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.

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.

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