When Woolworths (founded in 1909 and owned by Woolworths Group PLC) shut its bricks&mortar shops in favour of a limited and now defunct online operation in 2008 (and sold to Shop Direct Group who also bought Littlewoods which also disappeared after years on the highstreet, in favour of their other shop Primark) did you notice the popping up and spreading of £1-ish stores? They had already been in existence and there were a plethora of small, cheap local homewares shops but after the demise of Woolies the £1-ish shops tookover selling similar wares. Many are branded goods but for a cheaper price, including run-off (surplus) stock and products that were in the process of having their packaging changed, all needing to be gotten rid of fast and cheap to the delight of bargain hunters and people on limited budgets, even those who can well afford higher prices. (I live in an affluent area and the £1-ish shop has the biggest frontage on the highstreet yet they turned down Argos and McDonalds preferring local owners and boutiques, and the £1-ish store a preference for new to the country, efficient and polite Polish staff when there isn’t an obvious Polish presence in the community, until the Post Office became part convenience store last year we were the only noticeable Indians except in the restaurants but they seem to live/recreate elsewhere.) Amazing how there wasn’t even time for a gap in the market. The ‘99p Stores’ chain (sold to Poundland in 2015) even have the signature Woolies confectionary pick ‘n’ mix area, something you only commonly found in newsagents back in the day “please can I have some penny/two penny sweets?” Us kids used to say.
Reminds me a bit of the Tesco’s (megamarket perhaps the best term for them since they’re worldwide and in various industries) land grab, buying up an estimated 300+ sites and then not using them but keeping the land so others couldn’t (they sold 14 to investment firm Meyer Bergman in 2015 for £250million).
Many people seem to think that ‘things just happen’ but do they? No, not really.
When the market changes, in this case an economic downturn where the prices of services and goods go up and the wages:
a) stay the same,
b) go down couple with higher workload/hours and/or
c) wages are scaled down to a standard but made to look fair because the majority of ‘new’ jobs (including those where someone has left and the position is open) start and stay at the new standard/’fair’ wage.
For example look at when Tony B.liar introduced the national minimum wage (NMW). Who thought that was fair and good treatment/security of the people? The middle & upper classes. The people getting NMW knew better – that jobs could and would be scaled down to NMW and they’d get less after PAYE (employer taking out tax and national insurance before paying) whereas those who can afford an accountant pay said person to keep their tax payments as low as possible. Companies didn’t have to pay higher wages from then on, they could offer NMW and people would be paid less for more work + the slap in the face of zero hour contracts. So many of the ‘lower class but utterly essential’ jobs that involve manual labour from cleaning to food production to maintenance are NMW – things we’d all be lost without. But when there’s tons of poorer people and no job security, plenty will jump at the chance of low paid jobs where they spend a big chunk of the wage just commuting. It’s not enough to live on.
Cue the wave of next generation ‘loan sharks’ aka the uprising and spread of pay day lenders, as well as the upswing in pawn shops. Then the ‘living wage’ for places like London and any employer who wants to offer it (surprise, surprise barely any) came about. I’ve always been of the opinion that if you can’t afford to pay staff but you need them then you shouldn’t be in business, unless in awareness of the situation people agree to stick it out and work together until/if things get better. That said most people can’t trust each other and with too many people reneging on personal contracts (e.g. collaborative efforts, lending each other money etc) all that leads to is more people in need of financial assistance for necessities like shelter and food.
So? Bring in cheap labour and outsource. Basically dehumanizing more people but in areas where locals see ‘new people’ (especially people of a different class and/or ethnicity) it just means ‘economic migrant’ becomes a common phrase and of course a dirty one. What they don’t see are the initiatives where international or soon-to-be international brands go to a country in the same legal economic area and say something like ‘we’re going to open a factory/ies and going to provide jobs so we need labour’ and the visited country says ‘we got plenty of labour, you can bring your factory/ies here or we’ll pack up our people and send ‘em to you’ (Sounds a bit like the American Dream and the extremely cheap emigration period to Australia after the prisoners were shipped off second after the invaders doesn’t it, some things never change just expand). That’s business. Everything and everywhere on this planet is a commodity, a resource, that includes us. It doesn’t matter that locals in previously higher economies (made high by exploitation but we don’t notice that until it happens to us) are disgruntled and feel priced out of their out of their own neighbourhoods, nor that people are constantly being moved about for a ‘better quality of life’ either out of an area/country that they didn’t have a choice to be born in or out of an place they used to call home but it doesn’t fell/look like home anymore.
People also forget that economic migration works both ways. There are many Xpat and Xpat communities in foreign countries and British people who’ve worked contracts abroad before returning. Look at Dubai (awe-inspiring sci-fi looking, dripping in money place) and look how it was made. Lots of imported labour; Western light skinned people as architects, engineers, project managers etc, some even allowed to bring their families so accommodation, transport, education and recreation had to be provided. The grunt work? Cheap, dark skinned people, many leaving their families to be used as servant labour. This is simply business. Look at South Africa, you thought ex-terrorist Nelson Mandela (yes he and Ghandi and many other ‘heroes’ were labelled terrorists) came in and saved the day? No. Segregation is still rife in SA, wage and status gap between Blacks and Whites for the same jobs. Who gets the most use out of economic migrant routes? Well think about it, how many Black SA people have you met? Who are the popular and ‘non-problematic’ immigrants here that we don’t accuse of taking our jobs – Canadians, White SA people and ‘Kiwis’ (and a sprinkling of West/Northern European folk).
That brings us to theatre politics. Who is always most likely to win elections (other than the opposite
major party just to supposedly have someone different)? The party with the strongest/hardest line on immigration and ‘welfare’. After locals have been pushed into various ‘benefits’ and national services are dependent on immigration (remove immigration and say goodbye to the NHS, though many prefer to be able to afford private but that’s not the point.)
Also look at who accelerated the property bubble, the mortgage crises and the rise of the recruitment/HR industry (people outside of the company organizing & finding employees rather than doing the jobs themselves and taking a cut from your wages as long as you’re hired by them rather than the company, hence the company paying higher wages overall for the commission of the headhunter). Again Tony B.liar’s ‘New Labour’, he also reignited the Iraq problems and is now an Abrahamic religions/peoples ambassador (topping off his Save the Children’s ‘Global Legacy’and ‘Philanthropist of the Year’ awards.)
Sidenote: It was a Labour government that reduced and changed grammar schools (just before I was due to attend), the one meritocratic link left for lower classes for social mobility based on intelligence and skills rather than nepotism. Polytechnics (college & university in one place) were previously changed into universities by the Con-servatives and put higher education further out of reach. No government has brought either back (though the worth of university degrees is very debatable now).
This constant sleight of hand has been going on since time immemorial and I’m certainly no fan of any party e.g. the Con-servatives who gave us phrases like “put up or shut up” and looked completely dumb in face of Labour you-know-who master orator, and the current PM’s tendency to wobble his head backwards and forwards doesn’t help, at least he had it easy against Gordon Brown, the unelected dour guy who actually made him look better. Local elections are pathetic as well. Why don’t people get sick of catchphrases, opening parties and baby kissing/reading to kids. It looks/sounds so fake and leery. The Lib Dems had no teeth when they finally got into government but that was to be expected. Interestingly Russia is thinking about bringing back the no confidence ‘none of the above’ option on their ballots, I wonder if people who feel they have to vote would prefer that to voting for a minor party they don’t really care for neither. Whilst in theory I would prefer local government/autonomy the Masonic lodges don’t disappear and neighbourhood watches can easily turn into groups of paranoid people who think they have the right to know everything about anybody ‘different’ (the amount of times we’ve been stopped by expensive property owners and other times inched by their cars as they follow us to get answers – wanting to know where we’ve come from, why we’re here, where we’re going as if we couldn’t possibly live here too and as if we have any interest in anything they fear we might).
You can’t rule/govern (this is only a streamlined list) if:
a) you’re upper class and have little clue about how the little people live (Michael Portillo, former Conservative MP lived for a week to an extent – film crew were there – as a single mum with 4 kids, £80 weekly budget and two jobs, and quickly changed his views),
b) your government has a significant number of people who went to fee-paying schools,
c) your government is a government of millionaires,
d) you’re going to make even more by side-jobs/titles whilst in parliament (not the same as being in government) aka the integrity of your main job isn’t your priority but being a part of a company that needs helpful legislation is.
One of the first things Tony B.liar did was increase the wages of government members and yet the expenses fiddling (decorate your house, decorate your second house, get another car etc) still happened not to mention the sex scandals.
It’s all just politics i.e the same old same old, hey Obama used to be mixed race but ever since his presidential campaign he’s been Black (his mother is White) (his Nobel Peace Prize was awarded just after he became prez so it could be said that it wasn’t really for him, but his predecessor George Bush of apparently the opposition). Also notice the treatment of Amazonian tribes under his tenancy. People need to remember that you can’t get far on the political ladder unless you have a lot of backing, elections cost so much money that could be better spent but people aren’t going to sponsor/help candidates ‘out of the goodness of their hearts’, you don’t get or stay successful that way. And of course regular people don’t want austerity or to be more muscular when it’s from a job rather than a cool diet or attractive gym. We like our conveniences too much for that, mostly made by people in other countries who also want our lifestyle. Vicious cycle.
For a while Mum & I used to make our own loaves of bread, baking is something that builds upper body strength, keeps your fingers dextrous (important in this age of hunching over computing typing and mobile devices), gets the blood flowing and keeps you warm. (You have innumerable nerve endings in your hands and 70+ thousand in your feet, try not to leave them cold or stagnant, I dare you to do the ‘I-must-do-my-ex-er-cize-es’ finger game or wiggle your toes right now :p ) The oven/grill we’ve had for the last couple of years is useless for anything other than low-medium heat plus the compactness of the kitchenette (still better than the one we had for 9 years where only person could go in at a time lol) meant that we had to give that up (you can make flatbreads on the hob!) Sometimes you just want a loaf of bread but it’s almost impossible to find vegan friendly risen bread in shops (you should be able to find gluten free versions in supermarkets though), they commonly have tartaric acid and non-source specified vitamin D for example. We also personally try to avoid refined salt and sugar. We found one that’s organic, slow cooked, vegan friendly and of course since it’s healthier it’s wholemeal (I don’t dispute that if it were gluten free it’d be totally healthy for the human body) but Mum’s never been a fan of wholemeal since it’s tougher (whereas I prefer to chew properly…) Anyway, this dinky kitchenette means I haven’t been able to chop fruit/veg efficiently like I used to, nowhere near the league of those awesome display chefs (who I really like because they tend to give me bigger portions) but decent enough to save time processing/cooking. I used to be able to use serrated kitchen knives smoothly without losing juice or making a mess but now my posture is all wrong. Mum however uses a knife like it’s a handsaw and I cringe because it’s like she’s sawing wood or something similar. Every time I try to tell her how to use less effort she continues to do the same thing out of habit. This loaf of bread was not only tougher but being bread its crumbly – do you know how much goes to waste in crumbs if you don’t collect them and put them in the food o_o just look at the mess at the bottom of your toaster (I’ve given up those infernal machines, hob all the way) – so for this loaf treat even she couldn’t watch herself make a mockery of slicing. I reminded her “why do some knives have removable handles?”
There are ranges of knives for those who love cooking so much that they keep the handles and blades separately.
a) When you have blades & handles stuck together, they get grotty; there’s buildup, the base of the blade rusts and the handle gets manky + weaker over time, especially when people constantly put them a dishwasher or leave wooden handles soaking, handles can crack that way. Not clever.
b) The breadth and balance of the blade is important, if you exert a bit of effort in the right places with proportionate grip for the task – the blade should do most of the work for you.
c) If you take care of your blades they should last, they shouldn’t be dull and should slice smoothly (most people don’t sharpen them anymore, neither do I but I still use them carefully.) If a blade breaks you most likely didn’t use it properly.
d) The handle changes the weight and hence distribution of the blade. The best knives have been made to take that into account. Adept chefs practise their use, even I consciously think about the way I’m cutting plants, about my wrist and grip – ‘just doing it’ leads to ripped stalks, leaves, losing seeds, mess. (The same goes for writing, if your hands/wrists get tired you’ve overdone it and could hurt yourself, often from too much pressure – the pen doesn’t need you to be in the same position + lots of pressure to get the ink on the paper. Just like those of you who still don’t need glasses (used to be pretty rare, now over half the UK population wear glasses and contact lenses) but still squint or stare too hard at computer screens when you don’t need to – loosen up and let some fluidity into the motions.)
e) I think there’s a lineage memory in there too. Many traditional weapons were born out of farming instruments. When slaves and farm workers had enough of being told what to do, having most of their crops taken even in poor harvests yet expected to keep on farming with no thought of their health (poor people are dispensable so you don’t have to treat them well since they’ll reproduce anyway – the idea of treating them ‘too well’ to ensure productivity is too bothersome and needn’t come into it) there were times they rose up. And they used what they had to hand. These were strong people but not trained and lacking ‘authority’ so such uprisings inevitably lead to mere regime changes rather than decreasing class warfare/gap between rich and poor and of course people are corruptible. Give someone a title or bit of payoff or the idea that they’re in on a ‘secret’/something exclusive (even if they don’t want said secret is) and they’ll easily turn on their prior peers. Just because people can fight together out of common necessity doesn’t mean they like each other. Rather than a common goal there’s usually a mix of personal goals masquerading as a common goal until individuals reach a state they’re content with enough to stop fighting and start blaming or looking down on those who continue.
I’ve never seen the point of ceremonial tools/weapons. Ceremonial maces in particular tend to be very ugly imo (including the ones in parliament, along with their rituals and the House of Commons benches standing two sword lengths apart, it’s a very small room for what it is and probably stinks when even half full) and remind me of Nik Naks (corn snacks). Also weapons and body parts mounted on walls have never appealed to me. It’s one thing to preserve weapons for historical education, it’s another to preserve/laud them for their glory – when people say ‘it’s a thing of beauty’ I think of the functional tools that were also beautiful and elegant but I also think of the craftspeople/technicians who knew what they were working on, could see/imagine what they’d be used for and those who made them anyway for the highest bidder rather than their ideals of ‘justice’. Fighting isn’t pretty, glorious or nice, it can be necessary but don’t use euphemisms and pretend otherwise (or in some cases ‘gentlemanly’). It is what it is regardless of what side you’re on.
People have said ‘this is an artform, it teaches peace and inner strength’ I’ve replied ‘no, it’s a form of defense (supposed to be) – you can do other forms of contortion e.g. yoga, gymnastics, dance etc for wellness, calm, clarity of thought, specific and general health. Martial arts and systems of fighting are to fight, even if you try never to use them outside of the school/competition, you’ve learnt it so that you can if you have to.’
Tools and weapons are not toys, they’re not for looking cool and tough, you have to be mature and responsible. If you pick up a blade for the purpose/potential of combat then you had better be damned sure you’re prepared to use it to it’s fullest. You don’t know how a fight will turn out and if you survive you have to live with the consequences (and your conscience if you have one, although it might creep up on you later). Sparring if the best yet most dangerous form of training, but at least you know your opponents, those involved know the risks. Conversely if you pick up a weapon or anything that can be used as one you automatically become a target, just like strong people are seen as a threat.
I don’t mind weapons that are used for performances like dance/circus (no animals involved) (and remember that combat skills/martial arts have been disguised as dance to the point of people just thinking them customary dances now) but again look at how many traditional nomadic performers are viewed and how they view themselves. They travel because they have to but also if they stay in one place too long they can easily become a freak show and easiest to blame for crime. Being ‘different’ as a novelty is one thing, being ‘different’ and living in a community let alone a very strong person/people and you’re a potential problem. Circus/carnival people traditionally keep to themselves, their ‘own kind’ who understand each other, often born into it and look after their own. Whereas if you’re a trained killing machine (or perpetuator of aka support services) who fights on command of ‘authority’ without thinking then you’re a ‘hero’. Unless a warlord/government trains you, you’ve got to be self-deprecating and a bit of a joke. With the military though, whilst enough money can be created/saved to support them everything from food, shelter, clothing, gear, toys and nowadays education, career advancement and ‘benefits’ whilst you survive in service (it used to be the norm to focus recruitment from poor people, nowadays they’ve added college and graduate marketing) you’re not prepared for post-tour civilian life. Military can use you and dump you; injured, mentally ill, homeless, who cares, you served your purpose. Circus people take care of their elders, they’re not discarded.
Sidenote – People are people wherever you go, whatever they do, whatever they look like – I’m just saying traditional circus people, like other craftspeople, have more respect for their tools in general (and know how to be thrifty – show me a musician who destroys their instruments on stage and I’ll likely make them wish they’d given said instruments a name, specially designed habitat and kissed them goodnight) in comparison to security services where lives and money disappear in a sinkhole.
Look how elegant and graceful these women are, in full dress too, and how strong and coordinated:
Interestingly enough many cultures around the world buried or burned their dead along with the dead person’s tools. This applied mostly to craftspeople whose tools were their livelihoods and as such an extension of their bodies, honed and individualized to the person over time – even thought to have a ‘feel’/aura of the person. Therefore it was considered repulsive to even use another’s persons most used tools (likely ok to use ones that weren’t their favourites, if they had more than one of each). However tools are costly, investments not to be taken lightly for the poor so personal dignity and pride had to give way so tools could be inherited for familial/professional pride instead.
Nowadays the public mainly think of warriors keeping their weapons in death. ‘Noble’ warriors maybe, ones who afford to eat, have fancy things, maybe status/rank. Peasant warriors just die and get robbed. You don’t find many rich skeletons from private family tombs and graves on display or in private collections or dug up at all. Digging up rich ancestors is not ‘proper’ regardless of the ‘in the name of science’ excuse everybody else gets. Unless of course you were an ancient Egyptian, then you can do the celebrity circuit and post-death gloat about your uber bling coffin and hope people don’t extract DNA for ‘posterity’ and who can just turn around and say ‘why did you go to all that trouble to be preserved then?’ 😐
Lol can you just imagine a race of ancient DNA clones who think they’re god’s representatives still controlling the world?