Thursday, 6 February 2020

fiction - career choices on leaving school

Ivor and Paul were chatting in the barn, out of the (rather unusual) blazing sun, when Ivor's grandson arrived.

Ivor made a big deal of greeting him, very warmly, and Paul raised an eyebrow.

Alex looked up now and then and smiled, but mostly frowned, his gaze downcast.

Ivor caught Paul's quizzical expression and gave the tiniest nod, which Paul had learned to interpret as "trust me, I’ll explain later.”

Paul moved a straw bale for Alex to sit on, joining the 'group', albeit a very small group. Being an energetic youth of eighteen years, decided to sprawl on the bale instead.

He looked up. "Is it okay if I lie down?"

Ivor smiled. "I’d be doing the same if my knees still worked! Getting upright again is a struggle. Once a day is plenty, or twice if we happen to have siesta weather.” He glanced at the razor edged shadows outside the barn. "If we don't soon have thunder to clear the air, I’ll be falling asleep standing up, I reckon.'

“I finished school last week,” began Alex, “My dear father says I should get a job and move out.”

“How do you feel about that, Alex?”

Alex looked at Paul, then Ivor. “I don't know Paul. Is it okay to talk family?”

“Sure,” said Ivor. “What is said here goes no further.”

“Except Roland,” added Paul. “He eavesdrops sometimes.”

Alex looked around, surprised. Paul and Ivor laughed.

“Relax,” said Paul. “Roland is the rat. He lives in the bale Ivor sits on.”

“Are you serious, man?” said Alex, giving Ivor's straw bale a baleful glare (no pun intended).

“Only kidding, Alex. The rat lives in your bale.”

“Very funny, I hope. Anyway, my mate Chas, who left school last year, says all that he earns goes on rent. Lucy, who is at uni, gets subsidised rent, but is building up about thirty thousand pounds of debt over the three years.

“Sounds potty to me,” said Ivor. “Our neighbours children both work for the NHS, and they have spells of further education while at work, on full pay. After several years it amounts to a degree equivalent – so she says.

“Paul knows more about modern politics, economics and the corporate world. He's been on the receiving end … .”

“True,” said Paul. “This past year I’ve waded through three books, two of the huge. One about wealth, the other the history of political power in Europe – which was mainly monarchy, and aristocracy.”

“What conclusions do you draw?” asked Alex.

“The book on capital is very clear, though hard work. It paints a vivid picture in charts and graphs consisting entirely of facts.
“The political history of Europe – two excellent books by Norman Davies, are full of facts, but fail to stand back and state the obvious:

Those in power, which nowadays translates as those with capital, dominate the majority, and the richer they are the more likely to wage war on their competitors (their interpretation). The exploited poor pay for the enterprise in taxes, they do all the fighting on both sides, and then rebuild all participating nations afterwards.

The very rich believe we are so stupid that we'll do whatever we are told provided we have the latest smart-phone, no-stop distractions, TV and far too much junk food and alcohol. Sadly, they appear to be right.

Like I said, the excellent book on wealth, by Thomas Piketty and his team of researchers, is straightforward:

As a minority become wealthy, they invest in property to let to the working class. The more extreme the shortage of homes to rent – whether by chance or by design – the more extortionate the rents become.

Britain is possibly the worst example in Europe, though capitalism is more extreme in the USA. British rents are so high that it is now almost universal to receive rent-rebates from the government. Some rich people become apoplectic with rage at such 'handouts' but most don't – because they get the money back – twice.”

1. They own the rented accommodation, so the rent rebates flow through the tenant/victims to them, the landlords;
2. They own government bonds on which the government pays them interest. That this isn't a national scandal puzzles me, but the press is owned by very rich people.

“I think I need a break,” said Alex.

“I think we all do,” added Ivor. “Let's pick up three rods and visit the pond.”

“It's a lake!” said Alex.

“Agreed,” said Paul.

“whatever,” said Ivor. “Shall we go fishing?”

They did.

Gazing at the water worked its magic, as did the background music of rustling leaves, rippling tides and the tiny waterfall.

“I can't remember all the details about money and history,” Alex complained.

“Neither can I,” Paul admitted, “and it was me that said it! What works for me is pictures, diagrams, charts. Imagine a crowd of rich people taking from every rented building; the very powerful conning the so-called peasants into building and growing everything, then blowing each other to bits, then rebuilding everywhere – over and over again.

Apparently the country with the highest level of happiness is Fiji, or Denmark if you only count large populations.

“I wish I’d brought a pen and paper,” said Alex.

“I've got some,” said Ivor.

“I forgot to mention,” said Paul. “Both world wars were started by the very wealthiest nations. Greed knows no limits.”

“Neither does evil,” said Ivor. “only the human race could produce Buddha, Tolstoy, Jesus, Dickens, Mozart, Shakespeare and COMDEY, but no other species can compete for sheer deliberate, destructive evil.”

“I think the penny is dropping,” said Alex.

“You've got  a bite,” said Ivor.

“Hmm. Nice metaphor.”

“I meant, your float has just vanished below the surface of the pond.”

“Lake,” said Paul.


Twenty minutes later they had the carp on the bank.

“That could feed all of us – I mean everyone back at the farm.”

“Beautiful creature … .”

“Shall we cook it?”

“Next time perhaps.”

The sky turned a glorious red as they trudged back up the field from the un-catalogued, vaguely elliptical body of relatively still water with a waterfall.

“Could we recap the plan once more?” said Alex. I need to make it a clear picture so that I can stick to it.”

“After you Paul,” said Ivor.

“1. Get either a well paid job with enough free time to educate yourself, or a job that guarantees built-in long term education.

2. Stay here, in a caravan until you've saved enough to buy and convert a van to live in. You can always use this as a postal address.

If you can't afford a house, long term, then Ivor will guarantee you an allotment with room to park your van. Everyone needs a place that is just theirs.”

“You could stay here in a caravan for ever if you wanted. But living in a van is a good experience for a youngster.”

"Your eccentric, rather wealthy professor pal who spends his summer in a camper says he gets lots of grief from 'tubby conservatives' when he parks in their area. Why is that?"

"They are terrified by any overt display of freedom!" said Ivor. "He quite enjoys their rants, and secretly films most of them ..."

tags:  debt, education, fiction, freedom, funny, hope, housing, politics, satire, selfcare, short satire stories, pathological wealth

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