As a child, I was told that I was a natural born story teller. However, it was my recent experience as a front line public sector worker that compelled me to write this novel. I have been a social worker for over 25 years, but the last four have really brought home to me the impact of a political debate: the ideological argument regarding the deserving and undeserving poor. This was the impetus that inspired me to write.
Can Openers has been described as Orwellian – possibly due to 1984. As a teenager, I read all of Orwell’s novels, and for me, the book that had the greatest influence on my writing was Homage to Catalonia. It provided some hope.
What I wanted to show in Can Openers is that however dark a society becomes, there is always hope for change. From where I stand, the question is how we make that change, and bring about a society based on our humanity, rather than one run for profit – or, as Orwell says, the ‘money God’. Change can come by relying on others, or, as I believe, that we as the working class – who create the wealth – should gain the confidence to change the world ourselves.
With everything going on at the moment – the dismantling of Nye Bevan’s hope for universal access to free health care, by recent attempts to limit care for those labelled as ‘obese’ or ‘drinkers’, and the Conservative warning of further colossal government cuts to come, we have good reason to be worried. Women, particularly, are disproportionately affected by the cuts and it appears that the state continues to control women’s lives. I wanted to show in Can Openers my concerns about where welfare policies could lead, and also to have strong female characters who are not just victims but challenge the status quo, as has happened over hundreds of years.
As a socialist, it is clear that the poor, the vulnerable, and the working class are being blamed for society’s downfall, when it is the very rich and the city bankers that have created this financial crisis. The money was there (and will be found again) to bail them out. It seems to me that there is no logic in the dependency argument, unless you are of wealthy means and want to divert attention away from yourself.
I wanted to create a story that was funny, but would also expose any stupid logic and show how irrational the policies and arguments around dependency are. I want to finish by quoting some words of hope by testament of Leon Trotsky,
“I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful, let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression, and violence and enjoy it to the full.”
If you’d like to read more about Can Openers, and Mal Jones’ insightful commentary on modern societal and political issues, visit http://rowanvalebooks.com/books/canopeners.html