Today Cameron gave a talk on immigration which has resulted in lots of mouth breathers in towns with high immigration populations making inane points on the radio. The problem is that such people only reinforce my attitude to immigrants. I own a house up North which I rent out to a lovely Polish couple and given the choice, would always hire an Eastern European labourer (you know, because they turn up on time and actually work). In the pikey town where I own a house, unemployment is rife and yet when they built an airport there was a necessity for immigrants because the locals were too lazy to get off their arses, give up their benefits and build it (hence the lovely couple renting my house). I appreciate that people feel frustration at those immigrants that arrive for the freebies of our inflated welfare state but frankly this stems from fear of sharing the pot by dependant personalities.
This weekend the Dean Heritage Centre is having a WWII Weekend to launch its latest exhibition: The Foresters’ War. There are lots of things going on but two related projects got me thinking this week. There is a trail through the Centre based on rationing which requires visitors (usually children but we don’t discriminate against adults that are game for a laugh) to look out for various rations and cross them off their ration book. I have also been writing a book called Recipes for the Rationing Household which will go on sale this weekend. See here for an example of contents.
How would the Britain of today react if rationing was brought back?
I posed this question to the fiancé earlier in the week and he pointed out that we weren’t at war. Libya much? Or at least, weren’t in a war situation that threatened national security (sorry for being such a sarcastic cow honey). But what if? Regardless of the plausibility of the situation it is surely a valid hypothetical question regarding British society.
People would sulk. People would complain. But maybe people would grow up?
Britain today is saturated by people unable to take responsibility for their own lives. People will complain on the radio about having to wait four years for “their” house and immigrants getting one quickly and nobody points out the flaw in their character for passively waiting for someone else to provide for them. I’m all for housing the poor but a paid for roof over your head is a paid for roof over your head. If you want something better then maybe do something about it?
I’m not denying we’re living in fucked up financial times (seriously, having gone through the mortgage process I get it!) but these attitudes are not new. Let us not blame the recession. So maybe a war, with regards to rationing, would do Britain some good. Trust me, after a few wartime recipes I’ve had the fiancé wailing “When will this war ever end?” (Yes, yes I spoil him with the general standard of my cooking) and I’ve no desire to feed my family on meagre portions but should I have to, I could. Oh I’d complain about it but meals would still arrive on the table. Could I live without new clothes? Sure. Don’t get me wrong, I love my knickers and really wouldn't want to have parachute pants (can’t imagine the fiancé would be too thrilled either) but I’d cope. How many of the mouth breathers talking on Radio 1 this evening cope?
They wouldn’t at first but then they’d have to wouldn’t they? Maybe rationing in 2011 would allow for one party platter from Iceland per week (or 1oz of cheese from a deli for the middle classes). Actually the class comment is significant. During the Second World War people pulled together and community was strong. Rationing did away with the classes to a certain extent* and it’d be interesting to see how the dependant classes coped once they lost the excuse of the provider class having things easier.
I’m not saying the dividing line is as clear as that. But I’m talking theoretically tonight. I’m considering a concept. After all, I can’t imagine a return to rationing. But should today’s generation be cast back in time WWII could have had a different outcome. Not because of our government but because we’ve lost the grit of society.
Fortunately my concern for such things is transitory. I drive a convertible after all!
* I’d argue city versus country was more significant. On my mother’s side we are town people who struggled through the war(s) but on my father’s side we’re Lancastrian farmers with stories of secretly slaughtered pigs and jam made on the sly. They were roughly equal in financial terms but the country lot had an easier time of things.