Why I love \”A Girl Called Jack\”!

A girl called Jack – Jack Monroe. She proudly calls herself a leftie liberal lezzer. She\’s a poverty campaigner, thanks to her own experience of the real thing. Richard Littlejohn of the Daily Mail takes a nasty underhand swing at her and she fights back, point by point, and wins loads more followers in the process.

She takes the piss out of him for NOT knowing she\’s a lesbian and failing to attack her on that point, which was at least true, as opposed to all the other points he did attack her on, which weren\’t.

She is doing her best to manage her fame in a responsible and honest way, and seems to be making a better fist of it, so far, than Jamie Oliver. I have to say that I\’ve never successfully cooked a Jamie Oliver recipe, although I\’ve cooked many from Nigella and even Gordon Ramsay. The fault is almost certainly mine because he expects you to be as skillful as he is. This may make me prejudiced.

Normally I\’m also prejudiced against leftie liberals because I grew up in the 70s in a school (grammar, selective, single sex and in a very expensive part of London) that was absolutely infested with ardent Socialist Workers Party girlies and painfully sincere Trotskyites. The only possible option was to become a staunch Tory. Eighteen years of Tory rule then turned me into a dangerous leftie, such that I even voted Labour for the first time ever in 1996, helping to inflict Blair on the lot of us. (I\’m sorry. I really am. Please forgive me.) I have now officially joined, and am the first member of, the APOBYH party (a plague on both your houses).

Her account of her experience of Really Not Having Any Money At All \”Hunger Hurts\” has apparently had 20 million hits and deserves it. It\’s powerful writing that reminds me uncomfortably of some bad times in my own life, though I was luckily never in as much trouble as she was.

And she makes the point well: yes, it\’s a middle class point, but so what? We\’re all middle class, really. The point is that in the UK in 2014, it is UNNECESSARY for anyone to go through what she did. With her, as it is for many thousands of people, it was the punitive, disorganised and stupid meanness of the benefits system. With other people it\’s crushing debt or the loss of their house or mental illness or whatever. In my case it was because if you\’re married to a self-employed barrister who\’s ill, and you\’re self-employed yourself, you can\’t get any kind of benefits until they\’ve finally diagnosed the lung cancer (which took about five months during which time I ran a family of five on my autistic middle son\’s Disabled Living Allowance until a charity stepped in).  Thank God, so far, despite Cameron\’s efforts, medical bills aren\’t in that list – as they so often are in the USA.

Despite the recession (six years and counting), despite the dangerous widening gap between the super-rich and the rest of us, Britain is still a wealthy country. Much of the hunger in this country is an artificial creation by bureaucracy. This annoys me not just because it\’s wrong, but because it\’s monumentally stupid even from the point of view of the people causing it. Children who grow up watching their parents not eat supper because they\’re giving it to their kids do not forget. Do you think that any of them will vote Conservative? Ever?

Jack Monroe has also written an excellent recipe book on feeding two people on £10 per week, full of useful stuff and great ideas, which I meant to review here but got carried away. My only quarrel with her is that the laws of supply and demand will mean that baked beans will go up in price (who\’d a thunk that you could wash off that nasty orange stuff and just use them as, well, beans) and so will tinned mandarin slices.