Unjust blows of life rain down

17th November 2000 at 00:00
LIFE isn't fair but whoever told us it would be? While an equitable society is worth aiming at, life can never be fair. Were it so, everyone would win races at school, we'd all take it in turns to be top of the class and rain would fall Biblically - equally on the just and unjust - instead of mainly on York. I was reminded of this at the weekend when my eldest was talking about a school up north that had to close down one of its blocks as a result of flooding. "All the kids who aren't studying for GCSEs were on a three-day week," moaned Sarah. "'S'not fair."

This has been a wretched month for children attending schools on high ground. Mind you, it's not been a particularly great time for people with homes built on the low lands nor, indeed, for those killed in the Taiwanese air crash. Life is a miracle, an inexplicable boon, but nowhere is it written that we will all get equal shares of fortune and flood.

The most that religion has ever promised is compensation in the afterlife. I do wonder about my children however. Something curious in their upbringing seems to have programmd this generation with the belief that life owes them a fair deal. Sarah has recently learned to sulk and amongst her manifold grievances are the size of her thighs, the straightness of her hair and the fact that her newt died while Ginny's didn't. I would have said these things were unfortunate but she insists "'S'not fair". The difference between us is not simply semantic: misfortunes are things that have to be borne. Unfairnesses cry out for reparation. When I was at school, I had to accept that some people were better at everything than me. Sarah, on the other hand, seems to want an apology. If she were American no doubt she'd be trying to sue God.

Personally, I blame her first headteacher, Rowena Twee, a well-meaning lady who banned competitive sports before moving to York to stand as a local councillor. If Mrs Twee is in charge of flood prevention schemes up there she'll have no doubt been checking to make sure that everyone has had an equal amount of sewage flowing into their homes and every school has been on a three-day week. Barmy, I know, but absolutely fair.

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