It’s all about me(me)!

See what I did there? Bit of a play on words – good, eh? Plus a little French joke too – you’ve got to admit, I’m a bargain.

Right, down to business. I’ve been ruthlessly tagged with a meme by the lovely Dana Loesch over at Mamalogues and must now divulge ‘Five Things People Don’t Know About Me’. I was all of a pother when I got her email, quite unsure of how to proceed. I know, from having strolled through the meandering paths of the blogosphere these last couple of months that I should kind of roll my eyes and sigh resignedly before doing this – but to tell the truth, I’m chuffed to bits to have been asked. And especially by Dana, who’s writing is more than funny enough to make whatever you’re drinking come out through your nose. I’ve sworn off reading her stuff in the morning, while I’m enjoying my first cup of tea of the day. I just don’t have the time to be dashing off to A&E at the moment. You’ve been warned.

Anyway – I’m actually two people most of the time – although not in a way that needs medication (often), but since someone very clever (Mark Twain, perhaps) said that only emperors, Siamese twins and people with tapeworms should refer to themselves as ‘we’, ‘I’ it stays. You’ll have to pick the bones out yourselves. That wasn’t the first thing, by the way. I’m starting … from … now:

  1. Both of me are somewhat claustrophobic, but one of me won’t go anywhere by plane, while the other one of me won’t use the Channel Tunnel. This limits the possibilites for author trips abroad – I’m hoping this will be a problem one day.
  2. Both of me went to boarding school, but neither of me seems particularly scarred by the experience. (Unless maybe that claustrophobia thing …)
  3. One of me can’t abide the sound of toast being buttered and has to run from the room, hands firmly clasped over ears, if anyone scrapes the burnt bits off. The other one of me is very insensitive to other people’s suffering and eats crunchy toast with no qualms at all.
  4. Both of me studied Russian for a while and, although neither of me can remember much, I can both do an outrageous ‘Bond villain’ accent – and keep it up for hours and hours.
  5. Both of me hates thongs, but neither of me believes magic pants can work. I mean, it’s got to go somewhere, hasn’t it?

Right – you’ve had yer lot. I hope someone, somwhere was interested enough to read to the end of that. Cos now, I’ve got to pick one of you to tag. Oooh! The power! I’d like a volunteer, please, or I might have to keep you all in at break time… Anyone? Anyone at all?

What? No-one?!



Now, I like a nice acronym as much as the next overcommitted parent. Look at the time they can save us. In the time it would take us to say, ‘Piss off early, tomorrow’s Saturday!’, we can trill, ‘POETS!’, slide out from behind our desks and be halfway downstairs and on our way to Tesco.

So, yes, BOGOF (which has the inestimable plus of sounding a little bit rude), BLT, TTFN, ROFL – all these and more have a place in my sad, trying-to-maintain-veneer-of-youth vocabulary. But KGOY? Never (apart from this post, of course). For a start, it’s really hard to say but the real problem with KGOY (can’t stop typing it now … you see how invidious it is?) is that it’s a nasty invented concept made flesh through the machinations of marketing and advertising execs whose whole raison d’etre is to manufacture desire as a means of parting us from our hard earned cash.

KGOY stands for – brace yourselves – Kids Growing Older Younger. It’s basically a plot to rob our children of their childhood by making them targets for highly sophisticated and targeted marketing campaigns, so that we feel pressured to buy them stuff that was previously the preserve of adults. And it extends to everything. Cos once they have mobile phones, ipods and PSPs, they can hook up with their friends and drink Baby-ccinos at globalised coffee chains, yak about their awful problems with their parents (who won’t buy them the stuff they really, really need), get prescribed Prozac, have cosmetic surgery, worry about their weight, go to gigs, choose designer clothes …. and on and on.

If you think I’m exaggerating, take a look at this, from the Advertising Educational Foundation. Cos they actually teach people to do this to us and our children.

I have a theory!

Ahhh – help! What happened there? That’s not quite how I meant it to go, but it’ll do. Check out the video first, then read this bit. (Please)

My theory is this, hem hem, and this is what it is.

I reckon that we’re the most inexperienced generation of parents there has ever been. Very often, the first baby we hold is our own. Since our mothers were more or less able to control their fertility, we often come from neat families with children ranged at two-year intervals over a six year period, rather than a child a year over a 25 year period, as in the bad old days. All this means that we don’t get the practice in – and our view of pregnancy, childbirth and parenting is not grounded in reality, but derived from Gone With The Wind and Hello! magazine. Added to this is the fact that we’re often distant from our families, so have no access to their support and know-how.

Not that we’d probably accept it anyway. We’ve been coached to be good little consumers because we now believe that parenting is an ‘-ology’ rather than anything instinctive, and would sooner rely on research and the dogmas of ‘experts’ who dispense on-size-fits-all solutions to childcare, rather than try methods that aren’t evidence-based, no matter how time-honoured.

Looking around, all our friends are at pretty much the same stage as us, so no opportunity to practise there either. We inhabit a child-free, career ghetto until we decide to move into nappy valley. And then It’s a whole new world – but never mind the nitty gritty – the accessories are GREAT!

Two generations ago, it was a success if all the children had all their limbs and the mother survived to bear down another day. But it’s very different now. Once we make that decision, to start a family, we expect everything to go to plan. After all, that’s what we’re used to. Products of a self-help culture, we assume we can – and should – solve any problems for ourselves by either working a little harder or throwing some money at it. They baby becomes a project – take the vitamins, do the classes, read the books and everything is bound to come good. The first moment you realise, at 3am, that having an MBA isn’t going to help you get your baby to sleep, that’s your wake-up call – literally – to the fact that it might not quite be what you were imagining!

What you make of it from then on depends very much on your temperament, I reckon. But the tidal wave of conflicting advice from experts, all with a product to sell, often ends up fuelling (or even creating) the anxiety it purports to assuage. And anxious parents are vulnerable parents – easy prey for the marketing people, circling us like sharks.

It’s enough to make you turn quite green. And that is why, I reckon, it may be safer to stick to theories about dinosaurs … unless, of course, that dinosaur happens to be purple!

Makes you proud to be British ….

At last – something at which we British excel! Just when you thought it was safe to open a newspaper, a recent report from yet another think tank trumpets the news that teenagers in the UK are among the worst behaved in Europe.

In a series of indicators on bad behaviour, including drugs, drink and violence, Britain was at, or close to the top.

Here are a couple of quotes on this shocking new problem that will, I hope, help to put it in context:

‘The world is passing through troubled times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness to them. As for the girls, they are immodest and unwomanly in speech, behaviour and dress.’

Peter the Monk, in AD1274


‘Our youths love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders, and love to chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their household. They no longer rise when their elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize their teachers.’

Socrates, Greek philosopher and teacher, 470-399BC

Yep, breaking news indeed. But I think I have the solution to this, and many other problems. It’s simple, it would save tax payers’ money, and I’m pretty sure it would be popular. Are you ready? Brace yourselves, cos this is going to form the backbone of my bid to seize ultimate power.

Get rid of all the think tanks.




Recognise anyone?

Because I’m too slack … er, I mean busy to do a proper post at the moment, I thought I’d just give you a link to a slightly abridged extract from the book that appeared in the Times magazine about a month ago. It’s basically a series of little caricatures of parenting types. Let me know if anything looks familiar! (And I’m NOT ‘fessing up to which one … or indeed ones I am. Oh well, I might. But you’ll have to go first.)

Click here to check out which kind of mad parent you are