Against my better judgement, I have been provoked into writing a blog post. Before I start, I should make it clear that I have nothing whatsoever to say, and that what I do say I have said before. Generally it makes unpopular reading, that is to say, it makes me unpopular. It makes me come across as arrogant, right-wing, and a shit. It is probably how I get this misplaced Toryboy image - I speak proper, I work in a bank (though not in the champagne-popping, Ferrari-driving bit as commonly portrayed in the media), and I hate scroungers. That's a shallow way to judge someone.
I was having this conversation with a friend the other day. Well, not exactly this one, but along similar lines. It was basically how I couldn't vote for anyone as I hated them all. Not that I take a great interest in politics, and I could be entirely wrong about some things. Many things most likely. But anyway, and although this may come as a surprise to some, I could not possibly vote for the Conservatives for reasons recently made clear here. Namely that they are a self-serving bunch of walking environmental disasters with seemingly no concept of democracy. Fine, so they're out. The Lib Dems then, are they my natural home? No. They're a load of pathetic ideologists with no hope of ever making a difference other than taxing me out of existence. The Labour party? Iraq. And they're basically Tories anyway. The Green Party? Laudable in some respects, unfortunately so far removed from reality that they're not a realistic choice in the modern world. UKIP? Not if you paid me. The BNP? The day those fascist pricks wield any kind of meaningful power is the day I emigrate. So politics it seems is not for me. There are probably a heap of fringe parties I have failed to mention, but nobody knows who they are anyway, and I might as well walk into my polling station and eat my ballot paper for all the good it would do voting for one of them. But I still hate scroungers, which makes me......makes me what exactly? Nothing. It makes me nothing. I go to work, I provide for my family, I am at this point no burden on the State other than the education that my children receive, but that's where my taxes go. Oh, and to shooting badgers and conducting illegitimate warfare overseas.
As I was walking home from work tonight, at about 7.30pm or so (half day...) I noticed a guy sitting on a bench in the sunshine. I say sitting, really I mean lolling. He looked most contented, and was enjoying a beer and a cigarette. Fair enough, we all like to unwind after a long hard day, indeed I myself was on my way to a bit of unwinding as well, having left the house at around 7am. Except this was the man who for years now has hung around Leytonstone tube station asking for 90p for the bus. I've not seen him for a while, probably because I typically go one stop further up to Wanstead station so as to avoid getting mugged by yet more honest and hard-working folk, and what with rising fares he probably asks for more than 90p these days, but I digress. In addition to being a liar, he's a complete and utter scrounger. He's the kind of person that instantly gets my hackles up. The kind of person who gets to sit around doing whatever the hell he wants (OK, so perhaps not exactly pursuing his dreams necessarily, but you know what I mean) whilst I schlep off to work and indirectly provide financial assistance so that he doesn't have to. He looked really happy, angelically at peace with the world. Of down in the dumpness there was not a hint. I tweeted, as is the modern way, some words of mock surprise. And (thank you Mark) I received a reply. The suggestion was that rather than be bitter and angry, I should go home, uncork a bottle, and toast my luck. A fine sentiment. Live and let live.
Apart from the luck.
I am not railing against the unfortunates of this world. I am railing against the suggestion that in any way, shape or form, the fact that I enjoy a happy life free from many worries and financial pressure is down to luck. Bollocks. It's down to choices. A friend of mine called Dal, who has had twenty jobs in the same time in which I have had two, frequently insists I am the luckiest person on the planet. Poppycock. Complete garbage. The fact that my life is currently where it is at is essentially due to one thing and one thing only, and that thing is called effort. Effort from the age of about 15. Jobs before school and after school. Jobs in the holidays. Exams. Hard work. Toil. Graft. Going out every day and doing something I do not enjoy so that I can do things I do enjoy on the few days that I am not working. So that, many years down the line, I can buy nice camera lenses I never get to use to their fullest extent. So that I can give my children exciting experiences. So that they can play musical instruments if they so choose. So that they can be members of a cricket club. The list is endless, but so that, in short, I am free to make some life choices. Not everybody gets that opportunity of course, but the point is that nobody came along and handed it to me on a plate, and I didn't win some kind of life lottery that solely and exclusively determined my fortunes. There is a school of thought that talks about the cards people are dealt, and I concede that there is an element of truth there, and that my upbringing was trouble free with loving parents who insisted on education (In case anyone thinks I went to Gordonstoun or wherever, I didn't, I went to my local community college. Whatever). But there are plenty of stories of people overcoming the below-par cards they ended up with and doing just fine, excelling even. The difference tends to be willpower and determination. Some people would call that luck. Crap.
My health is luck. Or at least to a certain extent. For instance is it lucky that I don't wreck my body with crystal meth? Or lucky that I don't do crack cocaine every night of the week, even though I could probably afford it? Possibly, possibly...... who can say what will happen, but at the moment I am healthy and I am thankful. But absent health issues, the reason I do alright is very simple, and has nothing whatsoever to do with luck. I get along in life because I work my socks off. I have not taken the easy way out. I grind it out day after interminable day. I absorb myself in it. I bring it home. I allow my mood to be dictated by it. I think about it day and night. I piss my family off with it, and I am mostly a grumpy bastard because of it. I don't pull sickies, I just get on with it. I expend a huge amount of effort and time to making a success out of it. Luck? Forget it, it's called effort, and anyone who pitches up and calls me a lucky so-and-so is delusional (sorry Mark, I don't buy that one little bit). Is that a Tory attitude? I don't know, and I don't care. I don't give a shit what you label it as, as long as there is a recognition that the reason I am not sitting on a sun-kissed bench swilling premium lager and pulling on a fag is that I have chosen to work for a living rather than waste my life scrounging off other people.
The counter-argument is of course that there are plenty of people out there who put in a lot more effort than I do, work a lot harder than I do, and still end up on the metaphorical bench. I reckon that must just be bad luck.