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Sunday, 13 March 2011

It is fair

'It's not fair', could often be heard spilling from me or my siblings lips when we were children, along with a few tears and tantrums to emphasis the unfairness of it all. Crying to mum made no difference at all, there was no sympathy there, because she had brought us up in a household where we were all equal.

Everything we had was shared out within our four walls. A rare box of Quality Street once a month was shared equally. When mum went to the shop and could afford a treat we all got the same, a tube of Smarties, or packet of Fruit Pastilles. All pudding portions had to be equal, and we could all choose one programme that we wanted to watch on the television. Friday night was my Ready Steady Go night.

Mum went to great pains at Christmas to get us presents of the same value so no one felt left out. We could choose our own big present, but there had to be three of everything else.

Then we started noticing that other kids seemed to have more than us, so we asked mum if we could have a new this and a new that. We always began the request with 'I want', and was immediately rebuked. 'You don't say, I want', she said, 'you say, please may I have'. We were taught manners from an early age.

But when you are young, you can't understand why some people have more than you do, it doesn't seem fair. We had some friends who lived across the road who seemed to have loads more toys than we did. It was great to be invited into their garden to play with their dinky toys. I loved dinky toys, think that's when I discovered my love of lorries, I should have been a boy, ha ha.

It was a Sunday, and they were called in for dinner, me and my brother were allowed to stay in the garden and continue playing. There was such a lot of dinky toys, we suddenly thought how unfair it was that they had so much, and maybe they wouldn't miss a few if we took some and hid them in our garden. We shared everything in our house, they should share with us.

Of course we knew that it was wrong, mum taught us not to steal what didn't belong to us. But we did it anyway. Later, when the theft was discovered all hell broke loose. Mum was horrified and rightly so. Me and my brother had a good slap across the bottom and sent to bed for the rest of the day. We both shed a lot of tears.

My little sister who had nothing to do with this, gloated. Oh how we hated her, the sweet little angel who never did anything wrong. We heard the chimes of the ice cream van as we lay in the darkened room, and the next minute she was parading around the bedroom licking the ice cream that mum had just bought her. It's not fair, we cried. A sibling slanging match broke out and mum had to come and intervene.

Of course, it was fair, she was rewarded for being a good girl, we were being punished for being naughty. A lesson that has stayed with me ever since.

Nowadays, when I look around me, it doesn't seem fair that some people have more than others. Greed can be an evil force. The media have a lot to do with greed, if you didn't know what other people had you wouldn't be bothered, and you would just get on with your own life, but because it is paraded every day in the press and television, it arouses feelings of resentment and envy. Why do people feel the need to drape themselves with designer labels, to clutch the latest gadget, and to jet off all over the place? Something must be lacking in their world, lacking in their personality, that they live their lives through what they own. Consequently, money is a prop for them, strip them naked and there is not a lot left.

Don't get me wrong, I am not totally anti money, I admire people who have worked hard in business, and had a vision to build something, because they have given work to millions of others. Some of these self made business millionaires have also given away a lot to charity, they have shared some of their spoils. All well and good.

Getting back down to the me and you types of this world, we may not have a lot, but we have got our self respect, our dignity, and our honesty. No one owns me, I don't have an agent demanding I go here and I go there. No one owns my body or my soul. So that's the trade off, you allow money to own you and it chips away at your self worth.

I don't cry, 'it's not fair', any more, because I know there is a price to pay if you desire all the trappings of a 'must have' lifestyle, and I am not willing to compromise. I don't need a television set, I don't need to switch the heating on, I don't need to buy new things, I don't need to eat out, I don't need to go down the pub and be part of a crowd.

And I certainly don't need any dinky toys any more, thanks mum.


  1. Well said! Though eating (even in) with friends and family is something we enjoy as we build a sense of family, friendship and community. If you lived here, I would invite you over ;-)

  2. Modern wordl has created people without sense for personal value. Children of today have everything in their grasp, do not need to make too much efforts to acquire whatever they may desire. Pocket money has totally lost its value, as parents shed out hundreds a month on their offspring. Personal constraint or even a sense of what is truely important to basic life has never been instilled. The emphasis is on wants, not on needs. And to earn the right to have something has gone by the wayside altogether. Principals and values no longer matter. Even in families with more than one child the sharing and compassion for others is no longer taught. We live in a consumer society that does not care for their next of kin, let alone any neighbour or friend.
    I just hope that this recession will bring some sense of proportion back to society, so that people can see where their own priorities must be.
    Society has relied far too long on government handouts, and now that benefits have to be cut the majority of people will shout to high heaven for their share, whether they deserve to have it or not. We grew up with the sense of working for what we need in life. They always had these handouts and are not willing to consider otherwise. To be a honest and hard working individual without debts, just living on your own merrits, is no longer the norm.
    Good for anyone that has still retained their own selfrespect and taught their family members how to be an upright individual. We are now the minority.

  3. good post and I'm proud to be part of the minority!

    Josie x

  4. Great post with many home truths...


  5. Very thought provoking post as always. . Francis Bacon said:
    If money be not thy servant, it will be thy master. The covetous man cannot so properly be said to possess wealth, as that may be said to possess him

  6. Brilliant post..we were brought up the same..and i have brought up my children the same way..and you know what..even now they share..if one doesn't want it anymore then she passes it to her sisters and so on and so forth..shame more folks aren't the same..its all want this want that..pity them..

  7. I agree, we were brought up the same way, 3 kids, my Mum worked, looked after us and her parents. My Dad had 2 jobs and money was tight. A packet of choccy biscuits was a real treat!! Although Twiglet has no siblings we are trying to raise him the same way, A want is very different to a need, he is 5 and writes thank you notes and has very nice manners. He asks for a DS etc etc as other children at school have them, we don't have the money. What we do give him is a lot of time and new experiences and I hope when he grows up he remembers his childhood as a happy one as I do about mine.
    Twiggy x

  8. A mate of mine said that when he was a kid, if there was a bar of chocolate or some cake to be shared between him and his brother, one of them had to divide it in half, but the other one had the first choice of which half to take.
    He reckons it prevented a lot of sibling strife.

  9. Amazing coincidence time!
    The word verification that I had to use to post the previous comment was "equal".

    Quite astonishingly apt.

  10. a great post, I remember my parents being fair and treating my sister and I equally. Although we only have one child, we ensure that we dont overindulge him and try to give him a sense of what is fair and the difference between a want and a need x

  11. Oh, how true. I have been unable to follow my chosen career path , as despite graduating with a 1st class degree last year, I was diagnosed with a heart condition at the beginning of my final year. I haven't worked since graduating, and am constantly bombarded with the' what are you doing with yourself'and ' have you found a job yet?' questions. We may not have much money, but I have my freedom, my peace of mind, and at the moment I feel well - I am time rich but cash poor and that suits me and my husband just fine.

  12. spot on! Our childhood in the 60s and 70s sounds quite similar to you and your siblings.
    You appreciate things so much more when you have wanted them for your whole childhood.
    My own nephews and nieces are brought up in a very different manner where thank you notes and wait till you grow up are unknown to them.

  13. best part of living frugally is having enough money to buy/spend on what matters...different for each individual. what a great post!


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