Friday 22 January 2016

Friday Joke: keeping warm and well, in Broken Barnet - visit a library (until we lock the door & sack the staff ...)

No, you couldn't. You really couldn't. Make it up. 

But here it is: the Friday joke, courtesy of Barnet Council:

Download our factsheet for tips on staying warm and well this winter

Yes. A tweet from our council, earlier this week, pretending to worry about the plight of elderly residents in Barnet, senior citizens who might be struggling with the effects of the recent cold snap. 

Not those who live in social housing, of course, or might be from an ethnic minority, or living ... heavens, no ... in one of those ghastly 'sink estates' (more of that in the next post). 

Serves them right, if they feel cold. Put on more clothing, and stop moaning. They are the undeserving poor, who must expect to shiver, and feel sorry for themselves. 

No: we are all awfully worried about the better class of citizen, in Broken Barnet, that is to say, the Tory voter, feeling a bit chilly, and at a bit of a loose end, this winter.

Go and sit in a lovely warm library, the tweet suggests. Maybe take part in a book club, or one of the many other marvellous activities our wonderful libraries have to offer, in their role of providing places for older residents to meet and avoid the risk of social exclusion, and isolation. 

Ah. But Mrs Angry, you may now be asking - (you should be asking, and if you are not, you are a. either rather dim, or b. a Tory councillor, and c. yes, no Venn diagram is needed here, to show any overlap, just one enormous circle) - you should be asking:

Is that one of the libraries that our council is planning to subject to a devastating programme of cuts, accompanied by the sacking of half the library staff, the slashing of staffed opening hours, the shrinking in size of library space, the introduction of completely unstaffed libraries, and the banning of children from all those unstaffed libraries?

Yes, readers, and Tory members, it is. How amusing!

Mrs Angry: will there still be book clubs, and activities, and a warm welcome from librarians, in the new library 'service' our Tory councillors are proposing?

What do you think?

And, erm ... Mrs Angry ... have we not seen that photo somewhere before, anyway?

Yes. Yes, you have. Barnet Council used it for another tweet, not so long ago, to announce - ha, you'll never guess ... the latest, otherwise almost secret consultation process for the dreadful options to cull the library service, as approved by your Tory councillors.


At the time we laughed at the very idea that the photo of five elderly, affluent middle class white people sitting in pearls, and best suit and ties, could possibly represent the real diversity of residents who depend upon the public library service for such a wide range of needs. 

A reasonable representation, perhaps, of the Tory's pet project, still subsidised, even in this age of austerity, by the council: a bijou, pretend 'community' library in Hampstead Garden Suburb, the billionaires' ward where the loudest sound you will hear, apart from the intolerably noisy leaf-blowers, is the yelling of Tory voters demanding the world revolve around their needs.

And in truth this picture does represent very well the lack of understanding by Barnet Council of what a library is, or does, or the vital role it serves, as a central part of what it is that used, once, to make our society one that offers opportunity to all, education for all, and hope for a better world.

A Friday joke, then: but ... the laugh is on us, isn't it?

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