Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The 3 little pigs learn to survive like Bear Grylls while mother contemplates politics

It seems a while since I've blogged, but we've just spent the bank holiday weekend camping so I have a legitimate excuse.

In true form we timed our camping expedition perfectly for a change in the weather. In our family any weather that contains rain, sleet, wind and freezing temperatures is termed 'camping weather'. One develops these family phrases out of experience. I like to think that withstanding the English weather by going to bed fully dressed in a sleeping bag designed for temperatures of minus 10 degrees with a woolly hat on and two blankets is character building. I'm sure it will prove very handy if any of my children decide to become a hill farmer in the Outer Hebrides.

I've been thinking that camping is like the story of the three little pigs. Except that my children aren't pigs and none of them can be bothered to go round building houses (of sticks, straw or bricks). Actually camping is nothing like the story of the three little pigs. Except that when it's windy it's quite possible that your house will blow down. I suppose there is a very remote possibility that you might get eaten by a wolf (the only wolves I've seen are in a local wildlife park), but more likely you will be smothered by clouds of white fluff from a demented spaniel who goes by the name of Captain Jack Sparrow (or Jack for short).

Over the weekend while discussing with a small child where they could discreetly go for a wee by a canalside with no obvious trees and lots of passing walkers I realised that the word I was looking for in my last post was epiphany. One could say I had an epiphany about the word epiphany, but that would just sound trite.

Anyway, going back to the camping thing, I will post a few photos, perhaps tomorrow. No photos of tents blowing down or anything so exciting (Shame, could have sent the vids to 'You've been Framed' and earned back the cost of the weekend). Just lots of photos of the inside of the tent from the very small hole at the end of a sleeping bag and a pile of shivering blankets.

And so on to other thoughts for the day...the election. Who to vote for? The truth is, even at this late stage, I don't know. Labour have it in for home educators big time, so they wont get my vote (even though they did bring in Child Tax Credits which earns them a few brownie points). Nope, Labour have been real meanies and Ed Balls is a psychopath. What if Gordon Brown stepped down and Ed Balls ended up as the Prime Minister (I'm gonna have nightmares about that one).

And so...Lib Dems? Well Lib Dems appear to be in favour of registration for home edders, which is a no-no. Big big no-no. They're pretty level pegging in my constituency though, so I'd have to decide which of the devils I'd prefer.

And Conservatives, well. Although they seem to be pro-non-interference of home edders, who knows what they'd do if they were actually in power. And Cameron reminds me of far too many pratts (I'd use another word, but there may be children reading) that I met at Uni, most of whom were studying Politics, Economics or Estate Management. BRRRrrrrr. I shiver at the memory of it. And Conservatives were talking about reducing tax credits. If that means Child Tax Credits then I'm stuffed, seeing as they make up a large proportion of my income. I mean this is money that actually goes to the parent responsible for the care of the children. Not straight into the pockets of the main income earner who already has enough money to buy beer down the pub and doesn't really need any more. I like child tax credits because they go to me, not to my partner. I don't need to negotiate that money back again into my pocket and into the hands of my kids. So. No Child Tax Credits means children suffer. And for me it means that I'd have no adequate way of staying at home and home educating my children. I do do paid work and have always worked (honest guv, I'm not a scrounger), but I don't have enough hours outside of looking after/educating the children to earn enough to keep us fed, watered and sane.

So what is the alternative? Well I could decide not to vote. But then think of all those poor little suffragettes who did suffragette things so that I could get to vote (as you can tell we haven't got to suffragettes yet in our Home Ed history projects, but I know a thing or two about Ancient Greeks, and Charles Darwin if that's any use). Anyway, I always feel guilty about the suffragette votey thingy even if I don't know anything about it. I mean I'm a woman. Of course my sole purpose in life is to feel guilty. So the guiltometre is at full wack when I think about not voting. Gee thanks Emily Pankhurst, yet another thing to feel guilty about. So much for women's lib.

Or I could turn up and just spoil my ballot paper, which is one suggestion that has been mooted on a few home ed lists. If all parties are rubbish, or have policies that you disagree with (or just if none of them float your boat) then there is no real democratic choice, is there? Why feel you have to vote for someone, when you could just exert your democratic right to - er - go spoil a ballot paper.

At first I thought this was just pointless. I mean why go to all that effort to turn up at the right place on the right day (and finding the childcare to be able to do it) when all I'm going to do is scribble a cartoon of Chad with his nose poking over a wall and the text 'Wot no decent party to vote for' (or something else equally vapid). But someone said on one of the home ed lists that if you spoil your ballot paper these ballot papers HAVE to be counted. So in effect you are making your voice known (in a very quiet and non-influential whisper perhaps). Ah well. I suppose if someone really likes your cartoon there's always the remote chance that you might get to be the next Larson. And he must make a decent living even without Child Tax Credits.

So, what you YOU think?


HolisticHumanist said...

Did your wee away involve a trip thru my toughts by any chance? lol

... whenever i think about blogging atm all i can think is "GAAAAAAH!" :/

Nice piece! x

Anonymous said...

Before the Child Tax Credit there was Family Credit which was in place from 1988 til 1999. My kids are older than yours and I claimed it when I had a market stall in Oxford as my only income and prior to that when I had a market stall in Bath.

It was simpler than the tax credit system as you told them what you had earned in the last six months and they fixed your payment for the next six months. If you had a blip (which we did several times) you rang a human who sorted it out for you and increased the value of your payment that month and the months that followed.

Gordon likes to think he reinvented the wheel but he coped the tax credit system form the US where they had already seen massive overpayments build up and difficulties in recovery as a result.

On Child Tax Credit we had a massive 'overpayment' due to Dh's company changing their company car rules and having him 'buy' a car for business use and then them buy it from him to avoid Gordon's then new company car tax rules. One month the company credited his salary with £12000 and also deducted the same amount the same month for the car. Tax credits only saw the income and did not recognise or accept the deduction and our payments were stopped dead.

Do families with a joint income of £50,000 really need tax credits? If the children of parents with that level of income will suffer without tax credits then their parents need to take a look a their priorities.

There are many, many reasons why
I have never voted Labour; I didn't today and I never will.

MadameSmokinGun said...

See! I go away leaving the rest of the country to do the election thing by themselves and just look what happens.........


MadameSmokinGun said...

I still don't know if I even voted - did a proxy thing and haven't dared check if......

Still - probably get another go in a couple of months!

Boincman said...

I like this bit: "I suppose there is a very remote possibility that you might get eaten by a wolf (the only wolves I've seen are in a local wildlife park), but more likely you will be smothered by clouds of white fluff from a demented spaniel who goes by the name of Captain Jack Sparrow (or Jack for short)."

Big mamma frog said...

Hi parasombra,

I don't remember Family Credit - maybe I wasn't eligible - ds1 was born end of 1998 and I was working full time. Was it something that went to the main earner? Either way, I never got it.

I suppose the thing I do like about Child Tax Credits is that it goes to me, not via dh. We don't have shared bank account and I don't have a 'housekeeping allowance', so my role is to earn (beg, borrow...) what I need for the kids, food, etc. Child Tax Credits combined with Child Benefit enables me to stay at home with some sort of basic income.

No I don't believe that a family with an income of 50 grand needs child tax credits. But that is assuming that any income that comes into the household is accessible to the woman and children: in several families I know, with reasonably-earning men, the women and kids don't see any of the money. Therefore Child Tax Credits (or whatever name it wishes to go by) can be a lifeline for women and kids in those middle-earning families.

Big mamma frog said...

p.s. I didn't vote Labour either.