by Jay Coward, East London Socialist Party
I don’t think we should just toil, pay up and die
When I was 12, I realised how much time I had spent watching my mum stress and sort her finances. Anything from bills to birthdays would be a matter of writing it out, and sorting it methodically.
She never made me feel like a burden, but I couldn’t get over this gut-wrenching feeling that I was one anyway. So I went across the street, and asked the hairdresser if he had any work for me to do the weekends when I wasn’t at school.
If I could make enough, then she wouldn’t have to worry about me in those lists and bills and maybe, just maybe, I could even help her out directly myself one day.
Then it hit me one weekend. Eight hours is a really long time.
People do this every day? No sensation of sunlight on your skin? Just one break? My feet hurt already! How am I so tired?
I kept thinking: “How do people do this?” Once you’re dropped in the blender, you don’t get back out until you’re already shredded.
Years pass, and it never stops bothering me. It really didn’t matter where I worked, I would come home bone tired and find myself furious
How are people doing this? What am I missing? When can I relax?
Some nights I’d think this in anger. Some nights I’d think this in tears. Most of the time I’d wish I could just black out the commute and shift from my memory, and just fast forward to being at home and feeling human again.
When I asked my mum how she dealt with it, I remember her saying: “It is what it is.” Bullshit. This isn’t normal.
Every one of these jobs so far had been part-time. I had it easy compared to people slaving away for 50 hours a week, and I’d be walking home at 4am feeling like a shell.
Bullshit that that’s just life. Bullshit no one has a problem with that.
I’ve now got a slightly dodgy ankle entering my 20s. Not from a single injury, but from continuous strain from carrying dinners up and down stairs at a restaurant.
Working service for eight years had started off an injury capable of being permanent, and taken countless precious moments and ungodly amounts of peace from my life. And still I’d not found a reassurance that it ends anytime soon.
I couldn’t see a future in sight where my mum could stop worrying about bills. Hell, I now had my own bills to worry about! Is there not a word for people who don’t think we should just toil, pay up and die?
I’d probably heard words like ‘communist’ or ‘socialist’ in cartoon stereotypes. It wasn’t until I’d left school that I started digging.
During 2020, and the growing political consciousness that took place after the global Black Lives Matter protests, I realised all I want is to not worry about my groceries, or the roof over my head, and to not live with the knowledge that my mum’s still struggling back home.
I met the Socialist Party in Nottingham briefly. When I was back in London, I wanted to know more, do more and help more. So I sought out the Socialist Party in east London.
We outnumber them
I immediately got a sense that this lot saw what I saw. Not a helpless population at the mercy of the state, but a simple fact. We outnumber them. The banks, parliament, capitalists, there are simply more angry poor folks than there are people oppressing them.
The Socialist Party sees this, and has endeavoured for people to see the same. We always have been stronger together, and stronger organised.
So I swallowed my anger and my scepticism to a pleasant surprise — these guys don’t think it is what it is, they know it has to change. So do I.