Saturday, 22 November 2014

Emily's Knocker

When the Sun took white van man Dan Ware to call on Emily Thornberry in North London, one tiny incident captured my attention. As he was filmed knocking on the door of her townhouse, the improperly fixed lion-head knocker slid down to hang on a single fixing, exposing the original dark paint behind Emily's sunny new Primrose yellow front door. Dan gave it a half second look that suggested that his instinct was to nip back to the van for his tools, before recalling it was a Sun prop van, filled with nothing more useful than journalists. 


I'd love to offer this as a metaphor for something meaningful about Oborne's political class - the bodged, amateur paint job failing to hide the darkness beneath, or the British lion not being safe with Labour. But I won't. And since those antique knockers sell for hundreds, the chances of it still being there today are probably slim.

I have a certain sympathy with both Emily Thornberry and Dan Ware. Emily is one of few MPs who though not from a working class background has experienced real hardship and poverty in her life - as a child, following the break-up of her parents' marriage. Her actions and career since suggest to me she grew to fear and loathe poverty and financial insecurity, and I believe her snap of Dan's home was a reaction to something that for her represented everything that scarred her. 

And for those of you who don't know Medway, Dan's home in Strood is relatively up-market. You can walk from Strood (and I have done, more than once) across the Medway, through Dickensian Rochester and into Chatham, and thence into Gillingham. Chatham is rough. I mean really rough - even the women have neck tattoos, and the babies have ear rings and are clothed in Burberry check babygrows from the market. On Friday nights, the gutters run with piss. On Saturday morning the footways are spotted with blood. Chatham isn't so much working class as underclass. It's a long way from leafy North London - about 150 years away. 

And that's the real challenge for all politicians - including UKIP ones. How can the lives of people in places like Chatham be improved without actually just throwing money at them?   

14 comments:

Sackerson said...

Nice. I lived there in the mid-70s.

Harder to love the people close up - yet "love to the loveless shown that they might lovelier be."

Money is a way of telling them to piss off, and that's what Lab and Con have done for far too long. Time they got their pomanders put of their noses and planted their dainty buckled shoes in the mire of old England.

DeeDee99 said...

I lived in Strood for a few years when I first left home back in the early 80s.

It's always been a decent, but working class town. Rochester is more middle class and Chatham always was more down-market. It suffered badly when the dockyard closed.

You can't take away a town's pride and employment generator (the dockyard), turn it into a tourist attraction and expect the tough, working class, manual workers to thrive.

Chatham has more in common with Doncaster (which has never recovered from closure of the pits) than Islington.

Raedwald said...

Dee Dee -

Yes. It's still a cheap place to keep a boat, and the navigable reach within a day's sailing fascinating. The problem with the defence closures is that the skilled and semi-skilled workforce had greater mobility and tended to move away, leaving the unskilled labouring cohort and the sub-employable behind. A generation of welfare dependency has knocked out whatever pride, ethos or whatever they once had.

Sackerson said...

I walked around Chatham Dockyard as a child, with my Dad. I remember the old wooden figureheads dotted around. Went to St George's C of E in Brompton, remember singing "for those in peril on the sea" and "Boney was a warrior" at school. Gone, gone.

oldrightie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
oldrightie said...


It is fashionable to sneer at my generation's mores and social reality. Sadly the times, pre the leftie dismantlement of decency, discipline and human nature's propensity for evil before good, in the sixties, brought about our present nightmare of a society.
Strict discipline in schools, capital punishment and National Service were powerful adhesives for a better and more reasonable society.
All of those factors would also have made immigration attractive only for more decent and ambitious individuals. Add a requirement to "live as the Romans do" and we would have a much smaller underclass. Problem with that, they might have less need to vote Labour

Demetrius said...

Chatham Station is a lot nicer than Strood, especially if you are stuck waiting for a connection that may or may appear.

G. Tingey said...

oldrightie:
Strict discipline in schools, capital punishment and National Service were powerful adhesives for a better and more reasonable society.
Utter, fucking total bollocks.
( Oh, & I will be 69 in about 6 weeks time, so I do remember those times, you so lovingly refer to )

Shall I rephrase that statement of yours?
Beating small children senseless, killing people who were sometimes completely innocent, with no hope of reprieve & terrorising teenagers with brainless military service that the REAL service professionals didn't want & had forced on them by the fuckwit politicians.
There, fixed that for you.

Oh, your spiel about immigration's bollocks, too, given that the "Empire Windrush" docked in 1948 & that the last National Serviceman escaped in 1963, having been enlisted into servitude in 1961 ....

haddock said...

One of my sons did a college placement on a farm near Strood back in the mid nineties. He said it was odd to see, when ploughing out near the sea, people in asian garb and carrying cases walking inland....
Obviously other 'sailors' like the area.

Mike Spilligan said...

G.Tingey:
I was hoping that Old Rightie or someone else more articulate than myself would have responded to your comment which, presumably, you hoped would carry more force by use of intemperate language not merited by the subject. I must assume that you had many bad experiences at school, in the military and in our courts of law.
My own experiences (being of a similar age) were very different and almost wholly positive, though I admit that geography might play a part, but I would suggest that my "Sarf London" background was not exceptional one way or the other.
If I were minded to (and with Raedwald's assent) I could demolish what you say - allowing some leeway for opinion - and without recourse to unwarranted personal insult.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

Perhaps I can rephrase Tingey's intemperate comment thus:
Providing children firm boundaries to establish a pattern of civilised behaviour, seeing evil psycho wierdos get their just desserts and preventing recidivism, and giving young men full of testosterone a decent haircut and inculcating a bit of self-discipline. And, of course, teaching valuable life lessons in how to skive, which is what a lot of people on national service learned to do. (I was a regular, we didn't think much of the idea if bringing it back. You can't teach much in technical trades in less than 2 years anyway.)

Just think: if we hadn't had uncontrolled immigration and the nonsense of multiculturalism, we would never have had the 7/7 bombings, or Tower Hamlets taken over by crooks from Sylhet, or face a clear and present danger from muslim subversives. But not to worry, Tingey's sense of moral superiority and enlightenment over untrammelled immigration is definitely worth the asking price of 50+ corpses and counting.

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure that professional soldiers always beat conscripts - the former had to be rescued at Dunkirk, but the latter stormed ashore in Normandy. Other examples could be adduced. The principle is that you have to get rid of the idiots who are equipped to fight the previous war, and replace them with people who have better things to do with their lives!

Most of the injustices are the fault of the legal system: bad law, bent cops, crusty judges. The worst injustices with Bentley was that Craig didn't get topped, and that the German bombing that caused Bentley's mental incapacity wasn't rewarded by the hanging of every Kraut in the Luftwaffe (and in the U-boat service) after the war.

As for school, no-one I knew who was beaten minded much when they were guilty. On the other hand, when one was beaten for reasons of teacher spite and prejudice one minded enormously: such people devalued their profession in our eyes.

Mike Spilligan said...

SW: Thank you; a response both more judicious and more succinct than anything I might have said.

G. Tingey said...

"National Service" was utterly useless in "peacetime" (i.e. no national war of survival) - & the professionals in charge of the forces recognised this. But the politicians & the current idiots don't recognise this.
Also, if you MUST have "NS" then it must be for everyone - women as well as men & no exceptions for university undergraduates.
I can just see that working.
As for capital punishment, there is the standing principle that it is better to let a "guilty" one go free, than punish/incarcerate/kill an innocent one.
Or do you disagree with this?
Corporal punishment in schools was grossly mis-manged & grossly overused. Because of that, it cannot be re-introduced - because someone, somewhere would be guaranteed to abuse the system (again) - not worth it.

SW also veers off into the territory of "uncontrolled immigration" - which may or may not be a problem (I happen to think it's a very old problem, for which our big employers are to blame) - BUT it is totally irrelevant to this discussion, OK?

Oh & "a decent haircut" is relevant in what way? What has hair-length got to do with anything at all?
[ Mine is well past my collar, though thinning alarmingly on top ...
& I have a full-length beard, too! ]
See me (not) performing a traditional English dance, in a pub for example:
http://www.filk.co.uk/chingford/photos/Image17_PinP_MG_3823.jpg
Dead centre, back row, behind the nice young lady whose knee-caps are visible.