A blog recording the thoughts of a mum of one who does a lot of voluntary work because it's more fun than resuming her career and is a bit worried about the state of the nation.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Big Soc. Dilemmas Part 3: No Office

We are being evicted from our office. We thought we had negotiated a rent reduction after the Council cut our grant by £10,000 but the landlord has changed his mind as he has had a better offer. At first he said we had to go by the end of the month but he has now extended this to the end of May. So four organisations are looking for a new home. The practical lot have huge amounts of kit, including boxes of muddy boots, electric chain saws and a forest of young trees growing in posts which have become a bit irritating as insects are roosting in them which often fly round the office. The arty lot have an enormous photocopier which doesn't work very well, a 1930s sideboard and a lot of elderly volunteers who can't climb stairs. The posh lot have a polished wooden dining table and lots of display boards with photos of graveyards they have renovated. We are currently the youthful lot (apart from me) as we have 3 young men entrusted to us by a scheme from the last Government called "The Future Jobs Fund". The Future Jobs Fund is now a deceased scheme and is being replaced by the more prosaically named "The Work Programme". The young men are supposed to be getting experience of working for an innovative environmental organisation practising their skills in social media, "nudge" (the Big Soc. name for getting people to do what you want) and "commissioning" (which is all about public sector bodies offering you about an eighth of the market rate to do something but pretending that Tescos and NPower are bidding against you). I worry that our innovative organisation will have to scale new heights when we relocate to the local park because we can't find affordable desk space indoors, but the young men point out that this won't be a problem as they all have "dongles". What a relief.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Census and Sensibility

It's been quite a struggle to stop myself filling in "Gypsy, Scientologist, separated, but still legally in a same-sex civil partnership" but I have resisted the temptation. I am annoyed that if you do one hour of paid work a week you are not also allowed to fill in that you do the childcare and housework. And Question 17 - wild eh!?

I have been deterred not so much by the fact that I musn't be silly when the whole country has to be sensible because of the terrible mess we have been left in, but by the thought of all those eager-beaver family historian sleuths looking me up in 2111 (unlikely I will have managed to leave an autobiography).

I'm afraid I have already caught my ancestors apparently lying on many official documents including censuses, and this has raised a lot of niggling questions in my mind which I brood on in the middle of the night and am unlikely ever to get answered, for example:

Great Great Granny Joyce: you said you were married to George Kerr on your son's birth certificate, but the year after that on the census form you had changed your name to Joyce George, and when you married someone else a couple of years later you said you were "a spinster" and used your maiden name again. I suppose it can't have been easy being a single mum in mid-19th century Worcestershire but was it bigamy or what?

Great Great Grandad Robert: you weren't a Sergeant Major - you were only a Sergeant which I have now discovered is two ranks below and meant you were only paid 1s 3d a day not 3s a day - were you showing off a bit and how did you sort it out financially?

Great Grandad David: your dad was a grocer not a fisherman. Was this a family joke or were you worried that having a petit-bourgeois father would impede your political career? Did you have a presentiment that a grocer's child would one day rise to prominence on the other side of the political spectrum ?

Great Aunty Sue: your real name was Lilian. Why didn't you tell your nieces? You lived in a caravan: maybe I have inherited your gypsy yearnings. Lilian is not a great name for a gypsy but Lily would have been fine.

So don't get too imaginative on that form unless you want to torture your descendants and torture social researchers who will long to interview you but be unable to get access to your name and address until 2111. I can't honestly say that you will skew the ConDems planning process by causing unnecessary services to be set up by the Government, NHS (or private sector top-slicers) to support you, but some Big Soc. type will probably waste their Friday night setting up an unnecessary wiki forum.

Friday, 11 March 2011

The Blog Killers

Ten things that have stopped me writing anything much since the thing I half wrote at half- term and have just falsified the date on as a stop gap:

  • Grade 3 ballet exam and its eleven extra practice sessions involving self (as self-not-very-employed mum) in collection of four girls from school many times with consequent hot cross bun toasting and brisk walking to the Methodist Hall;

  • Damp wall of mother's house involving waiting for builders to give quotes none of whom brought long ladders despite being told they were coming to look at a roof so required 2 visits each;

  • Calls to Charity Commission to enquire very politely whether "we seek to respond to your application within 10 working days" now meant 2 months, in a sympathetic voice in view of 21% budget cut, but with wheedling tone;

  • Huge row between fellow trustees of charity resulting in two resignations;

  • Trips to National Archives to read muster rolls of 44th Foot 1840-60;

  • Critical time of year at the allotment;

  • Futile search for holiday cottage in Devon with high ratio of bathrooms to bedrooms that will also welcome "well-behaved" dog, but does not have hens running about outside in photo as dog is not nearly that well-behaved;

  • Insane trip to far end of Belgium to alleged (by partner) ski location which turned out to have one sloping field open about one week per annum, but many many crucifixes all around village and many graves in churchyard bearing name "Lesenfants" (sic) ...

  • Reading "American Wife" by Curtis Sittenfeld;

  • Hamster needing a run: can only be released in my bedroom where broadband signal is poor.