Ragged trousered philanthropist
Robert tressell
Wordsworth classic

Amazing how in a century of development and technology and in a world that was unimaginable over 100 years ago a book came out telling a tale of people who “lived in the verge of want; and that a smaller but still very large number lived lives of semi starvation from cradle to grave…” while others “enjoyed abundance of the things that are made by work, were the people who did nothing, while others who lived in want were the people who worked”. As I leave the ictu conference in the right to housing and hear stories of homeless kids either missing school or breakfast as their parents can’t afford both some mornings I struck by how little has changed in this century of change.

Interesting also in the context of the uk living the EU in the form of brexit that Tressels work from over s hundred years ago also tells a tale of people complaining about ‘the foreigners’, “we’re over run with them”, some workers exclaim. But what has changed?

In the story of Owen and his family Tressell notes “Under the present system it was impossible for anyone to succeed in life without injuring other people and treating them as one would not like to be treated…..in order to succeed in the world it was necessary to be brutal, selfish and unfeeling: to push one others aside and to take advantage of their misfortunes”. It may be a story but it’s roots are in fact. It is heart wrenching at times reading of the poverty that Owen and his family were living under while he was going out to work each day. They were living week to week unable to plan beyond the next pay day to allow them to pay for fuel and groceries and rent.
Their 8 year old sone Frankie is the beacon in this book. Full of joy and youthful exuberance whenever he’s mentioned in screaming inside. “Please don’t let anything happen to Frankie”

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