Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Surely Queen Elizabeth II is entitled to some privacy

One reason the Grit and Dig marriage has lasted so long - despite the fact I have launched several mental traumas and a tin of baked beans at it - is that we respect each other's privacy.

Admittedly, for the first three years, life was a bit odd. After I broke into his house, cooked food and lolled about the sofa, Dig resigned himself to the fact that I wasn't going away. He didn't complain, much. He probably just wondered who I was.

Likewise, I respected his privacy in return. I never asked about the lack of detergent, the severed head in the window, and why all the doorknobs fall off.

Because of this respect for each other's privacy, or total lack of curiosity about each other's lifestyle, we got on pretty well. So well in fact that I have a theory about the way we got married, and that was I never went away, so Dig thought it would be a good idea to try marriage, and see if that would get rid of me.

It didn't. And now we have children. And still no-one's come to collect them, so it looks like we're stuck with them. But we still value our privacy. Dig leaves me alone to warp the brains of his offspring, and I wave him farewell when he travels around the world being important and earning money. So long as me and the three aliens can travel along for the ride once in a while, that's OK.

Now we live like this. I subject Dig only to a small amount of web cam surveillance of hotel rooms around the world, and I let him get on with his life. He lets me live mine. We are both happy with that. Of course there are sharing rules. I demand access to his bank account, but I do not touch his computer stuff. He does not have access to my bank account, and he does not touch my ipod or phone because if he does he is DEAD.

And like this, we endure. We can maintain this privacy because it is based on respect. We both assume we have each other and our children in our hearts, so we don't need to bother accounting for what we're doing, justifying or explaining it. We simply trust each other, unquestioning. From that, we and our children live in a safe, supportive and loving world we have built and shared.

More, our family life gives me a way of looking at the world, like I think trust, respect and privacy should inform my dealings with others.

So when an expert tells me someone I don't know should have the legal right to come into my home and talk directly to my children - unsupervised - and I need not have given anyone any reason to think I've done anything illegal, then it sort of crosses my beliefs about privacy, trust, and respect, and I want to start chucking baked beans about.

This is Recommendation 7 of the recent Badman reviewof home education which has been accepted by the government.

Personally, I do not think the state should have the right to enter my home on a two week warning. And I do not believe any government official should have the automatic right to separate me from my children to interview my children alone on the basis that we home educate.

Because by logical extension, everyone with children can expect a visit. It's any child at home, perhaps ill, taking a day from school due to family circumstance, not taking up the state nursery provision from age 3. Which makes me think Mr Badman and his like must be fair desperate to know what goes on in our private life, that they're so keen to get inside our home.

And I know there will be people who say Fine! Anyone can inspect my home anytime they wish! And all they'll find are happy children!

Then I hope we can trust everyone to do their job fairly. I hope the day when someone calls, and claims they are within their legal rights to enter the home, interview the children alone, that they choose a day in anyone's life when no-one is ill, when the front room is in disarray, the laundry not done, that there is no ordinary life circumstance that has caused disruption and unswept floors.

Because what if there are children with dirty faces? The lawns not maintained? The ironing not done? Is that visitor there to help and understand? Or is that visitor there to ensure minimum standards are maintained, to police and inspect the environment? To assess the suitability of a home? How much mischief could a visitor make if they chose?

So Mr Badman, let me tell you now, when you find out what my husband keeps in his bathroom, then you will realise we would all have been better off not knowing.

By the way, if you are thinking Queen Elizabeth is just a gratuitous name to pull in those desperate Americans in a keyword search, you are partly right.

Today the gritlets visited one of Mrs Windsor's castles, saw the changing of the guard, the round tower, the state rooms and took part in a workshop about Henry VIII and his very large armour.

Of course we are only allowed to see a very tiny bit of Windsor castle, and there is some intensive security and monitoring of us, so don't think you can just call in like the Local Authority would like to do to us. And most certainly we are not allowed to visit the private rooms of Queen Elizabeth II.

Do you think she has something to hide?


Maire said...

: ).

Panoptican has some potentially good new.

sharon said...

Better keep the baked beans handy then Grit!

Did you check Mrs Windsor's mantlepieces for dust while you were there?

Jax said...

An excellent summary of yet another emotive point.