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Showing posts from January, 2013

Life on the edge: getting by in recession torn Britain

‘Shirker’ is an interesting word. A shirker is someone who avoids doing work, originating from the German word schurke, meaning rogue. That, according to some politicians, is what you are if you are not a striver. My colleague Iunus was a rogue. He had an expensive heroin and crack habit and shoplifted three times a day along Oxford Street to sate it. He specialised in stealing women’s lingerie. Easy to wrap up in a ball and insert along the arms of your jacket. He was good at it too and at his peak (or nadir) he stole to order, following precise instructions on size. He puffs out his cheeks and shakes his head with shame as he remembers that life.

If you shoplift with that regularity there is a price to pay and Iunus has been to prison on more than 20 occasions with a maximum stay of four months. He moved through the classic recidivist cycle – short sentence, little discharge preparation, out on the streets on release, early renewal of relationship with his dealer, a few months out an…