Viv Groskop: Wherever you go, you can't escape yourself

Notebook

Share
Related Topics

According to popular lore, Britain has been threatening to break for some time. And now it is finally broken. Dave Jones, dubbed "Britain's hardest-working father", is emigrating to Australia with his wife and 12 children because he believes the future for his family is "too bleak" in the UK. Yes, that did just say 12 children. With no job prospects and only an offer to stay with friends in Brisbane, 42-year-old Jones, from Barrow, Cumbria, has quit his £38,000-a-year job and spent £8,000 on flights. They left on Easter Sunday.

Jones' pluck and hard work are to be applauded. And his abandonment of the UK is indeed an unfortunate symbol. Jones hit the headlines two years ago when he was lauded as the ultimate opposite of a benefits cheat, working 12-hour shifts in a paper mill. His cycle meant two day shifts, a rest day and then two night shifts. He did it for 15 years.

So I don't begrudge him the move and only wish I could personally sponsor him to go and live out his days in the Bahamas. But I'm not sure how much we should read politically into this family's departure. People rarely overturn their life circumstances for one singular reason. In any case, Jones has already made a life decision which can be interpreted as far more radical than emigrating to Australia: he's had 12 children.

In a world where you are criticised for reproducing more than twice (think of the environment!), he is no stranger to doing things his own way. He and his wife, Jackie, obviously made a positive decision to have these children and to provide for them responsibly. Very few people are able to strike out for what they really want in life in the way he obviously has. This is where the Joneses are to be envied.

Never mind what it says about Broken Britain. What is completely fascinating is how you save £8,000 with 14 mouths to feed. They've managed trips to Majorca and Euro Disney. Could someone check the house to see if they've left their spreadsheet behind? I need to know the secret.

Let's hope the move works out for them. But be mindful of philosopher Alain de Botton's warning. Traveller, beware. You can journey as far as you like but there is one thing you cannot escape: yourself. In the Jones' case, it's worse. They'll be in Australia. But they'll still have 12 children.

Enough, already

There's nothing (that) wrong with swearing. Although when Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson do it in lifts, it's objectionable. Swearing, that is. And generally it should be avoided, especially on live radio.

So imagine the hot shame when an exclamation of mine was misinterpreted as an expletive, almost causing BBC Radio 4 to come off air. The occasion was Any Questions last week, where a fellow panellist was Ukip rabble-rouser Nigel Farage. Teaching, police racism, politicians' tax returns... all Europe's fault, you know.

His ranting pseudo-patriotism is enough to bring out the Mediterranean in anyone. Which is why I found myself shouting a phrase familiar to anyone who has dealt with an overzealous Parmesan-wielding waiter: "Basta!" ("Enough!"). Of course, the sound technicians heard "bastard!" As did a rash of complainants. A split-second ruling kept us on air.

Too close to Europe? Mamma mia! Not nearly close enough!

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive + incentives + uncapped comms: SThree:...

Ashdown Group: Reporting & Analytics Supervisor - Buckinghamshire - £36,000

£34000 - £36000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Analytics & Reporting Tea...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Developer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a world leader ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: the SNP’s ‘fundamental problem’, says Corbyn, is that too many people support it

John Rentoul
An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai  

China has exposed the fatal flaws in our liberal economic order

Ann Pettifor
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future