Sunday, April 15, 2012

The buyin' power of the proletariat's gone down

I came across this picture in an old book celebrating the "Queens London" published  in 1901, the last year of Victoria's reign.  The inscription includes the following "There are no forms of philanthropy more admirable than that which incites and animates!!! the workers in such institutions as this Field lane Refuge", the refuge was in Vine Street, Clerkenwell Rd.

I suspect it would be very easy to make some cynical gibes at how the late victorian poor were treated.  It might be even easier to make comparisons with today's philanthropists and the treatment of poverty and unemployment in our society. I could even be topical and make reference to how cackhanded the coalition have been with the issue of tax relief on charitable donations.

Of course I would never be that unsubtle.

I was struck, however, by a couple of features.  The tea is being poured from what looks suspiciously like a watering can!  Secondly, only a few of the assembled workers are looking at the camera.

I wonder how many of them finished up in the trenches, perhaps one of them was on the Titanic.

One of them certainly had a long, prosperous and witty life,  that is definitely the late Clement Freud four rows back second to the right from the watering can.  

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