Saturday, 7 December 2013

Lovely interview with Dee Williams




In this interview, Dee Williams puts into words so succinctly the things I believe, that I wanted to share it with you here.

Two things in particular resonate with me.

First, she says – when asked for advice right at the end – that you only have one little shot, so just go for it.  At fifty-six years old now, my consciousness of that truth is getting sharper by the day.  I don’t want to die without having lived as I dreamed life could be.

Second, she speaks about class issues – a little boy on hearing that she lives in a friend’s back yard: “Oh!  You’re homeless!”  And she speaks of her initial jolt to get started arising from a trip to Guatemala, comparing daily life for the friends she met there with the expectations of middle-class America. 

Well, one among many features that attract me to Hastings is the poverty.  I am sufficiently inadequate in terms of mainstream skills and priorities that I have a very low income.  I feel comfortable with other people who are “poor” too.  I put that in inverted commas because I do not feel poor and have never been impeded in living as I choose, largely because I was raised by a determined and resourceful woman who taught me how to take care of myself and those I love.  But waste,  excess, complacency and snobbery revolt me; I prefer the company of simple and humble folk; the salt of the earth.  They do not look down on me.

Last week I went to buy wool at a shop in a small town inland – a wealthy place, somewhere I could not possibly afford a home.  I got chatting with the lady serving in the shop, and she asked me where I live, so I told her, “Hastings”.  With some distaste she told me how Hastings has changed for the worse in the time she’s known it.  I replied that one of the things I like about Hastings is it resists change – corporate interest has a hard time moulding Hastings into any kind of shape; it just goes back to being what it always was. 

Wishing to clarify, she explained that it all started to go wrong back in the 1960s when the London Overspill people came – this was poor people re-housed from East London (the poorer quarter of London) when they knocked down their homes in slum clearance.   She said they had brought down the quality of life, and now there has developed in Hastings what she could only describe as an Underclass.  She said this a couple of times, with emphasis, winding up by saying she prefers not to go to Hastings nowadays.

I’ve come across this before.  When I used to preach round the Methodist Circuit some years back, a vestry steward in one of the Bexhill chapels mentioned in passing that she would be afraid to go to Hastings shopping or visiting, because it is such a rough and dangerous place.

I have lived in Hastings most of my adult live, never been afraid, not felt the need to lock my home (in past days before I lived in shared accommodation), always been comfortable and at peace here.  

And even if I could afford to live in a wealthy place, it would distress me to do so.  There is very little I can offer people who are struggling, but I can at least not abandon them; live alongside them and be proud to count them among my friends.


I found in Dee Williams’ interview a profound humility and intelligence that rejoice my heart.  It’s twenty-seven minutes long, so you’ll need a cup of tea!

15 comments:

Pilgrim said...

This is so interesting to me, my only acquaintance with Hastings being through your blog and, recently, Foyle's War. It seems an historic and fascinating place, full of nooks, crannies, and surprises around every corner.
I will watch this when I get a few minutes.

Pen Wilcock said...

Yes - that's just what I did; put it on one side until I had a moment to really pay attention. x

Daisyanon said...

" I prefer the company of simple and humble folk; the salt of the earth. They do not look down on me."

I wish I had learnt this lesson much earlier in life!

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) x

San said...

Beautiful words Pen, I will be re reading this post for sure! I love Dee Williams I have seen this interview. You might want to check out Tammy Strobel's blog rowdy kittens.com

Hugs San x

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) Thanks for the nudge - I haven't looked at Rowdy Kittens in a long time! Will go over there now and see how she's getting on. x

Deborah said...

It's an interesting film. Not sure I could live in such a small space...I'd need my shower, definitely couldn't do the ladder! :-D

Pen Wilcock said...

I'm not keen on the ladders either. I prefer other solutions. A bed does well as a sofa.

Deborah said...

I remember when I was about 10 and Mum locked us out of the house, when the neighbour across the road couldn't break in for us she sent me up the ladder to climb through the bedroom window. Very scary!!

Pen Wilcock said...

Yes, there's a lot to be said for living in a bungalow (and hiding a spare key somewhere near!)

Pen Wilcock said...

Pilgrim - re your private message: one way to fit such visits in with the Christmas season is to slip out either early ion the morning before you household cares who's home, or when they have recently had a meal and are feeling sleepy. The person you are thinking of visiting won't be fussy about times of day. May the Light shine on you and through you. xx

darkpurplemoon said...

what a wonderful film thnk you for sharing .

and as for your comment about 'underclass', well that gave me pause for thought in no uncertain terms and made me have a good hard look at myself and the way that I think.

Thank you....

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) - yes, Dee Williams is an inspiration!

Anonymous said...

I just found you again thru Julie. Love your little haven and thanks for sharing the video!

sherry

Pen Wilcock said...

Hello Sherry! How lovely to hear from you. I often wonder how you're doing. Waving from England! xxx