Thursday, December 09, 2010


By Ken Harrison

Have we become a nation of moaners? Nothing is quite right to some. The present snowy conditions seem to have brought out false reflective pessimism, 'It wasn't like this in my day!
The Arctic ice-age we are experiencing is perhaps a generational incident - 1980's: 1960's and 1947.
'In their day', the pessimistic were much younger; time and tide distorts memories; we tend to forget freezing fingers; the intense cold for our minds to be protectively mothballed with the happy times of sledging, snowball fights or sitting in front of a blazing coal fire as a blizzard rages outside.
However, are we now quicker to pick faults? Blame the Council for the side roads not being gritted; finger point the postal service if letters don't arrive; panic buy with an attitude of 'I'm all right, Jack' at any alleged hint of a shortage? Collectively, we are more prone to believe a 'third-party' , rather than ourselves, will resolve a dilemma.
In some ways, community spirit; the ability and attitude of all pulling together in a crisis, has declined. The causes? Try the urban litigation myth of believing that we will get done for clearing snow from the footpath - or is it an excuse for laziness; the inability for checking on the needy and vulnerable unless one has official CRB clearance - all very good in normal circumstances, but a damn hindrance on a situation bordering on an emergency.
'In my day', when the postie couldn't get through to all the houses in the road, a 'trusted' neighbour would accept the task of receiving the post and delivering it, as and when circumstances allowed - try that now and it would be on the national news within hours.
There now has developed a cloud of suspicion - no-one can be trusted unless they're wearing a badge. Perhaps this has gone a little too far: man can't smile at toddlers in a supermarket without the fear that someone will think them odd and a threat; general neighbourliness has been skewed and folks feel reluctant to volunteer to help others as their actions maybe misconstrued.
Unfortunately, under this pervading attitude, what-ever-the cause, the most needy can suffer.
When delivering my batch of 'Brigg Matters', I came across a pensioner digging at compacted ice in the hope that the van driver the following day could delivery her new cooker. She'd been digging for 6 hours; she suffered from arthritis and diabetics; her husband suffers from Alzheimer's and breathing problems .....and they hadn't had a hot meal for a fortnight....they'd been surviving on cuppa-soups.
In the surrounding bungalows, there were 80 and 90 year old and from the scarcity of footprints in the deep, undisturbed snow, it was evident that few, if any people had visited them in the last 10 days.
Fortunately, 'Brigg Matters' came up with a partial answer; 'Useful Numbers' indicated NLC Helpline. Phoning, I was eventually transferred to the especially established emergency desk.
I explained that I was very concerned; no-one, it would seem has checked on the welfare theses senior citizens and that digging pensioner needed help to ensure she and a husband could have a decent meal.
The very helpful lady indicated that she was in liaison with the police and request a PCSO to visit the area of bungalows.
But, collectively, why had we not done something before? Forget the notion, 'In my day'; put away the selfish ideas and start to help those in less fortunate positions than ourselves. We need to get back to saying hello to our neighbours; of being able simply indicate that one is available for basic chores without the perception that a friendly gesture is going o be misinterpreted as possible exploitation.
Bring back the community spirit - remember these senior citizens could also include your parents.

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