongst women, so that you hear many men complain that their wives seem to have lost interest in them and stopped making an effort since the children came along, and much though they also love their children, they mourn the relationship that they used to enjoy with their wife and the effort she used to make for them, though of course raising children is genuinely exhausting, not least when the woman is often required to hold down a full-time job as well to pay the bills. In the 1950s however, it was customary for the (house) wife to prioritise the father in the knowledge that the strength of the family depended on the parents having a good relationship. They also viewed themselves as guardians to their children rather than possessors of their children and never lost sight of the fact that one day their offspring would fly the nest to lead their own lives, leaving the parents alone again.
Notwithstanding some Irish friends did adopt the healthy stance of 'There was a *John and *Sophie before *Carmen and there'll be a John and Sophie after Carmen' when their daughter was born, and from an early age resumed their romantic weekends in Paris whilst Carmen stayed with her grandparents, and their child-free 'date nights' once a week, despite both having full-time jobs. Twenty four years on, John and Sophie are still together, the only couple still married of the three couples that married in the same church 27 years previously. Meanwhile their bright and lively daughter Carmen remains close to them and visits regularly but leads her own life, her mother only twitching nervously when she decides to go backpacking solo in a far flung country.
To get back to the posting, one effect of recession is that greater numbers of miserable couples remain together because they cannot afford to part. But while divorce may have become a more democratically accessible option, it is by no means free of ruinous cost in its own right, not to mention emotional trauma, if one or both parties are determined to make it so.
In a sense, it is too late to try and reverse the trends of the last few decades without starting in schools. It is finally being realised that trays of condoms passed around are never going to teach youngsters how to navigate the choppy waters of inter-personal relationships or about the benefits of stable relationships to themselves and wider society. Financial responsibility tuition is also being introduced at long last, which in itself forms a major factor in the success or failure of relationships.
As for the Nanny state contribution, not a whisper of reinstating the married couple's tax allowance in terms of incentives to restore family life. Rather they continue to reward the young woman who falls pregnant with a flat and generous benefits and financially penalise her the moment she forms a relationship which might in due course help lift her out of the benefits trap.
But if divorces are being compared to driving licences easewise, perhaps a marriage licence should be more akin to a driving licence. Perhaps a marriage licence should be renewable every ten years so that couples are obliged to work at their marriage if they both want it renewed for another ten years!
Tuesday, 21 January 2014
- The neighborhood has a discernible center. This is often a square or a green and sometimes a busy or memorable street corner. A transit stop would be located at this center.
- Most of the dwellings are within a five-minute walk of the center, an average of roughly 0.25 miles (1,300 ft; 0.40 km).
- There are a variety of dwelling types — usually houses, rowhouses, and apartments — so that younger and older people, singles and families, the poor and the wealthy may find places to live.
- At the edge of the neighborhood, there are shops and offices of sufficiently varied types to supply the weekly needs of a household.
- A small ancillary building or garage apartment is permitted within the backyard of each house. It may be used as a rental unit or place to work (for example, an office or craft workshop).
- An elementary school is close enough so that most children can walk from their home.
- There are small playgrounds accessible to every dwelling — not more than a tenth of a mile away.
- Streets within the neighborhood form a connected network, which disperses traffic by providing a variety of pedestrian and vehicular routes to any destination.
- The streets are relatively narrow and shaded by rows of trees. This slows traffic, creating an environment suitable for pedestrians and bicycles.
- Buildings in the neighborhood center are placed close to the street, creating a well-defined outdoor room.
- Parking lots and garage doors rarely front the street. Parking is relegated to the rear of buildings, usually accessed by alleys.
- Certain prominent sites at the termination of street vistas or in the neighborhood center are reserved for civic buildings. These provide sites for community meetings, education, and religious or cultural activities.
- The neighborhood is organized to be self-governing. A formal association debates and decides matters of maintenance, security, and physical change. Taxation is the responsibility of the larger community.
Monday, 13 January 2014
In common with many, I applauded this government's stated intention to prevent children from accessing pornography. And few right-headed individuals would disagree that websites showing how to make bombs or incite suicide or sites depicting extreme violence are also unacceptable in a civilised society and should be banned.
However it now seems the government's measures intend to go far further than that, by intruding on the human right to religious and spiritual freedom of expression via the blocking of 'Esoteric Websites and Alternative Spirituality'
The Oxford Dictionary definition of 'esoteric' is: What is the purpose of this mission creep? To save vulnerable youngsters from the dangers of meditation perhaps?Dissuade them from taking up a career as a philosopher, a psychic, a yoga teacher or from becoming a vegetarian, an animal welfare activist or a reflexologist? And this only months after the EU published their latest guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief.
Far from being protected, minorities are an endangered species, it seems.
But for all its hand wringing about children and their safety and innocence, the government is apparently quite happy to allow loanshark and gambling companies to advertise unabated before the 9pm watershed. The level of sex, violence and swearing on TV also remains unabated and is in evidence pre-watershed. Few vendors of cigarettes and alcohol are prosecuted for selling to the underage. As for the 'war' against drugs, that has become something of an unfunny joke. Ultraviolent computer games too, remain freely available for consumption by our youth, and have previously been linked to a number of violent crimes. All this, despite scientific proof that developing minds are more susceptible to influence as they are possessed of less life experience and context to process what they are being exposed to.
The Open Rights Group reports that websites of organisations promoting “esoteric practices” directly or indirectly have already been blocked on Orange pay-as-you-go mobiles.
Now you may not be an esoteric or alternative person yourself, but if you are not; in the spirit of Voltaire and his famed human rights declaration; 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.' please sign this petition
If that doesn't convince, there is always the famous second world war speech of German Pastor Martin Niemoller;
Thursday, 2 January 2014
Monday, 23 December 2013
Gluttony has long been an accepted, and eagerly encouraged, breaking of one of the seven commandments during the Christmas season. However I must confess I find the rise of the multi-bird roast somewhat obscene.
To kill four (or even more) birds rather than one to sate one's gluttony and then meld them together as some kind of Frankenbird seems a truly revolting idea, not least when most of us are so opposed to genetically modified 'frankenfoods', which are all about defying nature. In addition it involves a level of meat processing and time of raw meat hanging about at room temperature to create which is surely not to be advised.
This reminds me of the recent revelation that cheap poultry from the more downmarket supermarkets mostly originates from Brazil where it is frozen, shipped over to Britain and then pumped full of chemicals and water to give it the same volume and appearance as British-reared meat, subject to higher production standards and animal welfare legislation. It is then re-frozen, something British people are warned not to do with poultry for fear of Salmonella and other bugs. Finally it is stamped with a 'Produced in Britain' sticker to (legally) hoodwink the public as to its country of origin when actually Britain is just the country it has been processed in. This low-grade meat may score far lower marks on the taste test than meat sold in the high end supermarkets but if the consumers of the low-end supermarkets can't afford the good stuff, presumably they remain none the wiser.
Poor quality meat, aside from being bad for animal welfare, has also been shown to be bad for human health, containing more chemicals and a higher level of adrenalin and animal diseases from animals which have been cheaply fed and poorly treated in highly stressful and cramped conditions..
On the subject of the horse meat scandal earlier this year, I recently met a geneticist who told me that a deliberate decision had been made by our government not to sanction testing for any other animal genes as it was not felt that the British public could withstand any further revelations about what might be in their processed meat such as burgers.
'Dog'? I suggested. 'Cat...?'
But since when did the idea of daily meat consumption become normal anyway? Within living memory for most families it would be a Sunday roast and then leftovers in the shape of sandwiches or curries for the rest of the week, with fish and chips on a Friday. Meat was a luxury item and people accepted that it was expensive and that it was supposed to be expensive as it was expensive to rear animals. Some even raised their own chickens and pigs in the back garden.
Surely it is better to eat less meat, but of a higher quality and a simple, traceable, organic, free-range provenance. Not just better for animals and consumers on every level, but for long-suffering
British farmers too.
Wednesday, 18 December 2013
This made me wonder how all the low-paid workers (legal and otherwise) manage to live and work in central London - those typically on under £15k a year such as cleaners, hotel workers, security guards, sales assistants.
Apparently when not living in hostels or on friends' floors, a growing answer is garden sheds. Also many (typically asian) landlords are allegedly buying up semi-detached houses in the suburbs and housing four to a room, one in each corner at £25 per week and passing them off as family homes, even though the denizens might be total strangers to one another. This circumvents the legal requirement that all multi-occupational houses be licenced as HMO's and adhere to stringent regulations on occupancy levels, H&S, fire and room sizes rented out.
So it is not just a question of British workers not wanting to accept employment for breadline-level wages. They are also refusing to occupy sheds or live four to a room to sustain this false situation, which is illegal anyway and would garner no formal housing assistance or wage credits for them. And on the subject of family credit and other wage top-ups, this is also enabling minimum wages to endure with the government subsidising businesses to pay as little as possible with no prospects for betterment in sight, even when the company might be prospering and able to afford to pay better.
What will happen to the London economy when its councils finally get their thermal imaging helicopters out and clamp down on all this illegal living I wonder?
Already those on the 'average wage' - said to be £26k - are deserting the capital in their droves, claiming they cannot afford to live there. And certainly with over 50% of their income going on rent and travel (not even counting the bills), they are way over the Joseph Rowntree Foundation recommendation that no more than 33% of income should be expended in rent and bills, or poverty will ensue.
Some while ago I was at a London party at a friend's flat. Half her friends couldn't afford to go anywhere or enjoy London after they had struggled to pay the rent on their shared house room and the other half were earning good salaries but worked long hours and had no leisure to enjoy London. Between the two groups, hardly anyone was enjoying the fact they were living in London and all moaned endlessly about the tubes,what zone they lived in, the crowds and other irritations of their lives.
22/12/13 Since this posting, there has been another article in the Daily Mail entitled Beds in Sheds