Tuesday 10 July 2012

Any old iron

Sitting at my desk I can hear bird song. Bird song and the assorted rattles and coughs of the bin men and neighbours stumbling into the day. Bird song and bin men and - hark!- what's that? I am transported back to my youth when, for a few bits of scrap, the Rag and Bone Man would hand over a balloon. Heaven only knows what he did with our offerings, but he and his horse seemed happy enough to plod through the day, collecting other people's junk. Noble scavengers, recycling our rubbish aeons before it became fashionable, politically correct and environmentally unsound.

Nowadays several 'scrappies' come round every day, not once, not twice, but - it seems - all bloody day long! Not content with a dobbin and cart they patrol the streets with a loud-hailer and a tuneless "Scrap-eye-earn" on an endless, amplified loop. No balloons either - turn your back for five minutes and anything metallic disappears into the cavernous maw of their truck: unwanted tat, discarded tools, old cookers, garden gates, drain covers, railway track, signal cable... you name it, they can sell it on for cash through a network of illegal, under the radar, scrap merchants.

Where there's muck there's brass and if you don't keep your eye on your belongings they won't belong to you much longer. It's not beyond the crafty tinkers to employ diversionary tactics either; while one knocks at your front door, another is in the back garden, hunting down anything of value to flog off. Which is much the same as the government appears to be doing this week...

Reduced to scavenging the diminishing national savings pile for any scrap of worth, the squabbling over [probably] unconstitutional Lords reform is diverting attention away from the rich pickings in your back yard. Just when you've finished pouring money into the pot and picked up the meagre pension you've paid for all your life. Just when you thought you had nothing of value to give away, look what they've found behind the greenhouse. Nick Boles wants to means-test the little extras that make life bearable for many senior citizens.

Of course, 'means-testing' doesn't mean that such small comforts will be taken away entirely from those who most need them. Yet. But it's a step on the way. As individuals learn the state can not be trusted to spend our taxes wisely - giving away a fortune to Europe, welfare dependency and NHS bureaucracy - those who are able will protect what they've got, while the rest will see their pitiful belongings scavenged by the rag and bone man of socialism, to recycle into votes.

Isn't it time to stand up to those who want to put the British virtues of thrift and fair play on the scrap heap? Do we really want it to be every man for himself? At this rate we'll all be saddling up Hercules and hitting the streets. (Baggsy I get to be Albert!)

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