Monday, 16 April 2012

Why no community centres?

We watched Britain’s Got Talent last night and I was very sad to see a street dancing troupe from Stratford East who said they weren’t interested in the £500,000 prize money; all they wanted was a community centre. It’s happening across the country now. Groups of working class people are having the focus ripped out of their communities by governments and councils who see these places as nothing but bottomless pits which they’re forced to throw money into. Councils and governments don’t understand the point of community centres. Why would they? Middle class people don’t need community centres. They have lovely big houses where they can sit and do reading clubs. If they want exercise, they pay to go to an expensive gym. If they want culture, they go to the theatre. If they want R and R, there’s a lovely little pub in their middle class village, or a beautiful cafe in a warehouse conversion in their "up and coming" district, where they can sit at their lap tops with a hopelessly expensive cup of coffee, or a real ale, pretending the rest of the world doesn’t exist. Working class communities are repeatedly being slapped across the face because their tendency, and in fact upbringing, is simply to “make do” and put up with what’s thrown at them without complaining. Now that Labour is no longer a left wing party, I begin to see very clearly why whole communities might turn to UKIP and the National Front. If no one else is listening...

My Hattersley films were released on You Tube today, and within 15 minutes, I was contacted by the person who is standing for UKIP in the Hattersley constituency. He requested more information about the problem at the Hattersley community centre and  asked if there was anything he could do to help. No word, of course, from the Labour MP, no word from the Lib Dem candidate or indeed the Tory.  So I told the UKIP man what the problem was in Hattersley. I told him that, three months before they moved into their new privately-owned community centre, they still didn’t know how much it was going to cost them to do classes there, and were beginning to find out that many of the groups they run at the old centre, like the bowlers, wouldn’t be welcome in the new one. I told him that the woman who had run the community centre for 17 years had been told she wasn't allowed to work at the new one because she wasn't "long term unemployed" and that the council had offered her 20 hours a week cleaning instead as a gesture of good will. I was impressed that he was listening. I then had to take stock, and found myself writing; “I loathe the politics of UKIP, but if you’re in the mood to do some good, instead of whipping up hatred and banging on about Europe in an offensively xenophobic way, then I say, go for it. Show you care!” And you know what? If he manages to sort the problem, he deserves to be elected, because the mainstream parties as sure as hell don’t care. And here's the biggest problem of all. There are a hell of a lot of working class people in this country, many of whom feel disenfranchised at the moment, and it only takes one right wing politician with all the answers to take advantage of this situation. Step forward please, Mr Hitler.
But politics aside, for those of you who are interested in my films, here's the link. Enjoy. I do hope you enjoy!

Pepys took physique 350 years ago, which apparently “wrought all the morning well.” I've no idea what that means, and I’m still not sure whether taking physique refers to taking medicine, or simply taking a “sicky” off work. Every time Pepys uses the term, my opinion changes on the subject.

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