Sunday, November 06, 2016


We haven't got a conservatory, but I have a liking for rain on the roof when it's dark outside. So some wet evenings I take a glass of wine and sit in the car on the drive with the radio on.

I'm "chilling".

We used to simply "put our feet up". Then we "took time out".

Now we "chillax".

So here I am, rain pattering on the car's tin roof, laptop propped on knees, glass of Sainsbury's red precarious in the little cup holder, Classic FM on.

BTW It's legal because a) the car isn't on the road it's on our driveway b) the engine is off; the keys aren't even in the ignition.

I always make the mistake of sitting in the driver's seat for this treat even though there'd be more room if I sat in the passenger seat.

A psychiatrist would say I do this because I like being in the driver's seat. We all like to be in the driver's seat don't we, in life?

The trouble is we're not.

Like the Beatle said; Life is what happens to you while you're making other plans.

This couldn't be more true of anybody than foster children.

How can we help them make plans for the future when we have no idea what the future holds?

In or out of Europe? How big a dodge-pot in the White House?  What next from terrorists? These big things affect their future and they're all up in the air.

Then there are uncertainties closer to home and part of our comparatively smaller lives; what sort of employment will be available? Will health care cost? Will schools be any good - will schools exist as we know them? Will there be social security? How will they afford a flat never mind a house? What will happen to them if they start a family?

There have been huge changes in everything in our own short lifetimes, and the pace of change is accelerating.

When did cars stop having "Running In Please Pass" signs on the back window? It was an excellent way of showing off that you'd bought a new car instead if a used one.

When did gravy stop being gravy and start being jus?

My grandad told me that the phrase "Hip Hip Hooray!" used to be "Hip Hip Hip Hooray!" when it was used by the upper classes and the change to 2 Hips instead of 3 was used as a social distinction.

That was when we only had 2 classes; Lower and Upper. Then we had 3; Upper, Middle and Working. Now we have any amount of classes and groups of people, including the awfully entitled Underclass. I read that farmers are now regarded as a separate class.

My own take on the Brexit vote is that the country is evenly divided into 2 halves; 51% of the population are broadly dissatisfied with their lives and 49% are broadly satisfied.

Looked-after children are a class apart in so many ways.

What more unexpected bad news must these poor little mites fear the world is waiting to inflict on them as they try to make a life for themselves?

And the worst of it for us is...we carers can't advise them much, because we haven't the foggiest.

The deal used to go like this; work hard at school and get some good grades and you'll get a good job and be a lot  happier than if you flunk out...

Does that deal stand any more? Did it ever?

I sometimes use Waitrose for a quick shop as it's on my way. The customers in there ought to be reasonably happy; they are mostly middle-aged-to-elderly and well-heeled. They have done alright, went to a good school most of them, got their exams, got a good job.

But they are mostly a damn site more miserable than the average joe. So even when the deal was on offer, it bit them on the bum, because they aren't happy the way things worked out for them.

Down at the other end of town is the park bench where  a group of people, mostly men but a couple of women too, meet in the morning and sit and chat. Some drink lager openly, I expect some of the others are doing other stuff. They aren't happier than the Waitrose customers. They're not unhappier either.

Mind, the morning drinkers laugh a lot more, though that's probably just the booze.

Children who go through care don't often end up with good qualifications.

They often end up with below average social skills, and a low work ethic - especially if they have to work for someone else because they frequently have issues with authority.

In my experience a great many cared-for children end up in driving jobs or shop work, and those are the very jobs which are threatened most by new technology. Driverless cars and trucks are on the way. The internet is killing the High Street.

The future isn't lurking out of sight a hundred years up the road; it's not even a generation away.

It's 2017. Which will be very different from 2016.

I suppose you could tell yourself it's not the foster parent's role to fire them up with hopes and dreams, and to be fair the last time I looked at Maslo's hierarchy of needs I didn't see any mention of strategies for finding fulfilment in an unknown future.

But he does talk about a higher need to be a member of a close bunch of humans who all need each other, so that when you need help they give it, and when they need help you give it, and actually that last bit is the most profound need. To help others.

So back I go into the house having reminded myself that however uncertain the future of employment, state aid and housing the big thing we can teach/advise our foster children is this; find or build yourself some kind of a loving family and/or a tight groups of loyal decent friends.

Which I suppose is how we try to organise our foster family.


  1. The future is a scary place for young people right now. They'll have opportunities that didn't exist when I was in my teens and twenties, but their career choices will be much smaller.

    The list of jobs that will be replaced by machines, Artificial Intelligent and the internet is staggering...
    Bookbinding and A-Z/road maps are going. Travel agents, data entry staff, meter readers, translators, typists and secretaries (there's an app for that) are all on the decline. Firms can automate timesheet processing, invoice issuing, credit control and bank reconciliations.

    That said there is more call for games and App developers, data analysts, Tech Support, and personal services like hairdressing and beauty. And as we live ever longer there are more call for nurses, care staff and social workers.

    And of course, wine makers will be around for a while yet!

  2. There's always hope, you make a good point about longevity and care. But anxiety is on the increase among our young and can you blame them?