jump to navigation

Age Concerned June 4, 2014

Posted by markswill in About me, Navel Gazing, Politics, Schmolitics.

I’ve been trying to finish this blog since the end of April but work, hedonism and indolence have proven effective hindrances. However a slight lull in the proceedings now allow me to wrap it up and as long as the lull continues – which it looks set to for a few more days – another one might well ensue before you can say “Whining Willy”.

I recently attended a protest meeting in opposition to HS2, albeit specifically concerned with the hideous blight the initial part of the route will have on North London. Most of the speakers were well-versed on their subjects, whether it be the damaging effects 10+ years of constructing the railway will have on health, housing, small businesses and the environment but only Frank Dobson MP, who represents part of Camden, alluded to the bigger picture. HS2, he pointed out, was conceived “on the back of a fag-packet” by the previous Labour government with almost no consideration for its likely negative effects or, indeed, its alleged economic benefits, a conception the Coalition government has subsumed with little more serious research and such as been done has concluded that the planned route was deeply flawed and the economic benefits decidedly sketchy.

But I am not about to rant against the whole misguided, damaging and invalid waste of taxpayers’ money that HS2 represents, rather to offer some more peripheral observations that the protest meeting prompted. Held in Britain’s home of folk music, Cecil Sharp House in Camden, it was almost entirely if well attended by people in their 50s, 60s and beyond, the baby boomers who, depending on your viewpoint, are largely responsible for Britain’s economic and social ills or alternatively, its cultural virtues. Naturally I subscribe to the former belief, but in my quite considerable experience as a bona fide silver serf  I’ve learnt  that us lot tend to run the committees, the pressure groups, the local charity organisations and the like that arguably make life worth living in a society where successive governments have capped or reduced funding for anything remotely related to quality of life.

I worked out that most of my friends and more intimate acquaintances sit on committees or help run voluntary outfits of one sort or another, many several times over. Then again, I actually gave up chairing a music and events charity recently for reasons that will probably be familiar to many of us who engage in such activities, namely a wearying clash of personalities with one particularly vociferous individual who was a disruptive element. Which underlines the inherent weakness of working for a voluntary body where there’s no coherent chain of command: lazy-bones or troublemakers can’t be sacked, and the only reward for your often quite significant labour is the satisfaction of goals achieved… or not as the case may be.

Unsurprisingly then, over the years I’ve noticed that in each of the outfits I’ve been involved with there’s been a steady turnover of committee members who for whatever reason couldn’t hack it any longer and who felt they had better things to do with their time. And attending that HS2 meeting, I was reminded that in many cases “life’s too short” could often be another reason for bailing out, because I fear despite all logic and all the protests, the government is going to railroad – sorry – this white elephant through in order to save face… and provide jobs for the boys and the bankers.

I’m now, and regretfully, of retirement age but the slippers, golf clubs and Rhine River cruises that are synonymous with this don’t really appeal, even if I had a decent pension to fund them (alright, I can afford the slippers). Most of my peers and pals also choose or are economically obliged to carry on working and as I said, almost all of us do voluntary work. The National Trust was recently criticised for working its small army of middle- and let’s face it, old-aged volunteers too hard, but without them that organisation, like many other so-called cultural institutions, would simply collapse.

So what I’m getting at is that Britain’s volunteer workforce ought, at the very least, to get tax breaks on what money we do earn, and for those who earn nothing but spend significant amounts of time helping others, then how about a bigger state pension Mr Bloody Osborne?

Check out previous blogs or subscribe to get them automatically on the rare occasions the blighters do appear, by checking the right hand panel.





1. WTK - June 4, 2014

Not to worry Mark. Soon we will all be eating NHS subsidized Soylent Green and not care.

markswill - June 4, 2014

Not in America you won’t, Terry (although I’m sure you’d love to be spoon-fed by Chuck Heston): you’ll be too busy bailing out bankrupt Detroit’s 30,000 ex-city workers who won’t get ANY pension unless they quickly sign a waiver which would mean reductions of up to 30%. Land of the Free, indeed!

2. Little Gerhard Lieberstraume - June 4, 2014

I hardly think WTK’s bleak weltanschauung is appropriate in a serious discussion of the Britishers need for a new Hochgeshchwindigkeitszig.

markswill - June 4, 2014

Nice one Barry, and good to see you haven’t lost your talent for made-up languages.

paulblez - June 5, 2014

I think little Gerhard mis-typed himself. I’m sure he meant to type Hochgeschwindigkeitzug. Nicht war? Of course, in Germany, it’s known as the ICE, which is short for Inter CIty Express! 😉

3. Little Gerhard Lieberstraume - June 5, 2014

I’ve no Idea of the state of Germany Railways or why you think I should.
And I’m not having much luck clarifying the matter with an Irish into English Dictionary either.

4. Andy Tribble - June 10, 2014

I don’t know why we need to spend all this money to make Birmingham a suburb of London. If they want to spend money on trains, then a better use would be to subsidise container distribution sites on the edge of big towns so that containers go by rail and only have short truck runs at the far end of their journey. Every time I see a container on a truck on a major motorway, it makes me want to spit. That box should be on a train, out of the way.

markswill - June 14, 2014

Quite so, Andy. And as anyone who regularly uses the creaking rail network (which I do on almost a weekly basis) knows, the HS2 budget would be far better spent on upgrading existing track, signalling, station platform and especially rolling stock.

5. julesbollocks - June 12, 2014

“namely a wearying clash of personalities with one particularly vociferous individual who was a disruptive element”

still bitter? and blog worthy I see, but the thing is charities have democracy and a constitution and if they conflict with your views then tough- and of course have you ever considered others might view you as “particularly vociferous individual who was a disruptive element”?

the thing about babyboomers is they once were the disruptive element and now they simply have the time, money and property values to try and keep it the same. Yet the world changes and impeding peak oil, AGW mitigation, and the changing global economy requires something along the lines of HS2 [and all the way to HS10].

In the last decade China built 3500 miles of highspeed electric rail- the UK has a total of 64 miles with HS1- So I suppose authoritarian leadership can sometimes have its advantages.

I never regret being vociferous or disruptive but on reflection I regret accommodating your attitude and bothering- bothering to lend out our van so you could collect your motor bike, bothering to look into a community radio station so you and Ian could be a smashy and mikey, bothering to organise a slot for a future SM event, and bothering to ensure you were the first to see the homemade cinema [which you forgot to attend] given your longing for one.

all the best


markswill - June 13, 2014

My blog involved a general comment on voluntary work, and I’d rather have kept names out of this Jules. But evidently you wouldn’t. However I’m not going to rise to your bait.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: