Imagine you had a chance to speak to some
of thesehard-working and hard-pressed people. Anna, a single mother, would tell you she has just enough money to buy food for her three children. They never go on holiday and she cannot remember the last time when they had been to the cinema or a restaurant. Her former partner pays child maintenance intermittently and sometimes not at all, and she is tired of going to court and pursue him legally. And what could she achieve with her legal actions anyway, when the man is poor as a beggar and mostly living on welfare. She wakes up every morning around six, prepares breakfast for her children, sends them off to school and then rushes to the supermarket, where she toils as a checkout assistant (cashier?). When she returns in the evening, she had no energy left except for cooking dinner and watching her favourite soap opera. She dreams of a normal life without stress or strain. Nowadays she seems just to vegetate in a vacuum without an end in sight.
Paul is an electrician, his wife a carer in a nursing home. They both earn enough to pay their bills, but they have recently bought a new flat and the mortgage costs are high and must be paid every month. Their two teenage daughters are not different from other girls of their age. They like to buy new clothes, shoes and the electronic gadgets, which seem
sto become outdated and outmoded alreadyafter a few months. Paul is aware that his daughters are the victims of peer pressure, but still he buys them all those dresses and gadgets, because he does not want to see them blushing and feeling ashamed in front of their friends. He gives them regularly pocket money, although he knows they will spend it buying fast food and fizzy drinks. He himself grew up eating spinach and potatoes almost every day, but those were different times. There was depravationdeprivation and sacrifices his children probably are never going to experience themselves. Paul is satisfied with his job, although he is dreaming of setting up his own company. He wants to be his own boss, take the risks and reap the profits.
Alex, a writer in his fifties, is hurrying to meet his agent and discuss with him his new novel. He has behind him two painful divorces, which has made him almost destitute. Until now, he has a successful career, although what has been missing are the main prizes. It is not only financial reward that would make him satisfied and pleased but also the knowledge that many of his colleagues would be green with envy. According to him, writers are no better than ordinary people. There are coteries, backslapping, backstabbing, hypocrisy and sheer hatred. And there is also a well-polished surface of intellectualism that is seldom scratched and looked beneath.
Martin, a banker, is on his way to meet his fellow bankers. Although there is no shortage of money in his numerous bank accounts, he prefers to watch it floating back and forth. He has bought a house in Spain, and then another in France, and was unable to resist the temptation and bought a cottage somewhere in Portugal, where he and his twenty-five years younger mistress are going to spend a few days every month and walk in the mountains. He has also bought a new yacht and planning to sail to the Mediterranean, with his wife and children. There are always new things to acquire: old paintings bought at auctions, expensive watches, cars, exclusive properties, and there are travels, of course. The time is so short and you have to see as much as possible before you get old and are unable to walk.
If you by some quirk of fate had an opportunity to see the Prime Minister that morning, and he showed unexpected kindness and pulled up in his well-protected car, he would
toldtell you how busy his schedule is. New elections are coming up and there is an enormous job in front of him. He has won twice and he is confident he is going to win this time also. The opposition is worthless and in disarray. Who would thrusttrust them to lead the country again, when in the past they had destroyed the economy and created enormous debts?
Once started, the Prime Minister will rant about his achievements in reducing taxes for the poor and bettering of living standard. According to him, almost every aspect of life has been significantly changed
tofor the better, from healthcare to welfare. He does not boast, nor does he exaggerate his accomplishments, just telling the facts. “Vote for me,” he shouts before speeding off in his mini-tank.
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