Forest of Dean & Wye Valley


In C. Mickleson on March 13, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Isn’t it time to bridge the age gulf, asks CLAUDE MICKLESON?

“The old are a grumbling load of money-grabbers, always wanting something for nothing…” “The young aren’t prepared to do a fair day’s work, they spend their lives lazing around causing trouble, and are only interested in money for nothing, sex, booze, celebrity and watching sport.” As for the middle-aged “baby boomers”, they were “brought up with unrealistic expectations, and demand more than the country can afford.”

This is what we’re expected to believe, if we listen to some people or read certain publications. No doubt there may be a few people who fit these stereotypes, but most of us aren’t like that at all. We just want a reasonable life of peace and security. The fact that some people may fall for this kind of typecasting is a matter of satisfaction to the rich, and their ilk, because it suits their interests to drive a wedge between the old and young and thereby divide us.


I’m now an old codger who should have been put down long ago. But it seems to me that the young are having a bad time of it. I’m now 89 and left school 75 years ago at the age of 14. I had to settle for any available job until I could get an apprenticeship, and I finished up delivering groceries on a carrier bike. At least I had a job, and earned the princely sum of ten shillings (50p) a week.

Expectations have changed beyond imagination since then. But even so, it wasn’t enough to keep a growing lad, and my parents had to keep me. We lived hand to mouth – my Dad was insecure in his job, and there were brothers and sisters. I scraped along until the war came, which scotched my chances of the promised apprenticeship. Eventually I joined the RAF, where I was clothed and fed.


A youngster today has different needs and very different expectations. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s called progress. But these days, someone leaving school at 16 or older, probably better educated than I was, is extremely lucky to get a job. This creates problems – unless he/she is fortunate to have well-heeled parents who could support them, help them to study and provide them with a deposit on a house. But these cases are comparatively rare.

It’s a crime that young people are unable to get employment

– something that all of us need to fulfil our lives and provide for our needs. Beside it being necessary for our own wellbeing it’s better for society. Despite the fact that those who control the job market like the idea of a large pool of unemployed in order to discipline the workers (“there’s plenty waiting to take your job if you step out of line”), it should be a Socialist principle that we are all fully trained and gainfully employed for the prosperity of us all. Leaving people on the scrapheap for any length leads to them losing the will to work which isn’t good for them or the rest of the country.


Now let’s turn to the “old codgers”, those who served in the armed forces, worked in factories, farms, mines or shops. Very few except the very

escaped “their duty”. Life was hard then and for some years after. The “in-betweeners” and “baby boomers” had it slightly better, and their expectations increased. Their parents were determined that their children would have a better life than they had experienced. In my opinion, times did get better – until the disastrous election of 1979 when we were burdened with the “Iron Lady”.

We had had to fight hard for every improvement – which then had to be defended. Thatcher cowed the leadership of the labour movement, and since then life has become more and more difficult.

“New Labour” did nothing for us – and now we are facing an extension of the working age, despite a desperate shortage of jobs and a million young people facing a lousy start in life. In years to come, people will be expected to work until… infinity (?), becoming older and more infirm, whilst the young are out of work with nothing to do, and no money with which to do it.

Solidarity demands that we all make sure that everyone who is fit and able to work has a decent, fairly-paid job, is fairly treated, and those too old or disabled are provided for and cared for with dignity. Here the Government is right – we, the working and middle classes are all in this together. But not so the rich it would seem.

In conclusion, we all need to work together to ensure that everyone is able to live a healthy, fulfilling life.


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