How to live on your £100 a week

In the course of this little piece, our readers are invited to try their wits at guessing in a sort of “‘What’s my Line” manner, the identity of the person we have in mind. We can offer no special prizes of vacuum cleaners, cars or trips to Hollywood for any correct answers because you may not have swallowed the Labour and Tory party lines about the class-struggle being a “myth.” You are warned that the person in question could be employed as any of the following—(or has some alternative means of living such as an Old Age Pensioner), a road sweeper, bus driver, school teacher, coal miner, docker, textile worker, an engineer or an “over paid” meat porter in Smithfield Market. Now for due number one, the amount received by our “object” is only £100 per week and the Daily Express, well known for its distortion of Socialism and its supports of wage claim, publishes some details in its issue of January 23, 1956. The “object” says “£100 a week doesn’t go far,” and this is why she lives in a villa 15 miles outside Paris, and is being sued by her husband for £75,000 worth of jewellery.

Ambitious workers whose idea of curing their poverty is to win the Pools, regard this paltry sum as more than enough for the rest of their lives. Simple arithmetic shows, however, that if a Pools winner spent £75,000 on jewellery there would not be much left for that “little car and little house” (the Capitalists always find it pays to keep workers thinking “little”).

Now as the result of the husband’s changed feelings the villa was scantily furnished; “ it contained: one settee, two small chairs, an old garden table, no carpets, no curtains.” Without going to New Bond Street, which caters entirely for the “lower income groups,” we could buy enough working class “furniture” in six months to fill a warehouse with half the “objects” income, and not on the never-never either.

To anyone so naive as to think she is well off she says “it’s about time the truth were told.” She married a Swiss multi-millionaire in Ceylon 18 months ago and “among the presents to her: a Caribbean Island, two cars, a black panther.” Remember that set of cheap pillow cases you bought when Bill got married? In the court she will be claiming £25,000 to furnish her prefab—sorry, villa—plus £100 a week when she is finding it so hard to keep herself, the panther, ten dogs, two Brazilian parrots and two humming birds on.

Answering questions by the Daily Express reporter, whose job in life is to chase around after the wealthy to keep the workers informed, our “object” says regarding the gems and paintings “I’ve no idea of the total value, perhaps £75,000. The Old Masters? I have one—an El Greco he gave me for my birthday.” And about the £400 a month “ That might seem a lot, but it doesn’t go far with a 70 acre estate. 1 live quietly here since the divorce writ came through. 1 haven’t put a foot inside Balmain’s or Dior’s—haven’t bought a thing.” Apart from in London, “where 1 did buy two Borzoi dogs because 1 need some protection here. 1 have eight other dogs all Pekinese.”

If a superannuated worker, at the age of 65, having worked 35 or 40 years for the same exploiter, gets £400 to spend the rest of his life on, maybe 10 or 15 more years, he is considered comfortably off and well provided for yet this sum is a month’s allowance for our hard-up “ object.” In the back-yard—sorry the grounds, among the terraces, the fountain nymph and sagging model teahouse, there was a “huge swimming pool with a great hole in one side ” which the husband does not seem to care about. “I feel he should put the place back in order,” she said. Well, that’s the story, or rather a story, one of the many that come up. “Of course by the standards of her class. Baroness von Thyssen, ex-model Nina Dyer, is hard pushed; after all, Monte Carlo and such places are not kept going by people who get only £100 a week. The amazing thing is that the members of the working class who make all the wealth and are always told the boss can’t afford more wages, continue nevertheless to take a keen interest in the exploits of Sir Bernard Docker, Aly Kahn, Rita Hayworth and Prince Rainier, etc.; amazing that is until we take account of the drab, colourless and repetitive lives workers live. Perhaps, then, we can understand the attraction of the circus.

To understand it is not, however, to condone it, because as Socialists we know the kind of world the workers can establish when they wake up—the world of Socialism, with no contrasts of riches and poverty, peace and war, but a community of social equals freely talking what they need from the wealth they have produced in co-operation without the hindrance of wages and profits.


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