Friday, 18 September 2009

Graham Badman saved my marriage!

Readers of this blog might sometimes guess, reading between the lines, DIG ISN'T HERE and, when he is at home, DIG WORKS AT HIS COMPUTER.

When Dig is at home, working at his computer, it is usually for a deadline that is impossible and requires 18 hours work a day. The stress will cripple this entire family, squeeze the pressure on the delicate Grit, and bring a dense oppression to this marriage, until Grit arrives prostrate at the floor and has a big squeal. And in that big squeal words might be heard, to the effect of


followed by other delightful epithets, delicate phrases of tenderness, and a sustained verbal assault on how shoving one's chosen life partner under the 12.20 Virgin train to London might be a rational thing to do.

Now I cannot deny that in this house last night there arose from this kitchen turns of phrase which sounded a lot like the above.

But this morning, Dig and Grit stand shoulder-to-shoulder. Here we are, happy. United. Husband and wife.

It would feel good if this united front was due to a night of steamy passion. It was not. It was the mutual discovery this morning of the endeavours of Graham Badman.

We have looked each other in the eye, equally, problem shared, and started laughing.

For readers of this blog who are mystified because they come here simply to discover what new disasters and triumphs can be manufactured by a home educating family of five (but mostly four because one is never here), I should explain a background story.

A little while ago, the Department for Children School and Families (DCSF) put up Graham Badman to write a review of home education. A panel of names was supplied along with Graham to make it look like the review was independent; Elizabeth Green of the DCSF provided 'advice'.

Whether you're for or against the recommendations, we can take it the review was not independent but originated from the DCSF with Badman as the front man.

The report recommended a variety of measures, all of which led in the direction of social control and not much in the direction of home education.

To prove that all home educators needed intervention by government, Badman came up with a strange statistic playing on middle England's fear of the words 'social services'; he suggested many home educated kids are more likely to be 'known' to social services. As the report was published, the NSPCC linked stories of abused kids and home educators. Some newspapers repeated these claims. Tie it all up, and you get child abuse + social services = home education.

The government clearly thought they could get away with it. Let's face it, home educators are a disparate bunch containing the widest variety of all society. In this group there are the posh, the desperate, the mad, the sane, the middle class, the non-mainstream, the unconventional, the Radio 3 listeners, the pink hair enthusiasts. Who would speak up for this lot? Who would dare?

Home educators put up a fight. With freedom of information requests, they proved the statistics that Badman collated did not stand up to scrutiny. Worse, the statistics were manipulated to give the public a misleading and defamatory impression of home educated parents and children.

Let's say the reality. Children in home educating households are less likely to be preyed upon by abusive adults; they are more likely to be protected from predators, from bullies, from abusers; they are more likely to have the space and freedom to grow, and to have their educational and life needs met by their parents and family.

But the DCSF, wounded by this reality which keeps on coming back to them, then replied, That's it! We're not giving you home educating nosy types any more ammunition! The statistics you want are not interesting! Because we say so! And what's more, some people are poking fun at Mr Badman!

Well, Grit can't make it any worse, so here she goes.

Graham, you saved our marriage!

Because this morning, Grit and Dig wake to see that Graham Badman has written to the DCSF, I want more time to prove that home educators are a bunch of abusive layabouts who are inept and known to social services! I want to show the world that I was right!

The DCSF has of course granted Graham more time to find the statistics to damn us all, and off he's gone, looking, because he couldn't find any before.

But something else will turn up, won't it? There'll be a juicy story somewhere that links - wait for it - home education and pedophilia. And from the government's point of view, that will do the job where statistics will fail. Shove some shitty press stories covering abuse and home education through your letterbox, and if there was any sympathy for home educators, by the time the DCSF, Badman, Balls, Morgan and the press have had a go, they hope there won't be any soon.

So. The state of affairs today in this household is that Grit and Dig are looking at each other, and laughing. This government will continue to stitch us all up to achieve what they want. Possibly, a nice big database, not much freedom from you, and lots of social control.

On the plus side, there should be lots of jobs for inspectors, authorising agents, third-party data services, Capita Software, and people you don't know poking around your private life before declaring you guilty of something and a fine of £60 for infringement.

But as I said, for the moment, Grit and Dig have a common enemy. Graham Badman has brought us both together in united purpose. We're laughing, shaking our heads at the state of this government, and wondering whether life would be better together if we lived elsewhere.

Of course I won't say the idea of a common enemy isn't an attractive one if it puts the Grit and Dig marriage back on track and engenders such a state of togetherness.



Firebird said...

PLEASE, by all that's holy PLEASE rephrase that last sentence! I'm begging you!

If I wake screaming in the night it's all your fault!

Grit said...

strange, firebird. that's just what Dig said.

Maire said...

Lol, I am with firebird. And lots more empathy re husbands that travel and work far far too long hours.

Grit said...

ok, i might delete that last line. and i have to say that Dig is a lovely, kind (and very tolerant) husband.

Maire said...

Well if he wasn't you would undo Badman's good work by posting this wouldn't you :

Firebird said...

Just the use of the word sex in a sentence containing the name Ed Balls is enough to make my stomach turn. They're simply not subject areas that should ever be allowed in one human brain at the same time.

Grit said...

but look firebird, even you're doing it now!

Firebird said...

Misery loves company ;-)

Brad said...

I know you to be many good, positive things but some how the words "delicate" and "Grit" strung together in the same sentence had never occurred to me.

kellyi said...

Am I missing some thing? Firebird seems rather frightened....

Deb said...

I love that you mentioned pink hair enthusiasts! I have a pink-haired daughter but am fortunate enough to reside in the U.S. state of Texas where there are no overseers of home education. Rock on, Grit, stick it to the man!

sharon said...

There, we knew he had to serve some useful purpose lol!

Leaving aside the state of your marriage and the merits or otherwise of School v Home Education, aren't you now in a position of much greater strength given that there are to be substantial cuts in the Education budget? Surely the fewer children needing a school place the better?

Moohaa said...

I'm feeling much better about the state of home education and my rights. Wow.. couldn't imagine. 'Course, I think they are just grateful they don't have to pay to educate my little men.

Grit said...

hi folks, thank you for your comments. yes, i would think this government has no money at all to set aside for home educators. i think they want the database, and i think they want to pass on the issue to local governments who will use any new or amended legislation to behave how they want.

The Green Stone Woman said...

I'm worried about the state of your marriage when there is no common enemy and is it healthy for Dig to work such long hours?