Sofa cushions are pretty awesome. That’s just a fact. They support our bums in the evenings, when the ravages of the day have rendered our legs incapable of holding us up any more.
The undersides of sofa cushions are pretty marvellous too; when we’re hunting around for change, it is almost guaranteed that we’ll be able to find enough for a Cornetto beneath their foam filled form. We may also find pizza crusts, long lost toys, a map describing how to get to Middle Earth and SEVEN different kinds of fluff.
But the marvellous underside of sofa cushions are not so marvellous for everyone. First off, there’s people like me, whose sofa cushions are completely integrated. Fixed in place. Non removable. Sure, they’re comfy, but when I hear the tinkling melody of an ice cream van outside I know that I can’t rely on my sofa to yield sufficient change to make visiting it worthwhile.
|What's under there? Fuck knows, but I can't get at it.|
More seriously, there are many, many people whose sofa cushions are removable, but who know damn well that there’s no point looking underneath them for Cornetto funds. They know there’s no money there because they already looked. They looked down the back of the sofa when they were trying to find the money to buy a loaf of bread, or some milk, or a pair of shoes for their toddler.
Poor people. People living in poverty. People who the government don’t think exist. The sort of people who we’re currently seeing on a programme called Skint on Channel 4.
I’ve been told that Skint has given rise to some pretty unpleasant commentary on Twitter and other social media. You know the sort of thing: “get off your arse and get a job”, “these people just don’t try hard enough”, “my taxes are paying for their fags, booze and flat screen TV. Cunts.”
Sentiments which are such excellent examples of compassion for other human beings it can’t help but warm the coldest depths of my cynical soul.
To the people who say things like that, I have a question for you: do you feel lucky?
I ask this, not because I’m about to go all Clint Eastwood on people, but because I don’t understand how people can feel comfortable being so self righteous about someone they see on TV and know very little about.
Were you born in the UK? Yes? Then you’re lucky.
Born in the south of the UK? Lucky.
Born to parents who have had an education and gone to work? Lucky.
Had access to family and peers who, in times of desperate need, you could turn to and ask for help? Lucky.
Got an inheritance which acts as a safety net? Lucky.
Never fallen seriously ill or had a significant injury? Lucky.
Any or all of the above, as well as countless other possibilities, may put you in a far better position to succeed than the people who drive you to spout angry words on the internet.
How many months’ salary are you from needing to dip into your savings to pay the mortgage? How many additional months until your savings run out? How many failed job interviews away from needing to think about downsizing to a smaller car?
Unless you are extremely privileged it’s likely that your personal safety net is not as robust as you might like it to be. I know mine isn’t.
Are you really so sure that you’re far enough removed from poverty to be so superior about people who are actually dealing with it?
Many of us are only one big change away from delving into the marvellous underside of sofa cushions to scrape together the small change for life’s essentials, some of us should try a little harder to remember that.