Tuesday 13 October 2009

Who are we to Judge.

I watched a recording of the Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling wittering on at the Tory Conference as to how he would solve Britain's problems if he were in government. I was particularly interested in his attitude to alcohol. Evidently he thinks the answer is to put extra tax on super strength alcohol. The price of a four pack of extra strength lager, he suggests, should rise by £1.33, alcopops under the Conservatives would cost £1.33 more. And where was I
when he was making these pronouncements?
I park my motorhome on a car park in a far from salubrious part of town when my wife goes to the opticians. I did so this week, my wife went about her business so to speak and I sat in the van reading. Two men approached, cans to hand.
'Nice van' said one.
'What's the picture on the back' said the other.
(It's actually Mam Tor in North Derbyshire.)
They were pleasant, curious about me and the van so I got out of the van and we chatted. I gave one a motorhome magazine which was studied profusely. These men were unemployed, perhaps unemployable, the motors on display in the magazine cost thousands of pounds yet there was no envy displayed.
I was offered a drink and declined but was curious concerning their choice of drink. Yes, Mr Grayling, it was exactly 9%, cost £1.36 from a shop across the road. We chatted amicably, others joined or merely passed through our little group. Suddenly the lager was secreted under my van, coinciding with the arrival of two policemen only yards away. We were 'eyed', of interest but not approached. It was some time later that I realised the pole alongside my van had a sign attached that simply read 'Alcohol Free Zone'. I have no doubt that my presence prevented the police from investigating further. I am also sure my number plate is now either in a little black book or on the computer at headquarters.
All concerned were alcoholics, but were not proud of it. Two had serious mental health issues. One has recently paid an £80 fine for drinking at the same spot. He seemed the only one with money and fetched a further supply for all. Even more interesting was the fact that he continued to drink in the same spot, though the tin and contents were secreted in a plain paper bag. They were civil and in the main far from unintelligent. All had worked at some stage in their lives; all were of working age. Alcohol was doing none of them any favours but they don't need you and me to tell them the obvious. No Mr Grayling, preach to the converted at conferences and retire home with a 'haven't I done well' feeling. By the way, Mr Grayling, a bottle of wine costing around £3 is likely to be 11% and would have the same effect. No mention, surely not because wine is a middle class drink in your eyes! You blinkered ignoramus, don't you realise my new friends will switch quite easily if you meddle with their supplies. And if still alive, will continue to drink under the sign or nearby. (One has already lost his wife due to alcoholism, one looks after an alcoholic mother.) The latter without the caring allowances to which he is undoubtedly entitled. My wife was shocked that I was still with the group when she returned. I have no answers. But the day I totally ignore my fellow man I will be ready to meet my maker, so to speak. For 'there but for the grace of God go I.'
Our little meeting was far from gloomy. One, suffering from depression and recently out of prison had tried selling dusters and similar. That is, until he had wandered, large bag at the ready, up the drive of a posh house in Breaston, near Long Eaton. Where he was quickly surrounded by fearsome, large men with guns. He dropped the bag and put up his hands, expecting the worst. He had had the misfortune to wander up the drive of Geoff Hoon, MP and Secretary of State for Defence at the time. No wonder my friend now prefers the comparative peace and quiet of a car park. The average British Bobby is far less threatening than MI5.


Von said...

Out of touch politicians are out of touch with reality,gradually becoming more so.May there be more real people in the world who aren't afraid to talk to others, however different their lifestyles and values.

Anonymous said...

I am really glad to find you on the web and also that you're in the same neck of the woods as I've only tended to come across people of similar mind set to the shadow home secretary since moving down here! I'd take me hat off to you sir if I wore one.

Nota Bene said...

Easy for politicians to grab the headlines with these gimmicks...sadly every party does it, rather than genuinely try and find real, long term solutions...they make me so cross!

AGuidingLife said...

just sat down with a bottle of £3 11% to enjoy your musings. Now if the tax only goes up on the alcohol that is mainly shop lifted doesn't that defeat the object as tax goes on at point of sale not at asset loss write downs!!!

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Well said Ken. The politicians are completely out of touch and not learning by their mistakes either. A

Robert said...

Chris Gryling isn't attempting to solve the problem of alcoholism. He is raising tax revenue from a body of the population who have no voice and will be cheered on by those who look down on them.

Yes, I am a cynic.

Daphne said...

Great post - it's so good when someone takes the trouble to put a different point of view from the general media cliches!

the fly in the web said...

The idea of asking themselves why people turn to drink would never occur to a modern politician...all they worry about is how to turn one section of the population against another and how to extract tax from those least able to hide their money.

Valerie said...

Nostalgia Ain't (is) What it Used to Be.
Ken, this is just to let you know there is nowhere to comment on the above post. I know you've got problems with the 'space at the bottom' so I thought I'd come on here to let you know that the date is wrong as well. It's Sunday today but you didn't post it until tomorrow.....
I thought the Nostalgia post was brilliant and I'm going to see if I can get the book out of the library. That should push up the royalties.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Thanks GB. I honestly thought my actions would be cricised by most. Pleasantly surprised.

Welcome and thanks. I have no doubt we have much in common.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Great. We are obviously of like mind.

Great. You absolutely sum it all up.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Thanks but how frightening that we are all taking the minority view. Mind you, papers are privately owned after all.

fly in the web
All very true and what a depressing thought.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Note it is now SLIGHTLY corrected. Its me and my limited technical skills. Interestingly enough I have had much sympathy on this so I'm not on my own!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Also glad you liked the nostalgia post. The library request will be interesting. Keep me informed.