Sunday, January 22, 2006

Old Men, Old Women, Young Babies

News that Chancellor Gordon Brown is going to be a daddy again came as an unpleasant shock to the Indie's Janet Street Porter (for whom see also this post).

"What kind of message does the news that Gordon Brown is to be a father at the age of 54 send to women ? Am I alone in thinking that the sight of a wrinkly, grey, washed-out, middle-aged man holding a tiny little pink thing in a nappy is faintly disgusting?"

I'm sure Janet's held the odd pink (and other coloured) thing herself in the past. But I think the message she's getting is that she won't be doing the nappy thing.

Ms Street Porter is a little older than me and comes from the class who made a career and a culture out of youth and from rejection of the culture she was born into.

"I was a bulge baby," she says. "There are a lot of us who were born just after the Second World War, to parents who met just before it, and this is what my book is about. These couples came from working-class backgrounds and they imposed a million rules on their kids. ‘Do this, don’t do that, eat those butter beans, don’t be late, don’t talk to people in council flats’ - they were snobs, too - and all fun was outlawed.

"From that has come a generation of high-achievers - Richard Branson, Paul Smith and Lynn Franks are all about the same age as me. But we’re restless types. We decided early on that we didn’t want to be like our mothers and fathers because they seemed Neanderthal and wore horrible clothes and we couldn’t actually believe they were our parents."

Ms Street Porter has triumphantly achieved not-being-like-parentness, although strangely the girl who rejected the 'million rules' became really, really good at "issuing orders and being a charismatic, team-leadery type".

Indeed, she's achieved not-being-a-parent-at-all. I can't help wondering if there's a link between her age, this fact, and her resentment of Gordon's sprogging.

"What all these old dads have in common is younger wives, wealth and no time"

What Janet has is a younger lover, wealth and no babies - and less time. In Betjeman's words :

"But I'm older now and done for
What on earth was all the fun for ?"

The Sunday Times has an interesting piece on the mainstreaming of porn culture, which takes in an interview with Candace Bushnell, whose 'Sex and the City' told the Bridget Jones generation that waiting for Mr Darcy was only one option. Here's a beautiful, intelligent, childless woman. Her beauty and intelligence will never be passed on to another generation.

By the time she met and married her husband, Charles Askegard, a 6ft 4in ballet dancer from Minneapolis — a literal Mr Big — she was in her forties and it was too late to have children.

Meanwhile, if you can believe his lawyer (admittedly a big ask), Shaker Aamer, a "Brit" on hunger strike in Guantanamera, is dying.

Aamer’s wife, 31, who lives in London with her four children and has asked for her name to be withheld, said: “This is the time to do something. My husband is not going to last.”

31, four children (doubtless supported by the taxpayer). How many would she have had by now had hubbie not been hanging out with bad guys ? Aamer may or may not die, but HIS intelligence and culture will be passed on - whatever it be.

(See also this post)


Anonymous said...

I am reading Richard Bransons autobiography right now, and she is quite wrong about him if she thinks he was rebeling against his parents. He got his business flare from them and an aunt, and loved them very much.
He did get some rough treatment with corporal punishment at boarding school though, it doesn't seem as if it did him much harm.

Anonymous said...

JSP seems to have fallen for the idea the she and her generation were the first people to do, well...anything really.

Anonymous said...

If the husband of this woman is really dying in (Guantanamo?) it would be a nice gesture if she could take her huge brood and go to, say, Afghanistan or wherever and 'help the cause', if only by just being there and showing solidarity.

Sure, we'll miss her, but don't let that stop you doing what is right, love!

Anonymous said...

The high birth rates among (a) the non-indigenous population (particularly Muslims, whose culture is so incompatible with Western values) and (b) the underclass are both worrying.

Anonymous said...

Paul I agree....combine these with the failure of professional women failing to reproduce or have a single trophy child in their 40's and we have problems further down the line.
However, in this case i'll excuse JSP as i'm sure the world would be a better place without her progeny.

Anonymous said...

If Janet had children she would be too busy bossing them about instead of nagging the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

I agree Steve, and could it be that the nanny-state is a direct result of the lack of children of many of the people in positions of power? They couldn't be bothered to have their own children when they were young but now they are older they want to mother other peoples children.