Monday, 7 March 2016

Let's Twist Again

I started reading Oliver Twist while waiting at Clapham Junction for a train yesterday.  I came across this nice slyly-observed paragraph in Chapter 2 on a Victorian-era justification for cutting welfare benefits to the poor.  They don't look entirely different from arguments one sees and hears today,  uttered with all seriousness:

The members of this board were very sage, deep, philosophical men; and when they came to turn their attention to the workhouse, they found out at once, what ordinary folks would never have discovered—the poor people liked it! It was a regular place of public entertainment for the poorer classes; a tavern where there was nothing to pay; a public breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper all the year round; a brick and mortar elysium, where it was all play and no work. 'Oho!' said the board, looking very knowing; 'we are the fellows to set this to rights; we'll stop it all, in no time.' So, they established the rule, that all poor people should have the alternative (for they would compel nobody, not they), of being starved by a gradual process in the house, or by a quick one out of it.

I also happened to listen to some of Saturday's edition of Pick of the Pops on Radio 2, where they happened to play through the chart from this week in 1962, featuring Chubby Checker's Let's Twist Again.  I missed the part where they played Vienna by Ultravox, for the 1981 countdown, alas.