Privilege and life

As lockdown continues, life carries on. Today my son submitted his last assignment for his degree. Fingers crossed he’ll be rewarded with a Bronze Swimming certificate (BSc) for his efforts. Fortunately he’d managed to complete all of his fieldwork and submit his dissertation before lockdown happened. It doesn’t seem like two minutes since he started at Uni. Come to think of it, it doesn’t seem like two minutes since he started at school!

I didn’t go to Uni. I didn’t stay on at school for A-levels. I didn’t have the most enjoyable of childhoods. I left school on the 21st June 1989 and I left home on the same day. I remember the date vividly. My friends were celebrating the end of exams and a long summer ahead before they started back in 6th form whilst I was trying to work out how to get my stuff out of the family house without attracting the unwanted attention of my father. I didn’t have any choice about leaving. I wasn’t welcome to stay, that much had been made very clear. I left without incident and started out on my ‘adult’ journey through life.

There’s a lot of assumptions made about ‘people like me’. On the face of it I appear privileged and middle class. Indeed I am. Now. I spent many of the years, after being told to leave my family home, sofa surfing, not knowing where I might get any money from, borrowing money and on occasions stealing it so I could eat and pay the rent. Thankfully those years are a long way behind me but they remain vivid in my memories. Those years, and the years I was ‘parented’, contributed hugely to how I parented my children. I think it’s called reverse psychology! I wanted them to have all the things that I didn’t have. Hugs, love, opportunity and unconditional support.

I recognise the privilege I hold now. That drives me every day to try and improve the system, the services that are meant to be there to safety net us, the support that helps us to live our lives in the ways that we determine. All to often I encounter people (now known as the Dementors) who seem to thrive on bureaucracy and process. They do what they’re told and no more. If the computer says no then it’s no. I’ve adopted a new strategy. I ignore those people and, like a moth to the light, go where the energy is. I am surrounded by amazing people. Those who see the potential, who are creative at working around bureaucracy, the passionate, committed folk who want / need to make change happen.

I have no evidence base for this, no research to refer you to but I do have a theory. Livi’s theory if you will. The people who see the potential for change, who want to create different futures and address the inequalities are those who have faced adversity in their own lives, regardless of the background they come from. The people who light fires are those who have faced injustice, lived in an uncaring world, they are intolerant of passivity and maintaining the status quo. These people usually have their own stories …. if you care to ask them and you have the time to listen.

In other news. My fab daughter delivered me a bag of self raising flour this week. This weekend I’ve been baking. I don’t need self raising flour. It only encourages me to bake, baking = lots of lovely food that I really don’t need to eat! But it does make me happy!

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