Monday 18 January 2021

Marcus puts the boot in

I've had a good pandemic - so far: touch wood, taps head - but that's because I was born lucky. Just being born in the 1950s gave me all sorts of advantages: 

  • student grants rather than student debt; 
  • returning to Europe in the 1980s after studenting in the USA at a time when the market was being flooded with give-away council homes; our 100 y.o red-brick mid-terrace in N England cost 1.25x my [derisory] salary
  • selling that home 4 years later in a rising 'market' for 2.5x what we paid for it
  • buying a farm[let] of land in Ireland with the proceeds  
Dau.I has the equivalent [derisory] salary at about the same age, and aspires to buy her own gaff in Dublin. Shoe-boxes Starter homes there and now are about 8x her professional salary = impossible to achieve unless she buys Lotto tickets. The society which we share has been set up so that some rich fuck who was lucky like me can gouge her for a rent far in excess of the mortgage repayments that the Bank says she couldn't afford. That's a key problem: many of the indignities, mental health issues and discomfort stem from this gross disparity between the haves and have-nots. We have voted for this!

Last week I was raging about a student and her mum going to bed early because that was the warmest part of the house . . . send more duvets. Today, and across the water, systemic shame and outrage being exposed by another black kid . . . who pwned the ball of child food poverty and ran with it. Marcus Rashford, Man.Utd and International soccer star, and younger than my daughters, grew up in Manchester. Unlike our girls, there were no hens in the yard and so often no eggs for breakfast, nor lunch nor dinner neither. But Marcus was lucky in his Mum, a single mother who worked hard to put food on the table. Marcus was often hungry anyway because the rent and utilities also had to be paid, and her boys needed shoes. School dinners were vital to the calorie economy of the household. For The Boy growing up in the 1980s school lunches could be treated as a joke because there was a full fridge at home: another example of the good fortune of the time and place of my birth.

Marcus Rashford was also born with golden boots and was being hot-housed for soccer stardom before he turned teen. It's a trope that, if you take a working class kid and give him Lotto money [£10,400,000 in 2019] every year until his cruciate ligament requires surgery, then he'll blow it on sex, cars, tarot-readings and blow. Not Marcus: in late 2019 he teamed up with Selfridges to bring Christmas to the homeless. The following Spring he called the British Government for dropping the ball on school dinners during lockdown. In the mentality of the Tories, school dinners were something that was given out by Boris of The Generous Hand between History and PE.  It took a leap of empathy, hard to find in a Tory cabinet, to turn that round as school dinners feeding a hungry kid. The child is no less hungry because school is out. Far too many children in one of the richest nations of the Earth go to bed hungry and wake up hungry the following morning every day. Because ensuring that the children of the dispossessed enough calories to think straight would foment a revolution.

Prime Minister Johnson, every ready with specious waggery, confessed that Marcus was a more effective leader of the opposition than Sir Keith Starmer. In the New Year, The Man has given the young man a medal - because that's much cheaper than paying people a decent salary for doing the government's job for them. Don't worry Marcus none, he's a fundamentally decent, caring, modest and thoughtful person. And he's making a huge difference to literally millions of people who are struggling through the same slough of institutional oppression that Marcus' family experienced while he was growing up. Latest intel on how government contractors stiff the poor for £30 'lunch-boxes'. The tax payer gives contractor £30, they supply this [R].
Shame calls St Marcus of Old Trafford. 

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