Sunday, 16 October 2016

Northern wankers Vs Southern poofs

Not that many years ago there was a very strong belief that people from the north of England were in some way of a lower class than those from the south.
The assumption among southerners was that anyone north of Birmingham was a poor cloth cap-wearing, whippet-fancying dipshit who calls everyone 'pet' or 'lad' and likes to drink very dark beer with twigs in it.
Those in the north however, believed that all those soft southern poofs with their banking jobs and their poncy wine bars had an overinflated sense of their own importance and wouldn't know a proper day's work if it jumped up and bit them in the arse.
I like to believe we've moved on a bit since then, and I for one find people in the north to be no different from those here in the south apart from being more friendly and less self-centred.

I may not be the world's most travelled man, but I'm sure those attitudes are far less prevalent in society today. Sure there will always be those who want to make themselves feel better by suggesting that someone else is in some way inferior to them, be it due to their geographical location, the colour of their skin or whatever, but for the more enlightened majority it's just about people. You're a person, I'm a person, and all that matters is how we treat others.
From my point of view I couldn't give a flying bollock if you're black, white, christian, muslim, atheist, hindu, conservative, liberal, straight, gay, American, Russian, Chinese, and god help me I don't even care if you're French. If you treat me like a decent human being then I'll do the same.

That's not to say that divisions don't exist - of course they do. But the most obvious area where the battle lines are most often drawn is that of rich vs poor.
My brother went to India a few years ago, and what struck him above all else about the people was the vast gulf between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'.
While our own financial inequalities may not be as clear cut, there remains a yawning chasm between the extremes. There are company directors with salaries in the millions, private yachts, multiple dwellings in assorted countries, and a fondness for shiny things that would put a magpie to shame, and at the other end of the spectrum we find those who have to go to a food bank just so they can put some sort of meal on the table, or indeed may not even have a home in which to put a table.

I find myself somewhere within the great expanse of grey which is a sort of sliding scale between these extremes.
I consider myself fortunate to have a small but comfortable home, a decent job, and an income that is roughly around the supposed national average. It's nice to be in a position where if the washing machine packs up I can just wander into Currys and buy a new one, and if we fancy dinner at Prezzo, that's not a problem either.
I don't get my groceries helicoptered in by Harrods, but I'm not having to hang around waiting for the final reductions on end of life food at the supermarket just before it's thrown in the bin either.
But while those at the top of the food chain are eating caviar from a supermodel's navel at 20,000 feet in their Gulfstream executive jet, there's a queue of hapless unfortunates waiting for handouts because they don't even have enough money for the rent, let alone be able to provide a nutritional meal.

It's not as if I have a problem with the rich as a rule. OK, I think it's disgusting and immoral that professional footballers should be paid so much for kicking a bag of air around for 90 minutes, but on the other hand I think surgeons deserve everything they get and more besides.
What I don't like is public displays of wealth. If I was to see a Bugatti Veyron on the road my first thought would be "How many peoples lives could have been improved for what that cost?".
And when I see people on the street who are carrying everything they own, their faces etched with hopelessness and faded dreams, I can't help but feel guilty that I'm unable to change things for them.
Some social divisions like the whole north vs south thing may be possible to consign to the history books, but it seems unlikely that the issue of economic inequality will ever go away.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Helping hands

There's an expectation these days that when someone is given help they automatically assume that they should repay that assistance, whether by cash, goods, or by doing a favour in return.
Indeed, a lot of people do expect to be compensated for their help, even if it's just a matter of a couple of beers.
I'm not like that. If I can help someone, I'll do it because it's the right thing to do.

There's a movement known as 'Pay it forward' which is about doing things for others with no reward other than the hope that the person who has been helped goes on to do the same thing for others.
This is all well and good, but sometimes the attitude of those who practice this is that if they do these things, they will be repaid in some way in the future; like collecting on some sort of cosmic debt.
I have a problem with this way of thinking. To my mind the whole concept of 'Pay it forward' should be completely selfless. Sure I have no problem picking and choosing who or when I help, but when I do it's never with any expectation that it will come back to me.
While I firmly believe in karma, I certainly don't see it as a sort of savings account where you put good deeds in so you can draw them out later when you're going through a bad patch or just fancy a bit of good luck.
If I did, I'd be out there helping the needy every weekend in the hope that one day I'll have saved enough credit for Melissa Fumero to suddenly appear at my door feeling horny and wearing nothing but a big smile.
Nice idea, but I don't think it works like that.

I like it when I'm in a position to help someone because it makes me feels useful. I like being able to make a positive difference to someone's day. Not because I enjoy basking in some warm glow of self-righteousness, but because I believe that in these dark days of rampant me-ism it's good to spread a little humanity.
There's far too much greed and self-interest around - so many people who frankly couldn't give a toss about anyone else as long as they're alright, and I find that very sad.
So when I decide to help someone, the only thing I hope for in return is that that person goes on to help someone else in whatever way they're able to, thus passing on the good deed.
Under all the world-weary cynicism I wear on the outside, I still cling tightly to the hope that there are enough decent people around to ensure that all those bastards who devote their lives to being shitty to others don't ever win.