Across the UK tomorrow, thousands of people will be united in complaining about strikes. Even the ferverently liberal Twitter (originally created as a device to complain in no more than 140 characters – early beta editions were actually originally called Complainr) will be filled with the angry mutterings of people who can’t get on their chosen flight or can’t send their children to school. And, a vast majority of these people won’t be froth-mouthed Daily Mail readers.

I can understand that if you read the Daily Mail (or similar) then you’ll have known for years that Len McCluskey has a bust of Lenin on his desk which he genuflects to each morning, or that Brendan Barber spends his million pound salary on teams of immigrants to sit in his office gently humming The Red Flag as he goes about his days work, but that isn’t really what I’m going on about here. I’m talking about ordinary people (and yet trying not to echo that over-used phrase of politicians, ‘hard-working families’ – coupled with ‘our brave soldiers’, this would make a lethal election TV debate drinking game) with generally reasonable views, who nonetheless freak the hell out every time a section of the public sector goes on strike. Cries of “selfishness” will fill the air, along with dark mutterings about “gold plated pensions” and the “public sector gravy train”.

All of which seems to me to be one massive contradition. Surely the very nature of a strike is to make people appreciate what the public sector actually does for them. The workers who make the tube run on time, who provide a good education for your children every other day of the year – this is the “public sector gravy train” that you’re complaining about. And generally, for lower equivelent wages than the private sector would pay, they do a very good job. Why are people complaining? Because something they’ve previously taken for granted has disappeared. For a day.

One statistic that’s often waved about or shrieked about in headlines is that public sector workers earn a lot more on average than they did twenty five years ago. When you look at the figures, there’s no denying that this is the case. But when you look at the causes, things are very different. The reason for this is very simple – there are less public sector workers now than there were twenty five years ago (cheers Maggie!). And the ones that have disappeared are generally the lower paid workers – the cleaners, the telephone workers, a lot of postmen. Who’s left? Teachers, nurses, council employees. Of course they’re earning more on average – that’s what happens when you privatise all the lower paid roles. It’s a simple calculation, but it makes for a hell of a public sector bashing headline when you leave out the workings.

One thing the media has increasingly succeeded in is demonising the trade unions. I’ve never understood why. A group of workers banding together, and achieving (usually through negotiation, and very rarely through strikes) fair conditions. And this is something that politicians aren’t going to do by themselves. Think about it – we didn’t even have a minumum wage until 1997. They’re not (as a whole) communists – they’re representing the interests of their members in a largely democratic manner, they’ve got a long and (generally) honorable record of representing workers treated badly by their employers, they provide a voice for the (often) weak and powerless, and yet they’re painted by the press as the avenging ghost of Joseph Stalin.

Whatever your views on the ‘deficit’ may be, or the need to make ‘savings’, take another look at what the public sector actually does before you moan about the minor inconveniences they’ve caused in your day. Bravo, Comrades, bravo!

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It ends. It begins. Time passes. (Sometimes in parenthesis).

It’s June. The days are long. I’m slightly reminded of that Pulp song where he whispers everything that’s “over” at the end. The Fear is over. Sheffield is over. Men are over. Women are over. Bye-bye. The Festival is over. Hanover Day is over. More or less, anyway. I’m not going to write about Hanover Day here, not yet anyway. I’ve achieved some of the things on my list. Had my hair cut, which would look quite hip if I wasn’t so ruddy of cheek and battered of tooth. Lay on my face for 48 hours occasionaly reading the left-leaning and political press, interspersed with Moomin books. Tidied up the new book and sent it out to people to draw pictures (some of them, anyway). Still trying to work on a title and an epigram.

Other than that, been running around doing some rather nice things, on and off. My friend Adrien is getting married tomorrow, so I’m currently trying to stitch buttons onto suits and other things to make myself look slightly less scruffy. Went up to London a couple of weeks ago for his stag do, which wouldn’t normally be the sort of thing I’m into (don’t think I’m enough of a boy to do stuff like that) but in the end it was mostly a day of going out drinking with some old friends that it’s always good to see. Except one of them was dressed as MC Hammer.

Last weekend I went to a clown picnic for my friend James‘s birthday. Clown Dress Compulsory. Got attacked by seagulls and drank all sorts of miscellaneous booze, which is pretty much what clowns do. Apart from the seagull bit. Here’s James and some random guy from the Ukraine drinking special brew.

The only downside of Clown Picnic and all the miscellaneous booze was that I was supposed to be doing a poetry gig that evening, and so as everyone stumbled off the beach, I ran to the internet shop to print out some missing poems, went for a drink with Vicky (whose birthday it also was), and by the time I went to the gig I was thoroughly confused and dressed as a clown. Needless to say, it wasn’t my best performance. And by ‘not my best performance’, I mean I couldn’t really read the words, did two poems from memory (I think they were poems, although I’ve got a slight suspicion the first one might have just been a Kate Bush cover), got about three quarters through the third poem, freaked the hell out and ran for the door. So yeah, it’s either rock & roll or flagrant unprofessionalism.

Amy came back for a few short days. This was brilliant! Her timing could possibly have been better as I was right in the midst of Hanover Day related freakout and so she mostly saw me wild eyed and stressing over drum kits, but it was a delight to see her nonetheless. Still coming to terms with my best mate living (usually) at least hundreds, often thousands of miles away. Really need to get my act together and arrange some kind of long distance writing project. Or lure her back to Brighton and trap her in the cupboard under the stairs.

Went up to Norwich on Tuesday to see my sister’s final show. She won the Norwich College of Arts award for the best thing in the exhibition (I think – not sure what the actual name of the prize was). It’s a massive creepy installation filled with pulsating bundles of kangaroo fur and a dead-bird cuckoo clock covered in human hair and walking sticks with feet. Plus a load of bits and pieces that I recognised from the family home but had been absorbed into her installation. Visit her blog here, and if any of you fancy booking her to create a creepy living room full of dead things in your house, please do so.

After that we went out and hit the town, which basically involved hanging out in an increasingly seedy selection of Norwich’s nightspots, failing to get them to play Super Sharp Shooter (no idea where that came from), before stumbling back home and staying up drinking cider and complaining about the relative lots of those trained in Fine Art and English Literature; “no-one takes you seriously!”. Personally, I’ve got fairly used to no-one taking me seriously.

And then after an obscenely small amount of sleep, we got up again and Kitty & Anna got the train to Glastonbury – I followed as far as London and left them on their way to the mud and the mayhem. It’s been a busy couple of weeks. It’s been a good couple of weeks.