Mod­ern ex­pec­ta­tions

The Church of England - - LETTERS -

Sir, Is it pos­si­ble to share a few doubts with­out be­ing seen as a heart­less vil­lain?

I read with con­sid­er­able sym­pa­thy about many fam­i­lies, in­clud­ing teach­ers, mem­bers of the armed forces, nurses and mid­wives all fac­ing eco­nomic prob­lems (CEN 20 Jan­uary). I sit in my warm house, wellfed and (ap­par­ently) se­cure, so I am vul­ner­a­ble to crit­i­cism.

But we war-chil­dren were ac­cus­tomed to an age of aus­ter­ity. Our toys were sim­ple and val­ued (Lego later kept chil­dren busy for hours); our food was sim­ple but nour­ish­ing. Is it not ac­cepted that the pop­u­la­tion was never fit­ter than 1939-45? This week the pro­gramme “What a waste” (ITV1 on Thurs­day 17 Jan­uary) showed how proper plan­ning cut food bills by half for the fea­tured fam­ily, as well as show­ing all sorts of ar­eas where ap­palling de­grees of waste oc­curs.

Which raises the ques­tion: how can peo­ple be taught to ex­pect less and to make much bet­ter use of what they have?

In 1996 my wife and I left af­flu­ent Bri­tain with VSO to teach in Tessenei, on the edge of the desert in Eritrea. Our diet was very sim­ple; we had no fridge and the tem­per­a­ture was usu­ally around 38 to 40C. We only be­came ill when po­lite­ness meant that we had to ac­cept drink based on un­fil­tered water, but that is an­other story (Go for it WaterAid). The chil­dren in our com­pound had a bro­ken wheelbarrow to play with and there were seven of them, but it was warm. No elec­tronic games, and no TV. No ur­gent to need to have the lat­est gad­get that the chil­dren in UK had. Which was the hap­pier group?!

Ed­u­ca­tion, Ed­u­ca­tion, Ed­u­ca­tion... for the will­ing horse look­ing for the ap­pro­pri­ate water. Tony Culling­ford, Tewkes­bury

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