Friday, 2 July 2010

Ideology, Embarrassment & Compulsive Lying.

I'm starting to think it may be a good thing that long-serving MPs become so disconnected from their constituents. How else would they retain any certainty about their own political ideology? The more I hear and investigate constituents' real life stories, the more confused I get. It's like trying to work out the guilty party during one of Josh and Connie's arguments. Hopeless.

Mrs Hetherington attends today's surgery. She's at university as a mature student, has teenage children like me (poor woman), and had previously worked full-time for more than twenty years. She's incandescent with fury, having discovered that she won't be entitled to sign on during her college vacation, if she's unable to find a summer job. Her husband's self-employed and his business is collapsing. The Boss nods sympathetically as he tries to think of a way to blame this on the coalition. Then she hits him with it.

"There's a single parent on my course who's allowed to sign on during vacations," she says.

"Ah, well, obviously someone has to care for her children, and she does only have one income," says The Boss, looking relieved.

"Benefits, not income," says Mrs H. "And her daughter is fifteen."

"Um," says The Boss and looks helplessly at me.

I'm in no mood to help out and, anyway, I want to hear his answer.

He says, "Ah."

"And she has never worked a day in her life," says Mrs H. "Whereas I've been paying tax ever since I left school. Explain that!"

The Boss looks relieved. There's a Party line on this one.

"But surely you'd agree that it's in everyone's interests for single parents to be encouraged to train and find employment, wouldn't you?" he says.

"No," says Mrs H. "Be bloody nice if you politicians encouraged people to work and to stay married for a change."

The Boss has no answer to this. Nor do I, though at least there won't be any letters to write on the back of this particular appointment. No idea to whom I'd address Mrs H's enquiry, or how I'd word it. The Boss takes his embarrassment out on me.

"You were no help, no bloody help at all," he says, as Mrs H takes her leave.

"Well, I don't know what I think about it," I say. "Do you?"

"She's a bigot," says The Boss, with no trace of irony.

In the afternoon, I email Johnny the best of the photos I finally managed to take last night by virtue of waiting 'til everyone had gone to bed, and then locking myself in the bathroom. I had to make convincing farting noises while I twisted around like a lunatic to make sure the loo wasn't in shot. Whole thing took ages, and it was after 4:00am when I finally got to bed. How have I come to this? Of course, I change my mind and want to retrieve the email as soon as I've sent it, and then spend the rest of the afternoon panicking, especially when I get an Out of Office reply from Johnny. Bet his bloody PA is showing my arse to everyone at the Global Oil Company water cooler right this minute.

Then there's another call from Josh's school. For Godsake. Josh has apparently "failed to control his skateboard,"which has flown up into the air and smashed the window of the Deputy Head's office. Mr Thumb says that he had intended to confiscate the skateboard for a week, but has now changed his mind.

"Why?" I ask. Josh would be much safer minus that damned thing. His teeth looked perfectly normal until he took up skateboarding, and I'm sure he was more reasonable before all the blows to the head.

"The championship," says Mr Thumb.

"Pardon?" I have no idea what he's talking about.

"Well, Josh was saying that he's in the National Skateboarding Championships this weekend, so I felt it would be only right to delay his punishment until next week."

What? Josh can't stay upright on that damned thing for more than 20 seconds, without a catastrophe. No way is he capable of participating in a National Championship. Unless it's the Unintentional Comedy on a Skateboard Championship - which I don't think exists, though it certainly should.

"Don't you agree?" says Mr Thumb.

I am still barely capable of speech, so I just mumble a pathetic 'Thank you," and hang up. How the hell did Max and I raise a compulsive liar?  And why didn't I expose Josh's dishonesty to teach him a lesson? This abdication of parental responsibility and discipline is probably how serial killers are made, and certainly gang lords.

There's finally some good news when I get home. Connie's got the IT job! She's so excited, particularly at the thought of flexi-time, for some unknown reason. Max feigns enthusiasm pretty well, but later tells me that his boss warned of further branch closures this morning. God knows how we'd manage on just my pathetic income. We'd probably have to separate to survive. I'll have to ask The Boss what he suggests.


  1. I predict drug dealing & handling stolen goods as the boom industries over the next couple of years!
    On the plus side, Josh sounds like he's set for a high earning career in politics so he can support you all...

    BG Xx

  2. At least with drug dealing, it's recession proof.

    True early death and/or incarceration are a side effect, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.