Thursday, October 02, 2008

"So, Mum.. who's actually in charge of the country, then? The Queen, or the Prime Minister?"

Hmmm... how do you answer that in a way that a six-year old can understand, when you suspect you might only have a 95% understanding of the situation yourself? And all first thing in the morning?

We talked about revolutions, and the civil war. King Charles getting his head cut off. The French, cutting nearly everyone's heads off. The Russians, just shooting theirs.

The Battle of Hastings. Oliver Cromwell and the interregnum. Charles II and the Restoration. Republics and monarchies. Constitutional monarchies.

We went through a rough history of suffrage, and when she asked again: "But which one is really in charge?" I explained about Royal assent, Reserve power and we discussed the relative merits of balancing power in this way. I was amazed that I knew so much, and that she responded so well. (Maybe she was amazed that I responded so well too.)

She got very interested in the practical reality of war, both civil and otherwise. Was I alive in the French Revolution? The Russian one? The First World War? The Second? (Stop sniggering at the back there!) She wanted to know what it was like to have your country invaded, and what did people do about aeroplane bombers, and how did anti-aircraft guns work (I don't know! "Um.. they're big, and they point at the sky..? We'll look at some books about it later." :-) )

And what was it like to live in the blackout? I could tell her about this - my dad was about the age she is now when the blackout here ended and can remember very well the lights coming back on. They lived in the valley below our house, and his dad brought him up our hill to see the illumination. There were a tenth as many lights as there are down there now, and they were a tenth as bright, but he still remembers it 65 years later, so incredible an experience it was.

So, that's history [check] and politics [check] and wow, she asks such brilliant questions and I love love love engaging with her in the answers [check] and it's ok that I don't know all the answers [check] and yes, home education ROCKS. [check]

Anyway, we got out of bed then, and made breakfast.


Blogger Allie said...

Fabulous stuff! (And, how *do* anti-aircraft guns work??) All that interest first thing in the morning! I was fog-headed today and P was trying to explain something about triangles to me.. Sounds like you did very well!

10:48 am, October 02, 2008  
Blogger Gill said...

LOL, blush, I still don't know ;-) I did better than expected, thanks! Wouldn't have been so hot on triangles though. "Um... yes, pointy, aren't they..?" or something..!

11:56 am, October 02, 2008  
Blogger these boots said...


She might like:

L x

5:14 pm, October 02, 2008  
Blogger these boots said...


She might like:

L x

5:14 pm, October 02, 2008  
Blogger Gill said...

Oh cool, thanks for that. It set us off on a voyage of WWII discovery via YouTube!

7:06 pm, October 02, 2008  
Blogger Mrs Darcy said...

How do you know so much history? I only studied it till GCSE year and remember very little!

6:42 pm, October 03, 2008  
Blogger Gill said...

I definitely didn't learn it in school, Lou! Political history is something I've always been interested in and I've just picked it up from TV, books and the radio over the years in the same way you probably have with nature and environment studies - not subjects I could answer many questions on!

7:25 pm, October 03, 2008  
Blogger Merry said...

We used to have the saying on the blog ring "and then we had lunch" for really good, action packed HE days - but "and then we had breakfast" is definitely pushing the bounds of reasonableness. Play fair Super Mum! ;)

8:44 pm, October 04, 2008  
Blogger mamacrow said...

the Provincial Lady in Wartime (diary) er. E M Delafield? Is a fab read for 'life in wwii'.
dosn't answer the anti aircraft gun question, but talks about barage ballons which was new to me when I read it!

I certainly didn't learn my history at school either, but at home on our trips to houses and castles, and reading obsessivly (Rosemary Sutcliff, Kipling, Cadfael, etc etc)

I've rescently (and surprisingly) got into British politics as my mum lent me Betty Bothroyd's autobiography which is FASCINATING. My reading time is mostly last thing at night in bed, and I had to keep prodding the hubby to ask what Trotskisim is, and the difference between the far right and the far left (I know I know, but I've never been interested, they just all seem a bit mad to me).

Did you know that Harold Wilson set up the OU?! and that the house of commons was bombed in the blitz and was refurnished by the commonwealth?!

one I'll be 'forgetting' to give back!

9:03 pm, October 04, 2008  
Blogger Gill said...

LOL Merry, I think she gets the questions in early because she knows my braincells start disintegrating after about 10am..

Mamacrow, thanks! We'll have a look for that. And I keep meaning to read some Cadfael, but never seem to get round to it. The Betty Boothroyd book sounds like one to look out for as well. I remember the publicity when it was new, but somehow got the impression it was all about the dancing troups she was in. Sounds like they did her a disservice.

8:55 am, October 05, 2008  
Blogger Riaz said...

The global financial elite run this country. Politicians are just puppets. It's very funny how the government is willing to bail out and nationalise bankrupt banks but doesn't do the same to most other businesses or MG Rover.

11:15 am, October 06, 2008  
Blogger Gill said...

I agree Riaz, but I think Lyddie's question was about the constitutional technicality. If and when she starts asking me about banks, I'll have some very different answers for her.

The issue of governments being so quick to bail out banks is a startling one, isn't it? Even to a cynical person like me. I think it completely disperses any remaining ideas about this being a democracy. I feel a blog post coming on about that - if I ever get time for it. Though it's so obvious it kind of doesn't even need saying any more - does it?

11:20 am, October 06, 2008  
Blogger Riaz said...

The Queen holds a 100% faith and trust in her personal minister and will agree with their decision every single time.

Giving the Royal Assent to the European Communities Act and the Lisbon Treaty is actually treason and illegal under English Common Law. The Queen knows this.

11:23 pm, October 06, 2008  
Blogger Gill said...

Riaz, I've heard that view expressed elsewhere and am quite willing to accept the truth of it, but I can't help wondering why she would do such a thing. Have you got any answers to that question?

11:49 pm, October 06, 2008  
Blogger Riaz said...

If only I could peer into the mind of the Queen to identify the motives behind her uncompromising bootlicking loyalty to her personal minister, who after all is only a commoner...

11:12 am, October 07, 2008  
Blogger Gill said...

If only you could! There must be a reason for it.

12:39 pm, October 07, 2008  
Blogger Grit said...

fantastic wake up!

9:14 pm, October 15, 2008  

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