June 08, 2010

Pensioners and Poverty

One of the stranger, but very rewarding freelance jobs I've been doing for a while now is editing British Pensioner. It's published by a (non-party affiliated, but mostly Old Labour) organisation called the British Pensioners & Trades Unions Action Association (BPTUAA). One of their slogans is, 'Don't vegetate, AGITATE!' A worthy slogan. The man who invited me to start editing the journal, Jack Sprung, was General Secretary of the BPTUAA at the time, was in his early eighties, taking about seventeen different pills a day, writing poetry, taking watercolour painting classes to keep his hands agile, and attending protests around the country.

Every now and then I receive a letter to the magazine that really kicks. Here's one below, going in the latest issue.

Down Memory Lane

I am now in my eighties. Some time ago, friends asked me which day in my life did I remember most.

No, it wasn’t my wedding day, or the cost of the Queen’s Coronation, or the day (in the forties) when I joined the army. Nor was it the day when I returned home from service in the armed forces.

My everlasting ‘memory day’ was in the early 1930s, as a very small boy, clutching my mother’s hand, visiting the office of the local PAC (Public Assistance Committee). Yes, we were poor. And my mother almost had to beg for a few shillings, to feed herself, my blind father, and me and my little brother. The self-important clerk in the office verbally abused my mother, almost reducing her to tears. She had to thank him for four shillings, four shillings. I can never forget that day.

Well, back to reality, we have just had a Labour Government who could deal in trillions of pounds, not just millions, yet the poor are still with us.

(Four shillings.)

Albert Rollinson

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