squinting through the dense smoke I could barely see the needle piercing his mottled forearm. His fist sporadically easing and clenching, and his teeth grasping the long end of the belt around his upper arm. The stench of body Oder, stale urine, hashish, tobacco and rough cider filled my mouth and nostril’s. The sun reflected from the tinfoil on the table, making beams of light in the room, and I knew from past experience where all of this was leading, but I wasn’t afraid. If I’d learned one thing it was that I was tough and this was normal.
In the eighties it was ‘normal’ to see children outside of the local pub waiting for their parents. It was normal to see a bloody fist fight on a Saturday in town. It was normal to see kids all over Great Britain letting themselves into their homes from infant school age after a long day at school, and it was normal to be sent ‘out to play’ at every given opportunity only to return for food and water. It’s still normal for many, and the truth is they don’t have a choice.
Living just above the poverty line it’s essential to earn as much as possible to keep yourself there. That means freedom for kids. On large estates where a kid can mean someone as young as four or five and as old as seventeen, and often adults too.
Living on benefits is to live below the poverty line. There’s no income for children to join in with social activities, sporting events or even own a bike. Exclusion becomes a way of life, learning from an early age that you are an outsider can become a self fulfilling prophesy unless you are one of the lucky ones.
Most who would consider themselves in the above two categories do a great job with little or no help. For some the price is higher. All children ever want to be is ‘normal’ and the access to money is the ultimate determinant in their ability to be just that. Is it any wonder that parents with no ammunition and often no ‘fight’ left, turn to drink and drugs? Watching your life unfold before you with no power at all to do anything about it, the life that you always knew would unfold, that you fought against and failed.
You are now, after all ‘normal’ having failed. You fit into the set statistics, the so called ‘facts of life’. You are as useless as that teacher would tell you when you turned up at school with the wrong shoes and a snotty nose. As useless as your mother told you that you were having come home late from school unable to babysit your siblings. As useless and worthless as the media and government say you are.
So here is a no holds barred approach. It wasn’t your fault that your mum didn’t change your nappy enough which led to that nappy rash you itched until you broke the skin scratching leaving scarred and disfigured. Nor was it your mothers fault that she couldn’t afford for you to have clothes to help you blend in. It wasn’t her fault or yours that you couldn’t join the sports club where you would have excelled, nor was it your mothers fault that she doesn’t remember your childhood, the time when you were taken to hospital by a stranger when no one came, or the time when those boys ripped off your underwear and spat in your face, or the time when they penetrated you because you were dressed in cheap clothes. It was because she drank herself into oblivion day and night because she too had been told she was worthless to the point that it was easier to lay down and die from the inside out than to face another battle she couldn’t possibly win.
The system was flawed, and you are the experiment. Its not normal or acceptable and the statistics tell lies!
We always need someone to blame and the easy target is always the most vulnerable. Being normal means fitting into statistics. People don’t work or move in straight lines, they don’t fit into boxes, and they, we, me and you, are unpredictable. We don’t fit into oblongs on a graph. We are all unique, and we are ‘ALL’ worthy, but most importantly, none of us are normal!
So is it ‘normal’ to blame ‘dole scroungers’ for civil unrest, the economic situation, or stealing from the government. Yes it’s normal if you spend your life fitting into little boxes in order to make sense of complexity. Yes, it is ‘normal’ to blame people you cannot relate to, and yes it is ‘normal’ to blame ‘dole scroungers’ if you are so blind that you cannot see they are just a symptom of a dreadful social disease where fairness is misunderstood and reason is merely a means by which we excuse our own ignorance. Yes it is ‘normal’ for some people in our society to use the weakest as scapegoats for problems which stem from decision made by people who never thought of the weak when those decisions were made. The weak for them simply stand in the way of progress for the few. They are in inconvenience, a scar on the face of society.
“Society doesn’t exist” claimed Margaret Thatcher in the 1970’s. Of course it didn’t, she had never been a part of one, merely a part of the system which manipulates societies using some people as means for the ends of others.
It is normal! It was also normal in Nazi Germany to persecute Jewish people…..But normality doesn’t make it right, even when those claiming to be normal are a majority.