Thursday, 12 October 2017

Plenty Lettuce

In 2016 when the baby-boomer generation became the scapegoats for everything, my plea seemed to fall on deaf ears, and I'm not sure that ten months on it will be heard now.
I never have and will not hitch myself to this bandwagon, though I think the horses long ago galloped off with the cart. And it was, I recall, a rather full and crowded cart with more people climbing up and hanging on to its sides since the space inside was already taken, so that when the horses, nervy with the increasing weight, decided to bolt their passengers squealed with joy and failed to recognise their lives might be imperilled. One of the horses was even lassoed but it being frightfully strong then took a string of men with it, its mane flying and hooves pounding the dirt with its man-made kite-like tail trailing and bobbing before most were shook off and left face-down eating mud.
Those that were sore, yet uninjured curse and spat; a few others sat up dazed and tried to make out in the distance which dots were the horses and which the cart with its heavy cargo. Those that were wounded could do little but admit defeat and stay where they were: lying face-down and occasionally moan.
I don't know what happened to any of those cursing, dazed or defeated men, or if all the cart's cargo, or even the cart, made it, but I do know that those horses slowed; at some point calmed their racing hearts, munched on some grass and took water on in a less dry valley.
These horses, whom we shall call Plenty and Lettuce though they've had many names since, were frequently during 2016 captured and trotted out, and although they had been paraded numerous times before, these occasions were different. It was more usual for stones to be thrown instead of words of admiration. They weren't wanted and were an unwelcome sight in the show ring where they would go for a song. Old nags, it was said with mutters and shakes of the head, which by the looks of them should be put out to pasture, and yet because they provoked talk they never went unsold, though it was usual for the two to end up at another cattle auction in their not-too-distant future.
Folks didn't know how to treat them, the world being what it was. There was no respect for the spent, despite the work they had put in in preceding years. Their very first owner, an English man who liked American slang, having bought them when he was flush had registered them under the above given names: Plenty and Lettuce, for he was proud that he'd achieved so much when he never thought it would be possible for someone like him, not realising that by doing so they would come to symbolise everything that is apparently wrong with every single socio-economic system. But he was long gone by the time that revision had come about: sold up, moved on, to then age on an nest egg he'd been canny enough to invest and save.
And that, according to (mostly) younger generations, as well as media and political pundits, is a problem, one of many, which they say comes from having had it so good. These horses, I think, would be less likely to agree, for all they did was run the race that was marked on their card: the 3:30 at Cheltenham. It was luck. Things were on the 'up' and the State were more helpful. And now having lived well, as a millennial might proclaim, they've been footing the blame for our stretched resources: in healthcare, the housing market, and even overcrowding in prisons.
It's unjust, and it's disrespectful. All of us are products of our time, which means some of us benefit, some of us don't. Each generation, no matter where they fall in the scheme of things, has their own ills to contend with, individual and societal, which have an impact on how a country's then run and the provision of services. In other words, we all add to the pot as well as take away, whereas blame just shifts responsibility and delays positive action. I say cut the baby-boomers some slack because their only crime, as I see it, is to have lived as any other generation would have done had they been in their position.

* Plenty lettuce: American slang for plenty of money.

Picture credit: A Day in the Country, Victorian print, 1877