Lloyd George Doesn’t Know My Father. It Shouldn’t Matter

a group of young women in striped shirts fight for a rugby ball
photo by Francesco di Bellinzona is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Your place in life is revealed to others through a narrative: stories told, dress worn, games played, schools attended, places frequented, friends preferred, songs sung.

A silly, satirical British song was still sung by drunken rugby players more than forty years after David Lloyd George served as British Prime Minister in World War I Britain. For all this writer knows, it is still sung today. It goes as follows:

Lloyd George knows my father. Father knows Lloyd George. Lloyd George knows my father. Father knows Lloyd George. Lloyd George knows my father. Father knows Lloyd George. Lloyd George knows my father. Father knows Lloyd George . . . and so on. Knowing the hymn tune: Onward Christian Soldiers, makes it slightly more entertaining, but just slightly. Only beer really helps.

Whether sung in celebration or satire, it’s a class narrative, part of a whole framework of stories that defines where an individual ‘fits’ into life.

Author Mary O’Hara is a person whose father definitely did not know Lloyd George, or any modern version of him. The narratives that have defined her life arise from the poverty of her home and family as she grew up in a rat-infested Northern Irish slum, one of the poorest neighbourhoods in all of Europe.

The concern that drives her new book The Shame Game, are the political decisions that arise from narratives that shape the actions of a society towards the people in her poverty-stricken class.

Is it possible to change these narratives? To not only understand the life and character of the poor but weave them into a social narrative — one that does not abandon a disadvantaged class of citizens to a ‘place they deserve to be.’

Read a personal, compelling excerpt from The Shame Game in The Guardian: ‘Being Poor Is Not Inevitable Or Due To Personal Flaws. I Know, I’ve Been There’