The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

Archive for the 'Family' Category

28 July
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My Mum’s Schooldays in 1924 and a Story of Friendship

My mum’s class in her South London elementary school in Brixton in 1924 when she was 10. Not all the kids were the same age because in those days classes were organised in Standards so you didn’t automatically move up each year.

mum's class 1924

One teacher, nearly 50 kids – as she was a woman her pay would be lower and she had to stay single because, if she married, she would be sacked.  No exams and most kids left at 14 but my grandmother thought mum should stay on for another year when she would be bigger! She was then apprenticed to a West End milliner because “women would always wear hats”….

mum's class 1924 - Copy (4)

My mum, Marjorie James as she was is highlighted in red in this pic and her friend, Phoebe in green. Phoebe was a Jewish girl who joined the school late. Mum didn’t know her but saw her crying in the playground on her first day surrounded by some of the kids taunting her and chanting “dirty  jewgirl”  She went up to her, stood beside her and told the others she was her friend and to leave her alone.

That was typical of my mum. She didn’t have much to do with church and I never saw her reading a book on ethics but she had a moral strength equal to fifty bishops. She believed actions spoke louder than words. “You don’t SAY right” she told me once when I had been rather unpleasant to someone else “You DO right!!!”

Mum and Phoebe remained friends until parted by death in the 1980s.

Here they are, strolling along the seafront ten years later in 1934….the girls are back in town….lol..

m ph ad 1934 - Copy

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18 June
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“Never Mind The Kids – Go Out To Work” UK Govt Tells Mums

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Wow…something from an Anglican Bishop that would not go down too well at a North London dinner party? I kid you not…

Rt Rev Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, warned government policies promoting childcare were focused on the interests on parents returning to work and not what was best for children.

The Bishop was taking part in  a House of Lord debate about Samantha Cameron’s…whoops..David Cameron’s latest get-the-women-out-to-work-at taxpayers’-expense wheeze

David Cameron’s Childcare Bill offers to double free childcare for three and four-year-olds from 15 hours per week during term time to 30 hours. The Tories argue the measure will ‘help parents who want to work’.

The good bishop had the sheer audacity to imply that the so-called Conservative government’s plans were “putting pressure on parents and mothers in particular to be valued as economic units rather than having the most important role of parenting their children valued”.

He’s battling a lost cause, of course. We have been told that our rulers want another 500,000 more women in the workplace by 2016 and the new child care proposals will help the UK reach that target.

Why?

Who the hell said that? It’s a target we need to achieve and we need to achieve it, like, yesterday. Conveniently it’s a nice round number that can easily be remembered and constantky quoted, not like, say, 437,492. Whoever heard of a f###ing target like that?

OK – but why? What is the rationale behind that nice round plump quotable number?

It’s the EU, ennit….

According to the Treasury the target of getting nearly 500,000 women into work “would allow the UK to match the female employment rate in Germany and the second-highest overall employment rate in the G7 grouping of major economic powers.”2 The EU’s five year Gender Equality Strategy states that Europe has a target employment rate of 75% overall for women and men by 2020. 3 According to EU data4 the “UK was 1 of 10 countries to have reached the Barcelona targets for children aged 0-3yrs old. In the UK, 35% of children aged 0-3 were in formal childcare in 2011, although most (30%) of children were in part-time childcare”.

 …and those awkward mums who who don’t want to spend the pre-school years working but want to be at home caring full time for them are giving two fingers to the Barcelona target.

Trouble is that it’s not only the state that wants both parents working – there’s a whole raft of commercial interests that need parents to spend in order to increase profit. Spending is good and the advertising industry and its willing accomplices in the media exist to squeeze those extra pounds from our pockets and purses.

But ‘twas not ever the case. When we (both teachers) married in 1967 we knew we wanted a family but we were prepared to wait 3/4 years to put some money aside for the time when my wife would no longer be working. We had a mortgage for our modest suburban semi-detached that took a chunk of our income to repay but did not overstretch us (Building  Socieities in those days had very strict lending rules). During the four years before our firstborn we were very careful with our money. We went out to eat and/or drink very rarely. We did not take holidays but instead maybe went out on the odd day trip. Although we both liked to dress fashionably we were not slaves to style – and when the kids came along my wife gave up work to be a full time stay at home mum and we continued to be careful spenders.

Our only extravagance was a car. We’d seen mums struggling onto buses and trains with children and pushchairs and bags and  felt that a 1970s lower middle class family could do better than that. But it was not, of course, a new car. Like everyone else we began with a well worn second hand Ford Anglia. In other words (how old fashioned) we cut our coat according to our cloth. We “made do”…baked our own cakes, made our own squash, sewed a lot of our own clothes.

Eventually, once our second born started primary school my wife returned to a measure of part-time teaching and we were able to enjoy a few more creature comforts. But we never regretted the frugality of those early years. The love and interest and attention we (or rather my wife) was able to devote to our children could never be measured through quantifiable units – you cannot easily measure quality.

Today’s parents appear to be unwilling to make such sacrifices. A new car (or cars) seem to be de rigueur. Holidays abroad are simply a must-have. Restaurants and pubs now need to be children friendly so that meals can be eaten out and a lively social life maintained.

But this costs money – so both parents need to work to afford such goodies…which is why the government is pushing at an open door when, according to the bishop, it hints that a stay at home parent is…well…to put it bluntly a tad…unpatriotic…

 But debating the plan in the Lords, the Bishop of Durham warned the focus on childcare creates the impression ‘that a parent choosing not to work but to raise their child themselves is somehow not doing the best for the nation or the child’.

 Sorry, Bish old bean – you are just a voice in the wilderness…..(now where have I heard that phrase before?)

 

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10 October
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LibDem Minister for Women Sneers At “Call The Midwife”

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Jo Swinson, the Minister for Women, who became a LibDem MP five years after leaving university (she worked in Marketing and PR) made a sneer at “Call The Midwife” and old fashioned views of mothering at the recent LibDem Conference

‘The very idea of men caring for small children or mothers forging successful careers is anathema to many Tories, who’d apparently rather have a Call the Midwife version of parenting. At least we recognise that women might want both a fulfilling job and family life.

It’s odd that Ms Swinson should have used CTM as a term of disparagement. The BBC series is one of the most popular programmes of the last twenty years, regularly gathering 10 million viewers per episode. It is gritty and does focus on serious social issues but part of the appeal is also in the characters of the midwives themselves and their relationships. By today’s standards they are very prim and proper and,astonishingly, there is no sex….a bit of kissing and cuddling and that’s all.

You wonder if part of the appeal of the programme is embedded in the absence of sex as an obsessive topic. There was, of course, plenty of sex going on in the 1950s but it was generally considered a very private matter..a quaint old fashioned view for many of our media elite but possibly those values still appear attractive to many

The respect and love shown for the Queen in her Jubilee year, the popularity of the Great British Bake Off….could it be that the Jo Swinsons of our world are missing the point a little?

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16 July
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Beware – Cameron’s Plan To Turn Schools Into Child Minding Facilities Is A Ploy To Bind Families Closer To The State

So it’s official - schools exist not to be places of learning where children acquire the social, intellectual and emotional skills to inherit and improve on their common cultural inheritance but are essentially child minding facilities designed to relieve parents of the responsibility of bringing up their own offspring.

The traditional 9am to 3pm school day does not always fit the demands of working parents, and not enough schools offer before- and after-school activities that meet childcare requirements, according to a new Government report. Childcare is a “major concern” for families, with parents often finding it difficult to arrange the right care at the right price, it says.

It’s convenient with employers because it helps to expand the workforce and maintain a pool of cheap labour. It sends a message to consumers that it’s fine to spend rather than save – goodbye deferred gratification, hello I want it now. Above all it binds families closer to the state and undermines the spirit of independence, the sheer awkward bloody mindedness that made our forefathers suspicious of government.

It’s a poisoned chalice – but do we have the will to dash it from our lips?

 

universal-credit-big-brother

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04 June
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Tory Minister Maria Miller Continues The War On Those Selfish Stay-At-Home Mums…

Equalities Minister Maria Miller continued the Tory Party’s war on mothers with yet another attack on stay-at-home mums, hitting them with a double edged guilt trip

 

A shortage of successful women is holding Britain’s economy back, Cabinet Minister Maria Miller will warn today.

The equalities minister will warn that it is unacceptable that highly-skilled and talent women continue to languish behind men in the workplace.

More help will be offered to school girls to get ahead in business while employers will be urged to hire women over 50.

The call comes as a government-backed report says stay-at-home mothers should go back into the workforce to boost economic growth.

 

So,  selfish and bone idle mothers, you are not only being traitors to your country by sabotaging the economy – but you’re also betraying the sisterhood.

 

Ms Miller could even see into the future…..thanks to those marvellous “experts”

 

Getting those women back to work would boost economic growth by 0.5 per cent a year or 10 per cent by 2030 – vital if Britain is to emerge from the financial crisis, experts said.

 

Funny how those experts can be so specific about how women are needed to get us out of the financial crisis when they were unable to predict the crisis in the first place….

 

In truth the figures are meaningless, conjured up out of thin air like the cost/benefit analysis of HS2. Moreover, in a period when unemployment is still relatively high from where are these jobs expected to come?

 

It seems strange that at the very moment when the concept of the family is under attack – high divorce rates, more and more children being born out of wedlock,  the heterosexual nature of marriage being undermined – Tory politicians like Miller should be devaluing the nature of motherhood. Perhaps that’s one reason why the party is losing it’s core support.

 

The tragedy is that Maria Miller, unlike most of her Cabinet colleagues attended a comprehensive school  and  has considerable business experience. She should have been a bonus to the government – instead she is a damp squib.

 

This report is just busywork to give the impression of “something being done” – so just file it under PP….Permanent Pending because nothing will ever come of it…..apart from the fact it will make a few more stay-at-home mums (or dads) feel even more worthless…

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07 January
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Cameron Thinks Stay At Home Mums Are Unimportant…….

Cameron is now bigging up childcare costs

Working mothers will be given thousands of pounds-worth of support for child care to help them to return to work, under plans being considered by David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

Stay at home mums will be given an additional tax allowance to help pay someone else to look after their kids to get them back to work. But if they decide to remain at home to look after their kids themselves they will get zilch – even though they are creating the most stable, family friendly environment for those key formative years.

In effect Cameron is saying to those mums who want to stay at home that they are of less significance than those mothers who get back into the workforce as soon as possible. He is essentially devaluing motherhood and the concept of the traditional family – a strange move for the leader of a so called “conservative” party.

Time was that parents of young children accepted the fact that they had to downsize their own expenditure because there was now just a single earner….usually dad. So you made do with the same car for a few more years, you had the odd family day out rather than an expensive foreign holiday, restaurants and pubs became a fond memory, you kept the old black & white TV when everyone else had colour.

School hours and term dates were geared for education not for child minding. You were expected to keep your children with you rather than dump them in a crèche. Nobody complained because that was just the way things were.

But many of today’s parents don’t seem willing to make those sacrifices. They want to maintain their childless lifestyle. So both of them need to be earning as soon as possible – then they can pay someone else to look after their kids.

Now Cameron is saying that dumping your young children so that you can have the plasma TV, the expensive foreign holiday and the new car(s) is not only OK but you’ll pay less tax to make it even easier – so the rest of us will have to pay more to make up for it.

And he thinks it’s UKIP members who are odd?

WTF…..

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