The Thin End Of The Wedge Essay

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The Thin End Of The Wedge Essay, Research Paper The thin end of the wedgeThe Frenchgate shopping centre could be anywhere in England. There’s a Superdrug, a Carphone Warehouse, places selling sportswear. But this isn’t just anywhere. This is Doncaster, a town that, like many others in this part of Yorkshire, has always had a strong sense of identity. Or used to, until the pits closed. On first glance, not a lot has changed. Maybe there weren’t so many bargain basement shops in the early 1980s. Maybe the concrete of the shopping centre and the multi-storey didn’t seem quite so forbidding. But on the outskirts of town are boarded-up shops that would once have done a good trade. On the other hand, there are shiny new metal sculptures in the pedestrianised part of the

high street. Essentially, though, it’s still the same place, its heart hemmed in by dual carriageways, its fringes a sprawl of council houses and privately owned semis. I’m pretty sure that life on the minimum wage here will be easier than in London. The rent will be lower, for a start. I’m expecting to meet different people, too. The population is mainly white and indigenous, so I expect my new workmates to have grown up here, to have support networks of families and friends. I cast my eye over the Doncaster Free Press, but the jobs pages look a bit thin. There aren’t many positions for people without skills. The only two I can see aren’t local at all – they’re in a more prosperous market town 30 miles away. I ring the first, which turns out to be packing tomatoes

in a salad plant. They have just one question: do I have my own transport? I don’t; the minimum wage has just gone up from £3.70 an hour to £4.10, but I doubt it would support a car. The second ad looks more hopeful: “Temps R Us are recruiting FULL TIME WORKERS for a Multinational Sauce Manufacturer. We offer subsidised transport, cheap factory shop, free work clothing. £4.30/hr + O/T. £175-£185/week. Phone for local interview.” I phone. Again, there’s just one question: what’s my address? If I’m to get picked up by the factory minibus, I’ll have to live on the right side of town. I’ll phone back, I say. I scan the paper again. There are a few flats for around £70 a week, but the only place that will do is a caravan site that offers accommodation for £40 a

week. I head out of the mall, navigate the dual carriageway and brace myself for a grey, windy walk across the river bridge. There, behind a pub whose pebbledash is stained by traffic fumes, is the grandly named River View Welcome Home Park. It turns out to be four dingy rows of caravans, flanked by a major road and two railway lines. The view of the river, if ever there was one, is obscured by the hulking frame of a new flyover under construction 20 yards away. I meet Bert, the warden, a stout, cheerful fiftysomething with a rolling gait, clad in creased trousers and rolled-up shirtsleeves. As he opens the door of the vacant “van”, I’m hit by the all-pervasive odour of damp. I’m told later that the river makes its presence known from time to time when it floods out the

Welcome Home residents. Still, there’s a separate living room and bedroom, and I’ll have my own kitchen and bathroom. Despite the smell, it looks clean enough. Someone’s made a recent effort to brighten the place up, painting the dado rail in the living room pink and pairing striped wallpaper below it with flowery above. There’s a red Dralon sofa and a little fleur-de-lys pattern on the red carpet. Bert assures me that it’s quite safe here – there are half a dozen single women living on the site and everyone looks out for each other. Bert helps me move my stuff in. I put my few books and portable telly on top of the veneered shelf unit in the lounge; apart from that the only furniture here is the sofa and a matching pouffe. The bedroom has two white MDF wardrobes, but