Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - March 1, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta
British civil servants eke out living Thunday, March I, 1973 THE LETKBRlDOt HERALD S By Dave Humphreys, Herild London commentator LONDON Brook dropped into The Horn pub the other day to explain over a pint of bitter and a steak pie why he is withdrawing his per- co-operation from Her Majesty's government. He produced personal figures which added up to with a little judicious trimming here and there. Arthur earns a month after ten years in the British civil service. He has risen to a responsible junior management job in the educa- tion department where he is concerned with carrying out government policy. He plans to join many of the government employees on Feb. 27 in what his union terms a "one-day work stop- page." It will be the closest the British civil service has come to striking. "We don't call this a the Society of Civil mm IBLD Servants Bays, "but it is an op- portunity for employees to register the bitterness and re- sentment call it what you will that prevails in the ser- vice today." Already Arthur and his colleagues are being rather fussy and precise about carrying put their duties. They are refusing to work overtime. Arthur's trouble is that he is caught in the freeze, as stage- two of the government's in- comes limitation policy is known. He had a raise of TO per cent a year ago, which happens to be about the maxi- mum now permitted under the new policy. But civil service unions claim their members are due for increases of between 15 and 20 per cent to keep pace not only with an Inflationary cost of living but also with rising 1 dap, I iMnfc I've got a bit of tht 'American ftu'l" pay scales for comparable work in industry. Every second year a re- March unit surveys the field outside the civil service, report- ing to management and unions as a basis for negotiations. In the past this method resulted in the civil service at least ap- proaching outside rates every second year. This year the freeze rules out increases large enough to catch up. Civil ser- vants consider tiiat they, of all unions, have a special case to present and the government is treating them unfairly. As a result, even Downing Street has been ticking over with less than its accustomed efficiency. Arthur's case, with minor repeated thou- sands of times In the British civil service. He is quiet spo- ken, neatly dressed, rather re- served and reluctant to do or say anything that would reveal himself as a trouble-maker. Nor does he belong to the other minority who believe the civil service, is such a singular calling that it must be honor- ably shouldered whatever the financial returns. "I agree he has a responsibility to the tax- payer who pays his salary I would never go bull at the gate to get as much as I could because it put the coun- try out of business.'' Short of that, he thinks he has a case when the govern- ment has just announced that food prices have increased alone by 25 per cent since 1970, well above his salary increases over the same period. Basically he is tired of struggling to make ends meet. Arthur, who is 31, lives in Tonbridge, Kent, with his wife Jane, son Geoffrey, nine, and Pamela, six. Living there he is eligible for a monthly Lon- don living allowance, which is included in the salary. He is fairly typical in sev- eral respects. He lives in a three bedroom, semi detach- er1 (duplex) house with gar- den, which is one of his hob- bies. The children attend a nearby state, school. Although a growing number of British wives do work, Arthur's doesn't, yet, The Brook family's largest single item is for food, he figured for a month (aH fig- ures are quoted at the ex- change rate of to the Gone are the days of cheap food in Britain. Hamburger at a nearby store was selling for 96 cents a pound, uncleaned turkey for 72 cents a pound. Bread is about 24 cents a loaf. Running close behind the food bill is a mortgage payment of The Brook house !s a solid investment that would fetch about today, or an increase of several thousand dollars since they bought 'it three years ago. Income tax costs Arthur a month. Properly taxes are an additional He pays a monthly premium of for National Health Service and for pension and insurance poli- cies. The health service gives the Brooks an advantage over Ca- nadian couples who pay medi- care premiums. His covers, in addition to doctor and hospital care, full dental and opthalmic care and the cost prescribed drugs, except for a token "de- terrent" charge on drugs and Working in London, the ad- vantage may be offset by the cost of his season ticket on the railway, a month for the 45- minute run each way. He leaves home about for the morning train and returns about 7 p.m. Canadians might envy the Brooks their-Easter holiday in Majorca, ten days at a hotel on the beach at Porto Cristo, air fares and full room and board for In fact, like most Europeans, they have the edge on Canadians for holidays. Arthur gets five weeks less one day a year. He doesn't expect to venture far from home for the Budgeting for Major- ca, allowing some spending money, the Brooks put aside a month. Nearly as much, Is a typical monthly bill for phone, light, gas and water, al- though the figure is arrived at by juggling, because British utilities are paid quarterly. The family car, the bottom line 1968 model of a popular British car make, sets them back another costs 86 cents a gallon, which soon makes for a week of Jane's running around town. Road tax is a month. Like most British families, the Brooks rent their television, at a low rate of a month because they haye been renting from the same firm for three years. Altogether credit buying costs them ?ll, modest by any standards and possible because their car is paid off. Arthur's figures at this point added up to leaving only for "the which in- cludes the substantial clothes bill. But that, he insisted, was about all there was left. Clothes are the one thing cheaper here where a man can still buy a good suit for less than if he stays off Sa- vile Row. A recent compara- tive survey in The Financial Times of London showed that equivalent men's clothes cost- ing in Montreal cost in London.. Women's clothes were and for each city. "We really have no outside entertainment simply because we can't afford said Arth- ur. The last film he saw was about two years ago. At week- ends he occasionally spends a dollar or so at his local pub but Arthur isn't a regular. He con- fines bis hobbies to the gar- den, and reading and watching television. Chances are that the Brooks house is smaller than most Canadian houses. Their refrig- erator is four cubic feet and table height, Jane hangs the clothes on a line across the gar- den. Clothes dryers and dish- washers are luxury items which the Brooks and most others don't have. In any com- parison there are advantages to be enjoyed by families in Bri- tain and in Canada. But the British housewife usually comes out on the short end. Of course money isn't every- thing, but it is what the civil servants are grumbling about. It is what the government is attempting to preserve in value. And it's what Arthur agreed to talk about. Books in brief SPRING IS JUST AROUND THE Ifs Time To O Start Your Indoor Plants Now! GENERAL PURPOSE POTTING SOIL 23-lb. bag 1.25 1Mb. bag 1 .09 5-lb. bog 65' 3-Peck PEAT MOSS 99V 69' AFRICAN VIOLET POTTING SOIL 5-lb. Bag 35' VERMICULITE 2 QUART BAG, EACH. 59' Learning from the past By 1'eler Hunt, free-lance writer FERTABS-FERTILIZER (13-17-11) 3 sizes Small each s 50s 5 1.00 G h SCHUITZ-INSTANT LIQUID PLANT FOOD (10-15-10) EACH Q.99 ANT TRAPS DIXORREID PLANT FOOD (0-2-1) 3 Small each Medium Each Large Vf Each 0 INSTANT LEAF SHINE 5 oi. bomb 98' INDOOR HERB GARDENS 2 herb sli 8 herb til 324 13th Street North PRO NORTH LETHBRIDGE "fOUR PRO STORE FOR I HARD-TO-FIND HARDWARE" Phone 328-4441 POINTS THE WAY TO GREAT SAVINGS ON THESE TIMELY PRICED ITEMS "The Devastating Boys" by Elizabeth Taylor (Clarke, Irvin and Company Ltd.. 203 The Devastating Boys is a collection of the best short stor- ies I have read in a long time. In her 11 tales, Elizabeth Tay- lor covers as many subjects. Each one is entirely different in background and treatment from all others but they have one thing in common: each in- dividual character is as real and alive as if the author knew them as well or better than her- self. The two "devastating" "Hie boys from underprivileged homes are as true to life as is their middle aged hostess who reluctantly takes them into her well ordered, now childless, home, into her life and, finally, into her heart, Gwendaj in Excursion to the Source, who worms her way into a guardianship and a com- fortable life is as ruthless and unloving in following her own selfish path as her ward, Polly, is striving for freedom, love and beauty, a quest that ends dramatically. If ever you have met a lone- ly black man cooking beans on a gas ring in a cheap, grey London boarding house, a for- eigner longing for the rain to stop, for the laughter and warm friendships of his sunny native land, you have met "Tall Boy." By the same token, you ima- gine you have met and known each character in Elizabeth Taylor's stories intimately but I won't spoil them for you by divulging too much of their con- tent or plots for I hope you will read them. This is one of the few books I could thoroughly recommend for a present to anybody who enjoys really first class writ- ing. I know of few other living authors who so gripped my imagination. EVA BREWSTER "Black Tracks" by Floyd Miles. (G. R. Welch Co. Ltd. 315 pages. This is a short story about a Black's dramatic turn from drugs to Christ. It is handled far too shallowly, especially when one considers the book deals with two of the world's greatest social contradictions, drug abuse and religion. There is, however, a great lesson in the book for the potential drug user, pertaining to the hideous results of the drug as well as the social and moral degrada- tion of the user. The opeoiing list of names on the first two pages of the book put drug abuse in its proper light the list is that of friends of the author who have died either di- rectly or indirectly from using drugs. It is a shame that the author's moral and social prob- lems don't come across with a more personal meaning. G, A. No doubt, almost everyone who visits other countries recalls experiences which stand out vividly in tlie mass ot memories which seem almost the best aspect of travel abroad. There are certain experiences which seem clessic, a strange blend of the pre- dictable but delightfully surprising. We have all been long aware of the vast increase in tourism and of the etfects of thronging and milling crowds on sacred and famous places. A good example of such an upsurge in fashlnable visitation of once comparatively sequestered shrines is that of Westminster Abbey. One fairly quiet afternoon last summer, my brother and I were lingering in Poets' Corner, reading the inscription on Chau- cer's tomb, when through the nearby door burst a party of sight-seers. Quite sudden- ly, the Abbey quiet was broken by a loud voice, clearly female but nonetheless form- idable crying: "Coom orn, Arlbet, noo tahm for reerdin; ornly Her poor mate had apparently paused to read an inscrip- tion near the door, and this did not fit into the timetable. Two Canadian girls were promptly thrown into a fit of hysterics by this dramatic but symptomatic entry. A little later on- while we were reading an inscription on the monument of one of the many statesmen whose virtues ore extolled in this temple of God, a sharp-faced little 'man came racing by, hair slicked back, mouth working rapidly in a patter of ster- eotyped information, at the head of a large party of tourists, trying to keep pace with him and, with wild-eyed eagerness, at- tempting to see all that he had to show them. I caught the -words: you look down, you will see the tablet to Vaughan Williams." They had just one second to look down before the next piece of informa- tion came streaming out, and ten minutes later were heading for their bus. Edward the Confessor slept quietly on. One day, after a few, meditative beers at Dr. Johnson's old pub, we entered the famous house the learned doctor had dig- nified with his presence. It was not long before we found ourselves reading an orig- inal edition of the wise and witty diction- ary, looking up some of his more enter- taining and instructive definitions. Present- ly, the voice of the curator came through the door of the next room where she was sitting: "I am sorry about the My. predecessor patched-up the torn pages with Scotch tape." And lo and behold, there were several pages "repaired" with the clumsiest criss-cross of tape imagin- able. The indignant shade of Boswell seem- ed to be near, and one almost expected to hear another Johnsonian jibe about things Scotch. Life is full of surprises, and some cf them are full of irony. In England, the trains seem to be quite unpunctual, while in Ire- land they are r.ight on time. Somehow one expects the heart ot a once-mighty empire to be the essence of efficiency; it isn't, at least not nowadays. Nor is it worried about it; London has so much to offer that it can afford to be deficient in some respects, even in ordinary hygiene in public facil- ities. What a vast, mouldering treasure- house of history and faded glory that city is] And what a human place it is to live in, compared with some impersonal and antiseptic, modern urban agglomerations. A sense of neighborhood and of commun- ity persists there; a sense of homeliness mingled with grandeur. Every street and monument, railway station and park, and the old Thames itself, is familiar from its association with history and its signifi- cance in literature. Canterbury Is just one hour's train jour- ney from London. It is a city where could spend a year exploring and medi- tating, but where even a few days, under the right conditions, are enriching for a life-time. The Pilgrims' Inn, the Greyfriars monastery, the Cathedral itself, are enough for any man to enjoy. Speaking to the Cathedral clergy, cms finds that a degree of bitter regret at the plundering of Bucket's shrine lives on. golden, rose-grown ruins of the old mon- astery nearby are an eloquent reminder of the fateful dissolution of the monaster- ies by Henry and his agents, and of the i school for the boys of the parish which the monks provided, replaced by the King's School, an exclusive establishment, of aca- demic excellence but accessible only to the wealthy. But the spires of Canterbury Cathedral point forward as well as back; they survived the bombs, and symbolize the values of which we will all stand in grave need in the future. Evolution is continuous By Pamela Goddard, free-lance sHIrr PINCHER CREEK I have been ap- palled to see that some people in Alberta are advocating an anti-evolutionist move- ment in schools. A recent article in The Herald seemed to suggest that somehow the teaching of evolution was anti-religious and that anyone who subscribed to such a "theory" was necessarily anti-religious. I consider tills not to be the case. I was further alarmed to read that a question had been brought up in the legislature on this very topic. Many scientists are religious. Many are not. However, this would not seem to me to have any bearing on whether "science" should be taught in schools. Science and religion are not necessarily incompatible. Man has surely progressed to the point where there is no need to pretend that certain information does not exist if it tends to conflict in any way with our pre- conceived beliefs. I should like to suggest that evolution is more "fact" than theory. It is true that up to a point palaeontological evidence has to be taken on faith, since by its very na- ture it depends on vast periods of time which are not available to us during one life-span. However, since radio-active dat- ing of rocks is now fairly reliable, it would be foolish to reject evidence showing that present day life was evolved from other more primitive forms- There are sources of evidence other than palaeontology i.e. comparative physiology, comparative mor- phology, embryology, genetics, etc. It is also untrue to say that evolution cannot be demonstrated in the present day. The famous example of relaniferous moths in Great Britain is but one instance. We have examples of man-made evolution everyday- with interbreeding of cattle and other species with selection of character- istics considered desirable for certain pur- poses. The exact process by which man him- self evolved may be forever unsolved. There are a lot of gaps and zoologists them- selves cannot always agree about when or how the major changes took place, whether they subscribe (o the orthdox theory of man's common ape-type ancestor being tree-swinginii or believe along with Sir Al- isler Hardy that he took to the watt.- again, at one time. Perhaps the main thing about evolution is not method i.e. nco-tetn- arckian or neo-Darwinian, but rather the fact that it did take place somehow. The subject of man's soul seems to be a different question entirely and docs not belong in a study of evolution per se, any more than does history, economics, math, etc. Ali indeed have a bearing in dealing with the many facets of man but are different topics. In evolution we are studying man's phys- ical and mental evolution not his spiritual evolution. The evolution of man's Intellect was possibly the most important part of hlj evolution. But what Is the soul? Is a soul possess- ed only by man his intelligence being higher than any other known creature? Aristotle considered that dogs had souls and maybe some pet lovers would agree. Is a high degree of intellect nec- essary for possession of a soul? If so this might rule out certain categories of people, including young children, a belief to which most people would not subscribe. Is the soul present at conception, at birth, some- time in between or not until much later In lile? If having a soul means having an awareness of something greater, outside of oneself, might not this again rule oijt babies and young Yet in Wordsworth's Intimations of Immortality ho suggests that a young child has the most pure soul of all, innocent, having just left God as it were, and as yet not made corrupt or evil by the world. I should think that the soul defies scientific description just as beauty, happiness, despair, etc. and also that one man's conception of it might not necessarily be anothers. This is not to say that these things do not exist. It would be a retrograde step to alter the teaching of evolution in schools on the grounds that "the capitalist world Is head- ing in a similar direction to that of the Communist world and that Christianity is incompatible with The next thing we'll hear is that all scientific knowledge is a Communist plot. Evolution apart, there seems to be a greater problem here. Going further back and beginning wilh atoms and molecules, A. J. Oparin's "Origins of Life" hypothesis how could living mailer possibly have been created from non-living. Now someone who takes his Bible absolutely literally would rule this out of order immediately. Could it not be that the writers wrote the truth as they saw it and as it would be under- stood by people living then who did not have the advantage of our scientific know- ledge? Perhaps, again (he point is that there was creation and its exact method is irrelevant. Perhaps God gave us know- ledge not to test our faith, as some people seem to believe, but to increase our un- derstanding and enrich our lives. If every time someone somewhere thinks that Christianity is threatened by scientific discovery and moves to suppress the truth, 1 can only Iliink that his faith rests upon a shaky foundation, if he feels moved to protect it whatever the cost. Furthermore, I would respectfully sug- gest tliat if the anti-evolutionist movement gains momentum Alberta will be tM laughing stock of the scientific community and thinking people everywhere.