26 Mar 2013

March 26th


Just like Sing a Song of Sixpence, thousands of jobless people have been referred to foodbanks in the United Kingdom.

The financial slump in the UK has been called the slowest post-recession recovery in output in the past 100 years. A prediction shows the economy many not recover fully until 2018. 

The bitter struggle for survival faced by families in the United States is most famously captured in John Steinbeck's 1930s classic novel, The Grapes of Wrath. Millions of Americans, blighted by recession and the Dust Bowl of the Mid-West, were forced to go west to avoid starvation.

The recession and recovery in the United Kingdom during the 1930s was less severe than the one that blighted the US. In fact the worst years for the UK economy in the 20th Century were between 1919 and 1921 when the aftershocks of First World War sent output spiraling by 20 per cent. 

These days, the pain of recession has been spread more broadly than in recessions before, hitting those who may have thought they would escape its worst effects. Staff at the Job Centre have referred six thousand welfare claimants to food banks over concerns about them being left without enough money to eat.  325 food banks spread across the UK provide at least three days' worth of nutritionally-balanced food for local people in crisis. The desperate claimants are limited to emergency aid on three occasions.

My husband and I are retired and on a fixed Government pension, which will not rise for another three years. Food costs have doubled in the last month and every bill that comes in has risen dramatically. Fresh vegetables give nutrition and taste good. Apart from that, we're trying to shop wisely to get the best deal in different supermarkets and have lowered our meal expectations. However, we have no control over the rising service bills. 

I don't know how we'll meet the cost. My husband spends hours every night, studying the figures. He holds his worries tight to his chest but doesn't sleep well, so I know he's worried. He already does more than his fair share of the housekeeping, and all the shopping and cooking. I'm used to a life of ease. My husband, with Plantagenet blood and a child during WW2, has always lived for the day—spending money on lavish meals when he had it and living by his wits when he didn't.

The present situation puts the poem Sing a Song of Sixpence into modern context. Let's hope the blackbird of past actions doesn't swoop down and peck off everyone's nose.


  1. I grew up saying that nursery rhyme, but never knowing the story behind it. Interesting. And so applicable to these times.

    1. Some nursery rhymes are difficult to fathom. And, of course, the sixpence is way out of date. It would be sing a song of six cents. ;-)

  2. Economic recessions suck, no matter which economic class you belong to.


    1. You're so right. If there's not enough money to go around, you have to cut back and adapt.

  3. Hi Francene .. what an appropriate well written post - thanks for this and for putting Sing a Song of Sixpence into context.

    I do feel for many and the cold is just terrible for man and beast alike ... the poor sheep and cows buried in the snow ... and when I was in London people were huddled on the pavements ... waiting the day out, I guess ...

    I won't go into the politics ... and I can feel your husband's anxieties ... my thoughts to you both .. Hilary

  4. The cold weather at this time of year is alarming. And so is the financial state of the country. Thank you for your kind thoughts.

  5. Hi. My husband and I retire next year (in U.S.) Our health insurance will go up seven times the current rate! Food is rising, food banks are increasing and people are growing gardens here. And don't get me going on politics here either...what a mess. But it helps to vent...and I'm glad you did too. Sure hope things work out for you.


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