Deborah Ross: I go away for two weeks and Britain's broken

If you ask me...

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The Independent Online

If you ask me, or were to ask me, how I feel about you right now, I'd have to ask you to go to your room and not come down for a good while. I am that furious. I thought I could trust you. You said I could trust you. You said: "You go away and everything will be fine here." You even called out after me from the doorstep: "Enjoy your holiday... don't worry about a thing." So I went away for a couple of weeks – my only holiday of the year – and what do I now find on my return? That Britain's all broken. Great. Cheers. Thanks a lot.

A lamp, I could forgive. Who hasn't ever broken a lamp? Or a mug? But a broken Britain? With its "broken" society and "broken" families and "broken" morals? Do you have any idea what it feels like to come home and find it all broken in this way? Do you think Uhu is going to put it all back together again? Do you?

It's not your fault, you say. Take a chill pill, you add. Take a chill pill! This isn't yet another of your coats left on the bus, although even then being told "it wasn't my fault" and to "take a chill pill" was immensely infuriating. You've broken Britain! The Britain that, previously, was a place of adoring nuclear families who had so many "traditional values" they were forced to shove up at night, to allow a few more into the bed. I've read Melanie Phillips; I know.

And although no one has yet specified the heyday of pre-broken Britain, or even properly defined "traditional" – traditional to whom and when?– even if it turns out to be the "traditional Victorian family", who is to say working-class boy children ever minded going up chimneys? Or working-class girl children minded becoming prostitutes? Or a wife minded being beaten by her husband? (If he used a stick thicker than his thumb then, obviously, yes, but otherwise, perfectly acceptable, probably deserved and well within his statutory rights). And as for denying women any kind of equality, covering up piano legs, and helping the unwed parlour-maid strangle her bastard baby at birth as single-parenthood could only mean poverty, social exclusion and, eventually, being tipped into the Thames, at least no-one was smashing up Foot Locker! Or taking what they wanted from Argos!

And now? Now it's all broken. And I blame you. I should never have trusted you. I should never have left you in charge. Go to your room and don't come down for a good while. I'm furious.