Friday, 3 July 2009

Lightning reflexes

Little vignette of the Welfare State we're in for you; hot off the steaming pavements of Castle City.

5.05 I'm walking home from work in the bowels of the State when the path past the Housing Association 'social housing' estate that borders Northwester Towers' Southern Drive and deer park.

Heading in the same direction as me but a little slower and straight ahead are three shambling products of Labour's Britain.

Call them Tracksuit Boy, Beach Ball and Vicky Pollard.
I don't recognise them not them me, the Lord be praised.

Tracksuit Boy is brush-cut, eighteenish and already overweight with an Iceland carrier bag full of health-food snacks no doubt.
He is muttering in what twelve years of compulsory and lavishly-funded state education would describe as 'English' that he was 'going to.'
'You're going to claim, are you?' Beach Bimbo asks him, encouragingly.
'I'm going to claim,' confirms Tracksuit Boy; sure-footed in his three hundred word vocabulary and an intimate and thorough knowledge of the way the world really works. I don't know whether he's talking about claiming more money from the British taxpayers or claiming compensation for some injury or other or claiming to be Emperor of France, although Sarko's got at least one of those pretty much nailed down.

I scuttle to overtake them in the hope that they won't recognize me and perhaps connect a person who is both a neighbour and also an adviser for Britain's
soon-to-be-bankrupt benefits system and join any dots leading to my door, windows, car, roof....

Isn't bigotry great?

My cat-like tread takes me past them and into the fresh air away from three colourful and spontaneous lives innocent of all deodorants, when my shiny office shoes slip on the ill-kept, uneven and rain-greasy housing association paving slabs.
Reflexes trained during decades of inhabiting unfriendly schoolyards, being a conservative speaker at student union meetings and being employed by and sharing the roads with the people who elected New Labour three times come to my rescue and I skate rather than slide, tumble or worse - especially at my age - hip-smack the mossy stones.

Here's where the lightning reflexes come in because as quick as a flash and without time for conscious thought, Tracksuit Boy calls to me cheerfully 'You should claim compensation for that, mate.'

Oh, it wasn't bigotry - just ordinary prejudice.

And of all the things that he could have been in life: a sailor man in our nation's fleet or a bricklayer; a welder, soldier, or actor; a policeman, salesman or juggler, he has somehow become a person who can see the simple beauty and financial potential of a stumbling man.


GCooper said...

If you haven't already been, NNW, you really should be working on a book.

This is beautifully written stuff, deserving of a bigger audience.

North Northwester said...

Why thank you,G Cooper, and welcome.
It's been a head-swelling week for praise for my posts but yours is the first, I think, that has ever complimented my PROSE.

And seriously; you might guess that someone as obviously vain as I am would have a plan or two to inflict my abundant punctuation and hyperbole on a wider readership.

James Higham said...

Yes, it's the new way of life and they're happy.


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