Disunited Kingdom: Crisis Leaves Britain Deeply Fractured
24/06/2013 Deja un comentario
(…) Great Britain is currently undergoing a shift. There is growing distance between the periphery and the center, among the individual parts of the kingdom and between the top and the bottom of society. It has never taken as much money as it does today to make it onto the Times list of the 100 wealthiest Britons. Irvine Sellar’s cocktail skewer and all the other towers in London seem even taller and more imposing in eyes of those who stand at the bottom, whom lost a great deal when England was betting on financial industry and neglecting everything else. Society is becoming unravelled at its fringes. Information age has been slow to arrive in Bangor, in northern Wales. “They say we’ll be getting faster Internet soon,” says Bryn Lewis. “They’ve been promising us that for a long time.” Lewis is 23, unemployed, one of about a million Britons between 16 and 24 who are out of work. He writes about his life in North Wales, a remote corner of the country, on the blogs and in Internet forums. Like many of his generation, he would rather do without running water than the Internet. Nevertheless, the Internet is sometimes down for days, he says while sitting in a café in Bangor. Local public transport isn’t in much better shape. Lewis doesn’t have a driver’s license, and there is only limited bus service into the city after 6 p.m. Lewis is one of many who are too clever for the provinces and too lazy for London. His native Wales has seen better days. Its mines stopped supplying fuel for England’s industrial revolution long ago. Nowadays, a young person in Wales has 2 choices: to be unemployed or to move away. Two businesses that still work are health clubs and illegal amphetamine and steroid trade. For years, Lewis has been stumbling between a mentoring program and courses for young entrepreneurs. He was studying chemistry until a year ago, when he dropped out because he could no longer afford the tuition. He is paid a small fee for his blog posts, and occasionally writes articles for the local newspaper. He earns the equivalent of €230 ($310) a month. He saves rent by living alternately with his father and his girlfriend. People who grow up in Bangor waste their youth on the steps of the Costa Coffee Shop or on a bench at the beach. The theater was torn down years ago, the movie theaters have been closed for a long time. You figure out how to get booze without an ID card at early age, says Lewis. He and a teacher recently founded The Bangor Youth Group, which hosts movie nights and lectures. But the group lacks money and space of its own. They are hoping to receive funding from Prince Charles’ foundation. In the meantime, Lewis and his friends get together at Skerries, where a pint of beer costs 1.80. Like in every pub on the entire island, air smells like urinal cake. Johnny and Gaz, who are playing a round of billiards, cook burgers in a fast-food restaurant during the day. Huw is studying creative writing. And Arwel is 21 and stocks supermarket shelves. He has had the words “born free” tattooed onto his knuckles. His daughter Summer has just turned three, but he is no longer with her mother. She is now Lewis’s girlfriend. “It’s all pretty complicated here,” says Lewis. He has just started writing his first novel, which takes place in a desert. Lewis doesn’t want to move to a big city, London included. It’s much too far away. Sometimes it seems to him that London is the capital of a different country.