Archive for the ‘austerity’ Category


Despite mums best efforts money became increasingly tight and we started to get behind with the bills. I think we kept on top of the rent but I know for certain that we got behind with the gas and electric because we had it cut off. Two men came round to do the job, one in an overcoat and bowler hat who looked the stereotypical enforcement officer of the time, the other stayed outside keeping watch. Everybody on the street much have known what was happening. No gas and electric meant no fire, no TV, no lights, no cooking. Everything we take for granted now and to a certain extent did then was gone in seconds and would not be restored until the arrears had been paid. We huddled round a coal fire watching it go from a blaze to a pile of smouldering embers. The TV was replaced by a battery powered portable radio. Lighting was done by paraffin lamps carefully placed around the house to ensure they could not be knocked over potentially causing a fire. My mum cooked on the coal fire pans of vegetables and potatoes and I can only assume we had some meat. I always marvelled at how my mum could prepare and cook a meal to perfection with everything coming together at once. It was even more remarkable how she did it during this period swapping pans of food on the coal fire but still making a lovely meal for us all. I can’t remember how long it was before we had the gas and electric restored but I do remember one lad from school asking if he could come to my house and me having to say no. I instinctively said no and instinctively felt shameful for saying no and for not being able to say why I said no. I don’t think I fully understood why I was saying no or why I felt ashamed at the time but I knew deep down it was the only thing to say. We kept living in the house but I can imagine that was only just. Things were so tight during those times and no one helped us.


This is a poem I wrote after reading about a man who had been made redundant and has only a tin of spaghetti to eat every day.

a tin sits on a table

alone

surrounded by nothing

a dull cylinder of aluminium

encased in a dull white cover

two ends poking out

trying to escape

but going nowhere

he stares at the tin

and the image burns in his eye

embedded in his memory

of what may be his last meal

a tin of brand less, tasteless spaghetti

given to him by a stranger

seeing his look of desperate hunger

the anguish of an empty stomach

picking up the tin-opener

tainted with the remains of

yesterday’s dull white label

he struggles to connect the

opener to the tin

weak with hunger

it clicks loudly and with a

clunk begins to remove the

lid, every turn a noisy struggle

and then it is off

edges jagged waiting to tear

apart unsuspecting flesh on

its sharp, uneven teeth

as the contents are revealed

grey processed worms concealed

in bright manmade orange fluid

he swallows the feeling of

revulsion, the tinge of nausea

because today this is

his one and only meal

the one bit of food he will

consume to keep him going until

tomorrow

when the process begins again……………………