‘Never to know, never to tell’ was the street cry of a sweepstake seller when I was a boy in Newtown. It reflected that you never know what your luck might be.
In a sweepstake, the punter bought a ticket from a sweepstake seller. The winning numbers of those tickets were linked to the horses that were declared the champions at the end of the race meeting to which the sweepstake was related.
The horse racing industry was then vibrant. Various turf clubs would have five day Saturday/public holiday meetings of horses competing against each other in different classes for prize money for their owners.
Without being an inveterate gambler, one could have a small financial interest in the races, which many persons followed because it was then a high profile sport. For readers who like research, the history of the Irish sweepstakes of the 1930s is fascinating.
One day I heard the grown-ups discussing that ‘never to know, never to tell’ had educated his child in England. The discussion took place in tones of admiration because many of that generation lived frugally, saved money and spent it wisely.
The visible fruit of working for cash, whether it was the education of a child or the acquisition of a piece of land, was not considered the product of ‘dirty money’.
My reminiscence is my introduction to asserting how appalling it was that persons who had the suddenly-to-be-withdrawn blue $100 notes should fall under suspicion. It was patronising to ill-speak them and just plain wrong to believe they were all, without distinction, participants in the ‘underground’ economy.
The announcement of the withdrawal of old notes and the short time frame for exchange to the new polymer notes, justifiably caused consternation outside big people circles. Our rulers and the economic elite failed to understand that. Together with their insensitive responses to the concerns of ordinary citizens—for some of whom their only asset is cash and maybe a motor-vehicle—this approach marked a new low point in the disconnect between our rulers and their own people.
Enough has already been said about the scornful dismissal of sou-sou money as a legitimate source of cash and of a barber having a million dollars. There are other real-world examples of ordinary citizens legitimately having substantial cash but staying away from banks.
I recently met and employed a tailor who is also a welder and has two sources of cash income. Wired868 carried an encouraging piece about a flight attendant also co-owning a handcrafted handbag business. Calypsonians and pan tuners were known to roll up in swanky vehicles.
Many industrious persons like these are not welcome in the banks. They cannot meet the documentary criteria for opening and maintaining accounts, or afford the bank charges—not to mention negative profiling because of colour, class, dress, or hairstyle.
“They treat us like you do something wrong,” says my accomplished, salt of the earth plumber.
If those exercising political or economic power over us are disconnected from the way of life and cultural practices of the ordinary citizens, such disconnect produces incompetent governance. It is not possible to make successful policy in a state of ignorance or indifference to what goes on in the real world.
The affectionate reference to ‘a blue note’ or ‘a blues’ will no doubt remain a part of common parlance. However, as a result of the dissing of ordinary citizens, the blue notes became yet another source of blues inflicted upon ordinary citizens by our culturally obtuse leaders.
Many of these leaders forget where they came from. Others are the ‘jus come’ bougie types, who are ignorant of the real world and whose milieu is a fake South Florida lifestyle.
Money exchange will not be the only thing badly or insensitively handled, as we enter a new decade. We can expect the infliction of plenty blues of the murderous and hardship kinds in 2020 and beyond.
Our Governments, without exception, have failed to lay any new foundations for progress during this century. There will be no touted new dawn.