The Writings of Ingrid Pitt

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Ingrid Says... Pitt of Horror Website Message

27th July 2008

Ingrid Pitt Says....

Ingrid Pitt Ready For Action

I've never considered myself interested in politics. At least not politics as represented by official political parties. So it came as a surprise to find myself sitting on the sofa in the wee small hours, waiting to hear the result of the Glasgow East By-Election. When I thought about it I decided the reason for the interest is that the political scene is in such a mess that anything destined to shake it up is good. And the election certainly shook the foundations of the Labour party - probably for all the wrong reasons.

I'm not sure any political party has, or probably ever had, the answers to the questions that the electorate want clarified. When the answers are spun out and hit the headlines they provide grist for the professional opponents without giving much comfort to the people the politicians are supposed to support.

A lot of time is spent mulling over yesterday's news and thinking up trite, party inspired ways of papering over cracks. Always the question is an amazed 'What has gone wrong?'. This is usually followed by "We have taken it on-board and will learn by it". Nothing is learned and nothing is done. Why? Because the whole world is leaning on the tenets of an old civilisation in a world that has long long cast them aside. So people point to WW2 and the loss of Empire as the starting point of public disaffection. What does it matter now, 60 years later? The Sixties come in for a good deal of abuse. It is 40 years since flower power and its answer to the changing world was relaxed morals and stuffing alien substances into the blood stream. The world has become faster, smaller and uglier since then.

It is easy to look back to the 1920's and 30s and point to the gangsters, wars, racism and abuse of labour and say '"Thank goodness the world has moved on from those days." It is undeniable that there have been great strides in medicine. But its use is the basis for political manoeuvring. Thousands die in hospitals from superbugs bred in unhygienic wards, waiting lists are only shortened by administrative manipulation and patients dying waiting for a hospital bed. The strict authoritarianism with which the Matron dominated the wards has been watered down. Where a nurse in her starched apron, cap and cape was a figure of authority in the community they now scuttle around in creased coveralls with their hair unfettered. From personal experience I know that the majority of the nursing staff are hard working, caring members of society but their morale is low. They feel that they are little more than skivvies to the over paid and frequently overrated doctors, consultant, specialists and management. I read somewhere that there are two paper pushers to every nurse on a ward. And most of them get much more pay than the nursing staff.

Education has sucked up billions of pounds and still children leave school without being able to express themselves. Children are still taught in some schools that competition is bad and that there should be no losers. It means that education is dumbed down because students are no longer urged to strive to get on and be head of the class. And Grammar Schools, which were originally conceived to give working class children the means of having an education which would put them in the workplace with the same educational advantages as students fortunate enough to have parents capable of providing them with a private education, have been vilified and practically blotted out. And that is in spite of the success stories that they have inspired. Now the bright kids are dumbed down to the pace of the slowest.

Housing has come on in leaps and bounds. Now most houses have a bathroom and an inside toilet. Hot water gushes from taps and adequate lighting and heating are the norm. Few kitchens are without a refrigerator, an icebox and a washing machine. Cheap vacuum cleaners make housework a breeze. The only difference in the ubiquitous TV is the size of the screen and whether it is analogue or digital. And who hasn't got a mobile telephone and a computer now? Compared with the majority of houses 40 years ago we live in palaces. Now, due to Government incompetence, people who have been encouraged to put most of their income into ill-conceived mortgages can't afford to live in the home they have sweated blood to acquire.

Probably the Police Force - or Service if you will - is the most distorted. When Robert Peel first put his uniformed 'Bobbies' on the street in 1829, they were armed with a cutlass and a book of rules. They were drawn from the slums with the intention of setting a thief to catch a thief. As the years went by the police force evolved into something that the ordinary citizen felt safe with and the criminal feared. Those days have gone. Now every Police Officer patrols the streets with a bevy of quangos and committees watching his every move. Self serving departments have been set up that make it extremely difficult for a Constable to do his job fairly and fearlessly. Every wrongdoer, as uneducated as he or she may be, is fully versed on their 'Human Rights' and accuse the authorities of a breach of their privileges if they are arrested or searched. This makes it harder rather than easier to solve the problem of catching criminals.

But these are all concepts either leaning on or against Victorian Ethics. The real revolution, which has been unstoppable and unaccountable, was born in the 30s and, after a hiatus to make way for WW2, flooded back for real in the 1950s. Television! Before the TV took up its commanding position in the corner of the room there was a family unit. Some bad but the majority in good working order. Families sat down to meals together, interacted by passing the evening playing games or silently and comfortingly reading books and keeping up with the times through the act of reading a newspaper. Board games and cards were a standard in most homes and women knitted while men filled in the football pools or pored over Whittakers Almanac. Girls mooned over the latest Hollywood heartthrob while boys tried to get a sound out of their home built Crystal-set. Once a week there was the excitement of sprucing up for a trip to the cinema to see dramas that explored a subject by gradually building to a satisfactory conclusion rather than a maze of fast cutting and a resolution that is often a cop-out.

Cosy family meals were one of the first casualties of the Television Age. There was no longer time to catch up on what the other members of the family were up to. Although teenagers embraced the electronic age they found themselves alienated from their the older members of their family who preferred to sit, semi-comatose, watching Coronation Street or the latest Game Show. With the family unit irretrievably broken the hormone energised semi-adults looked for new alliances and found them with the thousand of other disenfranchised kids of their own age. There was no passing on of skills or knowledge as in the days before television took over. Young men and women in times gone by worked, starved or joined the Forces. It was as easy - and as hard - as that. Now films and Video Games encourage children to be something they are not.

Until the age of what is known as the Nanny State, children led a carefree life. Boys climbed trees, disappeared for hours on end and threw stones. A catapult and a sheath knife with a six inch blade were practically compulsory. Boy Scouts were taught to build fires, use their sheath knife to skin a rabbit or carve their initials on a tree. For the older boy there was the air gun and if he lived in the country, the satisfaction of going out with a 4-10 shotgun and bagging a coney or an illegal pheasant for the pot. Sex education was something you learned from your peers and had it rounded off in embarrassing talks with your father or mother. Safety First!

So when some over indulged Government Minister comes up with a crazy idea to take knife wielding rejects to A & E to let them gloat over the pain they have inflicted, it just shows how wildly wide of the mark they are when it comes to understanding the world of today. National Service is another wheeze desperate politicians come up with knowing that what they are proposing cannot be seriously considered for all sorts of obvious reasons. Mainly to do with Health and Safety and of course, Human Rights.

The solution to today's problems cannot be found in the past that spawned them. New ideas, new concepts, a New Century. A new approach to life in the 21st Century has got to be found - and for my money it is in the family. Forget the half baked Kwik Fikses by people who have never had a job in the real world and are afraid to rock the boat in case the sinecure they have been given is snatched away.

When the head of a giant, intercontinental conglomerate stands up in court and says that his obviously deviant behaviour is natural, is supported by the court and rewarded with £60,000, you just know something is wrong. What next? You can get away with murder or rape as long as it is in the home? What is missing is the ability to know what is right.

I fear that there are still a lot of wild schemes and stupid initiatives to go through before someone realises that it is not Government edicts which will sort out the mess. A new foundation has to be laid. And for my money that can only be done with discipline and respect. And punishment when anyone steps out of line.

An eye for an eye sounds barbaric but forgiveness should be given only after retribution. I guess that is a forlorn hope.

The Writings of Ingrid Pitt