Industrial Black Country
The canals of the Black Country were cut through the landscape in the 18th century to carry coal and steel. This was the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. When Britain was great and had an empire that stretched across the globe. It was a pleasant time for the rich in their mansions but a terrible time for the poor who were exploited and deprived.
The narrowboats weren’t the gaily coloured things we see today. Everything was covered in soot and many buildings are still black with the grime of that industrial era. I can still remember the big factories that employed thousands and as unions became stronger the workers got fairer wages and could afford a few luxuries. Young people had more money and so the popular music industry grew and so did the fashion industry that spawned out of it. Young people didn’t want dirty jobs in factories, they wanted to be rock stars. Similar trends were happening the world over and in Sweden where Volvo was the big exporter, a new super group would take the world by storm and export more than their leading manufacturer. Abba became bigger than Volvo. We went into a new era, people wanted more than just metal goods they wanted movies and music.
The Black Country doesn’t produce so much now. It is an area of deprivation, the glory days are gone. What could we produce that the world would want now? Who would want to invest here? There are still lots of small companies employing lots of people and if you try to drive on the roads at 6pm on a Friday you will realise they all own cars. The problem is, most of them are headed out of town and back to suburbia. They don’t want to live here with the grime and lack of culture. At least at the height of the Industrial Revolution, they had cinemas and a theatre. They built parks, libraries and art galleries. These were mainly for the gentry, but we have come a long way and cast aside our cloth caps. Can’t we all be gentrified and enjoy a bit of culture now? I will admit that culture has changed. Music has changed beyond recognition. Many people are into retro music, even the music of the 30’s and 40’s. Having listened to Adele murdering a weird arrangement of a Lionel Richie song I can understand why. Young people need to get out and experience some decent music.
We need some new industrial-scale ideas for the Black Country that avoid the need for hard graft and makes opportunities for all. I think preserving our heritage and making the place a better place to live than suburbia would be a start. We need some regulation, but not officious crap. We don’t need speed humps on every street. We need a responsible attitude that young people can emulate. We have to be the role models, not Justin Beiber. The older and wiser generation need to stop being stupid. They need to be responsible and aware of their responsibilities. Teach your kids to cross the road and dress them sensibly. When the school says a black uniform, dress them in bright bloody yellow so they can be seen by motorists in the dark. Don’t buy SUVs so you can race over the speed humps, stop asking for bloody speed humps.
I do know of people growing cannabis on an industrial scale in the Black Country too. There must be a lot of users. It is better than making crack cocaine, I suppose, but drug use is another problem we have to address. I think in the future, vaping addiction could be a problem too, the way things are going.
Most of all people need to learn to be nicer to each other and teach their kids to be nicer too. Then we will all have a nicer, less stressful life.