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Another country

Posted Oct 08 2010 12:00am
We were up early this morning. Jack is taking part in a charity run and so he went to school dressed in my clothes. He wore a printed dress, bright socks and trainers. Now I know what I'd look like if I lost some weight, and had a haircut. I was trying to tidy the place up because someone from the BBC is coming over from Belfast to film me for Sunday Morning Live. One of the subjects up for debate is 'Are kids better off in a traditional family?'

It's so long since I've been in one that the notion of a traditional family is quite alien; does anyone have a traditional family: is the definition of a 'traditional family' ready to change. Maybe today, a traditional family is where one parent lives elsewhere and raises some other man's family, whilst a different man contributes to raising yours? i.e step families.

In my experience families are rambling, and growing, but most of all supportive. Good families are the best families. It doesn't matter how many people the family is comprised of - it doesn't matter how those people came to be there - or their sexuality. What matters is that they want to care, and they do. Quit talking about 'traditional families.' Can we simply talk about 'families?'.

All this banter is one step away from segregation, separatism, and prejudice.

So, I was eating my Aldi porridge, on an Asda smartprice spoon, in a borrowed cereal bowl, listening to the Today programme on Radio 4, whilst my son gathered up his things to head off to school.

A few things baffled me, like when one of the geezers: I missed out on the 'who is who' part of the show: blessed us with a spot of middle-class-male discreet laughter/scoffing. Possibly Humphrys.

The chuckle acted as parentheses to the line (forgive me for paraphrasing) 'women who get pregnant to get a council house' or 'teenage girls who get pregnant to get a council house'.

Are they mad? Much of the council housing stock was sold off years ago... there are so few council houses now that if you were getting pregnant in order to receive a house, you'd have to start forward planning about the same time you are picking your GCSE options, and as we all know, such girls are too stupid to forward plan. Talk about modern issues with modern reference points and indicators; and don't illustrate your points with hammy phrases from the 80s.

I bought my council house (solely because I was sick of being unable to carry out improvements, cold, horrid, etc.), and when I wanted to sell it back, the council didn't want it. They should have taken it back because I didn't want it and know full well that other families might. Instead I'll one day sell it on at a profit so that I can escape elsewhere.

Cameron said in his speech: 'This is your country - it's time to step up and own it."

What makes him think that we don't? I, and I am sure I am not alone, want to be a good citizen. I want to contribute to society. As I raise my son, at the forefront of my mind is that he will contribute to the world in a meaningful way.

'I'm thinking of joining the politics society,' he said this morning. He's been elected onto the school council and fancies something more serious.

Please do join the politics society, I thought. Feel compelled to fight for what you believe in. "This is your country," I should have said to him. "Make the time to step up and own it."

I'm too preoccupied with handling all the minutiae.
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