Thursday, 21 April 2011

Camden news

The Camden New Journal is always worth reading, regardless of where you live, having unusually good coverage for a free newspaper, and an excellent Review section. When in London I usually nip across from St Pancras station to Judd Street where there is a box of them. The current issue features two literary articles of note. The first is the big debate on the future of libraries in Camden, where the nice American company LSSI is offering to take over the library service. Of course they promise that there will be no closures, the improved service will be run more economically for the tax-payer and everyone will walk off hand in hand to a glorious future. And who could doubt them?

Elsewhere in the paper there is another story of the Con-Dem elysium in which we are living. The writer Emanuel Litvinoff (many of whose poems appear in Five Leaves' Passionate Renewal: Jewish Poetry in Britain since 1945) has fallen on hard times and the local Council has withdrawn his carer. He can't afford the £150 a week to keep the service he had. He was told he should sign on and claim Job Seekers Allowance. Emanuel is 97. His partner can't sign on as she is unavailable for work as she has to look after him. As well as being a great poet, Emanuel wrote one of the best books of life in the East End in the 1930s when he was fed by the Sally Army and was given old boots by the Jewish Board of Guardians. His Journey Through a Small Planet is still available from Penguin. As he said in the paper "It seems the same as 1931 all over again. This is a depression caused by financiars and bankers, but it is the poorest who are paying for it."

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