Thursday, October 31, 2019


I don't know about you, I'm having a bit of a tough time explaining the state of the nation to our foster children.

If you're reading this in a country other than the UK, you probably have had a whiff of our wranglings here, basically we've tied ourselves in a heck of a knot about whether to leave the European Union, and now there's a fierce general election going to happen during the run-up to the Christmas holidays - which should be a time of peace and goodwill and general all round happiness.

The subject of what's called Brexit came up at our last Blue Sky support meeting and here's an interesting titbit; when we went around the room the Carers reported that almost all the foster children who had a view mirrored their real family's views: they were Leavers. Their parents had set them straight about that.

They had single-minded views about immigration and uncomplicated views on foreigners meddling with British laws such as the shape of bananas. 

Same with my eldest foster child, Toby, or "Tobes" as everyone calls him. Tobes and my own eldest, Michael, or "Mix" as Tobes calls him, is a Remainer. 

How I long for the good old days of teatime debates over Game of Thrones v Harry Potter, Man Utd v Arsenal etc. Those meaningless arguments which are actually great bonding, especially if the Foster Carer is a good enough moderator. I usually manage to manipulate the thing into a draw before it ever gets personal.

But the Brexit debate - as in many other families I suspect - is testing my judicial skills!

You can almost smell the thing getting ready to kick off as people take their place at the tea table. 

Me; "Did anyone have anything interesting happen at school today?"

Tobes; "Yeah, we found out Mr Purbright is a remoaner."

Mix: "Purbright? Ain't he English?"

Tobes; "Nah, he's a Jock int' he."

Mix; "Nah dimbo, not an Englishman, he does English."

Tobes; "Physics. Dunbar does English, she's a remoaner an' all."

Mix: "Yeah, all our teachers, the ones we've found out about, are for staying in."

Tobes: "Like I said the other day, teachers don't care, their jobs are safe. There ain't no migrants floodin' in and wanting to be teachers."

Mix: "No one's flooding in that was one of the lies."

Tobes; "Yeah? What's that new barbers then?"

Mix; "Where?"

Tobes; "The one next to that weird bar, used to be an ice cream place."

Here comes me with a futile effort to move the conversation onto something less gritty:

Me: "Oh you mean the pop-up bar?" 


Our youngest foster child comes in with;

"What's a pop-up bar?"

Me: "It's a bar where you can buy drinks but only at certain times because…"

Tobes; "It's Europeans innit."

Mix: "Yeah but Boris said there'd be 3 million more he did. Din't he mum?"


I try;

Me: "Well, it's certainly claimed by some of those who want to stay that at one point during the referendum debate someone on the Leave side suggested that any new country joining the EU would have the right of free movement, however I never heard it myself, not personally, and…"

Basically I go on and on for a bit and tire them out. At some point during my ramble I might be lucky enough to stumble on something that sparks a different conversation, luckily on this ocassion the diversion had already been signposted;

Youngest foster child: "Why do they call them POP-UP?"

Tobes: "Yeah. It's not like they sell pop do they?"

Youngest; "What's pop?"

Mix: "It's what they used to call fizzy drinks in the old days."

And we were off on another tack. What's the worst fizzy drink?  Answer Cherry Coke. Is diet Pepsi as good? Why is Fanta so good with pizza? and so on.

There's a serious point here though. My children are worried because they've picked up the fears of so many adults, but misunderstood them. All the adults I know who are committed one way or the other only really fear one thing. They fear being on the losing side. Pathetic in my book, but the problem is that our vulnerable kids are picking up the vibe that terrible things await them for the rest of their lives if Brexit goes the wrong way. 

So as with all things troubling them, I try to offer reassurance and paint a picture of a positive future no matter the outcome of this little spat.

Oh, and if you know who I'm talking about I'll miss John Bercow, the retiring speaker; my version of his cry of "Order!" will continue to echo round our kitchen table for some time to come.


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