Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

I am exhausted. The children are going back to school tomorrow and frankly, I can’t wait. I was on the verge of calling the school to ask them whether they could take my daughters back a week earlier. Of course they wouldn’t. Silly French me. When I was growing up, we only had a two-week break for Easter. A two-week break with kids is manageable (well, sort of). But what do you do with a three-and-a-half-week break? You become a tired mum bordering on depression.

Believe me, it’s a steep learning curve. First of all, unless you have got childcare on tap with a nice aunt or grandmother nearby, you have to forget about any chances of having an employed job. No, it’s not happening. In order to have a slight chance of being promoted or having responsibilities, you must be ready to delegate the bringing-up of your children to an army of au-pairs and nannies. That’s the way it is. To make matters even worse, you have to work very hard to make it in London.

For me, it is all about learning to go on holidays with my children, but without my husband. Because one of us has to work, right? I am now used to spending most hols in France to visit family with the kids and no hubby. Everybody believes that I am separated but no, it’s not the case. It’s just London and the British system, that’s all. We are getting along fine. When we manage to see each other, that is.

I will never understand why holidays are so long this side of the Channel. After all, there is only so much Minecraft my daughters can play. And do children really need so much time off? Seriously? Let’s be honest here: lengthy school holidays are an antiquated relic of the Victorian era. It may have been a necessity for the agricultural economy of the nineteenth century when farmers needed their offspring to help in the fields, but hat hardly applies now as youngsters spend as much time as possible in front of the latest brain-frying games on their mobile phones.

Once again, women usually have to do the lion’s share of childcare (and housework as well, of course). We have all these principles about gender equality and the rest of it, but the sad reality is that little has changed.

“Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.” Simone De Beauvoir

More recently, in national newspapers, I see that women are still treated as commodities by some. Have a look at this article on The Telegraph. I couldn’t believe it: a baronet (aged 70) is interviewing for a young bride. But he doesn’t want women ‘past their sell-by date’. Read here if you don’t believe me:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/17/baronet-70-interviewing-hard-young-bride-not-past-sell-by-date/

Seriously, where do they find these people? Somebody needs to tell him that he is way back his sell-by date (by like a million years). Maybe he could go back the Middle Ages where he clearly belongs. Oh, and I hate to break it to him, but ageing is often very unkind to male sexual function. The fact that he has no heir may have something to do with, well, him. (What a revolutionary idea, right?)

If you think that this guy is the exception, well, then, think again. A month or so ago, I read an interview of the Duke of Rutland in The Times, and I must say that the duke and the baronet are probably best friends in real life, because they seem to share the same antiquated views on women. He says lovely things like ‘Couples had to produce an heir before ‘becoming too wayward’’ or that ‘primogeniture is not unfair’…https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-duke-his-ancestor-his-wife-and-their-lovers-9fg2hlhxt

In such instances, I must admit that I miss France: we simply would have dealt with them during the Revolution. I wonder if such mysogynist comments would even be allowed in France.

I told you, I am exhausted. Can someone tell me how you are supposed to manage over Easter? Is it chocolate? Is it gin? I promise, I won’t judge. Just tell me.

 

  • James Casserly

    I wonder if the Easter holidays are so long because of the very short summer holidays? I don’t know what it was like for you growing up, but in Ireland, during primary school we got the months of July and August for our summer break (around 8-9 weeks) and in secondary school we get June, July and August for summer holidays (roughly 12/13 weeks). So given they get barely 6 weeks break for summer in England, the 3 weeks Easter probably evens things out. We get just the week and a half here.
    Unfortunately misogynistic anachronisms like that duke are less uncommon than you might suppose. Personally I hope he ends up a lonely old man, he deserves it. He probably thinks he’s a right catch. Eurgh!!!
    I do hope that with time, you and your husband manage to find some quality time to spend together. You both definitely need a break.

  • Jeremy Barnes

    I actually do most of the child care and house work here – as well as work more hours than my wife.