IT is no surprise that a survey reveals 24,000 families in Scotland suffer from "severe disadvantage".
The good news is that disadvantage does not sound as bad as deprivation. A think tank called Demos delved into national census statistics, did some interviews, and came up with a list of the seven deadly disadvantages: low income, worklessness, no educational qualifications, overcrowding, ill health, mental health problems, and poor neighbourhood.
Glasgow ticks most of the boxes for disadvantage; Edinburgh the least. Don't hold the front page. In the olden days, poverty (and deprivation) was caused by no money coming into the house. Or most of the money leaving the house in the general direction of the pub and the bookies. People said they were poor but happy. Probably in the way the kids in the Little House on the Prairie liked being up to their oxters in snow and had no flapjacks for breakfast because Pa had got lost in a blizzard going for supplies.
It is harder to say we were severely disadvantaged but we were happy. This recasting of the poverty landscaping by Demos (no relation to the big fat Greek singer) makes it harder to play the game from Monty Python about being brought up in a shoe-box lid. Using the seven disadvantages as a guideline we would have to say:
Our dad was so workless he had hands as soft as a baby's and was barred from membership of the Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club.
There were so few qualifications in our social housing cul-de-sac, the families shared one standard grade in social and vocational skills.
There was so much ill-health up our close the doctor held his surgery in the lobby.
There were so many social agencies looking after our family the probation officers, social workers, and child psychologists had to form an orderly queue.
There were so many absentee fathers in our block that all of the Scottish regiments (before amalgamation) were represented along with the navies of at least six nations. Not to mention the Royal Mail, Scottish Gas, and a fleet of ice cream vans.
Our neighbourhood was so deprived it was a 20-minute bus ride to go shoplifting.
One serious point: We seem to be world leaders in surveying and measuring poverty/ disadvantage but not very successful at dealing with it.
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