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

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SEO Executive is required to...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £38,000

£16000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued expansion, an ...

Ashdown Group: Senior .Net Developer - Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey

£65000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A long-established, tech...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

No wonder 1,000 women a year are getting abortions because of extreme morning sickness. When I was suffering, my doctor said it would 'cure' me

Jo Crosby
 

Election catch-up: It looks more and more as if we should get used to Prime Minister Miliband

John Rentoul
Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders