Poverty Safari: understanding the anger of Britain's underclass
Few people get a worse start in life than Darren McGarvey, author of Poverty Safari. Born to a violently alcoholic mother on a sink estate near Glasgow, he grew up in and practiced a macho culture that sneered at writing and all of its associated activities. This guy from the very first day of his life was on a one way track - the inevitable track to that growing pit of anger so studiously ignored by politicians, councils and all the 'nice' people.
Yet somehow, McGarvey - and no-one seems more surprised than himself - managed to find a way out and moved from seeing books as things for sissies, weeds and bank clerks, to actually writing one - a very good and well written one too.
Contrary to what you might expect, this is not a book of "I started at the bottom and made it and so can everyone else if they work hard enough". On the contrary, he ridicules the notion that "anyone can make it". In climbing out of the hole, however, he gets to understand how the entire system works, the role of addictive drugs in making unbearable lives seem bearable for a while, the effects on personality development of the constant background threat of violence and the fact that many so called community groups supposedly in place to help, yes, poor communities and develop their independence, are in effect, there to help themselves and to create dependence.
This book is not one of an angry victim demanding more benefits. It is not a book of one way traffic. He recognises that those at the bottom must also do more to help themselves and take responsibility for issues beyond their own immediate short term - very short term and very immediate - interests.
For anyone remotely interested in socio-economic conditions in Britain today, this is a must read. Every politician, councillor, policeman and public services administrator should be forced to read it - and then write a coherent precis. An incoherent precis should earn them the sack on the spot!