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?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The handling of the tragic deaths of Bobby and Christi Shepherd in 2006 by Thomas Cook was appalling  

Thomas Cook case was a failure of heart

Danny Rogers
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine