Tuesday, October 09, 2007
When the letters I tried to post yesterday slid out of the postbox - it was full of estate agents' junk and repossession threats - I realised that the postal strike is just the latest evidence of our nation's mad dash back to the seventies. In that good old, incredibly disturbing decade there were strikes all the time. Going into work at all was regarded as a rather capricious gesture, rather like not wearing platforms. The strikers are sensitively keeping everything 'in period', holding up signs that say 'A decent living wage for postal workers'. Such a sign would have been incomprehensible in the eighties and quaintly amusing in the nineties, but now, suddenly, it seems as right as an Afro on a white guy. But what does it mean? I do pretty well - I can afford to eat at the cinema about once every three months - but is my wage 'decent' and 'living'? The sign became incomprehensible in the eighties because the idea of the market took hold of all our imaginations and people were expected to earn what they were worth according to a strictly abstract calculus. Perhaps it makes sense now because we have acquired a slightly more sophisticated grasp of the idea of the market in which the workers' power to organise a strike is as significant as the simple power of money. Anyway, I am feeling increasingly comfortable now that I am back in my default decade. I am even considering going on strike. I did once and I loved every minute.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 5:44 am