December 8th, 2008

Karen Matthews

It's remarkable how we all went out of our way not to notice the squalor and fecklessness of Karen Matthew's life- the five kids by different fathers, the stinky house, the rat-like, younger boyfriend (or partner as we respectfully called him). What we saw on screen was a sorry slob, what we pretended to see was a grieving earth mother. There was an unspoken conspiracy to lend her dignity

We just don't know how to relate to the poor- by which I mean the truly poor, the underclass, the ones who are not just short of cash, but short of everything else- culture, education, motivation, ambition. Our merciful, Christian Socialist state should have educated, welfared, social-cared these people off the face of the earth decades ago. But here they still are- an intractable mass- the unlovely proles- the poor who- in the annoyingly prophetic words of the New Testament- we "have always with us."

They're an offence and an embarrassment and we're afraid of sliding down hill and winding up among them. We're also afraid of appearing snobbish- uncaring; it's a terrible quandary they put us in. We get round the problem of looking them in the eye by mythologising them.  They're not to be held to the sort of standards we impose on ourselves because they're either demons- hoodies, gangbangers, pramfaces- or icons of suffering nobility, blameless victims.   And because we turn so squirmingly soft in their presence a halfway cunning lowlife like Karen Matthews is able to con us rotten. 

We should have trusted to first impressions. She seemed to be selfish, stupid, squalid, amoral- and that's just what she is.  And the ratlike "partner" turned out to have kiddieporn on his computer.