Sunday, June 21, 2009

A little bit of paradise in Hackney

... well actually Tower Hamlets. The annual Paradise Gardens fete in Victoria Park has come round again. We're off to meet lots of parents and their offspring.
Hoping the London Elvises are there.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bob Crow is a dude

There is a certain type of person who is ready to applaud the pluck of the French for standing up for what they believe in - blocking channel ports, dumping sheep carcasses on the doorsteps of government departments, smashing up McDonald's, and so on.
Why oh why can't we be a bit more like them, they whinge. Why are the British so compliant?
But when we get an honest to goodness show of power from a group of British workers looking to exercise their rights, it's suddenly a different matter.
Well you can't have it both ways. I know that the recent Tube strike is a massive inconvenience to thousands of Londoners, including my wife, who doubled the time her usual journey to work took. But I've got to admit a sneaking respect for the RMT and boss Bob Crow for being being able to do it.
There's a great profile of him here which only increases my admiration for him. I particularly like the way he is unapologetic about the fact that some of his members seem to be paid quite well already. (The strike wasn't simply about money anyway).
The implication, which he swats away like Obama did his fly, is that nobody can seriously believe that a working class oik needs £40K for driving a train. Surely they'll only spend it on Sky, Rothmans and Lambrini.
Divide and rule brothers. 'Twas ever thus.
There is a particularly irksome comment on this that always pokes its chinless head up whenever there is industrial action. I can only assume that Paul Weller wants to twat these seabirds. Biting satire it aint.
I realise that everything I've written is slightly undermined by the fact that I live in Tube-free Hackney, and work from home... but power to the workers anyway.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"We hate kids..."

I read a couple of articles recently that made me think, and also depressed me a bit.

The first is this one by Polly Vernon, who doesn't seem to be allowed to go a month without writing about how put upon she feels by society's insistence that everybody should have kids. The other is by Jon Ronson and relates the tale of how he had to leave a restaurant that refused to allow his 10-year old son in.

What is quite depressing about both is the feedback from readers who seem largely (70 per cent?) hostile to the notion of children and quite freely band about stereotypes of parents who are immune to the havoc their marauding ankle biters wreck on the lives of the childfree. They also perpetuate the myth that anybody with kids is so blissfully smug about their fecundity that they are incapable of being aware of anybody else's feelings, or simply not caring.

In my experience of parenthood - 19 months and counting - that's the last thing that most parents are. You become hyper aware of your place in the scheme of things, and also that not everybody is as besotted by your offspring as you occasionally are. Spending months wheeling a tank-sized buggy around quickly gets you enough looks to make you realise that you are a problem to some people.

I just don't recognise this idea that parents impose their world view on everybody else - did I think that before we had J? I honestly can't remember. Obviously we have him now, so my attitude is coloured by that, but I don't think I have ever thought that everybody should have children, let alone question somebody's motives for not wanting children. It's possibly the hardest thing I've ever done, because it is so unrelenting and you feel the stakes of messing up are so high. It really isn't for everybody. In some ways I feel that we've given up a lot in terms of personal freedoms to have a family - not particularly in financial terms, but in the time you lose that could have been frittered away so pleasantly. Now I cherish every spare half hour that I have to myself. That time has been given greater value because we have family commitments.

Thankfully, such online comments don't really reflect my experience of being a parent. By and large people in London, and Hackney especially, are remarkably considerate and helpful to parents. I've lost count of the number of times I've received some small, unsolicited kindness from a stranger who sees me struggling along with my load of childstuff. It's not unappreciated.

It does help that we have the world's cutest child though... aaaargh! Smug alert....

Sunday, June 07, 2009


The words are coming think and fast now from Jamie. He's turned into a fantastic little mimic and it's easy to forget that he's all ears. I believe he has already said one of the lesser swear words after hearing it from a responsible adult - not on my shift guv.
It all seems to have happened quite quickly. A month or so ago he was only saying individual words, and now he is threading them together in rudimentary sentences. He's only 18 months, and he wasn't saying that much at one, despite our parental pride in what seemed like wordiness at the time.
Now he can tell us, not only that he had had a poo, but how big it is (usually big poo), and that it is mummy, not him that is a beautiful boy, and that another portion of Shreddies is his favourite breakfast, thank you for asking.
He's also getting quite opinionated in a 'black is white' way. He will happily argue that this is the case and gets rather irate when contradicted. It's all getting very interesting.