Today I awoke to a beautiful bright if slightly misty November day. What better way to celebrate its loveliness than to go for a ramble. My chosen spot is not too far away from home just past the next village Inverkip and is a combination of the Overton Trail and the Greenock Cut. This provides a 6/7 mile meander which looks down over the Firth of Clyde and on days like today the views take you over towards the Arrachar Alps. I enjoy this walk and come up often to clear the head or just to use the space to work things out.
|Looking over the Firth of Clyde towards the hills|
My head today was puzzling over - poverty; what is the difference between then and now. This and related thoughts have been running round my head after I enjoyed a theatre weekend in Inverness at the Eden Court Theatre to see Men Should Weep | National Theatre of Scotland.
The play is set in Glasgow tenements in the 1930’s and paints a picture of the hardship and poverty of the time. As I listened to the language and the portrayal of life my thoughts were reflecting ...... is poverty the same then and now?
On my ramble my thoughts started to make comparisons high unemployment – then and now; the cost of feeding families. Then there was the ‘mission’ where families could make the case for hardship and be given food / clothing. Today we have growing food banks which distribute donated food to struggling families / individuals. The impact within the family of the daily grind of putting food on the table; the men trying to find work; the women working two cleaning jobs to bring money home; the stress of living causing arguments and escape through alcohol.
Social attitudes have changed between then and now especially in terms of the role of women and access to and the importance of education. Although a quote from one of the songs sung during scene changes “ ye canna hae such refinements when ye’r struggling fir yer bread” makes me think are we going backwards will potential students choose work (any work) over the cost of education?
The songs were sung by Arthur Johnstone a well known Scottish folk singer who I first came across 30 years ago when he was part of a group called The Laggan. Their songs uncompromising and reflecting life of the workers of the world from America; Australia; Spain and Scotland were delivered clearly, strongly and with passion. Songs like ‘I am the Common Man’ and ‘Jamara/Bandiera Rosa’.
This is certainly a hard hitting play and one which has left an impression and while there is no doubt that we have moved on in this 21st century through technological and information access as well as social changes and improvements it strikes me that there are resonances between then and now.
Thank you Ena Lamont Stewart for bringing real life to the theatre then and for the impact the play continues to make.