The other morning I woke to a radio broadcast that revealed the finding that the world’s richest 1% own more than the rest of all-the-world put together (Radio Scotland, 19th January 2015).
I thought, how have we let this happen?
My mind turned to the words by Mary Brooksbank inscribed in Iona marble in the Canongate wall outside the Scottish Parliament.
Oh, dear me, the warld’s ill-divided,
Them that work the hardest are aye wi’ least provided,
But I maun bide contented, dark days or fine,
But there’s no much pleasure livin’ affen ten and nine.
Mary Brooksbank (1897 - 1978) Oh Dear Me (The Jute Mill Song)
Mary Brooksbank was the “the Poet Laureate of Dundee’s Working Class”. Before Mary was fourteen she was shifting bobbins in the Jute Mill. In those days, just before the First World War, life was hard. Mary worked twelve hour shifts, starting at 6a.m for the princely sum of 7/6d.
“She was tiny and partially deaf, but when it came to fighting for the rights of the working class, she was a veritable lioness.”