Over the years words and phrases find their way into everyday life (‘Brexit’ anyone?) through people in the ‘know’, political statements, advertising and so on. If you’re climbing your way up the greasy ladder of promotion in the public sector or scrabbling up the corporate one , it’s probably a good idea to use a few of the ‘timely’ ones during conversations or meetings, ‘solutions’, ‘paradigm shift’, ‘competence’, ‘blue sky thinking’ and ‘tranche’ spring to mind.
Marketing and advertising types do the same thing, ‘simply’ was a favourite for some time along with ‘friendly’, ‘our values’ and ‘We like to say yes’.
Come election time, the party hopefuls come up with similar expressions: ‘you’ve never had it so good’ , ‘Labour isn’t working’ , ‘are you thinking what we are thinking?’ or probably the most cynical of all ‘we’re all in this together’ are often used with slick video and popular music.
Once in power, we get the party line ‘fairness’, ‘leadership’, ‘safe and secure ‘ – nebulous words that have almost as many meanings as the people who utter them.
Presumably this is to take the masses’ minds off the shambles that many institutions, public services and the political situation have become, various buzz words are employed usually an ‘…ism’.
Take localism, often employed by political parties and ministers when they want people to get involved in their local area, usually to divert attention from what these people have created or allowed to be created on a national, EU or international level. Something along the lines of ‘you won’t understand the importance of what we are doing at a national, EU or international level, but get involved locally and deal with the things important to you like parking, speeding, dog poo on the pavement. Leave the really important stuff to us.’
Our local town by 1960 had more or less recovered from the ravages of the Second World War (not that it was particularly affected in any material way; there were no bombing raids although the influx of US GIs had social effects, some far reaching). Post war employment was good, people obviously had more money to spend and council and private housing was again being built in large numbers. The population at that time was around 30,000 and rising.
So, what did OUR town have? Well it was run by a Town Council with a mayor elected from council members, a town hall, with a small number of staff, a district council with its leader and councillors and a rural district council, again with elected officials and a reasonable number of staff to run its functions – mainly refuse collection, council housing, road cleaning and so on.
These fitted in well with the county council, based in the county town/city, which did what it said on the label – again with elected members with responsibility then – as now – for roads, education, libraries, social services, the environment.
The monarchy and establishment were represented by the Lord Lieutenant. The county had its own police force. Officers and the lower ranks lived in the locality in police houses (some with a police office, often manned by the police officer’s wife) and more imposing larger houses sometimes five or six together to provide suitable accommodation for senior ranks. Single men and new entrants were accommodated in single men’s quarters usually at one of the larger police stations that was staffed and open to the public 24/7. Training was provided on the job at a local training school and at regional training centres.
Magistrates were local people and there was a local magistrates court in the town.
The fire brigade was run at county level with fire stations in the town and rural part time stations. Ambulances were run on the same basis along with some part-time ambulance staff supplied by volunteer Red Cross and St John Ambulance volunteers.
There were several post offices and a main post office in the town where mail was sorted and delivered locally or sent by rail to other destinations.
Schools were infants, junior, secondary modern and grammar. Mostly teachers lived nearby or were from the locality.
In OUR town there were several hospitals – a much loved cottage hospital originally provided by ‘private donation’, the general hospital built during the war for wounded GIs, a ‘mental hospital’ as they were then called and an isolation hospital which dealt mainly with reducing cases of TB. There were several doctors surgeries and a pack of district and school nurses.
There was a railway station and a bus station run by Midland Red which provided regular buses for schools, along with local and longer distance services.
Employment was mainly industrial at three large manufacturing factories, British Railways, NHS, Royal Mail, alongside smaller private business and rural work in farms and small holdings.
From the end of the war onwards the council had built housing which was to use the modern term ‘affordable’ in quite large numbers and, in many cases, housed people who worked at the three industrial factories or locally or had been imported because of slum clearance and bomb damage from the West Midlands.
For the more ambitious or for people with ‘better’ jobs regional and national builders provided spec houses for sale mainly semi-detached with an integral garage or similar, interestingly the ‘council houses’ were for the most part, better built and had more space.
Communities by slogan is in three parts. Part 2 will be published here tomorrow and Party 3 will be published on Sunday.