Thursday, January 3, 2008

Reality Check 1970 vs 2008

Something of a bracing reality check...a letter in today's Grauniad from Chris Connolly of Chesterfield, that I have to reproduce in its (almost) entirety:

"I don't recognise Britain in the 1970s from (the) description of a country whose infrastructure was shabby, if not falling down. We may indeed have had hospital treatment in old workhouse buildings rather than PFI structures with their magnificent works of modern art, but these old hospitals were at least accessible, being in town centres rather than at the side of ring-roads; nursing mothers were not expected to bring their own nappies and towels; and if an ambulance was needed, there was a better than even chance of it turning up within a few minutes."

"If, like me, you needed a bus to get you to work at 5.00 am, there would be one available, British rail ran a system where a single ticket could take a passenger all the way from Penzance to Thurso and local authorities provided affordable accommodation for people and families in need. Every street corner had a shop on it, so someone running out of bread had no need to use the car."

"The 1970s were, it's true, a time of bad fashions and heavy rock. There was no Internet or text messaging and there were only three TV stations. But then again, ITV showed World In Action, whereas today they have I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. More significantly, in those years a working class person could afford to do most or all of the following: buy a home, go to university, catch a train, consult a dentist or afford a medical prescription."

"For those of us who did go to Uuniversity in the 70s, they were a time of radical politics - when radical had the opposite meaning to the one it has today - idealism rather than cynicism, and hope for better things in the future. The contrast with the prevailing mood at the beginning of 2008 could hardly be more stark."

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