Saturday, March 18, 2006

Other Dads

Some names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Aside from wondering why ear protectors weren't in the 'Bounty Bags' of sponsored free stuff* they hurl at you before you're allowed to take Bundle of Loveliness home with you, there's a lot to ponder on when you've been a dad for all of two weeks.
Take the other dads for example. Formerly a group of older gentleman who for some reason miraculously disappear when a weekday evening drinking session is just getting interesting, they are now my peer group and I have reason to assess them anew.

They all respond slightly differently to the news that your big Amazon order has finally arrived. Comfortingly, very few cackle with the maniacal grate of a damned soul that has tempted another to sin; in fact, they're all clearly as blissed out as you are: "great isn't it?", or, "I know, amazing eh?".

Some will talk of the permanent end to any sense of tasteful, modernist minimalism you were trying to bring to your domestic arrangements: in fact my friend Walter recommends securing an area of the house little used by other tribe members. Next you ensure that there will be minimum penetration of extruded plastic toys, books with picture panels you can rub, smell or squeeze, ointments for very small bottoms or impossibly small scratch mittens; you do this by naming the space 'study', 'den', or 'shed'. Then finally you get to work stripping it down into a minature Bauhaus that would have made Mr Gropius proud.

Other dads act like you've entered some kind of sect and it's their job to love bomb you. Neil wrapped an arm around my shoulder. The following words are delivered by the voice of an actor to hide Neil's true identity: "Well done Steve. No, well done. It is such a miracle. Miracle. I am sure she is so wonderful. And it is a wonderful thing that you to have done. You must come out to ours at the weekend. Bring little Maddie." Notice the word repetition? The gentle invitation to the initiation ceremony? I'm not fooled.

A couple of dads didn't say a great deal but for the odd tip on how to stay awake and change that nappy even when every sinew of your body feels like its been injected with something they'd tranquilise a rhino with. There was one Dad - 'Marcu' - who decided it was time to play the red flag and bull game. "It changes your politics, seriously it does," he said. "I know after mine was born I woke up and felt like I shifted massively to the right. I wanted tougher laws and summary justice. I even bought a copy of the Daily Mail. You watch, you'll be New Labour before you know where you are."

This gave me a chuckle, not least because I like to think of myself as good 'third way' progressive that (wars, orders from God and nuclear power aside) is not a million miles outside the Blair camp. Then I got thinking and this morning heard 'Heartland' by The The on BBC 6 Music. It was like Thatcher's England all over again! I was all tingly in a suburban kitchen, feeling like I wanted to grow a Guevara, don a beret and get out there and bring the whole capitalist machine crumbling down into a mess of pointless rusty nuts and bolts; or at least I'd paint a placard.

Clearly my political DNA is shifting around a bit: whether it's a lurch to the right on or not is looking decidely uncertain.

* Note to self: new parent earplugs a clear business opportunity, must action when in the office.

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