Saskia Murphy calculates
her way through some
long division problems

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We’ve entered a new decade divided. It was easy to forget about over Christmas, the reality of what’s ahead covered up in glittery wrapping paper and drowned out by the sound of cheery carols, but now the new year is here it’s time to face the real music.

I hate to be miserable, especially in my first column of the year, but the simple fact is that the next five or 10 years are going to be very difficult for a lot of people. The country has spoken, and the government of Universal Credit, the Windrush scandal, austerity, privatisation and doom has won.

If, like me, the sight of Priti Patel sneering in a foodbank sends shivers down your spine, it can all feel a bit overwhelming. It’s hard to accept that your vision of how the world should be is so at odds with so many other people’s, especially when all you really want is for everyone to have a roof over their heads.

I’m not usually one for new year’s resolutions but, given the circumstances – which, by the way, are the entire country being catapulted into a dystopian nightmare – I’ve set myself a few challenges.

The first one is no more Amazon. I’ve always known it was dodgy, but to be honest laziness got the better of me.

Last month Vice featured a job diary of one of the company’s warehouse workers in the run-up to Christmas. The anonymous worker laid bare the reality of working long hours doing backbreaking work on a temporary contract, for a company infamous for aggressive tax avoidance. It made for a truly grim, unforgettable read. If we’re not careful Amazon’s model will be the future of the workplace, so from now on, I’ll be buying all the tat I don’t need in real shops, from employees who have access to daylight and toilet breaks.

Next on my list is foodbanks. They shouldn’t exist, but thankfully they do, and it looks like we’re going to need more of them. One in 50 households used a foodbank from 2018-2019, and the link between the demand for food parcels and welfare cuts is undeniable. Seeing as the country has just voted for another five years of Tory rule, I’ve set up a direct debit to the Trussell Trust. It’s a small gesture, but seeing as I’ll be saving money on bulk orders of giant charging ports and squeaky pet toys, it seems only right.

Now, the elephant in the room. Brexit is happening, whether we like it or not. I’ve spent the past few days googling things like “a Remainer’s guide to Brexit” and “how to accept Brexit” in anticipation of the next few weeks. I guess I just want someone to tell me
it’s all going to be okay.

Reader, I am yet to find such reassurance, but given that the country is so divided, I’m embarking on a journey of quiet acceptance and an attempt at understanding what has got us here. No more blaming Leavers, no more moping around after the election. Whatever 2020 brings, we’re all in it together, and division won’t get us anywhere.

Saskia Murphy is a Manchester-based freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter @SaskiaMurphy

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