“The rain is just as wet, when you went to a grammar school. It soaks you to the skin, and your three year old, too.” (TRIGGER WARNING)
I’d like to apologise to anyone I seem to have mortally offended with my apparent ‘conventional attractiveness’ and taste for middle eastern food.
In an article published today on ‘Left Futures’, I am apparently ‘middle class’ for ‘not spending the afternoon drinking White Ace and copulating.’ I am often advised not to respond to criticism – and I rarely do, people are entitled to their opinion. But I do respond to outright lies and misrepresentation, because I’ll be damned if people can rewrite my life and I’ll just let it lie.
In a potted bastardisation of my history, I have apparently ‘been judged lightly’ as a benefit claimant because, basically, i’m pretty and cook with chickpeas. (I’ll ignore the overlooked fact that I only claim child benefit these days, and crack on…) Really? Did you read the Sun comments section, the Guardian comments, the Daily Mail comments, the comments under the Hunger Hurts post on my blog? The tweets that flooded the Sky News feed telling me to ‘stop having children’ when I’ve got just one and probably won’t have any more? The death threats when I came out as gay? Judged lightly?!
So, I’m sorry I went to a grammar school when I was eleven. I failed most of my GCSEs though, if that’s any consolation.
I’m sorry I chose to spend my money on chickpeas and lentils instead of…what? What else was I supposed to eat? Why do some people think chickpeas are ‘middle class’ and ‘aspirational’? It’s not a lobster, it’s a cheap dried pulse!
The thing that really outraged me, though, and what led me to write this article, was the ‘Beatrix Potter cosy frugality’ comment. I didn’t realise that poverty was a competition. I didn’t realise there were boxes to tick to validate or invalidate my experiences.
But let’s make no mistake – there’s NOTHING ‘Beatrix Potter cosy’ about missing days of meals, with the heating off all winter, the lightbulbs unscrewed, selling your sons shoes and drinking his formula milk that the food bank gave you. If that’s ‘cosy frugality’, you’re frankly off the wall.
Try it. For a month. Two. Five. Unscrew your lightbulbs, turn off your fridge, sell anything you can see lying around that you might get more than two quid for.
Stop going out. Walk everywhere, in the pouring rain, in your only pair of shoes, with a soaking wet and sobbing three year old trailing behind you. Drag that three year old into every pub and shop in unreasonable walking distance and ask if they have any job vacancies. Get home, soaking, still unemployed, to ‘dry out’ in a freezing cold flat.
Put two jumpers on and worry about how you’ll wash them, take them off, and put a tshirt underneath. You can wear the jumpers all week, and change the tshirt twice.
Drag yourself to the cooker to pour some pasta into a pan, pour some chopped tomatoes on top, and try not to hurl it across the room when your son tells you he doesn’t like it – because theres nothing else.
You’re cold, exhausted, only forcing yourself out of the depths of choking depression to smile at the children’s centre workers because you’re scared they can see how numb and dead you feel, how you go to bed at night tormented by thoughts of suicide. Your son would have a better life without you. You’re a drain on society, the state, your family and friends. You slit your wrists in the bath with a prised apart disposable razor and horrified, you come to, wailing and sobbing on the floor because you know you’ve hit the fucking bottom.
You wake up the next morning, jump in a cold shower, stuff the new bailiff letters in a drawer and put long sleeves on to hide the wounds, and you go to queue at the food bank with your son in tow. You can’t cope any longer. Tenuous. Tense. A mind raging with doubt and fear and self hatred and uselessness. You fall apart in a room full of people, you hear your voice, disembodied, shouting at your son to just be quiet as his joins the chorus of noise buzzing around you.
Someone takes you into another room and gives you sugary tea.
You’re trying desperately to compose yourself because you’re terrified that ‘intervention’ means someone might take your child away.
You know they know you aren’t coping.
You hold the bottom of your jumper sleeve like your life depends on it, terrified of giving away your red raw secret, terrified you might see someone you recognise. You’re grateful for the tea and sympathy but you just want everyone to leave you alone and to stop asking if you’re okay. Because you’re not. You’re full of rain and heartache and anger and despair and it’s starting to seep through the cracks in the kept up appearances, seeping through the tshirt sleeve and you need to get out of there.
That was February, just gone, before the job and the book deal. But maybe I didn’t quite make it clear enough – poverty isn’t a discerning foe. The rain isn’t miraculously any less wet when you don’t have a coat with a hood, or an umbrella, or three quid for the bus, just because Mummy and Daddy are still married, or you went to a grammar school. That rain still soaks you to the skin, and your three year old, too.
I still have the scars on my wrists. And a book deal, yes, but publishers sought me out, not the other way round. Sorry for being ‘conventially attractive’. I’m sure it doesn’t matter a bit in my line of work, writing and cooking, what I look like. But for some reason, it matters to some online commenters; it matters because it made me ‘less poor’, apparently. Silly me. Silly, conventionally attractive me, starving when I could have been selling kisses for a dollar at the church fete.
No, not everyone gets to roll onto the Sky News sofa to talk about their miserable experiences. But that’s my point. I talk about it. And I will not stop talking about it until people stop dividing poverty into ‘the deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor based on what they look like. Astonishing.
(To read the original article, click here: http://www.leftfutures.org/2013/08/lentils-and-lager-why-we-forgive-tax-evaders-but-not-benefit-claimants/#more-16865)
Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MxJackMonroe
Below has been added to the article, can’t stand it when media publishes something and don’t stand over it, did they not read it first?
“NOTE: in light of the many responses to this article, the editors wish to clarify that references to the portrayal of Jack Monroe are criticisms of media narratives on the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor. In no way are these criticisms of Jack Monroe, or any of her admirable efforts and actions.”
Too late to apologise or clarify your words are “out there” and given your response above its clear that you know that your words were unkind and in the context of Jacks recent life bordering on cruel.
Well said Jack. Poverty is not pretty and I know exactly what you’re talking about. You have worked bloody hard to get to where you now are and well done you.
Well said! What you are doing is amazing. Both my husband and I are fortunate to have secure jobs but still find that after we have paid for child care etc etc etc we are still living pay cheque to paycheque. Your recipes have revolutionised the way I think about our weekly meals and have cut our food bills down by 75%. Keep doing what you do and say what you think, because the people that matter don’t care and the people that care don’t matter! And a huge congratulations on your recent big news!
how very, very well said of you. I am just upset that any individual would feel that they had the right to search your privacy and depths, you should not have to have disclosed so much in your defense, you should not have been attacked.
I don’t know who Jilly Luke is, but she sounds like a silly cow.
Spot on. We’re dignifying what is basically a pile of cow pats from a very silly moo.
There’s nothing wrong with being middle class, but the point that she probably forgot to see is that your son will grow up knowing that even at your worst point, you still wanted him. And you survived some bloody awful poverty which shouldn’t be allowed to happen.
You have given people a light at the end of the tunnel though, and whether you wanted it or not, it seems you’ve become quite a role model.
I don’t care what your political leanings are, or what you look like or whatever else you have been accused of. I think you are a wonderful role model in a day and age when they are few and far between (even if it came as a bit of a surprise).God bless, Jack, and thank you for your honesty.
Sod them, sod them sod them! Maybe you are criticised but you are so insipiring to me, YOU DESERVE THIS.More than some in fact. Stop justifying yourself, you have inspired me, moved me and I follow your blog with lots of interest because last year I was in a similar position. I am better but still broke. I wish I had the bravery to write like you – ANYTHING because its all I ever wanted to do. Please please rise above the comments, the fact you are gay, conventially attractive or anything else doesn’t matter to the people who matter.
PS do you want me to send you an umbrella 😉
Life is full of nasty, bitter, jealous people. You are an inspiration, remember that.
I am at a loss for words at the attitude of Jilly Luke, thankfully you weren’t Jack. Such a heartfelt response, well done you.
Ms Luke is a shabby Chablis socialist, she gives us “lower” classes a bad name, she is just another toss pot you can ignore.
Life is full of nasty, bitter, jealous people. You are and continue to be, an inspiration to a lot of people. Anyone that questions that is insignificant.
Do not waste your energy here,some people will never get it. Understand that when you put yourself ‘out there’ s**t will be thrown – because it can be. Belive in yourself. For every detractor there are hundreds who have taken heart. Don’t give them the blog space:)
A splendid and heartbreaking demolition of what sounds like a dreadful and viciously stupid article (I can’t read the original even if I wanted to as their site appears to be down – hopefully as the result of lots of people letting them know what they think of this Jilly Luk individual). Don’t let people like her get to you, Jack. You’re doing a fantastic thing and you have WAY many more supporters than detractors. Which is why the bitter, callous, deeply un-empathetic and stupid Jilly Lukes of the world are trying to drag you down. Don’t let ’em!
She’s a fool. You’re trying to eat healthily, not pretending to be Kate Middleton. Why would it be more authentic not to try? You’re the best, Jack. Don’t let her get under your skin.
Sorry that you have to deal with stuff like this.
Phew… …and breathe!
I’m sorry you have to keep spelling this out for these people Jack, but I’m so so glad you are. Your voice is one that is representing so many others and must be heard. I’m not poor, I never have been – not really. But I know, if circumstances were different, I easily could be, and I also know no one – not one – deserves to be. I also know that if you don’t keep speaking, even ‘good’ ‘well meaning’ people like me, might forget those two truths. So thank you for your honesty and your willingness to lend your voice to the others who can’t quite speak up yet. I’m convinced your strength and voice has an impact far greater and deeper than you’ll ever know – both to those still struggling and to those in danger of forgetting… Thank you and please keep speaking up.
Jack you are an inspiration! I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes ( not tears of pity ) but tears of joy that you overcame! (((((Hugs)))) to you Jack! xx
Can I just say – apart from the serious points of both sides to this that clearly Jilly Luke has never read anything about Beatrix Potter. To quote – “her version of poverty is the cosy frugality of a Beatrix Potter book”. What? I’m sorry are we all living in the early 20th C and drawing pictures of cute bunnies now? I can’t even find anything that comes close to even the nearest comparative to you and Peter Rabbit, Am I missing something here but what the hell has that got to do with living in a shared house on £10 a week, with a young child?
I know we’ve not got rid of our class values in this country altogether but for goodness sake it’s a little lame using it in the context found in that article.
The whole article just seems to be a very strange way to highlight the very fact that tax evaders get away with far more than benefit claimants – unless your name is Jack.
The whole thing is about as entertaining/informative (who the hell knows what that is) as watching paint dry.
But thank you very much for showing me what the Left Futures discuss 😉
It’s obviously just a ploy to get people to read the shitty website. The article is poorly written and contradictory.
That’s exactly what I thought. I was enraged when I read it, was going to submit a comment and then realised that is what they want. Leave those idiotic beings where they are, spurting cr*p – nobody should give them the time of day. I’m just saddened at what emotion it must have stirred up in Jack. Xx
Yes, I thought it was very poorly written too. No clear point is made–like the comment above I think there were two points–one about “rich” tax evaders being acceptable because they are working class and a separate sub point about something–not sure exactly, maybe media portrayals of the poor, maybe aspiration, maybe the idea that the social norm is a middle class norm. Like I said, not sure. Sarcastic comment written down is very difficult to pull off (which is what I think the author was trying to achieve) and clearly beyond the writing skills of the author.
While that author should perhaps stop writing, Jack should definitely keep writing. Not only is the style engaging the point is both clearly made and important.
Keep up the good work and forget the idiots who try to bring you down. It is brave to respond to them in such a manner, just don’t (try not to) let it get to you.
Your heart will break if you let these idiots get in. You are amazing for not giving in. Keep angry but keep them out. Congratulations on your happy news and keep listening to all the people who wish you well. X
I followed the link and thought I had stumbled in to some sort of Private-Eye “Spartist” parody.
Anyway, I left a comment quoting their own dreamy statements elsewhere on that website, but I suppose that it will not survive their moderation.
You are doing ok (and no, I don’t mean that you have a RangeRover, two Labradors and a Barbour 😉 ). Don’t let failed politicians get you down.
Give the SB and g/f a hug, and take one for yourself too.
Well said Jack, I work at the warehouse of the local foodbank and we see so much sorry. She needs to spend a day helping out and then she would know what its really like
Very well said. You have touched a lot of hearts and minds by sharing your life experience, I appreciate you doing that very much.
What a muddled and misinformed article Jilly Luke wrote. Keep on keeping on.
Well I know who you are Jack but I’d not heard of Jilly Luke so I guess that says it all really. 🙂
Simply. Your an inspiration and amazing xx
How very dare she ,let her walk a mile in your shoes ! the ones that let the wet in ,All she has done is prove how little she knows ,well done your a good girl, and your son is a lucky little boy , I’m a 72 year old pensioner and have seen a lot ,but in your short life you have proved more than someone four times your age ,,pop into my blog some time ..love Jan xx http://serendipitylives-jan.blogspot.com
Dear Jack – Do not worry about what other people think or say! They simply have an opinion – fair enough – I don’t think you need to respond! Each to their own! It is impossible to please all of the people all of the time – so Don’t! Keep up the interesting posts Kind – regards Liz
Sent from my BlackBerry smartphone from Virgin Media
I don’t respond to the criticism, just the outright lies. People are entitled to an opinion. They aren’t entitled to rewrite my experiences and purport their rewriting as facts.
I’ve never actually replied to you Jack, never felt the need because you say it so well anyway, but when people like this come out of the woodwork to criticise or say something politely negative or even damn with faint praise, you know that you are hitting home and saying things that make certain people uncomfortable and show up the whole bunch of sheisters for what they; a whole bunch of sheisters! They couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery but somehow they are ruining, sorry running the country. And they will always find compliant career minded not particularly talented people to rail against you for a big salary and a comfortable Middle class existence. Ignore them, relax and write. And smile that you are rattling cages at the same time!
Lets see if she has the balls to reply/apologize …. The not so nice Jilly..
Well said Jack you are an amazing inspirational woman.
Jack you are totally brilliant. Ive just started following you and I completely admire what you have achieved and hope you keep on at it. I don’t know who this luke person is either and she obviously knows nothing about you. I actually wou want to know anything more about her as this attack on you pretty much says it all. Stay strong you are an inspiration
Why are chickpeas and lentils middle class? There are millions of people around the world that use these foods as cheap staples, for everything … Soups, stews, breads. Knowing that these sorts of foods provide inexpensive good quality protein has nothing to do with class.I for one applaud you for having the inventiveness and creativity to feed yourself and your son decent food on such a tight budget. I applaud you for having the guts to lay yourself bare and share all the gory details of hitting rock bottom. I applaud you for coming out in public and congratulate you ok your forthcoming wedding celebration. I am glad that you got a book deal and that things are turning around for you. Other people seem to hate others success. Ignore the critics and celebrate your fabulousness.
I think that you will get out of this Jack, and although there are days that it doesn’t seem like it at all, one day you will look back on this moments and laugh. Not just laugh, but understand that through them you found your life-course, or calling/direction. The thing that you are meant to be doing for now. And in that you will find joy, maybe not intense joy, but you will find it, along with something like contentment. It is coming – be patient and stay strong. Love your boy, and stay strong. Things will work out regardless of what intentional, or perhaps even unintentional (they’re the ones who apologise immediately and you know it’s sincere) detractors may say. Strength, courage, faith.
Jack you are completely brilliant and you must not let this person who I’ve never heard of either get to you. Her comments speak volumes about her. Enough said. She obviously has not taken the time to read your witty and insightful writings. Keep on doing what you do. You are an inspiration to all and I really admire your stance. Good luck
I think your’e perfectly wonderful and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
I think that you, and what you are doing and stand for are amazing. I would like to wish you all the best and cant wait for the book to come out, its been pre-ordered!! Keep your chin up 🙂
Anyone who takes you on must be mad!!! Who is she anyway? We all know who you are, love you and follow your every word. I wish I had your courage, to help me fight my battles. I understand what you mean by the LIES. Keep going girl, you are the Best, SIMPLY THE BEST!
Deirdre (I O M) x
I just read that awful article and honestly thought the writer was joking until I hit the fourth paragraph. As someone who has once had to feed three adults on $30 (about 20 pounds) a week, the author’s demand to see take-away boxes and alcohol in order to judge true poverty is ridiculous. The less money you have, the less you can afford those things.
The most painful thing to me was seeing how she said that you were attractive meant you couldn’t be poor. When I was scraping for food, I lost a lot of weight quite quickly- I can’t tell you the number of times a friend told me I was ‘looking great’ while I internally counted down to noon when I could afford to eat the other half of my breakfast scone.
I hope she reads your response and takes a moment to ask herself why she has such a preposterous view of poverty.
Hi Jack. After reading this and then following the link to read the article in question I cannot put into words the contempt I feel for this person. Who is she to judge. Has she ever been even remotely close to your situation and many of us that have been in that position. I was even going to leave a comment but could not put into words what I wanted to due to sheer anger. You have been a light at the end of a tunnel that has guided people to a much more affordable way to feed their families on very little money. Please keep up the fantastic work you do. Congratulations on your announcement. Best wishwe to you both and your little boy. X
You seem to have broken the website of “Left Futures” – or at least slowed it down some! Lol! I imagine there will be very few comments to Jilly Luke’s article published.
That said – and I have a great many thoughts about her article, having read it – she really should have picked on someone else as an example. Your followers are fast to defend you, Jack, as I think she will be realizing about now.
The new Left, is, unfortunately, populated by the middle class and has absolutely no idea how real people live or even who they are. In Jilly Luke’s attempt to write an academic article for the website with a Marxist twist (I recognise it, having written a few essays like that one in my student days), she picked on you because you are available and known. Not known as in acquaintance, but known as in famous.
She’s an idiot and proved it in that article. The Left kind of assume no one reads their websites unless they agree with them. Mistake. I assume you have a google alert for your name?
On to your post. I think in many ways this post is even more poignant than “Hunger Hurts”. That description of reaching rock bottom, the fear of your child being taken away .. and at the same time the stress of being responsible for him, loving him, wanting the best for him and yet not being able to give it to him, the depression, so well articulated. It really is brave to write so clearly about it, without being a moaning minnie. In fact, you, your writing, these are far closer to the traditional Left than Cambridge undergrads can ever understand.
It’s people like you who were the groundspring of the rise in the Labour movement at the beginning of the last century – and it’s your courage and leadership that will bring about its resurgence.
Keep on keeping on, Jack – you have thousands behind you. The only reason you can’t see them sometimes is that you are right out there in front.
Very well said.
Absolutely, Fiona. Although actually there’s a large sub-section of the Left that simply can’t comprehend that anyone might not feel as they do because their views are so … lovely. And unassailable, obviously. Therefore anyone who disagrees must be horrid, fascist, judgemental, a Daily Mail reader etc etc etc. Most people who write in this way have, as you say, no experience of how people outside of their own little bubble actually live. Working class areas are in fact quite traditional, in that there is a strong belief in hard work and making the best of things.
Yes, the Left is another tool of the Middle class now; they infiltrated it so they could water it down and make it of little effect, so that when Working class people clamour for a voice, they look at the Trendy Lefties and feel disgusted and let down as usual. I also think that many Middle class people attach themselves to Left politics to be rebellious, to be smug and ultimately to get well paid careers being professional protestors. Fabian Socialists in effect, happy to talk all day about equality and equal rights and ‘make poverty history’ but not actually doing anything really constructive about it at all, and getting well paid at the same time. The Left and the Labour Party has in effect become a Middle class London centred talking shop and outside of London and the South East and outside of broadly Middle class concerns, the Left doesn’t really care about Working class people at all. If Miliband et al did care, they would be shouting from the rooftops about this governments attacks on the poor, disabled and unemployed but they are doing nothing. So most of us have no hope and no effective politicians speaking up for us. And as usual, the Middle class Left and Right are heard spouting off their ‘well informed’ rhetoric and we have to grit our teeth yet again.
The whole system in this country needs overhauling, and we need to understand that the wealthy and the affluent Middle classes do not want anything to change at all, because they are the ones now benefitting from what is happening at the moment. Low wages at the bottom, good wages in the middle, big profits at the top. If these Middle class crusaders really want anything to change then they will talk about redistributing wealth, through a better minimum wage and by closing all the loopholes that allow big business and wealthy individuals to easily avoid paying even token amounts of tax. Let’s see the Middle class Lefties bring that up sometime hey? Or is that not on the agenda?
I think people are talking here about ‘New Labour’, centrist politics, not the left. I hate to use terms like ‘true left’ – but what Blair did with New Labour wasn’t really socialist, it was adopting a lot of neoliberal Thatcherite policies to get elected. So when people criticise the left via New Labour I want to shout THAT ISN’T SOCIALISM – because it isn’t. it’s a weird sort of socialism light through a neo-liberal filter….Maggie said her greatest triumph was Tony Blair for a reason. He co-opted many of her policies, and such politics was changed forever and any sense of real socialism was ejected as being unworkable or unelectable.
And then the recession came…exactly time when people did need that sort of politic, and were open to such ideas as the classic hierarchy of Them vs Us was there for all to see. And sadly during that time, rather than what people suggest here, of canapes and champagne socialism, the far-Left SWP et al were imploding and infighting – when people needed them. Sad. Thank goodness for Occupy, and the Cuts protesters – even the Anti-Fracking greens for actually showing that it’s not really about politics of the party sort anymore, and that disparate voices can and should get together and fight back. Yes some of the same old anarchists, but they do at least walk the walk, why I have some time for anarchists especially the anarcho-syndacalists. Whereas Liberals, New Labour and Tories can go swing. Preferably from a lamppost when/if the revolution comes 😛
@ timbearcub – spot on!
I *definitely* don’t remember anyone eating chickpeas in any Beatrix Potter books.
I do however remember growing up in north London where a proportion of my school came from Mediterranean families and grew up eating stuff like chickpeas — and most of them were probably what would be considered “working class”. So it’s always bothered me when people equate eating hummus with being middle class and posh — because it’s so casually insulting to the *millions* of people on the planet who’ve eaten chickpeas for centuries without having to worry about whether enjoying their food was a badge of class culture.
If anything, that article showed up so many of Jilly Luke’s own unreasonable prejudices about what poor people “should” behave like. I’d like to *think* half of it was meant to be a bit of a spoof/pastiche of a Daily Mail reader Middle England type (although that’s a bit of an insulting cliche as well, isn’t it?) but obviously in need of a good subeditor because the second half of it only had a slim connection to the first.
I’m still annoyed about that stupid thing about the chickpeas though.
The forgotten volume – “mrs tiggywinkle and the chickpea stew”
What a hateful person (Jilly Luke that is!). As others have said, simply another middle-class lefty – nothing wrong with that in principle, I’m one myself, just not of her variety, who feel entitled to empiricise what poverty is, usually along the Noble Poor lines. Ironically she’s probably spent a lot of time ridiculing the Government’s “we’re all in this together” nonsense while seeking to shrink the vast economic problems most of the population are dealing with down to solely her pet section of the electorate.
Don’t let them get to you, Jack.
You put so much of yourself into this blog, Jack. Sometimes I worry. Maybe you should simply ignore vile, mean-spirited articles like this. There’s an element of the Left that I find odious, despite the fact that I’d describe myself as left wing. So you’re not properly working class unless you’re a Waynetta Slob stereotype? Yes, let’s keep people in their place (in the gutter, probably, swilling cheap cider) because that’s such an enlightened, egalitarian idea. Good God – give me a raving Daily Mail reader any day.
A few generations ago my ancestors were dirt-poor, illiterate immigrants to the East End of London. They didn’t have much but they did have brains, tenacity or an awe-inspiring capacity for hard work. They were driven by that fundamental wish of every parent – that their children would have something better: a decent home, nice food on the table and an education. They succeeded – spectacularly. Does this mean they somehow sold out? I’m sure they’d find the idea laughable.
Due to life’s funny old reversals, I find that, while my siblings agonise over expensive designer kitchens and holiday homes, I’m back at the bottom of the pile in a less than desirable area. My road has a few ne’er do wells – so do middle class areas – but most people here are spurred on by the same aspirations that drove my ancestors. They work very hard at crap jobs for risible wages in the hope that their kids will fare better. They don’t want to lie around drinking and eating pizza all day; they do want to learn. Why should eating nice food be the preserve of the middle classes? If no one has ever shown you how to use herbs and spices, or cook with simple, wholesome ingredients such as chick peas or kidney beans, you have to get the information from somewhere. Why not here? It’s empowering!
PS Be very thankful for ‘conventional good looks’. And a little sceptical of people who see them as a problem.
Before we agree not to target Jilly Luke for her misdirected Everything, a little backscatter reference from an article she wrote on HuffPo: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jilly-luke/being-clever-is-not-the-same-as-being-posh_b_3719793.html
“A single blight blots my otherwise blissful relaxation. I refer of course to the “and how are you getting on at University” conversation. I long to give a subtle and suitable answer to this, to somehow do justice to three terms of the kind of life experiences with friends that used to form the backbone of Tory cabinets. To explain without repetition, hesitation or deviation, the calibre of this formative year, perhaps to quote a little of Tennyson’s Ulysses at the end to give it the kind of gravitas it deserves.”
Jack, I won’t join a baying chorus of kneejerk anger against this woman, and I know you’re not intentionally setting the stage for one. But I’m getting the feeling that as you increasingly become an icon, you will more concretely become a societal shorthand for “writers” too lazy or inept to investigate the full warp and weft of the fabric they’re supposedly describing.
I would never have thought of making burgers from carrot & kidney beans, never mind adding cumin. I didn’t know what kidney beans were until I was 20. And carrots were what went in mince with carrots to decorate the spuds and onions. My childhood had limited ingredients, and my adulthood now counts “Carrot&kidneybeanCuminYumBurgers”, thanks to you. A wonderful person who has shed a happy light in many maybe-shadowed lives; that’s astounding, and that’s also going to be impossible to defend if you choose the position where you think it’s something you have to defend from anyone. You will be discussed, revered, misunderstood and remembered across the world in tbs, lbs, cc and other measures by millions.
Let them. They’re going to regardless, and by entering into their dialogue, you’re only going to keep them knocking on the bridge beneath your feet, distracting you from the path ahead.
Thanks for that, Gerry. It explains a lot. Including the tragically weak Beatrix Potter stuff. Confirms my view that she’s best ignored.
Ah so this is an undergrad who is hoping to make a start for herself as a journalist. And appears to have picked Jack as an ‘easy’ example. Poorly researched and badly written.
Jack you have a strong voice. You speak of your own experiences. You write with conviction and humour. There is an ever growing group of people who follow you and your words. Good on you Jack
Hmm I’ve got friends who came from the working class and went to Oxbridge and they have much more of a grasp of the politics and how to structure an argument and she ever has. How is she even writing for HuffPo? Absolutely no idea, and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near anything socialist since by the evidence of that badly written Democratic Left article she isn’t one.
I’m not really up on Marx but pretty sure his first line of Das Kapital wasn’t ‘Ignore the poor, don’t listen to what they say, but write witty vaguely class conscious articles in HuffPo and bad ones for the new Left’. Not surprised she’s doing Shakespeare, that’s about where her politics seems to have stopped.
I suspect there’s more than a touch of envy there . . .
What a horrific woman… She clearly has no idea about poverty, about benefits claimants… about the REAL people involved. I can’t believe she would take a pot shot at you! Keep on doing what you do, clearly she has a severe case of the green-eyed monster!
Wow It’s been years since I’ve heard a ‘lefty’ come out with banal drivel like that, *sighs* what a muppet, she’s missed the point completely and has managed to completely out herself as a fool, people like her need to pigeon hole everyone in all walks of life, congratulations Jack you don’t fit in any of her pigeon holes 🙂
Lou,from what is now termed the under class 😉 x
What everyone said. I can’t say it any better. Go Jack.
Jilly Luke appears to be an undergraduate student at Cambridge.
I’m at a loss as to why she has written what she has, unless it was meant to be some sort of ghastly self-publicising exercise.
I’m also at a loss as to what qualifies her to write about poverty, and judge your recent predicament.
I’m a working class lad who was brought up on a council estate in a Durham pit village, and went to a comprehensive school. I saw poverty and social deprivation all around me growing up.
Jack, you come across as wholly genuine to me. Jilly Luke comes across as having some kind of sordid agenda, and I guess she was hoping to use you as part of that.
Well done for not letting her.
She writes like she sounds… a middle class numpty..! Rock on and do your bit to speak out when others can’t. Well done you and if you want any freebie graphics doing to support you… ask me and I’ll see what I can come up with.. x I give all my human rights stuff free.. woo hoo.. 😉 We gotta support each other in this world and it doesn’t always mean money money money, just a bit of caring will do thank you very much. Good luck with everything x
Yesterday’s post had me beaming, today’s had me weeping. Well expressed as ever. Not everyone can write about their own life experience because it is shallow. So they criticise others who tell the truth.
You tell ’em Jack ! Boy you’re good ….respect !
Well, I went and read the original article and I don’t THINK the woman is actually attacking Jack, but commenting on a trend in the way we, as a society, view poverty and benefit claimants. Actually, she’s sort of attacking me – as it were. Would I be so interested in – and inspired by Jack’s writing (and I am!) if she were less articulate, intelligent and attractive? Would I be so impressed by her ability to exist on £10 a week if she were not choosing to make food which I can recognise as something I myself would enjoy eating? Would I be so moved by the desperate straits she has found herself in if I didn’t also recognise in her something of myself.
I’m asking these questions seriously, and with a certain amount of shame. Do I sometimes turn away emotionally from the ‘feckless’ poor portrayed in comedy TV, or who I see screaming drunkenly at each other on Saturday nights on the council estate? Am I inclined to judge the life choices of those who are not articulate enough to explain them to me – even if they cared to? Do I inwardly sneer and shudder when I see the ‘typical Chav’ supping on coke and pizza in the street? And aren’t all these people just as ground down by poverty, betrayed by a cruel system, living desperately, hand to mouth, as Jack was?
Jack is doing an incredible job of bringing the reality of poverty, the grinding despair of trying to work with a cruel benefit system, the resourcefulness needed to find enough, wholesome food for a growing child, to an audience of readers some of whom may have never known what it is to be really poor. And to those struggling with poverty she offers hope and practical advice. But I’m afraid it is only too true that had she been less attractive, sympathetic, articulate she might not have garnered the sympathy and admiration that she has. (I know there have been adverse comments on the Guardian and crass articles, but overwhelmingly the support has been huge).
What I THINK Jilly Luke is trying to say, in a particularly clumsy and roundabout way is that WE, the readers, the audience, look for what WE recognise as Middle-class attributes when WE decide who to judge harshly or not. So therefore we let bankers and tax evaders off the hook because they spend their money on things that we also aspire to. We take Jack to our bosom because WE feel she represents the US we want to be, but still find we are able to resent and judge the mass of the unwashed poor because they are somehow less noble in their distress.
I am NOT saying I think her argument is correct – just that it raises some uncomfortable questions and that I don’t think she is attacking Jack. Even her Beatrix Potter comment, though silly, is probably trying to make the point that Middle-class, well-meaning, Guardian-reading, do-gooding people (like me?) tend to shy away from harsh realities and feel more comfortable if they can imagine a nice, wholesome glow around the whole picture.
I could be wrong, but I read the article carefully several times.
Personally? I’m incredibly inspired by Jack’s writings, subscribe to the blog and am waiting impatiently for the book.
that’s exactly my take on it too, Annie! I’m really glad you posted this. I’m a little concerned that jilly’s getting a lot of hate for a very well-intentioned, if rather clumsily written, article.
Yes, this is how I read it. Not a great article but not intended as an attack. Ironically, some very aggressive comments here making all sorts of presumptions and judgements on the author of the original article.
Yes, I think the same. I commented on Jack’s Facebook page but think you’ve put it much better than I have.
I read it like that as well Annie, so I am glad you posted this.
I think this was more a really poorly written article rather than a personal attack on Jack.
And yes, like yourself I am asking myself some of those same questions because I am WELL aware of how I often I might find it hard to relate to some of the people that are let down by our own society and how much easier it is to “get behind them” when they are articulate, educated and attempting to make something out of their life than when they are the stereotypical chav with a beer can and a spliff and their hat on back to front. Thank you for reminding me that I can be a snob as well, despite my own left wing leanings xx
I agree with this assessment of the article and I hope people did not get too personal in their comments on her article, although I do think the basic premise behind it was wrong. I read those Guardian comments and a significant minority of them weren’t pretty. For some people, it seems, unless you are literally eating gruel with water then you are squandering other people’s money by claiming benefits – no matter if you are working class, middle class or little Lord Fauntleroy. From memory, complaints about Jack’s kitchen tiles being too opulent, I thought it was obvious it wasn’t her own kitchen, the wine she uses as flavouring, probably more cost effective than red wine vinegar or other flavourings like vanilla essence but no one would complain about that. Lots of people seemingly do not forgive Jack for being a ‘middle class’ benefits claimant. The only scroungers that seem to be acceptable, or at least invisible, in our society are the corporate scroungers that make huge profits but require tax payers to top up the salaries of their lowest earners. Perhaps people should look harder at this type of hand out.
Isn’t there a difference between someone wanting to make something of their life and someone who drinks and smokes dope all day? Why do you think you’re a snob? This has nothing to do with class surely? Class is getting in the way of rational debate in this country. You’re right about the article, it isn’t in any way an attack on Jack. I think it makes some interesting points about class; hope one day we can shake off our obsession with whether someone is middle or working or whatever. The point about chickpeas and who eats them (made elsewhere) is salutory.
I agree with all this, although I can see why Jack took it as an attack, as any description of poverty as pretty and chocolate box pictured must be terribly upsetting
And yes, I see Jack, making ‘middle class’ meals and being articulate and think ‘there but for the grace of god go I’ where I see the loud, drunk poor and think ‘nope, that could never be me’
Right or wrong, it is MY human nature.
Same here & I noted that in response to criticisms of her article this has been added to the end of it: “NOTE: in light of the many responses to this article, the editors wish to clarify that references to the portrayal of Jack Monroe are criticisms of media narratives on the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor. In no way are these criticisms of Jack Monroe, or any of her admirable efforts and actions.”
Thank you, Lesley Reardon, for asking an important question – ie, isn’t there a difference between someone who wants to make something of his life and someone who doesn’t? Middle class guilt is a terrible thing. People are so terrified of being called judgemental snobs that they have become paralysed by their own unease. Given that it is no longer acceptable to judge in even the smallest way, how does society help someone whose life choices are totally destructive of themselves and their children? They’re a much smaller sub-section of the working class than many believe, but they aren’t purely a tabloid fantasy. Do we just say ‘there, there dear’ and chuck more pizza at them, or do we encourage change, in which case we are being – horror of horrors – judgemental. My mum (immigrant stock, working class) has no problem with judging people. Sometimes she is downright unkind. She has been known to say some very harsh things about ‘layabouts’, as well as immigrants. It is pointless to remind her that her own family hasn’t been here for very long and that she herself has been the butt of some very unkind comments. I have given up trying to tell her that the tabloids might not be feeding her the unvarnished truth. But at least she doesn’t indulge in pointless, guilty hand-wringing. If she saw a lad rolling around in the gutter with a beer can, she’d say ‘Oi! you! Do something useful!’ Arguably this is a rather more respectful way to treat those at the bottom of the pile than simply telling oneself that the poor dears just can’t help it.
I was finally able to access the article and after several readings find that I agree with Annie’s elegant reply. This is a poorly written article which fails to present a coherent point, I wonder if there was a clarifying bit to it that was edited out for some reason.
It is really too bad as it could have been an interesting piece regarding the face of poverty in a modern society
Who gets to make the definition and what does it mean ?…what are the various myths surrounding just who the “poor” are….. how did they arrived there….. how do they fit into society and how they are perceived and tolerated, or not, by those who are “not poor”
You were used as an example for this muddled piece based on your presence in the media as if you were an avatar rather than flesh and blood. This was hurtful and wrong and you deserve an apology…Too bad the author didn’t think to actually interview you to see if you agreed with her ideas and ask what else to you may have contributed to her though process.
After reading the article, I also came to conclusion that Jilly was not attacking you Jack. Her writing is so abysmal however, that I needed several careful re-readings to figure out what the heck she WAS trying to say, which I think was an attempt to explain why tax-evaders aren’t as villified as people on Assistance. What a muddled mess. The woman needs a remedial writing class and a good editor.
Jack, you have helped me feed myself delicious, quality food on my Disability income. I have Borderline Personality Disorder, accompanied by anxiety and long-term depression. Your soul-baring,heart-wrenching posts speak my language, and have helped me to not feel quite as alone when I get hit with crippling depression and despair. I admire you greatly, and appreciate your willingness to share your life.
Agreed. It was horribly obtuse piece of writing. I had to reread it two or three times to get hold of the main argument also.
I have to agree too. I read it a couple of times and I think her points are aimed at us more than Jack.
Well articulated Annie. You said what I thought.
Jack-I don’t know what to say about your last post. Just so heartbreaking. I hope that with the positive things you’ve achieved for you and your son through your own determination you never have to feel this low again.
I read it Annie’s way too – however, I fully understand why Jack didn’t want to just let it go. Just because things are going well for her now doesn’t minimise how unimaginably difficult it must have been. To have anyone minimise just how dire Jack’s life was at the time, because back then she didn’t know it would last x years/months, but that it would just go on and she would run out of things to sell – hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Having been through something crap for a very long time myself, the best plus side is that each day she must, like I, wake up thanking her lucky stars that the “s**t” is finally over.
I admire you, her comment reflected pointless nastiness. You cannot be held accountable for the demonisation of the working classes by the media.Plough on; you are helping a lot of people to get through.x
I just find her comments about you really quite unbelievable, to infer or actually say that your the acceptable middle class face of poverty and having the audacity to make comments on your looks/appearance is again unbelievable as if that has anything to do with with poverty and further more you experiences on just trying to survive. Also what the f*** does it matter what you cook/eat why should you or anyone be judged on whether they eat chickpeas or chips, why are chickpeas or lentils the bastion of the middle classes. she just made my blood boil when I read ill informed ill researched article. You just had to respond to it and I felt that I had to at least post something and support you and say that its important that your blog is out there saying like it really is.
Keep up blogging, keep ranting and keep cooking. 😉
Forgive me for saying this, but it just sounds like the usual ill-informed Middle class w**k basically. It is still acceptable in this country for posh types to sneer contemptuously at people they see as beneath them in some way, although you will notice that most White Middle class people are very VERY careful not to be or appear racist in any way. The pay off, if you will, is that now the white Working class, especially if they are ‘feckless’ or not out there everyday working their asses off in a low wage dead end job, or zero hours contract, are the enemy, the enemy within, the acceptable target for Middle class contempt, Middle class smugness and sometimes Middle class patronisation or ‘concern’. Why, may we also ask, is someone like this journalist, given room to spout of crap about someone she knows nothing about? Are the establishment getting rattled a little that Jack’s message is getting more coverage than they like? So then we see the attacks, the clones, the posh drones doing their masters’ bidding and being good little lapdogs, and who knows miss posho might get promoted. Same old story isn’t it? The well to do can have a future, whilst the rest of us have to struggle on somehow, and then they add insult to injury.
Brave, resourceful and literate: ‘attractive’…. yes. Conventional… I doubt it.
Well said and so sad to hear you got this low. Keep fighting the good fight.
I dont know why you bothered to spoil your weekend away and take the time to answer the stupid woman who is paid to write spiteful and caustic articles that provoke nasty thoughts and little else. But I’m so glad you did, because you have articulated so well what millions of single parents go through worldwide and in the UK . Unlike her though, you have actually made THE DIFFERENCE and helped so many people and been such an inspiration that when Hollywood comes knocking on your door I hope Madam chokes on her vitriol and you get some suitable old bag to play her. Congrats on your engagement too xx
I can see she upset you with her article, but reading it I thought she actually talks about the attitude of that part of the population who see everyone on benefits as a scrounger unless they seem to them to be more “middle class” – stress on “seem to them to be”, because they think in absolute clichees and anyone who knows what a chickpea looks like quite clearly “must be middle class or a Guardian reader”…I really think she tried to look at this mindset of stereotyping people, not upset you, because this is the insidious message we are given by all those “We’re all in this together”- millionaires who try to make people on benefit the enemy.
We can agree to disagree, I did not take this article as an attack on you.
Hmm, difficult to know how to respond to this. Don’t want to be patronising or to dismiss what sounds like a deep hurt.
Like a couple of other people on here, I think Ms Luke was trying to make a valid point. Every one of us make judgements every day about people we meet and read about.
I read the article carefully and my take on it was this. People who are poor can be safely dismissed if they don’t do what they ‘should’ to get themselves out of poverty. Their poverty almost becomes their own fault. So we (ie society as a whole) don’t have to do very much about it.
I believe the argument being put forward is that people who are seen to be doing as much as they can to improve their life can be cheered on, because ‘obviously’ their poverty is only temporary, and it is safe to approve of them. And if it isn’t temporary, a vicarious thrill can be had of ‘there but for the grace….’ They are like ‘us’
And conversely, those who defraud tax and other white collar crimes, are too close to home to be demonised and ‘blamed’ .
There is a hegemony in our society where most people want to move on up the ladder, and live the life of ‘them’, reflected in societies obsession with celebrity. So anything people further up the ladder do is somehow alright, merely because it is they that are doing it.
I don’t think you were being picked on Jack, seems to me you were codified as the acceptable face of poverty.
Now, how that would make me feel in your shoes is probably pretty pissed off. However it does not reflect who you truly are, please, please try not to let these things hit your buttons. You are in the public eye now, people will be writing about you and getting lots of things wrong.
For a long time, I was evenly balanced, had a chip on each shoulder about the crap experiences in my earlier life. It was quite a shock when I realised that they had about as much knowledge about my life experiences as I had about theirs. I didn’t understand the concerns of someone who was living a privileged life in the same way they couldn’t understand the fear and desperation when living in poverty. Didn’t invalidate either life.
Reading through these comments, it is obvious how so many people care about you and spring to your defence. Nil carborundum gal. Mrs Jack and SB know who you are and love you muchly. xxxx
I think there is very deep disquiet about ‘white collar crime’. It’s just that there’s a general feeling that nothing much can be done; that the powerful will never be held responsible for their actions. We’ve seen this with the banking crisis. We’ve all paid a heavy price for the City’s stupidity and greed, but in the end it has changed nothing. The banking industry has simply stuck two fingers aloft and carried on as usual.
Beautifully put, Les. I do wonder what it’s like to be Ms Luke this fine morning though – on the one hand, her failure to actually research the person she was holding up as “acceptable face of poverty” has got her some serious grief…. But on the other hand, her failure to research properly has got her tagged on to YOUR readers, Jack – giving her a far greater audience than she would ever have got otherwise. As for the “Beatrix Potter cosy”…. Well, what my daughter remembers most vividly from her childhood BP readings is that Peter Rabbit very bloody nearly got eaten – and just how comfortably cosy is that….. ?
WTF is a middle class or working class value any way – whoever wrote tat was talking out of their backend –
Sad. Just really sad that you should have to go through what you’ve been through. 🙁
Er jack, are you sure you didn’t misread Jilly’s comments? I think she’s ‘on your side’. Jilly’s commenting on middle class hypocrisy towards the ‘working classes’, and she’s trying to make the point that there are many, many people in your situation but because they aren’t perhaps as articulate as you, or don’t cook or buy the food that you do, they don’t receive the same sympathies.
She article isn’t written from her own point of view, if that makes sense. It’s written from the point of view of someone she considers hypocritical.
I hope you two did manage to speak to each other and perhaps set things straight? I can understand that you might not like her using you as an example – and Jilly’s article was rather confusing as it isn’t immediately clear whether she was writing from her point of view or someone else’s.
PS / I really love your blog – you’re a very inspirational person 🙂
This may be true Rachel, but sometimes I get the feeling that some Middle class journalists (and others) who want to take a swipe at poor people, will say anything they want and as offensively as they want, and then when tackled about it they say they are being ironic or parodying what everyone else is saying. Which I find disagreeable and disingenuous, and a way of having your cake and eating it. In short, you can’t run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.
Very well said! You are an inspiration to anyone facing any form of poverty (financial, emotional or mental) x
I think this woman is misguided rather than actively malicious, but this is an excellent example of someone not getting the full facts before making pithy remarks about ‘aspirational chickpeas’.
I hope she’s embarrassed when she realises that by using your experiences as a handy, lazy example of what’s ‘acceptable’ she has actually hurt a real person.
I think she was trying to say that the middle classes have a skewed vision of what working class, and benefit claimants, look like – she just made that point badly and ended up judging you unfairly.
I think this woman is misguided rather than actively malicious, but this is an excellent example of someone not getting the full facts before making pithy remarks about ‘aspirational chickpeas’.
I hope she’s embarrassed when she realises that by using your experiences as a handy, lazy example of what’s ‘acceptable’ she has actually hurt a real person.
I think she was trying to say that the middle classes have a skewed vision of what working class, and benefit claimants, look like – she just made that point badly and ended up judging you unfairly.
I think this woman is misguided rather than actively malicious, but this is an excellent example of someone not getting the full facts before making pithy remarks about ‘aspirational chickpeas’.
I hope she’s embarrassed when she realises that by using your experiences as a handy, lazy example of what’s ‘acceptable’ she has actually hurt a real person.
I think she was trying to say that the middle classes have a skewed vision of what working class, and benefit claimants, look like – she just made that point badly and ended up judging you unfairly.
Well said. As for personal comments about how you look, I think I smell a little bit of jealousy there!
I would like to thank you for your interviews with Sky News etc and the storm that you are causing because you are representing people like me. You are giving people like me, my partner and my friends the voice that we don’t have and you are showing people what poverty really is. I am glad that you have been noticed because you being listened too, can benefit the rest of us.
If I were you, I would ignore the bigots who are attacking you because quite frankly, if they have nothing better to do with their lives than pull people to pieces, they’re not worth anybodies’ time.
Pulses are cheap but nutritious, not a bit “middle class” or “fancy” or “posh”. You were doing the right thing for your kid, feeding him the best you can, within your budget but healthy. You’re wonderful and a true inspiration for many people. I’m from Spain and I recomend your blog to everyone I know that can read in English. (Right now, we have plenty of “Jacks” here too, so your recipes could help a lot.)
About your prettiness, yeah, you’re pretty and look like a lovely, sweet girl. Your tattoos are very pretty too. You had a loving family, you were educated. What this have to do with poverty? Nothing. You showed us that poverty could happen to anybody. Not just beggars or inmigrants or junkies, you know, the outsiders… It’s everywhere.
Also, I think it’s absolutely despicable that so-called leftiest are attacking you. They should take your example.
Gah! Since when was poverty a lifestyle choice? Poverty is poverty whatever you choose to spend your money on. Such judgmental journalism. Now where’s my scented candle…
Total and utter rage at this ignorant cow that decided to slate you for being honest and working so hard to make ends meet!! Bet she has never unscrewed the fucking lightbulbs out in her penthouse Belgravia apartment with plush leather sofas and Gucci shoes on the doorstep!
I am aware that you get thousands of emails from your followers and im acutely aware that you cant reply to every one of us, but allow me to get a little warm and fuzzy at the thought that you may just pick mine to read today…. I am Laura, a nvq qualified veterinary nurse of 29 and im engaged and planning a wedding, i live in a house with heating and electric (albeit sporadic as im on a meter), and i eat well – thanks to you! – but its not always been so ‘bourgeoise’ as Ms Luke would no doubt label it! i travel around the country as a locum filling in where i can to pay the bills and the debts that my ex left me, i have just paid my first months rent in full this year, and i also understand the undenying appeal of suicide on a regular basis, i have bipolar disorder and some days when i dont make the menial but often unreachable target of just paying my rent in full, i hear your cries about ending it all and being a failure to everyone around me, even more than i would be alive…
I too have many tattoos and piercings and i too had those done before the purse strings tightened – how dare SHE judge you for how you look, and hurl abuse at you from her ignorant, arrogant, expensive desk. Cow. Yes, im cross, but i cant imagine how you are feeling, that she pushed you to retaliate with the reality of your suicide attempt, self harm and dark times, she should be quickly racing to get in her proverbial box, and if she isnt, she is a vile human being. Please be comforted by all your amazing followers.
I was asked recently who inspired me and if i have any heros. Yes i replied, a lady who i follow online, Jack Monroe, she has allowed me to live for next to nothing food-wise for the last few months and has truly, truly inspired me in many ways!
So please take great comfort in the fact that i know im certainly one of very very many of your followers whose lives YOU have changed for the better, and fuck silly old tarts like her that judge you for it.
And for the record, your are miles from ‘conventially attractive’ – youre beautiful
i wonder what she looks like?!
Regards and keep up the fab work, and congrats on your recent engagement, i hope the horror of your past has truly left you and its all going to be much better now on, i cant wait for the book!!
Date: Sun, 25 Aug 2013 18:22:30 +0000 To: email@example.com
The article you referenced doesn’t mean you personally have not experienced struggles or haven’t hurt. They’re talking about the stereotype of the deserving acceptable face of poverty, and how being is seen as certain things removes barriers you may not even be aware are there for others who are not seen as acceptable. You have your own barriers and those should not be ignored, but there is no denying that society deems certain appearances to be more deserving than others, it is cold comfort undoubtedly in the times you suffer and must focus exclusively on that but you are indeed more likely to be deemed closer to “acceptable” than many others. That doesn’t erase poverty, but it does mean your place as the face of poverty owes a measure to societies prejudices about who is a deserving poor person.
Yes, you’ve gotten a lot of abuse simply for being a benefit’s claimant, for having a child and for being gay, but not as much as you would have if you were a woman of color, trans, had more than one child, were learning disabled, physically disabled, disfigured or considered ugly by societies standard. Poverty narrows our world, it is very easy to see our own suffering and to forget the privileges we also have. Privileges which may not appreciably ease our burdens, you after all cannot eat privilege, but which nevertheless are beneficial even if we don’t see them as such.
You talk about the sympathy you experienced from others, yet many of us who have oppressions you do not share would not experience that. You for example in being seen as a cis white woman of conventional appearance will never be considered mentally subnormal merely for existing, for all you failed your GCSEs, your presentation as a white cis woman is considered to merit respect for your intelligence and you are not required to prove that you are smart, people who belong to other groups are required to do so constantly.
The politics of “acceptability” don’t mean you’ve suffered less or that your suffering should be overlooked, but they do mean if you were considered less acceptable by society as a “representative”, you probably would not have a publicised book deal or as many interviews/publicity. It is hard to believe that a trans disabled gay woman of color with three children would even have a book deal, and that is the difference.
Why didn’t she have to “prove” she was smart? She had to prove to me she was smart when I first logged on. I didn’t know what colour she was or if she had half a dozen kids, but I checked how she manipulated language because here, unlike anywhere else in the world, it’s the words you see before the person. She could have been aesthetically beyond all hope but I’d not have noticed until I’d already judged her on what she’d written.
Perhaps we could locate this fabled trans disabled gay woman of colour with three children and find out if she wants to be a writer. Because I haven’t got a book deal either, does that mean I must belong to a variety of minority groups whose compounded nature make it impossible for me to progress….or is it just because I have no flair for writing and have never had any desire to write, and that’s why I don’t have a book deal?!
I wonder if all the people who defend the fabled “compounded minority” groups disadvantaged line share any of those characteristics….or just feel like there’s a “cause” to be fought for…like when campaigners spot some tree hundreds of miles from their house is going to be cut down and sit there for 6 months to save it to save the ozone layer, whilst the rainforests are being floored at many thousands of trees per day and China’s carbon footprint is so large it can’t find shoes to fit….
You do realise most articles about her have accompanying pictures right? Her various privileges mean that she will be taken more seriously by default. Contrast that with someone like me who thought intelligent is automatically assumed to be stupid due to being disabled and talked to with baby speak frequently. Jack will never face that.
What I am talking about is the structural barriers that people with multiple minorities face to having a platform, Jack’s barrier are far lesser and her multiple privileges offset them tremendously. Hell most newspaper offices? Are inaccessible to wheelchairs, if she used one than she would have never been a journalist.
Your lack of desire to write a book does not change that Jacks privileges make it much more likely that she can be published.
I’m a multiple minority, and I’ve been where Jack was for years. It’s got nothing to do with a “cause” and everything to do with the reality that the notion of the “acceptable” poor person hurts people who are not “acceptable”.
To a certain extent you are right. The world is riven with all kinds of injustice. I put my at times severe depression down to a number of factors, one being that I am very bright and yet somehow because of my poor background not getting on and struggling in life, and many other things besides. Perhaps if I came from a privileged Middle class background my life would have been different? Who knows? Life is always cruel, and if we all learned to tolerate and understand a bit more, and misunderstand and attack a little less, the world would be a wholly better place. I won’t hold my breath waiting.
oh Jack the tears are streaming down my face,how i want to hug you in that time and tell you things will be ok-as they have turned out…for you. Im so happy for you as you are now, but im also crying for all those other Jacks out there -still in that pain and I know why you do what you do now-to help them. Im so proud of you.Please dont listen to the haters- you are wonderful and doing the right thing xxxxxx
Your blog: aspirational, inspirational and interesting.
That article: revolting.
That about sums up my feelings towards all this..
…not being funny jack-who-is-a-girl, but jilly luke means f**k all to google. and if google cant stand her i think you can sleep soundly and not give a sh*t about what she thinks. be cool. everything is as it should be. you are the Real-Deal, and if she doesnt like it, i doubt anyone you’d consider important gives a shit. if someone thinks she knows dick-all compared to you, you’re better off without them anyway! win-win! result! and plenty more fish in the sea. be confident in your abilities. trust yourself. no one can take away your knowledge and experience. you are most certainly more than up to the challenge of upstarts like this bird whoever she is.
This women hasn’t got a clue what people actually go through! It’s people like her that make the rules and don’t actually understand the cost of living – I could also argue that about education policy too.
I’m a teacher and at that time I could barely afford to get to work the last week of a five week month, feed myself and my fiancée who has a long term chronic condition (which apparently isn’t serious enough to get DLA which is another farce all together).
I’ve been at the bottom and clawed my way back out. I lost my ‘Government’ job, and then wasn’t entitled to benefits! I lost the roof over our heads.
Poverty is a sickening feeling, that only those who have been there can understand.
Now I’m frugal/thrifty, what every you want to call me, but I’m out of a rut caused by the government. How difficult is it for them to make sure that every school has the right number of teachers, that they get contracts that mean something – instead of being declared surplus like some piece of old equipment. Then leaving that department understaffed because they can’t just put you back in place and say sorry!
Jack, a superbly emotive piece that was clearly written from the heart and soul. And whilst I respect you (even more) for sharing your deepest fears, anxieties and gut-wrenching experiences I can’t help feeling that you might be helping to feed the ignorant people out there with your honest recollections. It seems to be a vicious circle and from where I’m sitting there’s no winner. No matter how much you try; you will never get through to everyone – some people will have an opinion either way; no matter how pathetic, unfounded or ridiculous their opinion may be. Every time you hear another armchair critic; another sweeping accusation or upsetting shallow remark, remember to hold onto what’s important to you; focus on what you’ve achieved and don’t forget that for every person that may not ‘get you’ or what you’re trying to do; there’s 3,458.7 (rough guess) that are right behind you.
Reblogged this on Marie's Blog and commented:
This is so true – read Jilly’s own little attack on those of us that have been misfortune and been at the bottom….
I’m so sorry Jack that this happened to you. I am so glad you came out fighting. People never cease to amaze me on their ignorance.
I sure am hopeing that everything works out well for you and your son. People like Jilly Juke should keep their comments to themselves.
There have been and will be a whole lot of idiots talking absolute rubbish about you. That seems to be a very sad aspect of social media. But you are doing some fantastic work. I know it’s human to hear the negative louder than the positive, but you have reinvigorated my interest in cooking and your awareness raising and political work is fantastic. Keep up the good work!
I had a read of her huffington post article off the back of the fact she fancies herself as a judge on society/anyone else and to see if it dovetails with what I expected to see.
I found her writing to be needlessly overzealous and that she used overtly complex vocabulary to make a simple point – something which very few top writers in any field bother with, for the pure fact that words lose their meaning when your brain is translating metaphors and you cannot build a picture in the mind sufficiently to “run with” the author. I lost what she was wittering on about and scrolled down to see if there were any adverts at the bottom of the page. Engrossed I was not.
I think somebody feels the need to call “I’m at Cambridge” at any given opportunity. Maybe she’s so hung up on being at Cambridge and trying to exculpate herself from any judgment that she is posh by calling people who cook vegetarian food middle class. God help us all if there are people in our society that are so demonstrably out of touch with reality who’ve been provided with a computer and an internet connection. Freedom of speech should include a check on logic and rationale in addition to the ability to just check spelling.
I’m educated to post graduate level, I went to a decent public school. If someone cuts me up on the road I shout words beginning with f and I have been known to watch TOWIE without any shame. Which trumps the other?! Or maybe I just “don’t know how hard” her life has been, which would stink a lot like irony…wouldn’t it?
Ah that explains a lot. Jilly is a wannabe writer but Jack has got a popular blog and a book deal already. Jilly is ex Cambridge but Jack is making a career as a writer dispite failing her GCSEs. Jilly has a chip on her shoulder about being middle class so has to attack anything, even the innocent chickpea, that might somehow indicate a middle class taste… Yes, it falls into place. I expect she’ll grow up one day.
It also underlines quite beautifully that if someone is perceived to be very Middle class, as this Jilly lady is, then by default they are part of the establishment now, and so they get a good job spouting off ill informed ill researched twaddle, but if someone genuinely talented comes along, a bit Working class, a bit real, not afraid to genuinely speak their mind, they don’t get a look in do they? Our society promotes privilege over merit and talent at every turn and in every sphere of activity, be it the media, business, law, banking, politics and so on and so on. This is the reality of our ‘democracy’ now; they are treating the poor like the poor in the 3rd world, whilst pretending all the time to be free, democratic and acting in the will of the people. It’s all hogwash. And when societies start getting harsher and things get tougher for poor people, the mouthpieces, the apologists start coming out of the woodwork, to effectively add insult to injury. Recently the Director General of the BBC, from a relatively ordinary background in Birkenhead near Liverpool, said that he wanted more ordinary people in the BBC and more ethnic minorities there too, because it was he said a bastion of the White male Middle class. He may have well said that about most institutions here. Notice that the BBC never have even mild Working class or regional English accents on the main news? Welsh, Jamaican, even Australian now in the morning with Daniella Ritorto, but not a Working class English accent? Why? Because some Middle class people are prejudiced against Working class people and keeping those accents out means effectively keeping Working class people out. A small thing yes, but add up all the other small things, the little prejudices here, the nasty snobbery there, and they start to appear awful and vile and deeply unjust. Class is the issue that won’t go away and we need to tackle it and start asking uncomfortable questions about it and to me pro-active in fighting for the rights or ordinary people, and not the privileged minorities.
I have just read Jilly Luke’s effort. Jilly thinks that the ‘middle class’ execrates benefits claimants in general but lauds Jack because they regard her as a middle class benefits claimant. She’s wrong. This is because she thinks that media coverage somehow reflects middle class views. It doesn’t: media coverage is all about exploiting a good (for them) story. As for middle class views, neither Jilly nor the rest of us know what these are, but we do know that they are not a monolithic thing, but cover a wide range of attitudes that may or not include the views that Jilly attributes to them.
I don’t blame Jilly for her confusion as it is an easy mistake to make, but I do blame her for picking on an individual person to illustrate her thesis: it’s a thoughtless thing to do. One of the problems with Jilly’s piece is that she makes heavy use of irony throughout, and in the end there is a kind of irony of ironies in that she may eventually appear to attack that which she would support.
As for Jack, I admire her because she is hard-working, thinks clearly about problems and their solutions and has the nous and energy to solve them. Jack, I love cooking, I love your recipes and I love the new ideas you are giving me. And I have ordered your book and urge others to do likewise!
Mike, as I wrote somewhere else here, she is playing both ends off against the middle mate. In other words, and hopefully simply put, she writes something that appeals to Middle class bigots who basically have contempt for poor Working class people, so that demographics covered. Then when someone else comes along offended, she may say ‘it was ironic dear, meant to parody the very people who would actually say that or write it’ in effect she covers all bases. Typically Middle class I think. Appearing neutral and above it all, but somehow always representing the privileged and getting her opinions across at the same time. I seem to recall Katie Hopkins saying similar kinds of things a while back, and when confronted said she was only saying what everyone was thinking. Don’t Right wing bigots always say that?
Sounds like jilly wants some attention being negative will do it good on ya jilly hope ya feel better now ha
Oh Jack. I am so sorry for all of the unbelievably hard things you have been through. I cannot understand the vile poison that pours out of some people. I am so glad things are somewhat better for you now.
That’s the worst article I have ever read!
Jilly Luke appears to suggest that to have morals and self respect you have to be middle class – what utter hogwash!! What an insult to everyone who has worked hard to make a life for themselves and their family.
Jack not only have you overcome for yourself but you have helped many others along the way – be proud of yourself and never stop caring because that’s what makes you so special.
What drivel this article citing you was. If you can do it I would suggest ignoring any future criticisms, or it will affect your emotional life. I understand the anger, but clearly she does not get it at all and attempts to educate her and others who think like that will drain you dry. You are at a happy and successful place in yout life, so enjoy it and “don’t carry dead men”
Don’t let people like this upset you jack. You are an inspiration to a lot of people in these difficult times.
I was able to identify with you for the majority of your article. I was living in poverty 25 years ago whilst bringing up my son and you never forget the hunger pains, the cold and wet, the one pair of shoes. People are surprised I lived like that being “pretty” and all. Like you said, its as if you should sell your kisses or something. Thankyou for being strong enough to tell them how it is x
Keep doing what you’re doing! You’re a fantastic mum & and inspiration and encouragement to many. So many of us are one piece of bad news away from broke, hungry & homeless. People who haven’t experienced or even come close to this will never know or understand. Let her spew her garbage. She’ll get we comeuppance.
A very powerful piece of writing from you Jack. You truly are a remarkable woman.
I agree with those who say that Jilly is not having a go at you, but at the attitudes to those who receive benefits (which are being manipulated by this government’s cruel spin). However her piece is so badly written that it is difficult to understand properly what it is that she is trying to say. She clearly has not read your blog, and is basing her writing on secondary sources.
I think she is writing to make an impact, with an eye on her ambitions for her future. The article she wrote is really about her and not about you. I have the impression that she is trying to showcase what she perceives as her brilliance, but sadly she does not succeed. I have read the other article she has written that was signposted by Gerry, and that, too, is poorly written and not easily accessible. Both articles are self-consciously ‘clever’ and I guarantee that in the future, when she has matured a little, and is better educated than she is now, she will regret writing them.
Just remember that those who stand up and speak the truth often make others uncomfortable, and that is not a bad thing, but it makes the truth-tellers a target for a backlash.
Just continue to be true to yourself, love and be loved by your family, and know that there are many people who are delighted that you are just the way that you are.
Bloody fantastic. Congratulations on everything you’ve achieved – you’re an absolute inspiration! I read the article that Jilly wrote and couldn’t believe how quickly someone is willing to knock another down…
I had never heard of Left Futures or Jilly Luke until I read your blog but having read the article I think it is muddled and poorly written and I don’t think she has a very good grasp of Marxist socialism. Probably far more people have now read her than ever before but I won’t be returning to Left Futures in a hurry although I would describe myself as a socialist. These days I prefer recipes to Lenin et al. Any ideas on using a bag of home grown cucumbers I have been given.
As others have said this woman isn’t worth bothering about
Very moving post Jack……
Love thst you take no shit! X
Reblogged this on suzie81's Blog and commented:
One of the most brilliantly written responses I’ve ever read… I implore you to read this!!
Reblogged this on Nick Thiwerspoon's Rumbles.
Reblogged this on Natasha's Memory Garden.
Jack, you don’t fit this bigot’s stereotype of poverty and disadvantage, so she feels she can sneer at you, as she sneers at anyone who doesn’t fit her very limited definition of “REAL working class, REAL disadvantage”. Most working class people would be insulted by her definition of them.
She resents it that in terms of personality, intelligence, attractiveness, guts and determination you have a lot more going for you than many who are equally poor. Yes, you have, and you have used that to speak out for the alleviation of poverty, equality for LGBT people, to share the knowledge you have discovered of how to cook on a tiny budget, to help others. You, despite your struggles, have focussed on DOING, and SPEAKING to help others even while you were wondering how to pay your own bills.
No, not all of us have this guts and determination, either, but this is something to be cheered, not sneered at, unless jealousy is the motive. “By their deeds shall ye know them” is a great rule of thumb, and your deeds are making a difference – and in such a short time. This is only the beginning. You are doing and WILL do far more for the alleviation of poverty than the writing of snotty articles in a frankly extremist publication, read by comparatively few people, can ever do. There are unpleasant Tories, but there are unpleasant Lefties too, and this is one of them.
No, someone inarticulate isn’t going to be interviewed on the television. (Duh) No, someone illiterate isn’t going to write a blog or a book. (Duh) Attractive people ARE more attractive to viewers. (Duh ) Sparky and determined people ARE going to be heard more than those who are not. (Duh) So it is great that someone who HAS those gifts, and who has also experienced poverty and despair, is speaking for those who can’t. You are actually DOING a lot more for them than those who sit on their a**** sneering that you don’t tick enough boxes on the disadvantage charts to really count.
You’ll have to forgive my ignorance as I don’t have a clue as to who Jilly Luke is. I skimmed over her article and was left with the impression that she was jealous of you. Typical!
When I read your reply to her I must admit to tears welling up. Something that doesn’t happen very often to me. Thank heavens you’ve now found happiness.
Most people in this world have a lower than average IQ. Easily led and easy to judge. You be you and do what you do.
Jack, it’s fairly clear that the woman who wrote this article was SUPPORTING you. Her point, which was perfectly clear to me, is that politicians and the general public have embraced you because you’re easy to embrace as the face of poverty. A young, attractive woman who cooks with wholesome ingredients like chickpeas. The middle and upper classes can identify with you much more readily than they can with a chain-smoking, spotty teenage mother of 4 who lives on chips and Coke. The latter would be written off by many as a lazy chav (with no consideration of her circumstances) while you are held up as a shining example because you look/act/speak more ‘middle class’. The point of the article was not to attack you. It was to point out that the majority of people in this country are claiming one type of benefit or another and that the better-off should stop looking down on them.
You’re in the public eye now and to be honest, you need to get a thicker skin. I’m not saying put up with trolls and death threats – those things are NEVER acceptable. But there are always going to be people who disagree with you and dislike you. Overreacting and ranting to every last negative comment about you without actually bothering to find out the facts (did you even contact this woman and ask her to clarify what she meant?) makes you look rather immature. Is it that hard to accept that others won’t always agree with you (and ironically, this woman actually did)?
Could not have said it better. JL is trying to hold a mirror to “middle-class” people and their assumptions about “the poor”, asylum seekers etc. I understood the irony in her article, even though English is not my mother tongue. Thanks to your, Jack’s, overreaction, she’s now beeing called “a cow” and worse things for her effort.
Jack – I like your blog, both for the recipes and your personal story, but this furore was rather unnecessary.
Entirely fantastic. Your life in February sounds like mine now – although I’m 61 with a husband newly installed in a nursing home and with an adult son at home. We’ve been scraping by with some rice and some veggies. I had an impromptu garage sale yesterday to raise some cash for food for the week. I have bills I can’t pay and have no hope of paying. I have no hope of getting a job – because I’ve looked and they aren’t out there any more. We used to have them, I seem to remember. Thank you for this – it is heartening that you are doing better. And with a little luck and effort – things will get better here too.
As I posted over at Facebook:
GGGGRRRRR. Always annoys me that pretend ‘Blairite’ not-socialists dare to criticise those who not only have been to the ‘coal face’ of working class poverty (I don’t think it matters what class you were, if you are living on £10 a week for food with a kid, you are part of the poverty/working class to me), but dare to try and get themselves out and better themselves. Jilly Luke? Democratic Left? Daily Mail wannabe more like. Not socialists. Not left. Just scum. Part of why New Labour was so evil and left us in this mess (I say that as someone who sits firmly on the left, radically so).
And GO Jack Monroe! It’s sad we need a austerity chef figurehead, but if you can be Elizabeth David for our times, then why not? People don’t stop wanting less horrible food because they are poor, why has aspiration become such a dirty word? That’s how I know some want the poorhouses and Victorian values back, keeping people ‘in their place’. Of course you want to better yourself, when you have nothing, you want to go up? It just boggles the mind that the likes of Jilly Luke and co. could write that and still think of themselves as left-leaning!
And help on how to cook on a budget – when many aren’t taught to cook by their parents anymore – on a budget that I can’t even imagine but might get there one day 🙁 is really great. Congrats on the engagement, and yes, you’re a star. These people know not what they do. Nor have ever had to struggle for what they have, or what others have, either.
The ‘Left’ has been hijacked mate. The Middle class infiltrate organisations to make them more ‘user-friendly’ to those who rule, and as a reward they get good jobs and better lives when they sell out. She is not a Lefty at all and that’s the problem with Left, quite frankly.
Have read and responded to her, lots of typos as too late to check the silly preemptives. They have added that due to the volume of comments they want to add that this was a criticism of the press coverage not of you. Clever girl Jack I’m glad you’ve made it. Made and loved your burgers, cheaper than yours as I grow all my veg, fruit , nuts and herbs but do have at least 40 yrs head start on you, wish I’d had the recipe when my two were young xx
I understand wanting to clear up misconceptions, but the next time some crazy ass heifer tries to steal your sunshine like this when your reputation is well established, you need not dignify these assholes with a response. The sooner you realize most folks don’t like a comeback kid, the better off you’ll be. Having the strikes against you and overcoming them makes people wonder why they haven’t done a fucking thing with themselves all this time.
It’s not my life, but guard your joy and happiness as much as you can, and share it only with those who shared your misery and struggle.
Perhaps this hag is jealous of your nice looks and your sweet baby, methinks.
At the core, this is about the accursed “virtuous poor” myth. Also, Jack — heads up, a symbol called “Jack Monroe” is quite likely to be seized upon by right-wingers to tell symbolic stories about how poor people are supposed to be — frugal, clever, hard-working, etc.
This will have nothing to do with your actual self, will probalby be deeply offensive to you, and might best be countered by continuing to be explictly poltiical. Their framework can’t easily reconcile “virtue” with “uppity.” Don’t forget to laugh at them. And make Jilly buy you a pint of something trashy.
This makes me so angry and sad Jack. Angry that you have been vilified but also because you have been made to feel like you need to justify your very existence (and near non-existence). You don’t need to justify anything. Deep breaths my dear. Try and ignore these bastards.
I shain’t get into it, but I know I know. I know when someone is throwing away a perfectly good bucket and you’re like, hey that’s a GOOD bucket…….
There is a footnote to the above-mentioned article this morning.
NOTE: in light of the many responses to (Jilly Luke’s) article, the editors wish to clarify that references to the portrayal of Jack Monroe are criticisms of media narratives on the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor. In no way are these criticisms of Jack Monroe, or any of her admirable efforts and actions.
The ‘deserving’ and the ‘undeserving’ poor; it’s so vile and odious a term in itself that it makes you want to vomit a kidney up. Another way of turning people against each other hey, and blame each other for the poverty they endure and not who really creates poverty. We should all start asking ourselves why there should be any poverty or indeed 500,000 people needing to use foodbanks in a very wealthy country. I wonder if any of these crusading Middle class journalists are going to be asking salient questions like that any time soon? No, perhaps it’s much safer to attack individuals who actually do have something worthwhile to say like Jack. Do you think the establishment are getting a little rattled? Possibly not, but she’s a thorn in the side, and the reality behind all the safe, anodyne crap this government are continually pumping out.
Perhaps you are an acceptable embodiment of poverty to the chattering clases. That doesn’t make your experiences any less real or relevant but maybe it makes it easier to get your message across. You are saying important things and if you are more likely to be listened to because of your appearance or pleasant voice or sheer ability to survive does that matter?
I think you are a very impressive young woman who has been down in the depths and clawed herself out. You have a clear ability to communicate what this economic depression is doing to many, many people from personal irrefutable experience. Your recipes and inspiration must be helping a great many people and in doing so you make the world a better place.
She was very patronising. I kind of get what she means re the distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor that is an undercurrent in many discussions on benefits and poverty of nimby middle classes or the type I most wish to punch in the face- Daily Fail Readers and believer’s. So much more heinous than the sun.
Reblogged this on Day in the life of a Busy Gal… and commented:
Jack Monroe is an inspiration! And when you are someone with a brave and loud voice hater’s and trolls always come out of the woodwork – it’s time those sad type’s crawled back into their holes!
Why didnt you just get man to look after you, you are pretty enough.
Hopefully that’s sarcastic! I’m gay for a start…
May I just add, ignore her from now on and starve her of publicity; she’s got a million pounds worth from this post alone and the attention she seems to crave! Who had heard of her before? And Left wing? It’s so laughable as to be beyond parody itself. Don’t write anymore posts about her I would suggest. She needs you more than you need her, is what I am saying.
Oh dear Mick. I really hope this is tongue-in-cheek as all the women I know look after their men, not the other way around. And what’s wrong with being independent?
Thats it i’m volunteering at the food bank and give lots of people sugary tea.
I think you’re an incredibly brave woman and sing your praises regularly. You’ve really helped me, thank you.
I’ve sent your blog link to a lot of people and started cooking again. I’ve thought hard about your words and taken less for granted. There are people who will attack you and do you down because what you write and who you are is a thorn in their side, an inconvenient truth. Many others find hope and courage in your writing. We think you’re awesome.
Jack sometimes these up themselves writers need something, anything to write about. I think this is one of those times. They say all publicity is good publicity. I think an editor of a magazine came up with that by a means to turn other peoples misfortune into £s. You’re doing a really good job highlighting that this nation is suffering badly and something needs to be done to stir up the economy to get the backbone of this nation back into work so they can provide for their families and live higher than the breadline instead of below it. You are the voice that all unfortunate people like you and your son and thousands others out there need. People aren’t looking for a handout, they just want to be able to have the ability to take care of their family. I salute you for what you do, the media will always have something to say, good or bad. You have inspired so many of us and you will continue to do so along your journey. Take Care Jen x
What a despicable article it was. Vicious & nasty. She must be a deeply unhappy and angry soul to be so horrible. She also has no clue as to what dealing with poverty is like. I so relate to being unable to put the heating on. Last Winter my hands were blue with cold in my flat so I put on gloves, a myriad of jumpers and also went to bed wearing a scarf and hat I often wept with cold. The pain from my medical condition literally stung my face and hands.
A very nasty article by JL. Compassionate it was not. Smacked of jealousy to me. Shame on you JL.
PS I am trying the Falafels tonight!!! Never used chickpeas before! Am really looking forward to it…makes a change from sandwiches!
In the light of some of the comments here, I went back and had a look at the site where the ‘article’ was published.
I found the following in the ‘About Us’ section:
‘Left Futures is an independent on-line network which seeks to bring to the web the best writing and the sharpest criticism on the Left, and open debate about shaping the future. It is committed to socialism, sustainability, internationalism and democracy.’
Now that I’ve stopped rolling around the floor laughing, I have a few points to make.
1) Where was their Editor when Ms Luke published her drivel?
2) She appears to have offended working class people on the original site too (How surprising!)
3) Maybe the ‘About Us’ section was meant to be ironic, like Ms Luke’s article?
4) They’ve now added an explanatory footnote to the article. Too little, too late. (Maybe politicians run the site?)
At best, all Ms Luke has done is create confusion. If that was her aim, then she has succeeded, but with an added healthy dose of indignation and anger from the ‘real people’ she claims to support.
I also disagree with a previous comment about her being on Jacks side.
The only side Ms Luke is on is the one containing her over-sized ego.
I’ve noticed that Leftist Middle class organisations purporting to be promoting equality, fairness, social justice and better opportunities for all, are always top heavy with Middle class people who can talk all day about equality and ‘Working class issues’ ‘Black Rights’ and so on, but wouldn’t know a Working class person if they fell over one and they probably all live in lily white Middle class suburbs to boot. Why are these people always the ones fighting for the rights of Working class, black people etc? Isn’t it time Working class people formed their own equality commissions and organisations? There would be some change then wouldn’t there? It’s like charity or organised religion, equal rights commissions are just businesses now to enable professional affluent Middle class people to get high salaried positions whilst pretending to be fighting for the rights of others. And most of it is bullshit, simply put. I wrote to a number of them a while back and most of them didn’t even bother replying. So much for equal rights. All are equal, but some are more equal than others, hey?
I’ve said it before and will say it again: you don’t need to justify yourself, Jack. Stupid, ignorant, selfish people are going to be stupid, ignorant and selfish no matter what you say and there’s an awful lot of those people out there in the real world. Stick to what you do best. Keep making your great recipes (a few more vegan ones please!) and focus on the people who appreciate what you do. Everybody else can go f**k themselves.
Fantastic response! I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus of people saying Fuck that nobody. She clearly knows nothing abt actual poverty or how people survive. XX Stay strong.
A friend just sent me this link, when I had a bad experience. Thought you might like it.
From one single Mum to another.x
oh, forgot, your status changed- hope mine does soon! But, the thing is, once you’ve been a single Mum or Dad, you’d never ever forget, would you. Carry the flame.
Well said! I’m confused as to why you are constantly analysed and criticised in every aspect of your life. Are these people reading the same account of when your life hit rock bottom and how you survived it as I am reading? I love your blog and I love your recipes and take them simply as what they are – your account of what happened to you. Thank you from one of the many people who you’ve inspired in hard times.
It’s time British people left all this class-crap behind. There are only two classes so far as I can see in Britain today- those who work and those who ride on the backs of those who work- be they rich tax evaders or people who have never done a day’s work and don’t intend to.
The majority of people are all in the same boat, living precarious lives because the job market isn’t stable, wobbling in response to problems and crises, doing their best to care for their families.
As for pulses, veg and rice being middle-class. Huh? What do most of the world’s population survive on…ridiculous comment.
To thine own self be true. There will always be a need for targets in this world, alas. Tall poppy syndrome is striking at you. Try very hard to just believe in yourself and sail on. They know the truth; but they are using you as fodder for articles for the income they need. Give too much time to what they are doing and it will chip away at your confidence and bring you down to the level they feel more comfortable with.
You fly girl. You fly.
A child I saw had no coat last winter, so I bought one (not expensive but more than his family could find) and made sure they got it, no names attached, I didn’t need thanking then or now but seeing them in a coat was enough. Not having enough isn’t a judgement or a label its what happens in life! and there but for the grace of God go I. Thank you for being a voice that we can understand.
When one has lived through life’s vicissitudes for 77 years, it is difficult to understand labels such as working and middle class, left or right, deserving or non- deserving, as it seemed in our youth that everyone was in the same boat as us, so we did not compare ourselves with others. Luckily for us, employment was much easier to find, we were poor but only realise it on looking back and discussing with others the extreme lengths we went to, to bring up our families with no benefits to fall back on. Many of us remember having one pair of shoes with corrugated cardboard in the sole to cover the hole and the sole flapping as we walked so living as a pensioner feels like a reward. Some might consider us middle class now but labels confuse me but love reading your blog
Well said Jack! I don’t get why any sort of creativity, resourcefulness or aspiration is somehow portrayed as a betrayal of your status as “working class” “poor”or whatever other descriptor people feel you should be representing – rather than just paying attention to what you are doing, which is to draw attention to the division and inequality within our society… the other day someone told me I wasn’t working class any more because I referred in conversation to an article I’d read on the Guardian website… because evidently there isn’t a middle ground between Pravda and The Sun if you are working class? Obviously some people out there would prefer you to be eating fish fingers from Farm Foods, in order to confirm some other faulty set of beliefs of what being “poor” or “working class” means. Anyway, I’m off to eat the very tasty falafel I just cooked from your recipe. Thank you for being you. Lots of people appreciate you.
Just tell me where these troll idiots are? I’ll give them all the attention they so desperately crave. 2 things in life really piss me off….people who take on positions of public responsibility just to feed their own egos and keyboard tough guys. Bring it on you tossers.
The NHS should get you to do cooking workshops around the country and work with the job centres to get the unemployed or anyone else with an interest and time on their hands to attend. If everyone ate the way you eat, there would be a lot less obesity in the country and the health system wouldn’t be so overburdened.
This woman has no right whatsoever to call herself left wing or to be published in a left wing publication, her views are poisonous.
Jack, stay angry, stay very angry. I am old enough to be your mother, but you constantly inspire me and many others .
Congrats on the proposal too, I hope you are very happy together
Jilly Luke’s hurtful remarks are cruel and unnecessary and all this from someone who has wasted her education on slating those people less fortunate than herself. She’s stereotyping benefit claimants as alcohol drinkers etc. Well, lets hope she never needs the “safety net” benefits allow in a civilised country. Mine is Carer’s Benefit and it doesn’t feel good, but what should I do? Leave my mother to fend for herself? A selfish society is not the answer.
If selfish societies were the answer, then everyone is South Africa, Brazil, India, the US, China, the UK, and etc etc would all be deliriously happy wouldn’t they? We see the result of selfishness in the world everyday. It doesn’t work, Correction; it does, but only for the privileged few.
The Editor from the Left Futures website says that we’ve misunderstood the article and the comments directed towards Ms Luke are unwarranted.
If I wasn’t so thick and working class, I might feel a tad patronised right now – good job I’ve been drinking my White Lightning/Special Brew cocktail through a straw all afternoon, so I’m too trollied to care currently.
Earlier when I commented, I ‘joked’ that politicians may be running the Left Futures site. I spoke too soon. They are. The editor is a ‘senior’ political advisor to a well-known senior Labour politician. Obviously too busy reminiscing about when Militant had a choke-hold over the Labour party to do a decent job of editing the articles before publishing on the site.
This is without doubt, one of the most spectacular own goals that these so-called Labour supporters could have scored. Jack is a committed supporter of the party! Oh, hang on – I get it. Jack was just supposed to just take this on the chin, for the greater good of the party. Wrong! If there’s one thing I recognize reading Jack’s blog and tweets, is that she’s a fighter. I wish Ladbrooks were open. I’d then revert to my stereotype and use my benefits money to have a bet on Jack.
The right thing to do would be for the Editor and Ms Luke to offer an unreserved apology to Jack, and then for the Editor to resign and for Ms Luke to go off and learn how to research and write an article properly.
However, that won’t happen. This pair wouldn’t know integrity or responsibility if it came up and bit them on the rear, and as for empathy? Hold on a sec, the empathy will have to wait – didn’t they just hear someone order more Chablis?…
Maybe, just maybe, you might entertain the idea that you – and Jack – did actually misunderstand the article?!
I think I agree with what she was trying to say, but I don’t agree with what she said.
Of course. That’s why I went back and read it again – several times.
I’m being ironic – like Ms Luke. Maybe you misunderstood that.
On a more serious note, I find it extremely insidious when some Cambridge undergraduate deigns to speak on this topic, especially when it’s blatantly obvious to me that she is woefully under-qualified to do so.
I also become angry when she uses a person (Jack) in an attempt to prop up her shabby arguments. Did she seek Jacks permission? No. Did she discuss this with Jack beforehand? No. Did she get her facts right re: Jack? No.
Jack is a real person, and not some media avatar to be plucked out of the air and used in such a blatantly cavalier and inhuman manner.
Jack has feelings. Were these considered at any moment in time above Ms Luke’s personal agenda? No.
If you still think I’ve misunderstood, then please, enlighten me. And everyone else here.
‘If I wasn’t so thick and working class, I might feel a tad patronised right now – good job I’ve been drinking my White Lightning/Special Brew cocktail through a straw all afternoon, so I’m too trollied to care currently.’ 🙂 🙂 🙂
I’d have responded sooner but I’m still recovering from my family-sized bucket of KFC with a Special Brew chaser.
Jokes aside, that’s what the pampered Middle class journalists want isn’t it, stereotypes they can patronise, hate or jeer at or a vile mixture of all those sentiments depending on how they feel that particular day and whether they have had a few glasses of expensive wine from France. What of course is so deliciously ironic is that many of these well meaning ‘in the know’ or so they think Middle class journalists all seem to be clones of each other don’t they, all sounding alike, looking alike and thinking the same things. Do you get the feeling somewhere that there is a hint of jealousy in the privileged classes when they realise that in spite of disappointments, hardships, struggles and so on, many people from poorer and disadvantaged backgrounds are harder working, more accomplished and more talented than they are, not to mention not being afraid to speak their minds without cluttering it up with pseudo-clever speak, that usually hides the fact they actually have nothing of any real value to say? Could be, as Hong Kong Fooey used to say!
Hmmm – well, I made a few comments over ‘there’ this morning but they are still awaiting ‘moderation’. I’ll post them here instead, if that’s OK.
Firstly . . .
‘I’m glad to see the disclaimer now posted below this article. Perhaps, in future, when using real people with real problems, difficulties, traumas and experiences, it could be made a lot clearer because you can see how very easy it is to offend, distress and anger.
Dare I say, Jack is doing more good, having more positive impact, touching more people (whether in need or keenly interested) just because she is who she is – intelligent, articulate, a cutting edge personality. She has inspired people to look beyond their own front door, she has inspired people to get involved with social issues such a food banks in an immediately positive fashion, Many respect her for that, many admire her for fighting back, I know I do.
To see her name, life and work so used in an article like this creates justified anger that actually detracts from what the auther may have been trying to get over. Stereotyping should have had no place in it.’
And then . . .
‘One more comment, sorry – I would hope that an apology will be extended from the author to Ms Monroe with a coherent explanation.
Posting it on here would be good too.’
Hi Jack, Who is this Jilly Luke? Has she ever been to a job centre to sign on? tried to even claim benefits of any kind? I do wish these people would write about something they have personally experienced! not just comment on something to fill a space on website/newspaper or air time! Has she ever truly been hungry? had no money for food or to pay the bills? Has she ever found a victim, someone hanging in a stairwell? Has she ever stood at the top of a tower block ready to step off the edge and end it all? seen the faces of the friends and families of those who have taken their own lives, heard them ask why? why they just didn’t come and talk or ask for help. I have and so have many others and until Jilly and her like have had to face this I wish they would just shut up and keep their thoughts to themselves!
Hi there Jack, have read your response and the offending article. And yes, it is deeply offensive. Not just to you directly but to every person who struggles. I can only hope that Mrs Jack has.given you lots of support and you have had lots of hugs with SB who knows just how wonderful you are. That journalist does not in any way represent the people including me who have been touched and.inspired by your bravery and humanity. You are courageous in exposing your wounds for all the world to witness. But as one of.my close friend has advised me, you also need.to protect.yourself. Of course, I know you will take as.much notice as.I did. You are a campaigner and we do not hesitate to expose ourselves if others will benefit. Just keep strong and look after yourself and.your family.
Presumably the negative comments were written by people with no heart and ‘a cheap dry pulse’ but a shiny Macbook to type their drivel on whilst drinking some posh latte, whilst wearing their expensive Ugg boots (middle of summer WTF?)with tiny denim shorts on…….. Or am I just stereotyping? You crack on your doing what you do brilliantly x
I know a lot of these feelings. I didn’t cry, but I did sit and stare, sit and think. This is a superb piece which should be seen by everyone.
Has anyone here actually read the article in question, using the comprehension skills (that used to be) required of a 14 year old?
Yes – I read the article.
Its an attack on the media portrayal of Jack, and the media portayal of other working class people, juxtaposed against how the media let those nasty City types off the hook with all their borderline white collar crime.
How am I doing so far?
Jack shouldn’t be offended, because it’s not an attack on her? Nor should other working class people, as its actually showing solidarity with the true proletariat masses?
It uses Jack like a ‘commodity’ to make the attack.
It’s also factually incorrect.
I think the last two points here are fairly important.
Well put Mark S.
Jack. Earlier on in this blog, I emphasised with you from the perspective of being many years older and admiring the example you set to others who may not have learned how to cope, as we did in past years when although there was austerity, there was not this crippling debt that we, and many other nations, are in. You are a shining light and need no labelling but too many of your followers want to tag others. I disagree with some elements of all political parties, am I right or left? I started work at 15 and worked until 60 as a Secretary whilst raising 3 children and worked very hard. Am I considered working class? If so, am I characterised as blue collar or white? Do I need to use bad language to prove my true understanding of the depths that you have plunged? I feel that labelling others achieves nothing unless you have walked a mile in their shoes and lessens the impact of your argument.
Reblogged this on expandingmiddle and commented:
Exceptional piece and required reading.
It probably goes to show how deep-rooted the stereotypes are- probably something like the ‘chav’ who regularly smokes, drinks, eats junk food and has ten kids so as to better scrounge off the state. (This is a stereotype, not an indicator of reality). Jack is (you are) very much a stereotype-breaker in this regards and this is probably why she is (you are) misunderstood. But you would have thought that nobody knew that part of that means she (you) really had been through the mill and come out fighting, having your efforts rewarded. You are both an inspiration to many and someone who challenges people like me, Jack- take heart and don’t let stupid misinformed articles stand in the way of that.
The Editor of Left Futures has now posted an article saying that they’re not going to apologize, and shame on Jack for making Jilly Luke the target of Internet abuse.
Now, I do not condone abuse of any sort. However, Mr Editor, you may want to look at the ORIGINAL ARTICLE as your true source of all the hassle. Just a thought.
Apparently, it’s all Jacks fault for reacting angrily, and publishing a ‘disproportionate’ response. I guess Jack isn’t allowed to have feelings. Get real, Mr Editor.
He blames the fuss over the article on a lack of clarity.
Er, excuse me, but isn’t that supposed to be the Editor’s job? Just to clarify, the Editor is there to make sure the message of the article has, er, clarity?
I despair – what planet are these people from?
I agrre with you Mark about the lack of clarity. I read the original article twice and felt that it read like a piece about Jack herself, rather than the way in which the press portrayed her. I thought it was an upsetting piece and think itf it was me I would not have been happy to have read it.
I have always read Jack’s blog as her way of letting off steam, often about issues that concern me and as a way of sharing hints and tips of how she copes. I don’t have to read it but I do because I enjoy it and I learn from it.
I sincerely hope that her marriage proposal this weekend will eclipse any nastiness that this ill-advised post created. And on that more positive note, many congratulations to you both!
Jack, I think I love you.
I can’t really add much to the sentiment of the plathura of agreeing comments already left.
Except to add my stone to the Cairn of supporting comments and show by pure weight of numbers that you have our support, if not the understanding of a single idiotic journalistic voice.
I hope your post helped you vent and focus your upset, I know well what unjustified slander like that can do to your emotions.
And I’ve only read this post so far, I already like you…now to the food!
I read the original article and was misjudged, I think the author seemed to have offended just about everyone in this piece and noted the apology to you at the bottom
The trouble is I think that she has a point, not about you, but about how the media and the government like to categorise the deserving from the undeserving poor in terms of the choices they make. She unfortunately went about it the wrong way by singling you out, but the point she makes about people being attacked slightly less by the by media for buying lentils rather than crisps or fast food is something I have heard many times.
You are right to say that the same rain falls on us all but it is not everyone they choose to give an umbrella to. You have earned yours and continue to do so but keep fighting for those whose education and upbringing make them choose a different path, smoking, drinking and poor food choices are choking the NHS but to some they have little else. Their education and opportunities (or lack of them) often denies them the chance to change and, rather than being pilloried in the media or targeted by the government for being undeserving, they should be afforded as much help as is possible so that the potential of future generations isn’t wasted in this way.
Reblogged this on Draw a line underneath and start again and commented:
Jack writes this with passion. Poverty in today’s society
I read her article and hope her comments regarding bad journalism were aimed at herself; I couldn’t work out who she was venting her spleen at. I’m saddened to read that she’s a Cambridge student, supposedly one of our intellectual elite, yet cannot write a coherent article.
The reason you appeal to people isn’t that your account of poverty is somehow acceptable to the masses.
You appeal to people because you’re honest, you write clearly and from the heart and you show care for complete strangers by sharing your experiences and recipes (even inventing new ones for people who are scraping the cupboards bare).
Don’t really understand the concept of chickpeas being aspirational, I just know you can buy about 1/2 kg dried for just over £1 and that lentils are the same.
There’s probably an element of jealousy from Ms Luke because you’re more popular than she is; she ought to try sharing kindness rather than hatred.
I’m so sorry that you came across her article, I’m sorry for the sadness it has caused you.
Please don’t change on account of venomous people.
Well said Jack, you are really inspiring and really make people put things in perspective 🙂 x
I think you are amazing, Jack. Keep doing what you’re doing – you are inspiring so many people, myself included. The demonization of the working class, single mothers and people on a low income is nasty, mean-spirited and sickening.
I just read the leftfutures article, and I didn’t read it as criticising Jack at all.
I think Jilly makes very good points about taste being part of perceived (class) identity and aspirations. I’m not sure I entirely agree with Jilly’s criticism of those who think (paraphrasing roughly) that benefit claimants who eat chickpeas are better than benefit claimants who eat chips. This needn’t always be based on moralizing, it could truly be moral, concerned with the welfare of others (as eating chickpeas is healthier than eating chips). Her criticism reminds me of people accusing Jamie Oliver of patronizing working class people about their tastes.
That said, I think Jack’s post is very well written, it’s just a shame as I think it is, as we say in German, “running down open doors.”
Ps love this site and the fantastic work that you have done Jack. Don’t take the above comment the wrong way.
Wow, that was such a shocking a powerful post and one I can relate to in very many ways. I read it twice. Your writing is as sharp as a dart Jack and I’m so glad that you are able to be for so many people, a voice that represents real poverty and the grim reality of living in hardship.
I’ve only just started reading you Jack, and I think you’re great. I do think, though, that you and the writer of this article are on a similar, if not the same, page. She’s pointing out the hypocrisy that attends our characterisation of ‘the poor’ – if you align with middle class values/trends than you’re acceptable, but if you’re a ‘chav’ you’re not. I think that’s worth pointing out.
Of course it’s stupid to point out that you’re pretty, and she’s been flippant about your experiences, but her point is valid.
I think she has a valid point, when you are on benefits then you are fair game for criticism from the wider public. Would you have been invited on TV for example if you were overweight which seems to be one of the worst things a woman an do. I am a single parent and recently spent a period of time on benefits. My ride was not nearly as tough as yours, my supermarket budget for 1 adult and one teenager and 2 cats was generally £30 a week although one particularly hard week I went round Aldi with £7.50 putting things into my basket and taking them out replacing them with cheaper items, I did end up in cash generator more than once but I still had the reasonably comfortable home I had before (a council flat in a nice area which I have spent years building up, virtually all of my furniture is second hand including the CRT TV!). I know if I blogged about my finances then I would have been attacked for many things, my appearance, the fact I have pets, the fact that cheap noodles, value ready salted crisps and frozen breaded chicken products, instant coffee and biscuits were regular buys for me (as were chickpeas and canned tomatoes and more acceptable foodstuffs) I would be criticised for not having things hard enough, for still having a Sky dish on the side of my house (although no TV subscription any more) and buying a pouch of tobacco a week (changed from fags to baccy when I went onto benefits) but with your more extreme poverty of selling everything you own is far more acceptable to the general public. I would have been attacked for buying my child a nice xmas gift via my sister’s catalogue because people on benefits are not meant to have anything above the bare minimum you had and going into debt for such frivolities is feckless. I still found life on benefits tough and demoralising and needed to think of every penny.
I’m sorry that you reached the low of harming yourself, poverty truly grinds you down and breaks your spirit.. I truly hope that your life continues to improve and that you, Mrs Jack and small boy build a life filled with happiness.
I Like the site, I like the recipes, And I like the notion of living (eating) on below the bottom-line. I am male and my wife and I share the cooking duties so I come here for recipes
I live in the U.S. (Oklahoma) and have plenty of fried okra recipes so chickpeas (I can do hummus) are fine with me.
Keep up the good work. BTW, when I hit mega or PB I sending a mil your way.
Anyone who makes comments like the ones you’ve mentioned has clearly not read your blog.
Stupid people are everywhere.
Good on you for taking them on about it!
Wow. You just took me right back to the 80s when I was a single mother in my 20s, on benefits, in Thatcher’s Britain. My kids still remember “Marmite butty week” when all we had to last the week was a loaf of white sliced and a jar of Marmite, and “popcorn week” when dinner every night was home made unflavoured popcorn because all we had was a large bag of popping corn. Cardboard in the soles of our shoes so our bare feet weren’t on pavement through the holes in the bottom.
For anyone who is still there all I can say is it DOES get better. Today I have a job (but still no savings or pension), I’ve two gorgeous adult children who know life. And three glorious granddaughters. None of us are hungry today. I sincerely hope that none of you, and none of us are hungry tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow …
I think that you are quite inspirational, you didn’t sit on your arse and claim everything going, you found a way to try, to try and provide for your child, I think you are positive, I think you are clever and admire your gumption …love that word…and if from all this you achieve a book deal, a life and a future, good on you. I wish you well x
C’est infiniment de la joie de venir sur ce blog
Une fois de plus un poste clairement intéressant
I attempted to read the ‘left future’s’ article, but discovered it was on my personal boycott list – I can’t remember why, but if they are writing drivel such as you describe, then clearly I made the right decision. I’m glad you speak out about your troubles Jack – we need more people to stand up for themselves – as kids we are told to stand up to the bullies in the playground, so why shouldn’t we stand up to the bullies in adulthood? The bullies being bosses, the government, the banks and anyone else who revels in making people suffer.
Good job Jack
Thanks for this. A hard read but worth remembering.