Articles

Er, Mum

In Uncategorized on December 10, 2010 by grahamharrowell

We all know what it’s like. You ask your parents if you can borrow the car to take your girl-friend to the pictures. You get Mum’s car (it’s the older one just used for going back and forth to Tesco) and then, inevitably, it all goes wrong. A little scrape down the side whilst parking, a broken sidelight, a smashed wing mirror. The worst part is the journey home (and, if the bump happened on the way out, the spoiled evening) in the full knowledge that you’ve got to wake Mum and tell her you’ve spoiled her car.

So on Thursday the Prince of Wales asks if he can borrow one of the parental cars to take the Duchess of Cornwall to the theatre. There’s no way Dad’s going to let him have the new Range Rover or the Beamer. So he gets Mum’s old car. (“Don’t forget you have to pay the congestion charge – for the escorts as well!)

She says she doesn’t need it as she’s stopping in to watch the 50th anniversary edition of Corrie and can’t understand why he’d want to venture out on a cold winter night, especially when (according to the BBC News) the streets are alive with the great unwashed having another pop at overthrowing the government. “Personally, I blame the Home Office for letting that dreadful Mr Marx enter the country and then letting him stay. If only he’d been stopped from writing that dreadful book. This would never happen if I were still exercising my Royal Prerogatives”

Now there are rumours that the royal family are very close to their money. But even so, who’d still be driving round in a car 30 years old? Perhaps it’s one of those where it’s considered a classic and you don’t have to pay for a tax disc every year. (Yes, I know she doesn’t register her car and doesn’t tax it, but I have to pretend not to know this for comic effect.) Has she not heard of the scrappage scheme? They could get rid of the old gas-guzzler and reduce their carbon footprint and their mpg. It seems a better option now, what with paint all down the bodywork and a broken window. I don’t suppose the insurance covers civil disturbances and there’ll certainly be an exclusion clause for lese-majesté. Even if it does, there goes the no claims bonus.

Anyhow, how did all this happen? There is some suggestion that the Met Police were the cause. Some suggest incompetence, whilst conspiracy theorists think they may have let it happen (the same people who think Millbank was no accident) so as to persuade the government not to cut the force’s budget. Unthinkable.

I am old enough to remember the Great Fire of Ambridge when Grace Archer met her end in the blazing stables. It was the BBC that set light to the buildings to steal the limelight from the opening night of ITV. So is it possible that, in order to upstage the Corrie 50th anniversary, the BBC set the whole Prince Charles incident up? I doubt it very much.

On the subject of Charles and student fees, how much did he pay? Nothing. Like me and many others of a certain age he benefited from the free university education available at the time. Unlike me (I hope) he didn’t get a maintenance grant. In London it was £1 a day or £365 a year, a bit less elsewhere.

Lots of others who would otherwise have not had the opportunity to develop their talents were fortunate enough to have the opportunity thanks to the opening up of higher education in the 1960s. Even then the moneyed classes were worried. More capable ordinary kids would be able to vie with their Tim Nice But Dims at a time when a degree was the key to a well-paid job. These dynasties have played the long game and are now delighted that Dave and Nick are there to restore their kids’ right to run the country, have the best education, the best jobs and the best salaries. Let’s not forget that a degree is no longer the passport to a job, but it can help.

One campaigner for fees suggested that many ordinary workers on low wages and paying taxes might not want to subsidise another’s studies so that the latter could then go on to a well paid job in the future. How wrong can you be? That worker probably rather likes the idea of paying a little to ensure that the student becomes a doctor or surgeon who can help him when he becomes ill or infirm. Surely we don’t want to go back to the days before The Lancet when surgeons got their jobs because of their social status rather than their ability. The worker might also favour helping someone become well enough off to pay for his own pension scheme and (through tax) ensure that the lower paid worker (whose employer often fails to provide a decent pension package) can receive a state pension in his later years.

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One Response to “Er, Mum”

  1. That student might be the worker’s child. That student may end up the employer of the worker’s child, offering a better job than the worker’s child would otherwise get. A degree doesn’t guarantee a job but an educated population is more likely to do better than a partly skilled one. Adding value to the economy as a whole generates more jobs – and more taxes to pay for all this education. Better prospects for more people means less people needing to depend on the state in later life. Better educated people tend to lead longer, healthier lives.

    I could go on, and I know I’m preaching to the converted, but it’s interesting to see that other industrialised countries going through our current economic downturn and public deficits are investing more in education at the moment.

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