Long ago

I found some newspaper headlines from ever so far back in time
When kids came to school
If they came at all
Tired and covered in grime.

Where your chances of life were decided
Mostly by family wealth
And the poorest of poor had the worst schools
Few hopes,
Greater cares,
Poorer health.

When the dream of owning your own home
Was available just for the few;
And rich folk could knock down the poor streets
Just to improve their own view.

When families worked all the hours they could
With no chance of making ends meet;
And elderly folks, who couldn’t pay rent
Faced being thrown out on the street.

When prisons were lawless wild places
Full of the mentally ill;
Where young folk went in with few chances in life
And came out with far fewer still.

Rich powerful men behaved badly
Convinced that laws didn’t apply.
In those days, clean records and consciences
Were something that money could buy.

Social housing, if it existed, was sold
Or knocked down
Or replaced
And the many who could not afford the new rents
Were socially cleansed
And displaced.

Morally bankrupt slum landlords
Rented out hovels and digs
At exorbitant prices,
With damp on the walls,
That wouldn’t be fit homes for pigs.

And worst one of all of these headlines:
People literally burning alive
Waiting in vain inside their own homes
For help that could never arrive.
The truth is, their homes were much safer,
Though judged to be ugly, before
The rich folk who had to live near them
Tried to cover the concrete eyesore.
The sad thing is, people in power
Do not appear to care
Maybe because, their own wealthy kind,
Weren’t the people who died
living there?

OK, you’ve got me, these headlines
Aren’t Georgian or from long ago
But the Georgian-like deprivation
And homelessness do seem to grow.

Prime Minister, listen, I beg you
Brexit is just a distraction
People need safe homes that they can afford.
We need immediate action.

We all need a cap on rent prices
And those ‘housing associations’
Need to build social homes like they should
And cease all the constant evasions.

The truth is that people are people
And we all need a safe place to live.
Hope and respect come together
And shouldn’t be so hard to give.
If we want a future that’s better
It’s crucial we never lose sight:
The only thing needed for evil to grow
Is for good folks to cease doing right.

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