Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Dies Irae but mind your back

Sorry about all the Latin lately. Fruitcake Miniature College appears to have turned into something like Hogwarts. I blame the Tories - all that banging on about grammar schools and private enterprise, and making me redundant. To be fair, it wasn't the Tories personally who made me redundant, but today's Government Spending Review is going to mean possibly 500.000 job losses in the public sector, and budget reductions averaging 25% across Government departments. Which brings me back to the Dies Irae, which is 'day of wrath' in English, and is a gloomy hymn about Judgement Day from the requiem mass.

We are probably meant to feel gloomy. You have to hand it to them, they've done a great job persuading us that some very British heave-ho on the jolly old belt is required.  A return to Victorian values is not altogether unwelcome, it seems, and polls suggest that we fancy a bit of strict fiscal discipline to sort scrounging ne'er-do-wells out. I'm not sure Hogwarts had cold showers, but we think Harry, Hermione and/or Ron might have found them refreshing. The trouble is that those who enjoy actual pain usually only do so with respect to others, but if you live here in this somewhat United Kingdom, something gloomy will very likely be coming down your street and knocking on your own door with it's bony hand.

Tisk, you may say, upbraiding me gently for being a middle-class gold-plated ex public servant. Surely we need to balance the books? Well, yes, we all like a bit of prudence. I see waste, inefficiency and inequality all round me. The trouble is we know that it is still the richest who get the most tax breaks. They don't catch buses and go to the library. We also know that many of those half-million redundant public servants also created work in the private sector, and that if they can't afford their rents or morgages anymore, they had better watch out for the cap on housing benefit, because there's a rock and a hard place to be caught between through no fault of your own. What I for one don't know, however, is whether this is all carefully calculated to foment chaos, deprivation and social unrest, or whether it is blind ideological savagery, or some ghastly combination.

It could be worth bearing in mind that, while a light whipping might be some people's style for a while, a heavy lashing at the hand of toffs is taking Victorian naval discipline a bit far. The voters aren't used to it anymore, and we thought we had moved on from the workhouses, the debtors' prisons, the rigid class divisions, and the unbridgeable gulf between rich and poor, not to mention the infant mortality and disease of that fabled era of our imperial magnificence. If we're nostalgic for that sort of thing, there are plenty of National Trust properties to visit. So, good ter see yer again, Guv'nor! But mind your own back.

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