These last few days I’ve been undergoing the Family Test. Not Cameron’s Family Test to check if I’m one of that happy group of Normals who will benefit from his excellent policy decisions, but the true Family Test — a tour of Mini’s grandparents.
This disastrous idea came about because of the annual Holiday Question (HQ). The HQ always used to be “who will I go on holiday with, and can I persuade them to walk up big hills with me?”. In my recent brief and disastrous time as part of a couple it was “is there anywhere on earth we can go without becoming Angie and Den circa 1987?”. Now the HQ is “is it actually possible to have a holiday alone with a toddler?”. (I’m sure that David Cameron thinks the holiday question is “will the taxpayer think it’s ok if I holiday in my third home in St Tropez?).
I really don’t know what other lone parents do. If you’re broke, forced to take time off at the most expensive time of year and no longer able to do normal singleton holidays, you have two options: sit in a cave for two weeks with Cbeebies on a loop, or descend on relatives in the hope of conversation and occasional respite.
And Lo! My idea of a grandparental tour was endorsed by the great man himself — David Cameron has told me the truth once more: apparently grandparents are the saviours of the modern age. They yield billions to the economy in unpaid childcare and he approves, deeply. I may not be a building block in his big society (lacking a marriage certificate), I may not pass the family test (being a blood-sucking single parent) but I CAN contribute to Dave’s grand vision by having baby boomer grandparents for Mini. Perfect.
Ye gods! I was yet again sadly let down by DC’s vision of life in Britain today. The only grandparently duty performed was to follow me and Mini round the house with a hand-held hoover until I could take the psychic torture no longer and wrenched it from said grandparent’s hand promising to leave each room backwards as I hoovered up after the biscuit-shedding beast.
To be fair, one step-grandparent did take Mini to the post office for an hour. I’m sure Dave has already calculated the £7.25 she has saved the nation.
The reality of 21st century grandparenting is apparently to take as many cruises as possible while sloshing Pinot Grigio around and gaily yelling “I’m selfish and it’s great!” (A direct quote).
Perhaps Cameron’s speeches would ring slightly truer if he voiced the Boomer-creed — “I’m selfish, and it’s great”. It would then be clearer that his perpetual use of the word “family” is really just a way of ignoring the voice and needs of the single, the childless, the poor and the disadvantaged
This post is dedicated to everyone who hasn’t enjoyed their holidays. I raise a glass to every moment of supressed rage, every misunderstood comment, every unhelpful hint, every pointless compromise. And here’s to getting back to work. Cheers
(This post is laced with additional bitterness as my laptop is broken so I was forced to write it long-hand [my Berol callous from 1990 still bears the load] and then pinch a PC from a friend to type it up as the library is closed on Tuesdays due to budget cuts. Thanks again DC)