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Saturday, 27 May 2017

Manchester - Social Class Exposed!

As an adult who was a decade ago to be considered by a psychologist to possess above-average intelligence, I took advantage of such a revelation about myself by pushing hard at something I already enjoy doing. And that was writing, a beautiful art in expressing myself in words of thought, feelings, and will. When I was a boy attending a primary school around 1960, not only was I tasked by the teacher to show other children in the classroom how a word was read and pronounced, I also had relatives living abroad at the time, and I enjoyed writing letters to them. Unlike with the negative attitude shown a few years later by the majority of male classroom colleagues, I did not find writing as a burden, something which had to be done to avoid discipline from the staff, but rather something which left much room for development.

And so efforts to improve on the grammar, spelling and flow came mainly by reading books and newspapers, and noting how experienced authors expressed themselves. Books included fiction as well as mainly theological issues after conversion to Jesus Christ towards the end of 1972. Believe me, there were times when grappling with the grammar wasn't easy, although attending voluntary evening school and achieving a G.C.E. O Level pass in English Language was a big help in itself. In addition, there was a time, before acquiring the internet, when I was offered help from a professional writer from South Africa when I felt a strong desire to write a dossier about Richard Dawkins' book, The God Delusion. My friend, who has since moved to Northern Ireland to be close to his elderly mother, actually printed several copies of the book, one of them he kept for himself, and another I posted direct to Richard Dawkins who was still at the time lecturing at New College in Oxford. All this was somewhere between ten to eleven years ago.

Therefore throughout these blog posts published here, yes, I often throw a wobbly at certain academics. Writers such as Katie Hopkins, Richard Littlejohn, and even Stephen Glover, all contributors to the Right-Wing newspaper The Daily Mail, I have expressed my disagreement with them here. But not over their writing skills, but rather their attitude towards certain issues, namely their support for national superiority, and particularly Hopkins' view of ethical and political diversity as cockroaches and monkeys respectively. So I wouldn't be too surprised to learn that within the last 24 hours, she was dismissed from L.B.C. Radio for posting a tweet calling for a holocaust of all Muslims living here in the UK. Not surprising, however, is the rather loud silence of the newspaper itself, unlike the clear announcements from Yahoo website and The Guardian newspaper when the news of Hopkins' dismissal from the radio station was still at its breaking stage.

But given any unbiased journalist, reporter, or writer, I have admiration for him. Maybe even a form of worship. After all, part of worship, if not all of it, is an acknowledgement of the entity having greater intelligence, greater skills, greater powers and greater knowledge than what I have or could ever have. Maybe I can't help with the admiration, which engenders greater respect. Perhaps I can illustrate a practical example here. Let's suppose that we own our home, and we have a spare bedroom. So we decide that an extra source of income from a lodger would be beneficial. After posting an advert in the local paper, two applicants arrive at our door. One is dressed in a suit and is fresh out of university, and he is a budding writer or accountant. The other is a bricklayer or electrician, and he is casually dressed although still having a clean and tidy appearance.

Although I despise the class strata in our country, my instinct would still favour the first candidate. This is most likely due, in addition to a greater feeling of admiration along with a sense of privilege in having him in our home, it's also due to the fact that his university training and his employer has relocated him miles away from his family home, and this would justify his need for accommodation. The other candidate would far more likely to be still living at home, and yet desires some independence, maybe a break from his controlling parents, or more likely, not wanting to be seen by others as clinging to his mother's apron strings whilst watching friends of his age already married and raising a family, or taking months off to backpack the world. So instinct would tell me which one to choose to lodge with us, ensuring us that his income remains stable as long as he satisfies his employer.

The snag with all this is personality. Although the graduate, at least by outer appearance and profession, would be the ideal candidate, chances would be that the bricklayer would be a far better lodger in the sense of loyalty, camaraderie, and his willingness to conform to our way of life. Conversely, there is that greater possibility that the graduate may start feeling ill-at-ease lodging with us, as he sees us as beneath himself. This may lead to more frequent nights spent elsewhere, maybe at the home of an office colleague after a party, a supper, or a get-together over TV, but still keeping up with his regular payments. In all, there could be little social cohesion between us, with his spare evenings shut away in his bedroom, glued to the front of his computer, except for his brief visit to the kitchen to prepare his meal or coffee. Then after a month or so, he walks into our lounge with an announcement that he has found alternate accommodation more suited to his needs or closer to his place of work.

The bricklayer would most likely make an effort to be more cohesive and socially interact with us. Maybe an evening or two spent in a pub, or even include us among his fellow workmates over a drink. There is a good chance that he becomes interested in my past travel experiences, and would like to give it a try for himself. After all, I would explain that throughout my own long-haul travel career, I lived in a rented apartment which I was responsible for, and therefore did not live with or got any help from my parents, yet I was still able to travel. Then again, I would explain to him, there were certain advantages with living at home if long-haul travel was his intention. I would tell him of the Irish bricklayer I met during the month I was lodging at the backpacker's hostel in Israel, back in 1994. We had a hour-long chat as he shared his experience of a building contract during the year he spent overseas. Then I would relate about the Australian bricklayer I shared a hostel bedroom with while I was in San Diego in 1995. He too spent twelve months or more in the USA on a building contract, so he had told me. They both still lived at home, along with one or two other long-haul backpackers who were away for months rather than weeks. Maybe by living with us have added a level of zeal to his life and has helped him to set off in a clear direction. Who knows.

Perhaps this concept of birds of a feather flocking together has a ring of truth to it. What has really shook me about the Manchester incident was not so much about a deranged bomber inflicting carnage to a predominantly young female audience at the Manchester Arena. Rather, what I have found astounding was the reaction afterwards. Just before the blast there were two homeless beggars reclining near the entrance of the venue, a common spot, as the Arena was next to a railway station. After the blast, both gave themselves to assist and rescue the injured casualties, staying with them until they were collected by the paramedics and ambulance crews. One of the beggars, Stephen Jones, even admitted his disgust as he watched men in suits stepping over the injured so to hurry their journeys home. Meanwhile, the second homeless beggar, Chris Parker, bravely rushed over to the blast site and held an injured sixty-year-old woman, who died in his arms. Then he rushed over to a child who had lost both legs in the blast until she was picked up by the ambulance crews. He then tells of the tears he shed over the two casualties. Their dedication towards the injured was not only a reflection of a Christ-like compassion towards the unfortunate, but they both won public admiration for their efforts, and I believe were rewarded with enough resources, including six months of rent-free accommodation, to enable them leave a life of begging and find a job with a decent enough income for proper civil independence. And ironically, Steve Jones, before ending up as a homeless beggar, was a bricklayer.

Homeless rescuer Stephen Jones

Homeless rescuer Chris Parker

Although those two homeless beggars showed incredible courage and bravery, empowered by compassion, this comes only two days after writing and publishing my last blog, Clever? That's All Right Then! - where I referred to the arrogant Oxford University undergraduate, Lavinia Woodward, whose "talents" persuaded a Court judge to spare her from a prison sentence for stabbing her boyfriend in the leg during a pub disagreement. As I have expressed last week, Woodward came from a privileged upper-middle class family, and has successfully entered Christchurch College to train to be a cardiac surgeon. Full of herself and having no consideration for anyone else, her ferocious temper has landed her in trouble with other students in the past, causing at least one fellow-student to relocate her college accommodation. With such a black-and-white contrast to the Manchester beggars, would I have been willing to take her in as our lodger? Here lies the danger: If she had turned up at our door, and we were impressed with her university background and a promising medical career, we might have taken her in, totally unaware of her past, while at the same time turning away a homeless beggar such as Stephen Jones or Chris Parker. What I find so startling is that after just a few days with Woodward lodging at our home, I could well be lying in hospital with my face slashed by the sharp edge of a piece broken from a plate which was at first struck over my head in a screaming fury. On the contrary, Stephen or Chris could be enjoying a quiet drink with me at a country pub located a few miles out of town.

Should this blog appear to have a sexist slant, then it is worth mentioning here of another student, this time a male who was studying at Cambridge University. He was mentioned in one of my blogs written just a few weeks ago: What A Contrast! He is Ronald Coyne, the smartly dressed member of the Cambridge Union of Conservative Association. Having gotten himself stoned with alcohol during an evening out, he then passed a homeless beggar who was asking for a contribution of some spare change. Coyne took out a £20 note and holding it in front of the beggar's eyes, he also took out a cigarette lighter and set the note on fire. As the beggar watched the money burn, Coyne shouted out, There is your change! When his behaviour was discovered, the student was expelled from the Conservative Association, fearing the damage this could cause for the political party's reputation. Had he came to our front door, one look at us and he would turn his back to us and quickly walk away, perhaps with nothing more than a hesitated apology, if even that. To him, we would be seen as nothing more than parasites infesting the land.

Cambridge student Ronald Coyne.

If these issues have any truth in them, it makes me wonder about our perverted sense of class preference, and probably this includes myself as well. It looks to me that the wearing of a suit and tie does not change the wearer's evil character. Instead, all the smart clothing would do is polish up on the outside, to engender respect. Otherwise the heart remains the same. Couldn't this be any more appropriate? In Revelation 3:20, a vision is given by the Apostle John of the risen Jesus Christ standing at the door and knocking. He is waiting for the door to be opened, and he will enter through the door and have supper with the host. No discrimination there. The Lord is willing to enter the house of anyone who is willing to provide lodgings, which would change the host's eternal destiny forever.


  1. Dear Frank,
    Although I of course was aware, along with the rest of the world, of the Manchester bombings, I had not heard of the heroic and compassionate behavior of the homeless rescuers, and I found this most edifying. Thank you for sharing their story.
    As for your discussion of choosing a lodger, I would probably choose the laborer, figuring that he could help out if we were in need of repairs!
    Praise God that He is no respecter of persons, but that He is willing that all would come to Him, and that He loves all children equally.
    Thanks for the excellent post and God bless,

  2. Class based society implies those of higher class are in some way better t6han the common people. Unfortunately, history indicates the opposite. In general, the nobility or higher class were richer because they were more successful at taking advantage of those around them and were then able to offer bigger bribes of money or military support for higher positions. They could then use their wealth and power to hide their crimes. Wealth, nice clothes, or power do not make them better or more deserving.