Paul Routledge says, like Canoe Man John Darwin, we are currently drowning in debt amid the cost-of-living crisis. Step Change, the advice charity, received almost six million calls last year
The drama of the Canoe Man Thief and his fake death made for great TV entertainment.
In real life, crooked prison officer John Darwin and his wife Anne were both jailed for six years for fraud.
He flitted to a new life in the Philippines while she now lives quietly in a Yorkshire village.
End of story? Not for me. The play raised a big issue that rarely gets proper media exposure.
I mean debt. Walter Mitty kayaker Darwin “disappeared” because he had huge, unmanageable debts, and the bailiffs were banging on his door.
In the film, the Anne Darwin character yearns for “a simple life, a happy family that pays its bills”.
Some hope, these days.
Britain is sinking under a mountain of personal debt. Credit card borrowing soared by £ 1.5billion in February to £ 59.5bn, the highest since records began in 1993. With interest rates at a punishing 18%, the average adult owes more than £ 1,100 on a credit card and the number of households struggling with debt has risen by a third.
It’s frightening. Step Change, the advice charity, received almost six million calls last year, from debt-burdened people experiencing depression, stress, domestic violence and even suicidal tendencies.
North-East England, where Canoe Man took place, has the highest regional proportion of those asking for help, because the debt crisis is worst where people are the least well-off.
Canoe Man got into trouble through his own greed and folly. Today’s Generation Debt is dragged down by government policies like Universal Credit letdown, benefit freezes and soaring inflation.
Chancellor “Richy” Sunak should be drawing up an emergency Budget, but he’s too busy paying fines.
Hammer and songs
How did anything ever get built before the radio transistor was invented?
No construction site, no odd job on the house, is complete without Radio 2 blaring out the hits of yesteryear. Trowel and terror!
Some lads have a more local taste. I have heard Radio Leeds giving it large amid the cement mixers.
And now they’re getting their own digital station, Fix Radio, whose founding genius Louis Timpany, had the bright idea of delivering bacon butties to building sites.
Listen out for If I Had A Hammer!
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That “whole-hearted” Boris Johnson apology, translated into English: “There were no parties in Number 10, and if there were I wasn’t at them pouring drinks, and if I did it was work-related, and I never misled Parliament or if I did it was unintentional, and I don’t actually believe I did anything wrong – and don’t you know there’s a war on a thousand miles away and I am the reincarnation of Winston Churchill and I will win the next election , so let’s have less of your lip you oiks, right? ”
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Tony Blair thinks 70% of teenagers should go to university. And he should go back to school.
If that happened, where would we get the shop assistants, the bus and lorry drivers, the care home and NHS manual staff, and all the other workers upon whom we depend?
A master’s degree in Football Studies is worthless in a crisis.
Surely, the pandemic has taught us that society as we know it grinds to a halt without key workers, whose efforts should be fully recognized in their pay packets.