Letter: Trials of a Forties single parent

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The Independent Online
Sir: The crescendo of innuendo and sheer untruths spouted during and since the Conservative Party conference about single parents must make millions of people - particularly women - feel as though the kingdom has been taken over by an alien government.

What makes it so mindless is that not only will one woman in three be a single parent at some point in her life, as statistics show, but that millions of us are the products of a one-parent family, including males like me in my fifties.

My parents took Churchill's advice in 1940, with the result that my mother took me and my sister away from London, leaving my father behind as the breadwinner. When he died in 1948 my mother had to scrimp and save, experiencing the typical lot of women in the UK to this day - no affordable (let alone trained) child care, insecure and underpaid part-time work, no provision for a decent pension, no proper opportunity for training or retraining. She received insolent treatment from arrogant landlords. Her final years were spent in an attic room in Bournemouth.

I still remember the night about six years ago when my phone rang. The strange sounds at the other end were my mother having what the doctor described later as a massive stroke. She was trying to get the 10p pieces in the phone box when she collapsed, and after three paralysed years she died. The doctor said the years of stress and strain were typical of someone who had just tried too hard in life.

Am I now to watch Messrs Lilley and Howard and the other chauffeur-driven ministers, whose salaries we pay, telling me that one-parent families are a danger to the world?

Yours faithfully,

TIM SYMONDS

Devizes, Wiltshire

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