There are often articles in the newspapers regarding the ever changing use of language, every year they add and remove words from the dictionary. I would like to nominate the word ‘skint’ as a word whose definition has changed substantially over the generations. Like some sort of wordy inflation the word had moved from its original definition as people become more materially needy.
When my parents were ‘skint’ they had no money, it was that simple. They weren’t a little poor, they didn’t have less than they needed, they had nothing. For their generation ‘skint’ was a transient condition that was endured by increasing the layers of clothing and coming up with ingenious recipes to use the food in the store cupboard. Short term loans were a terrifying prospect that would only be considered if you couldn’t pay your bills. That last bit is particularly interesting, it wast food, heat or warmth that triggered a move to borrowing but the ability to pay your bills.
The aspirations of my generation meant that we had higher basic standards. We considered ourselves to be ‘skint’ when we couldn’t put fuel in the car or go to the pub. We borrowed more often and for less important reasons but not, in the main, recklessly. We were a generation born into the dream of ever growing prosperity and so debt was always considered to be something that would be inconsequential when measured against future earnings. More of us lived on overdrafts and friendly loans than the previous generation but we paid our bills and our debts.
The dream of ever growing prosperity ended in my generation, it’s ok it wasn’t our fault, but seemed to mutate into absurdity in the next. In the next generation the dream remains although there is absolutely no justification for it, it is as fantastical as Santa. Their aspirations are higher and their effort lower, ‘skint’ is not going clubbing, buying clothes or eating takeaway. Bills have become an option as the state and utilities struggle to cope with the PC brigade, after all cutting off somebody’s water supply is inhuman but not paying a bill is not. When they are ‘skint’ they message the fact from £500 smart phones which, in their skewed world, have become a basic essential of life. This is a generation that borrows to fund takeaway and vodka and then doesn’t pay the debt.
When you question this generation over how they will pay their debts or lift themselves from what they believe is poverty they have no real answer. Sure they say that they will get a job but there is no plan, they train for careers that are not available or simply scan the job pages on their smartphone but they don’t know how they will get there. Our parents were born knowing that life would always be hard work. My generation was born knowing that if we worked hard we would be rewarded. The next generation was born knowing that they deserved all that they could see and that is the least sustainable of all.
please note that references to generations do not refer to all people of an age they are simple generalisations
I met up with Pete and Barb on Sunday, the wonderful foster parents to little Aleisha and Harriet. Aleisha is settling easily into her adoring new family and both foster parents speak very highly of them. Apparently there are another couple of mandated hour-long visits but her new parents have asked the foster parents to keep visiting after that. Talking to them I could see the joy for her new start battling with sadness that she has moved on. It is the selfless ability to let the joy win that makes them able to do what they do and astounds me. Hearing how happy she is and how she has now started to sit up was lovely, even if I do miss seeing my little Princess. Her new parents sound perfect and clearly understand how lucky they have been to be able to bring a gorgeous young girl into their family. It is great to know that Aleisha will have the start in life she deserves and so much love and attention.
Having made sure my Princess was ok I seemed to spend a couple of hours observing people. There are some times when quirks just stand out and yesterday was one of them. I watched a woman come to the bar with designer shades and a designer bag. From the designer bag she retrieved an expensive looking purse and proceeded to debate what funds she should use for her purchase. Having flicked through the thick wad of notes in her purse she apparently concluded that this was worthy of only a twenty. You may be wondering how I saw all of this, it was actually performed rather theatrically with the intention that her audience were aware. I managed a sly smile when I noticed that the theatre had not reached the credit card slots in the purse. There at the front was dog-eared reward card for a low-cost food retailer. When you’re trying to look loaded a gold or platinum card is called for, at least to hide the Iceland card.
During the afternoon a number of men chose to enter the bar bereft of shirts. I should point out that there is no sign or rule precluding this specifically but does there need to be one? There is no sign that states that one’s genitalia must be covered but we still wear trousers. I can’t understand why some men feel the need to enter premises with their shirt off. I love the sun and I am the first one to wander around in shorts without a shirt, after all there has to be an advantage to being the sex without breasts doesn’t there? But when you enter a business to conduct a transaction you should wear all of your clothes, it is just the right thing. What would you do if your chef or your barman greeted you without a shirt, it is just not cricket. There are, I am led to believe, establishments that operate a topless policy please understand that they are the exception and not the rule.
Having despaired of people’s ability to dress themselves, or at least remain dressed, I reverted to uncle gav. A visit from young Indya gave me plenty of opportunity to carry her around the pub collecting glasses and generally shrieking. It is great that an adult who knows of my injuries will wince when they shake my hand but a child has no such concerns. There was never a doubt in Indya’s mind that I could support her weight and indeed run around with her. This is another part of the maturity in parenthood debate. Children don’t need to know your difficulties, your worries or your stress they need to know that you are an ever-present rock, always stable and always capable. So Indya doesn’t need to know that I couldn’t lift a kettle this morning, my kids don’t need to know that it breaks my heart not to see them, they have enough time to stress when they are older.
Speaking to some friends over the weekend has reminded me of Jo’s insistence that I should always view my glass as half full and not half empty. Having studied law and generally being a pedant I like nothing more than to deconstruct an argument, its second nature to me as most of my friends will recognise with a groan. So when a friend asks ‘what is the point’ I have to answer that the actual point, the simple root that is the purpose of life is to live for the allotted duration, sure we would like to live in a better world, to provide for our families and be comfortable but they are our additions, our ‘value add’. Humans, like every other animal, come loaded with subliminal software that says ‘keep on going’ and that is the point, nothing more complex or philosophical than that. So when your feeling down, worried or just want to ‘give up’ remember that this is you not the world, you are judging your life by your rules and coming to the wrong conclusion.
The second debate that has been popular this weekend is ‘I won’t be rich’, firstly I should point out that this is from UK friends who already, no matter who they are, have a level of wealth beyond the reaches and dreams of a large proportion of the earths population. How does someone that feels that they are at the low end of the educational scale and have no opportunities think that they are clever enough to predict their entire life? People will always tell you that they won’t be rich because their lotto numbers won’t come up or they won’t marry a rich person this is such a false limitation why would you think like that? None of the people that we name when asked ‘who is wealthy’ are lotto winners, hard work, luck and timing are invariably what creates the wealth but its easier to focus on just the luck part because that is outside of our control.
I am by no means a philosopher, I don’t have any Buddhist beliefs but when I repeatedly come up against the same thoughts it does cause me some concern that if you don’t believe that the whole world is there for the taking then you are wasting your energy keeping yourself down.
Philosophy brief completed I can report in other news that Shorty remains a legend and will have a career with me as soon as I find another pub and they invent an artificial liver or somebody can assure me that putting him in a pub will not result in a manslaughter charge! I am astounded to find that Jules, who broke her wrist after visiting me in hospital, is now in a cast again for the same injury, I am starting to think that she is getting preferential treatment or perhaps its just that I am in the ‘too difficult pile’.
Congratulations go out to Helen for her mastery of Facebook she has added a location for the pub but a little more attention to detail is probably needed. I can see the pub from my window so when I pressed ‘navigate here’ I was more than a little surprised to find directions past the pub, along the seafront, down a side street and back along the high street arriving at the pie and mash shop, luckily I know a shortcut so it hasn’t kept me away.