Women At War: 1914-1918

With most men being required for military service during WW1, that left a huge gap in the employment market at home, and created the need for some women to serve overseas too. Women took on many traditionally male roles during the men’s absence, and thousands more chose to serve as nurses, or in branches of the armed forces.

Members of the Women’s Fire Brigade at the training school.

Munitions workers. Thousands of women worked long hours in that dangerous job. During the war, over 400 of them were killed in explosions or accidents whilst working.

Female Ambulance drivers leaving for France. They worked close to the front lines, and many were killed or injured.

Railways had to run and be maintained throughout the war.

These are female luggage porters working at a London Railway Station.

As well as driving buses, women were employed to repair and service the buses too.

These women are recycling paper by pulling apart old ledgers.

Women also did hard physical jobs outside, such as these female building workers.

In 1918, the King and Queen held a gathering at Buckingham Palace to thank all the women who served in the forces during the war. These are members of the Women’s Royal Air Force.

The gathering inside the palace. Those in white aprons are nurses who served at the front, or in hospitals at home.

Working Women In Victorian Britain

These photos are from a book by Michael Hiley. They show Victorian women in their working clothes. We owe many of these fascinating photos, sketches, and detailed descriptions of Victorian working women to Arthur Munby, who interviewed many, and collected their photographs as well as their stories.

Housemaids, early 1860’s. They are dressed in their best for the photographer, but look at their hands. From Victorian Working Women.

South Wales Mine Tip Girls, 1865. From Victorian Working Women.

London Milkwomen in 1864 and 1872. From Victorian Working Women.

Women mine workers in trousers at Wigan, 1860s. From Victorian Working Women.

Yorkshire girls collecting limpets and other fishbait; 1860. From Victorian Working Women. Their skirts and petticoats appear to be tucked up into their belts in back.

Arthur Munby standing beside Ellen Grounds, a “pit wench” at Wigan. 1866. Right, a photo of Ellen Grounds in her “Sunday best.” Munby stood next to Ellen in this photograph to show how tall she was.

A Strange Romance.

The story of Arthur Munby, barrister, Cambridge M.A., civil servant, diarist, poet, friend of many other writers and of the Pre-Raphaelite artists, popular in high society, and obsessed with Victorian working women, is almost incredible. Utterly middle-class, but not wealthy enough to cut loose from the conventions of society, Munby fell in love with a “maid of all work” — about the lowest form of domestic servant — named Hannah Cullwick. They were both in their twenties. After a chaste courtship of almost twenty years, they married in 1873, but — as much by her wish as by his — she continued to pretend to be his servant.
Hannah Cullwick, maid of all work; at right, Hannah “in her dirt.” from Victorian Working Women. She was strong enough to lift her husband off the ground and carry him around. He liked it.

Wednesday Thoughts

Reading things online, and looking at Twitter, I am suddenly reminded that it is Wednesday.

For everyone still working, at least those still able to work during lockdown, that middle day of the week has some significance. It still seems a long way to go until the weekend promises a break from toil, and the chance to do ‘weekend stuff’.

And it is two more days until that ‘Friday Feeling’ brings the promise of two days not having to get up early unless you want to.

I have to go back a very long time if I want to recall either of those feelings associated with days of the week. Almost forty-one years, to be precise. Because that was the last time I ever worked in a nine-to-five job. Friday evenings were either ‘eat out’ nights, or ‘go to see a film at the cinema’ nights. Something pleasant crammed in to the end of a working day, to get a head start on a weekend of enjoyment.

Saturday nights were ‘friends over for dinner’ nights, or ‘going to friends for dinner’ nights. Sundays were usually reserved for ‘visiting mum’, or ‘roast dinner with family’. By the time it got to four in the afternoon on a Sunday, I was already dreading having to go to work the next day. That feeling usually ruined the rest of what became a dull evening.

If we were really lucky, the whole weekend might be a ‘weekend away’. Friday and Saturday night staying in a hotel somewhere, the enjoyment only dampened by returning home in the usual heavy traffic on a Sunday in London.

Then I started to work in a job that involved shifts.

Weekends became a thing of the past. I was working three out of four of them, so they lost any significance. Then on the one when I wasn’t working, I slept away most of the first day after a night shift. Monday morning stopped being something to dread. I was either out of the house well before six, or sleeping in until getting up for a late shift that started at three in the afternoon.

No boring ‘midweek Wednesday’ feeling any longer. No ‘Friday feeling’ to excite me.

Just shifts.

Now my life could not be more different. The days of the week have no relevance to my life whatsoever. I might go shopping on a Monday, or I might not. I take Ollie out every day, whatever day that is. I don’t miss any ‘Friday feeling’, because every day might just as well be a Friday. Or a Sunday.

Or a Wednesday, for that matter.

Christmas Past: Part Two

In part one, I wrote about my childhood love of the Christmas season. But it wasn’t long before the magic wore off.

In my teens, I got myself a regular girlfriend. All is going well, then Christmas gets mentioned. She tells me that she has to spend Christmas at home with her family. My mum tells me that I am expected to do the same with mine. So Christmas starts to become something to get past, so that life can return to normal on the 27th. Besides, I know there’s no Santa by then, and my dad has long since stopped piling the toys at the end of my bed.

Now I am twenty-four years old. My dad has left my mum for another woman, and I definitely cannot leave her on her own for Christmas. So I don’t go to see the woman who will become my wife the following year, and she is expected to stay with her family. Which set of parents get our company starts to become more important than the real reasons for the celebration, and also takes over from the tradition of all the families meeting in one place.

People have moved around, and no longer live that close to each other. So I have to make choices.

Once I am married, my wife graciously accepts that my mum is on her own, so we will go there on the 25th, and to her family on the 26th. Three years later, I become an EMT working shifts, and all previous rules are abandoned when I have to work on the 25th, a ten-hour day shift. After trying to resuscitate a small child found dead in its cot on Christmas morning, then later an elderly man who collapsed and died as he was carving the turkey, I wasn’t feeling very festive when I got home from work to eat with my mum and my wife.

For the next thirty-three years, I did shift work as an EMT or with the Metropolitan Police. I used to try to get the 25th off, usually having to agree to work on New Year’s Eve instead. When I managed to get a free day, I had often been working a night shift before, coming home like a zombie, then having to drive to see my mum and go through the motions of appearing to enjoy a Christmas meal.

It wore me down. It was a chore, not something enjoyable. A whole year of stress, bulding up to two days that I always dreaded.

I grew out of Christmas.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday


What better to think about on a Sunday, than Sundays?
When I got up this morning, I had forgotten it was a Sunday.

At one time in my life, Sundays were a big deal. Getting up late, reading comics, my parents relaxed after a long week at work. My Dad would get ready to go to the pub for midday, while Mum started preparing everything for the big meal we would eat around 2:30 when he got back. After eating, they usually went for a ‘lie down’ in the bedroom, leaving me to my books or toys.

It was a long time before I worked out what that Sunday ‘lie down’ was all about.

By 5:30, Mum would have prepared a meal called ‘Sunday tea’. In London, this usually consisted of assorted fresh seafood, bread and butter, and slices of a cake she would have baked earlier. Fortified with this, my Dad would leave again, to get to the pub by seven when it opened. This left Mum and me watching television together, until Dad got home around midnight. It never occurred to me that he was drinking and driving. Back then, everyone did that.

By the time I was married, the Sunday tradition had altered for us, but not much. Reading huge Sunday papers in bed, followed by a bacon sandwich and more coffee downstairs. As there were no shops open in those days, we would usually visit my Mum in the late afternoon. She was on her own by then, and still preparing the big traditional dinner, followed by cake. If we stayed home, we ate later, and had anything we fancied, not always the British Sunday Roast. With work the next morning, there was rarely anything done late at night, so we were usually back in bed by eleven.

To be honest, I found Sundays really boring.

Once I started to work shifts as an EMT, I had to work at least two Sundays a month, sometimes three. That completely shattered any notion of a traditional Sunday in my life, and it soon felt like just another day.

When I retired in 2012, I discovered that Sundays here in Beetley were seemingly frozen in time. People mowed their lawns on Sundays, washed their cars, carried out some DIY tasks, and mostly still ate that traditional Sunday lunch around two in the afternoon. By then, shops were open from ten until four, so younger people might go into Norwich or Dereham to look around the shops, or to buy some food from the supermarket. Traffic here on a Sunday can be worse than during the working week.

In less than a year, Sundays lost their rediscovered novelty for me. When you don’t have to go to work on a Monday, or rush to get home from work on a Friday, the weekend starts to feel like any other day. Ollie has to go out for his walk, and I can prepare anything we want for dinner, eating at around the usual time for us of seven in the evening.

Other people do different things of course. Religious people still attend church, though in fewer numbers than in the past. Those with small children might take them to the park, or drive them to a regular activity, like a football club, or dance class. In better weather, many flock to the coast, enjoying the beaches and activities in the sea. It is only thirty minutes away by car, but you have to get there early to find a space in the car park.

Once winter arrives, few people venture out. They stay in in front of the fire, or the warmth of central heating. The huge choice of entertainment provided by television, phones, and computers these days means they are not bored, as I used to be in my teens. For them, it is school tomorrow, or work. That ‘Monday Morning’ feeling as the day draws to a close.

But for me, Monday is just another day, as is today.

These days, I have to be reminded it is a Sunday.

Thinking Aloud on a Sunday

Time passing

The clocks went forward here this morning, so I woke up having already lost an hour of the day. I will have to wait until October to get it back.

More significantly, it is the start of the last week in March. Three months of 2018 have passed, and it seems like only yesterday that I was putting the Christmas decorations back up in the loft. January and February were harder months this year. Worse weather than usual, seemingly endless cold, and even some worryingly deep snow. But even being trapped in Beetley, spending time huddling inside in the warm, failed to make those months pass at a ‘normal’ rate. They flew by, just as March has done.

I have written before about how time seems to go by much faster as you get older. And it’s getting worse. Weeks feel like days, and days are almost over before I am even out of bed. I have given a lot of thought to why this happens, and at first I just wrote it off as an ‘age thing’. But lately, I have had a complete re-think, and now have a new theory.

For those of you still working (the retired among us will just have to use memory) you will be aware how long a day at work can seem. When it feels like it must surely be time to think about getting ready to go home, you realise you haven’t even had your lunch break yet. Even in an interesting or exciting job, days can drag, I assure you. If you work a normal Monday to Friday routine (I didn’t) then the weekend always seems to go by at twice the speed of two weekdays. You get home on Friday, and before you know it, you are getting off to sleep on Sunday night, having to face another five long days at work. It seems to be a law of Time, that a Saturday and Sunday must pass twice as quickly as a Monday and Tuesday.

After spending far too much time thinking about all this unnatural bending of time, I woke up this morning with the solution in my head. It was so simple, I should have worked it out many years ago. Work. Work makes time slow. One year at work feels like five, and one day at work can seem like a week. Time never goes by too fast at work. Nobody looks at the clock at finishing time and asks, “Where did that day go?” Giving up work, whether intentionally as in retirement, or because you have lost your job for some reason, is the moment that time starts to accelerate. Leisure time is not work time, not in the sense we understand the 24 hour clock.

So perhaps we should never stop working? We might not live longer, but it would feel like it.

Retirement: Some things to consider

In August 2012, I published a post that I titled ‘Ten Tips For Retirement.’ At the time, I had only been retired from work for a few months, and decided to share some of my early observations about something that I had thought would be very different to what it actually was.

Almost four years later, and I have a little more experience about not having to go to work (unless you want to) and the pros and cons associated with the decision to do that. As my wife Julie is much younger than me, so still works, I am not reporting on the classic married-couple retirement scenario, but on a situation where just one is retired.

I didn’t really consider the fact that I would not be physically capable of doing all the things I had expected to be able to do. Past the age of sixty, the body deteriorates at a much faster rate. It is far easier to get tired, to have aching muscles, to hurt your back, or to be unable to lift things, than it was a few short years before. Even the prospect of tasks can become daunting, almost approaching a fear of the endless list of things that have to be done. Instead, I try to do one thing each day at least, seeming to constantly battle the time that appears to be slipping away from the moment I wake up. One of the reasons that time slips away is because of blogging of course.

Started to keep my mind active, and to leave some record of my life and activities in Norfolk, blogging has become a lot more, and taken over a large part of my life. Not that I am complaining. I would urge anyone to start a blog, especially if they are retired. Older people may be in a minority in the world of blogging, but they have lots to offer. It cannot be denied that it maintains interest in things outside of the routine, keeps the mind active, and continues to develop the thought process. Perhaps don’t spend as much time blogging as I do though. Otherwise, stuff will not get done, believe me.

Consider the change in financial circumstances. By stopping work at sixty, and taking my work pensions early, I reduced my income by two-thirds. This means no holidays to far-flung exotic places, as well as thinking hard about major purchases, like changing the car, or buying new large electrical goods. Impulse-buying had to become a thing of the past, as did changing outfits at will, or discarding perfectly serviceable clothes and shoes because they were no longer fashionable. My retirement credo has been to buy the best of anything that we can afford, and then keep it, hoping for a long-life from a product that is better-manufactured than the cheaper option. Keep the older car running, but also buy something new to accompany it. You need reliable transport in rural areas, and two cars are better than one, at least for the time being. As long as one of you is still working, you can afford this comparative luxury. When I am 65 next year, I will receive the State Pension, potentially making life a lot easier. However, this will also push me over the tax threshold, meaning that my work pensions will be liable for income tax. They give with one hand, take with the other.

Getting a pet, in our case Ollie the dog, is something to be carefully considered too. The plus points are obvious. Companionship, a reason to go out and exercise, and to imbue you with a sense of responsibility to something other than yourselves. Ollie became a part of our lives to the extent that we can no longer imagine what it would be like if he wasn’t around. At first, the downsides of pet ownership were less obvious, but they soon appeared. Vet bills that have to be budgeted for, by taking out expensive insurance. Making sure that you are back from anywhere, in time to take him out. Not being able to act spontaneously, without considering things like ‘Can we take the dog?’ Attending overnight functions, such as weddings or parties a fair way from home can be problematic. If you cannot get friends or neighbours to dog-sit, you are faced with the prospect (and additional expense) of using kennels. Holiday destinations have to be dog-friendly, and for the sake of convenience, in the UK as well. Think hard before getting a pet. That’s my advice.

Regular readers will also know that I have become unhealthily obsessed with the weather. When you no longer have to go to work, and the day is your own, bad weather seems like a punishment. You might feel like pottering around in the garden, perhaps driving to a place of interest, or going off to admire a nature reserve, or for a walk along the coast. Then it rains. It carries on raining, until it seems to be raining every day. Then you realise that it really is raining every day. All the nice things you wanted to go and do are no longer possible. But you still have to go out in it, because you have the dog to take out. When the sun finally appears, the day seems to go so fast that you feel cheated of the time to enjoy it. Before you decide to retire, think about weather.

My conclusion is that it is still better to retire as soon as you are able. Live with less income, and get some time back, after all those years at work. Plan ahead, better than I did. Live somewhere near some shops, so you don’t necessarily need to have two cars. Think about what you will do when the weather is bad, and don’t expect to spend all your time enjoying the garden, or the great outdoors. If you want to get a pet, really think about the implications of that decision.

And start a blog. You will be glad that you did.


We cling to life. As humans, we cherish it more than anything. Faced with death, we will do almost anything to get a few minutes, or even seconds, of extra life. But do we take time to examine what life really means?

A good 90% of our lives is based on routine, or habit. We get up at a certain time, eat breakfast after washing and other ablutions. For the largest part of our lives, we then set off to work, in jobs that most of us would rather not do. Mostly, we make more money for people who already have enough. They in turn make even more money, for people who will never need any more, but just like to know that it is there. A small percentage of the working population do some good. They work in fields that help others, generally for much lower pay and expectations. But they do it anyway.

Most people have children. Some do this to continue their line, others because they are too stupid to know better. A few even do it to avoid work, and to be able to enjoy their leisure time, courtesy of the benefits available. But they are few and far between. Most people struggle. They struggle to learn, to fit in, to raise families, and to earn enough to provide for them. They struggle with jobs that are beneath them, on salaries that barely meet their needs. They try to relate to family, to siblings, even to their own children, in a world that constantly fails to live up to their expectations. Most times they fail, falling at every hurdle.

We live in societies that make rules, demands, codes to live by. We often don’t understand them, but we do our best to comply. We observe the rich getting richer, their children reaping the benefits. Then we accept that as ‘the way things are.’ Lives spent working hard, doing our best, and playing the game. Avoiding criminality where we can, trying to do the decent thing, and live a quiet family life. When nothing improves, and things just get harder, and more difficult, we often blame ourselves for lack of drive, or enthusiasm. Perhaps have another child, see if that gives us something to aim for. More fodder for the deteriorating education system, someone else to work for a minimum wage, no contract hours job, in years to come.

Life is hard, but we rarely face that fact. After working all your life, you are derided as a pensioner: sidelined, of no consequence. Before you even start out on the road of work, you have mountains to climb to gain acceptance. Once employed, you are grateful to be little more than a cog in a wheel, providing services for the elite that don’t even really need them. In short, there is no golden age. Life remains the same as you grow. A struggle, rarely a joy, and something you never asked your parents for in the first place.

The truth is, like it or not, life is overrated. So why do we love it so much?

A la recherche du temps perdu

With apologies to Marcel Proust for stealing his title, I confess to a lot of time spent in remembrance of things past. Not just lately, but for much of my life. Even as a man in my twenties, I constantly reflected on my childhood, and my early school years, developing a habit of looking back that I never lost. I was caught up in a chain of nostalgia, from which I found it difficult to escape. When I got to secondary school, I pined for my primary school, and less pressure. Once I left school and started work, I really regretted leaving education, and thought about those last few years at school with great fondness. Every job seemed better than the one that followed it, and I managed to conveniently forget my reasons for wanting to move on in the first place.

During a convivial dinner party that we were hosting during the late 1970s, I was asked by a guest, “If you could choose to live anywhere, where would that be?” I replied without hesitation, “In my past, I was happy there.” This was a thoughtless remark, most unflattering to my wife at the time of course, and left an uncomfortable atmosphere at the table. After many moves, broken marriages, and failed relationships, I still carried this obsession with me, like an unwanted blemish. I convinced myself repeatedly that things were better ‘then’, whenever that was. I had taken the natural tendency for fond reminiscence, and turned it into a philosophy.

I have now moved away from London, retired from work, and married for the third time. It has taken over sixty years for me to shake off this unhealthy desire to spend my life looking back, and to take off the rose-tinted glasses that I habitually wore when doing so. I cannot deny that a part of me still looks back. The difference is that I now do so with a much more considered and realistic eye. Standing back from the personal recollections, I can see things as an observer might, and realise that it was all far from rosy. It is so simple to remember good things, and put away the less attractive aspects of a past life into a sealed compartment in your mind. Time to open it up; it is long overdue.

Primary school was not great. Inkwells, strict teachers, rote learning, and hard discipline, including being caned. Being made to stand in a corner, cleaning blackboards, or awaiting the pleasure of the head teacher, nervously perched on a chair outside their office. Gangs in the playground; choose the wrong side, and suffer for it. Do well in lessons, and though you may receive the praise of teacher, you are derided by your less academic class-mates. Secondary school was a great improvement, I was very lucky there. But it wasn’t for everyone. Be a little educationally backward, have unfortunate physical features, or fail to be accepted in a group, and you had a lonely and depressing life. Run the gauntlet of the kids from the ‘tough’ schools on the way home; get your uniform torn, or your cap and bag thrown over the railway line. The bad parts often overshadowed the good. Less pleasurable memories, easy to discard.

And it was always cold in winter. Homes heated by one coal fire, sometimes supplemented by smelly paraffin heaters. Pipes frozen, hot water scarce, and legs and fingers freezing in clothing inadequate for protection. The air quality was so poor, that we often had to wear smog masks for the short trips to and from school. One outside toilet provided for two families sharing a house. Using this in all weathers, perched on a high seat, terrified of the huge spiders, trying to go as fast as possible. Baths once a week, in water shared by your parents; and later, shivering in bed, yearning for sleep to make you forget the cold. Life for the working classes was predestined. Years of hard labour, followed by an early death for most of the men. They sought refuge from hardship in cigarettes and alcohol, and unbridled pleasure at the weekends. There were lots of widows then; not so many now, at least at a young age. Home ownership was unknown, and there was little chance to escape the financial chains of your class, outside of crime. There was a general acceptance of your lot in life, and a degree of resolution that stifled hope.

Despite living in London in the so-called ‘swinging sixties’, things had not really changed a great deal since the end of the war. Except for the cinema, entertainment was mostly left to you to make it yourself. There were only two channels on the television, if you could afford one, and the only games were on flat boards, using cards and counters. There were some sports clubs and youth clubs, the Cubs and Scouts, Brownies and Guides; but they were regimented, and felt like being at school. Unlike many families, we had a car, so got to go on trips out, and an annual holiday, but it wasn’t for everyone. Work was available, and it paid just enough to keep you where you should be, without too many grand aspirations. Politicians paid little regard to the needs of the ordinary people, and the Police could do anything they wanted to you, and frequently did. Even Doctors talked to you as if you were a servant, and made you feel grateful that they had taken their valuable time to inspect your ailment. If you made it to hospital, it was one step above being in a prison. No sitting on the bed. ‘In or out but never on.’ Lights out at an early hour, no talking, and patrolling night nurses making sure that you were not disruptive.

Then came the 1970s. Workers found their voice at last, and things slowly started to change. We had moved to a house with central heating, and unlimited hot water. Colour TV arrived, and with it, a new channel. Foreign holidays became the norm, for ordinary people, on better salaries. Home ownership increased, and the middle class merged with the working class, into something that has never had a satisfactory name. This wasn’t all ideal of course. It bred conservatism, and greed for profit. There was confrontation, and the inevitable strikes. It left a legacy of fewer council homes, diminishing employment prospects, and disaffected youth. But it was still a lot better than what preceded it, take it from me. Without the romance of revolution and dissent, and that ubiquitous rose-tinted eye-wear, the reality is that the past was hard. By comparison. life is a lot easier now.

I will still reflect of course. I will often think that this or that, was better ‘then’. That is my nature. The reality is that my life was never better than it is now. I have a devoted and loving wife, a nice home in the countryside, and no work responsibilities. I live in peace and quiet for the first time in my life, and I can anticipate that my last years will be more peaceful and happier than I could ever have expected. I doubt that I will ever look back to a better time than this.

A Voluntary Farewell

On December 31st, 2012, I published a post on this blog. I gave it the title ‘Never Volunteer’, and it was about the fact that I was soon to begin two voluntary jobs. After seven months of living in Norfolk at the time, I felt the need to do something. To be useful, become an integral part of the community, and to get the chance to meet new people, and to travel to new places.

After eighteen months doing these two jobs, I resigned from them both this week. This was not done on a whim, or because of a fit of pique, cross words, or an episode of disappointment. I gave it due consideration, and realised that I did not have the enthusiasm and commitment necessary to continue. Neither role was unduly demanding. Teaching the Cycling Proficiency only involved two or three sessions a year, and working for the Fire Service involved doing as little or as much as you had time for. I did what I could, and when I felt sufficient inspiration to do it well. Talks to groups, safety checks in homes, and installing smoke alarms where necessary. I also worked with the school fire experience unit, which is much-loved by the children who attend it,  and receives a great deal of positive feedback.

However, there are only so many times that you can install a smoke alarm, deliver the same safety talk to groups, or take kids through the fire safety routine, every ten minutes, six times an hour. Like any job, it soon becomes routine, and eventually stale and uninspiring. It is not the fault of the role, or indeed any fault in me. It is just how it is. Life is like that. Work, whether paid or voluntary, is still just work. Sure, you meet a few new faces, but only for the shortest time, and then you all move on. You get to see some new villages, discover unknown byways and back roads, or tucked-away streets. Once found, they are no longer new; the dilemma of exploration, I suppose. I had some issues with the Cycling Proficiency course, outlined in a previous post. To use a popular expression that I do not care for that much, those running it were ‘not on the same page’ as I was.

In the background, I was also feeling the need to develop my writing; perhaps branch out into more fiction, and generally improve what I was already doing. I thought that I might also enquire about my eligibility for reduced rate adult education courses in something of interest, or see if there were other voluntary roles in areas that I am attracted to, like history. Not least, I have to get my head around our much neglected domestic situation. Rooms undecorated after almost three years, and boxes of things still gathering dust in the garage, since the day I moved in. Although it may seem selfish, I decided that the personal and home needs should take precedence over the voluntary jobs, so I resigned.

Both organisations took it remarkably well. They were gracious, and full of praise and thanks for what I had done during the eighteen months. They sent good wishes, and kind words. I didn’t feel too guilty. After all, I spent thirty-three years working in the Public Services, and always did my voluntary jobs with professionalism, and to the best of my ability. So I bid farewell to the voluntary sector, at least for now. I do feel the need to make some comment though. If there had not been the spending cuts, confused council politics, and lack of funding from the outset, these organisations would not have to be so dependent on volunteers in the first place. Remember that when you next cast your votes.