Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Ladybird Book of the Recession - Part Two


This is a town, like many other towns. Perhaps you live somewhere like this. 

In this town, many people work in the local shops and factories. Some travel further, by rail or road, to a job in another town. 

The shops are very important to the town. 

When somebody buys bread at the bakery, the baker can use some of that money to buy meat from the local butcher. The butcher may then spend some of this money to have his car serviced at the nearby garage. 

This system of people passing money around is called a 'local economy'. 

Some experts think that if you spend a shilling, it will be worth ten shillings to the town, because it will have been handed around so many times.


This lady is not helping the local economy. 

She is buying her food from a supermaket that sends most of its money to another town, many miles away. But the supermarket is cheap and the lady is worried that she cannot afford to buy her food in the local shops.

The lady is not the only person in the town worrying about money. When a lot of people start to worry about money at the same time and begin buying fewer things, this is called a 'recession'.

A recession affects most people in the town. 

The fishmonger says that fewer people are buying fresh fish from his shop this year. Because of this, he will have to get rid of his assistant and may even close the shop. 

He is very worried.

Some governments will try to stop people worrying by spending more money, to protect jobs and help businesses. 

If fewer jobs are lost, more people will spend money in the shops. But this town has a government that is trying to mend the recession by spending less.

Because the Government is giving less money to people, many shops and businesses in the town are beginning to close. Some people are losing their jobs.


At this local factory, a man called Robert has been told that he is going to lose his job as a sales manager. 

He will also have to hand back his 'company car', which was given to him by the factory. 

Robert is very worried about how this will affect his family.

Robert and his family live in a nice new housing estate, but it is a long way from the centre of town. They will now have to catch a bus to go the shops. 

The buses are expensive and some of the passengers smell.


Robert likes drinking wine. 

Since he lost his job, Robert has been drinking more wine. His wife is worried that they cannot afford it, but Robert says that the wine cheers him up.


Wine can make people forgetful. 

Robert has forgotten to pay for his bottle of wine. 

As he leaves the shop, a policeman arrives. The policeman was called by the shopkeeper, who was worried that Robert has stolen the wine.

In a recession, when people cannot afford to buy the things they want, some of them steal. If they are caught, they may go to prison.


This lady may not look like a thief, but she has stolen an expensive handbag. 

She is trying to pretend that the handbag is hers. The other woman is getting cross.

The lady wanted the handbag because she had seen a lot of advertisements for it. 

When people who have no money keep being told to buy things they cannot afford, they can become sad or angry.


Some young people became so angry that they robbed this department store and set fire to it. The store will probably not open again and a lot of shopworkers will lose their jobs. 

Most people are afraid of losing their job. 

However, the Government is worried that a lot of people would prefer to stay at home and watch television instead of working and paying taxes, so they are changing the law.


These men will not be able to watch television all day, as they now live outdoors. 

They used to live in houses that belonged to the town, but they were told that these homes were too big for them. 

The Government would like these men to live in smaller homes and get a job.  

But they will have trouble finding work, as they cannot look smart for a job interview.


Nobody knows when the recession will end. 

Robert and his wife have decided to have a fresh start in Australia, where Robert will work at his brother-in-law's carpet cleaning business. 

Robert is not very interested in carpet cleaning.

They will all miss their family and friends. 

The town was their home, but they know that even if the recession ends, the old shops will not reopen and life will never quite be the same again.    

45 comments:

Brian Busby said...

Thank you for this. As with so very much these days, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

I note Robert's daughter is about to dip into his wife's pre-mixed piña coladas.

Rog said...

Oh my goodness, brilliant cutting satire Steerforth!

David said...

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Steerforth said...

Brian - A family that drinks together stays together.

Rog - Thanks for the link. I'm useless at Twitter, but I spotted your tweet.

David - I'm glad you like it. I never know ehether people are going to like these posts and always press the update button with a slightl feeling of dread.

Little Nell said...

Banish that feeling of dread at once. This was simply brilliant.

David Marsden said...

Excellent, I doff my cap to you. Dave (a huge Ladybird fan).

Desperate Reader said...

Again, just brilliant.

nilly said...

Those '50s Ladybirds were part of my childhood. It was an era when we thought the future was a green & pleasant land with higher education & opportunities for all. Granny might remember the workhouse but her son owned his own home.
It was good while it lasted!

Steerforth said...

Nell, David, Hayley and Nilly - I'm very grateful for your comments and thank you for wrestling with the frustrations of 'Captcha'. I've just had a pretty awful week, so your comments are like a tonic.

MikeP said...

Just wanted to add more congratulations. I've posted on Facebook, so you may get some random traffic from random places...

David said...

teerforth

Sorry you had such a bad week - but glad you can still come back with such an inspired and biting piece.

It may only be a small comfort, but at least the evenings will get lighter now: and it is slowly getting warmer - spring WILL come.

Steerforth said...

Thanks Mike - I can see Facebook on the visitor stats. I also noticed that I had one hit from the search term 'boyscouts in underwear'!


David - I think I wrote the Ladybird piece because I couldn't possibly write about real life at the moment (all grim stuff to do with my oldest son's illness, which would make depressing reading and violate his privacy). Escaping into the world of Ladybird - albeit from a jaundiced, 2013 political perspective - has been a pleasant diversion.

T E L Dranlor said...

Wonderful stuff, it's evoked memories of a more innocent Middlesex childhood and cheered me up no end. I love that picture from the Book of the Fireman.

Martin said...

Thank goodness Robert and his family didn't opt for Cyprus!

Steerforth said...

Lord Dranlor - So, Wuhunderthug Castle now has internet access? I expect Athos would be complaining about his antique dongle.

Martin - That would have been the perfect topical ending - I should have thought of that. Is it too late to go back and change it?

Canadian Chickadee said...

Was this a real Ladybird book, or did you just write it? Whatever, it's brilliant. I wish I could send it to every one of our legislators and congressmen. (I could send it, but they probably wouldn't bother to read it.)

Thanks for sharing this.

Hope you have a wonderful - quiet - peaceful - Happy Easter.

Steerforth said...

Carol - I'm afraid that it's a forgery, using images from four Ladybird books, accompanied by a pastiche of the writing style. But I like the idea that this could have been a genuine Ladybird book. There's a thin line between parody and the real thing - I was watching a 1943 war film with my mother this afternoon and at times, it resembled this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LS37SNYjg8w

Canadian Chickadee said...

Steerforth! It is NOT a forgery -- it's a creative satire! This is what political satirist Jon Stewart does on TV for a living!! :0)

Steerforth said...

I don't know how Jon Stewart does it. I know he doesn't have to write all of the material, but to be so consistently brilliant for days, months and years is awe-inspiring.

Rob Spence said...

Brilliant! Well done - should be required reading for IDS.

Steerforth said...

Thanks Rob - There are a lot of things I'd like to make IDS read!

Sandra Morris said...

As a child I had a massive collection of this generation of Ladybird books so your pastiche brought a tear to my eye.

Wonderful stuff....I feel compelled to post a link.

Steerforth said...

Thank you Sandra. There's something terribly poignant about the Ladybird books from the 1950s and 60s - a lost idyll. Perhaps life was never really like that, but my early childhood - in Teddington - did resemble a Ladybird book.

I wish I knew an artist who could create some Ladybird-style illustrations of modern life.

Ronnie said...

We love you Steerforth.

Richmonde said...

Imagine putting on a suit, hat and gloves to go shopping. Love that Ladybird art - I'd like the canteen on my wall. Copyright though - you need a contemporary version. I'm sure there's a talented artist out there...

Mark and Marianne Egan said...

Being from Texas and not up on "Ladybird", I read this post as a sort of blog suicide note. I thought you were telling us that you were giving up all hope and moving to Australia to clean carpets. I rushed to read the comments and realised what your more clever readers more readily understood.

Steerforth said...

Richmonde - My father was a Ladybird dad - he looked absurd in the 1970s and I used to plead with him to swap his Morris Oxford for a snazzy Ford Cortina. But he thought the world had gone to pot in the 1960s and refused to move with the times.

Mark and Marianne - Yes, I wasn't sure how this would translate to non-UK/Commonwealth readers, but I'm sure that there were many similar children's books in the US that depicted an idyllic world. These images seemed a good way of making a point about certain issues without getting on a soapbox.

Brian Busby said...

Christmas always brought Ladybirds and Rupert Annuals to our Canadian home. The UK did indeed seem idyllic, if old fashioned. On the other hand, I knew that it was also the land of SHADO and Ziggy Stardust.

I was eleven when I made my first Atlantic crossing. UFO had been cancelled, glam was dead, and they'd stopped making the Morris Oxford. Still, I was happy to see that it on the streets.

Steerforth said...

I've never recovered from the fact that the future didn't turn out like UFO (although I'm obviously relieved about the lack of alien attacks).

Séamas Poncán said...

Perhaps a couple of pages about where the magic government money comes from would have improve it. Or not.

By the by (as you folks say), on your recommendation I got myself a copy of Blood Relations. Really enjoying it.

Steerforth said...

Two pages? That would be a challenge. My Ladybird book isn't quite a complete economic tract, I'll admit, and as for the local economy issue, I omitted to acknowledge the huge influence of the internet.

As for where the money comes from, that opens up a whole can of worms about whether it's right to speculate to accumulate. We could easily cite examples where this works (Roosevelt) and others where the resukt is a bankrupt country with hyperinflation.

All I can see is that the current austerity programme in the UK is accelerating its decline by depressing economic activity, rather than balancing the books. But I'm just a layman.

Glad you're enjoying 'Blood Relations' - a real page turner!

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Utterly brilliant! Thank you.

RB said...

Fabulous! You are so clever! I have shared it on my FB page. Hope that was OK.

Steerforth said...

Thanks Laura - and thanks for the link on Facebook. Hope to see you at Lewes Poetry the 18th.

RB - All links gratefully received! Glad you liked it.

Canadian Chickadee said...

Steerforth, you're not alone in wondering if all the enforced austerity programmes from various govts. are hurting rather than helping. There was an editorial in our paper the other day about just that. And about how the Republicans are kvetching because things aren't as bad as they warned us all they'd be, if Obama was re-elected. You really have to be a die-hard political supporter to be upset when things get better, I think! xoxo

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Is it worth publishing a new set of ladybird books to explain the modern world to today's children I wonder?

I reckon you're on to something here Steerforth! Lx

David said...

About 10 years ago (I think) the BBC sponsored a Ladybird style book to explain the Internet. It was a very good imitation (and obviously done with permission).

I learnt to read with Labybird. I remember they did a series of books 1a, 1b, 1c, 2a, 2b, 2c and so on, each progressily harder. The a and b books were stories, the c book was exercises: less fun...

Steerforth said...

"This is Peter. This is Jane. This is Peter and Jane" etc...

Yes, I also learned to read courtesy of Ladybird. I now have an original illustration from one of the books proudly framed on my wall.

The BBC pastiche was very good, created to launch the ill-fated beeb.com, back in 2000.

zmkc said...

I blame Ladybird, Janet and John and all their hideously banal utopian ilk for everything. From the moment I realised they were replacing Mac and Tosh - http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=5902536054&searchurl=sts%3Dt%26tn%3Dmac%2Band%2Btosh - I knew we were all going to hell in a handbasket

Steerforth said...

Sacrilege! I agree about Janet and John, but my love of Ladybird knows no bounds.

I've just seen the cover for Mac and Tosh and it looks rather austere: two dogs and two cows against a blue background. The contents must be very exciting to inspire such loyalty.

Nota Bene said...

Truly fabulous...well done

bartolomeu jacq said...

Its beautiful

David Salter said...

Brilliant, and I'd love to see one about Kim Jong Un... The bad man who tries to blow up the world.... And America said, you are very very naughty....

Steerforth said...

Thank you Nota Bena and Bartolomeau.

David - I've loved to do one on Kim. He deseves to be more ridiculed than he is. There's a 'Gangnam Style' version here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lA88ngzBq6Y although the singer isn't fat enough to be Kim.

As far as the US goes, I think they're showing an admirable restraint by not playing into his hands. The result is that North Korea is now more isolated than ever.

Anonymous said...

Political satire it may be, but it's a perfect tool for discussing the present economic situation with my seven year old daughter, thanks!!