There was a time when Britain felt great. Of course I was only a youngster then & I am also possibly looking at it through rose tinted glasses but there is one thing for certain, it's a lot less great nowadays.
Something went horribly wrong. After the seventies where we had just gotten used to a kind of prosperity not seen before, along came something new. It was what seemed on the face of it a kind of financial liberty where restrictions on how much you could borrow seemed to slowly vanish and we were steadily lured into the bottomless pit of a debt culture where we are today trying to scramble back up it's greasy sides in an attempt to survive.
It all seemed to just happen so easily. The financial & commercial sectors were growing so quickly from our input that we failed to notice that our manufacturing & skills base was slowly disappearing.
We lost coal. steel, ship building, textiles, car manufacturing & a whole host of other industries whilst jobs servicing the new industry, financially enslaving the entire country were taking up the former industries workforces.
We hardly noticed it happening to us because we had all been bewitched by the "Precious", Consumerism had landed.
Meanwhile back in reality, our new found passion for all things zoomy, techy & shiny was still taking it's toll on the environment. The Dark Satanic Mills may have gone from our landscape but none of the stuff we were buying had materialised from thin air.
The people who were behind the wonderful new world had simply shut down the factories of Britain & opened them elsewhere, where the cost of production was a fraction of that at home & such inconveniences as health & safety & environmental responsibility were abscent.
Because we were bewitched & bedazzled we either didn't notice or we didn't care. The trouble is that now that the gravy train is coming to an end we are realising that after thirty years of living with debt & consumerism & having pulled down all of the factories we have also lost the skilled workforce.
You can read all of the books you like on being a welder of a fitter, a weaver or a warper but nothing compares to learning from other skilled people in their working environment.
So why have I called this a paradox? Well because although the game is almost up for consumerism we have nothing to fall back on and if we were to start again from scratch, how could we compete with the cheaper foreign labour whilst still servicing the debt that we are carrying.
Answers on a postage stamp please.
Of course the other part of the paradox is, if we accept that the planet needs us to slow down a bit & become sustainable, would we really want to return Britain to it's fomer manufacturing glory?
Maybe we should let the consumerfest just collapse & start again from a more realistic perspective.