Sunday 5 August 2018

Nerd Church - Poor Towns and Ponderings

Look, the place I live in isn't rich.

empty wallet

Some people may call it poor. Some people may even call it a dive.

But it's OK. It's a lot less rough than a lot of the other places around.

The town my grandparents live in is a dive, with the best will in the world, I can't deny that.

I don't mean that the people aren't nice. Some of the loveliest people you will ever meet live there.

It's still a dive.

The view on the main road is booze shops, betting shops, tanning salons, vape shops, and boarded-up buildings.

An old night-club is boarded up, and a little while ago was being used to grow cannabis, and illegally raise livestock (because those things apparently go together.)

There are big drug problems.

The whole place has an air of hopelessness that it's very difficult to describe.

My parents, who grew up there and in another town nearby, say that it was poor when they lived there, possibly poorer, but also less of a dive.

Yes, that's apparently a thing.

But they say that people there had more ambition then. More drive.

They say everyone younger than my grandparents' generation, with ambition or hope, left a long time ago.

Those who remain are the oldest and/or the poorest.

And with poverty comes social problems.

My grandparent's doorbell has been ripped off more times than I can count. One time some little angel kicked their ventilation grille in.

There are tires in front gardens, letters fallen off signs, paint flaking, windows smashed in spider-web cracks, cars that are probably older than me and others that have go-faster stripes, and empty bottles, cans, takeaway packaging.

You can find all these things in my town, too... but there's less of them. Much less.

But for all that? I can see why people would want to live there.

The views down the mountain are incredible (when no-one's set fire to it... which also happens where I live because some people aren't scared enough of their mams,) the houses are adaptable to any time period or living situation, the neighbours are lovely.

You know that if my grandparents ever need help, there's a whole street and more of people willing to give it to them.

I'm confident that if I'm ever in an emergency situation in my grandparents' town, I will find someone willing to help me out.

Where I live?

I'm not so sure I'd always find help.

The poorer parts of town would probably be my best bet.

And you can't blame people for bowing under the bleakness of their prospects.

Things are tough. And poverty cycles don't like to be broken.

I'm forever grateful that my grandparents and parents worked so hard to allow me and my brother to grow up in relatively comfortable circumstances.

We're far from rich, but we've never had to go hungry, and I know for a fact that my Nanny Jones used to skip meals so my mam and auntie could eat 'a good meal.'

People are people. And anyone who survives has done well, as far as I'm concerned.

So this was kind of just me ruminating on some things about poverty and social problems etc. etc. 😅

Do you think poverty causes a breakdown in ambition, or that a lack of ambition causes poverty? What makes an area noticeably poor? Talk to me! 🙋💬

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Last updated: 7th July 2018


  1. Chinese culture tells us that it's the latter: that a lack of ambition causes poverty. I grew up with my grandparents telling me that there's always a way to get what you need, as long as you work hard for it. My grandfather was poor when he left China, but he built his own business and our family's pretty well-off (or at least better-off than most) now. Personally I'm not sure--I guess I won't really know until I'm in such a situation myself.

    1. I think things tend to be more complex than just one or the other (as everything tends to be, I suppose!) Lack of ambition being to blame is an interesting point of view though, how do circumstances outside people's control, like illness, fit into that? Don't worry if you can't answer, I'm just thinking out loud! (Well... in type... but if you read it out loud then it'll be out loud! Lol.)

  2. My mom grew up in a noticeably poor area and I think it drove her to be more ambitious! Her parents moved to Canada from Pakistan to give her and her siblings a better life, and although they didn’t have much growing up, they all pushed themselves to get an education and give back to their parents.

    1. Education used to be the top priority in a lot of the places around here - now it's less so, and I think maybe that's because of a lack of investment in education, as well as people getting disheartened by things not turning around, even after education.

      I get you - my grandparents and parents have worked damned hard to be where they are. Unfortunately, towards the end of her life, my mam's mother didn't believe they had enough money to cover things, even though they did. I after having very little for so long, it was hard for her to understand that she didn't have to worry about money any more, especially when she was having a bipolar episode.

    2. *I *think* after

      Noticing mistakes in comments 2 days later... you gotta love it!

  3. Nicely said, and I can relate a bit. The town I grew up in used to be comfortably middle class, and still is in some respects, but it's definitely on the decline since the biggest employer (automotive) left. I live elsewhere now and when I go back it's not the same. It's still home though, in that sense that I grew up there.

    I think it's both, and complicated. Yes lack of ambition will definitely cause poverty, I guess, in the sense that if you don't work hard you may not get ahead. But also if you grow up in poverty/ hopelessness there can be a lot of barriers even if you WANT to work hard. So yeah, complicated... like life in general!

    1. Yeah - a lot of the towns here really suffered when the coal mining industry declined in the 80s. Not that they were especially rich before that!

      Quite right - both, and complicated, is kind of my general outlook on like ;)

  4. Lack of ambition and hope undoubtedly does make a difference, but I think lack of opportunity has got to be a huge factor too. Someone can be incredibly ambitious, but if they have to go elsewhere in order to realise that ambition then their home town would suffer the loss. It's interesting to me that both Aimee and paperbackprincess mention their families' need to travel. We have such wealth in the UK but concentrated into specific areas. It feels as though other towns have been almost written off which is a disaster

    1. I think that's v. true. And a lot of the wealth seems to be focussed in the South East of England - I know there's poor areas there too, of course there are, but there also seem to be a higher number of well-off areas there than in the rest of the country.

  5. My very humble opinion is... that’s not a matter of ambition. it is the reluctance to pursuing happiness what makes us “poor” in quotation marks because I think it’s a relative term. He live in poverty only when we feel we lack the things we need to be happy. Most of us Inhabitants of the West hemisphere and first world countries need things like cars and houses to not feel poor and therefore happy. Amazonian indigenous Don’t. People born and raised in what many consider “poor countries” don’t consider themselves “poor” They don’t think they lack anything. Great post as usual! Xoxo

    1. Even that's a matter of perspective though - one of the poverty indicators in the UK is lack of access to broadband internet. As you can imagine, a lot of people find that ridiculous. In principle, I agree, BUT I've seen the problems faced by the people who don't have access to broadband. It's not possible to apply for jobs, apply for unemployment benefit, apply for your pension, etc. We blame people for wanting access to things which, as a society, we assume that they have, and make their lives difficult if they don't have them. Hand-written CVs are seen as unprofessional, but I know people who only have computer access via the library, y'know?

      Anyway, I'm aware I went off on one there, but I just wanted to point out that things are rarely simple in this weird world of ours! :)

      And thanks so much for the compliment! :)


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