In my youth I sowed wild oats and fathered three children, all boys, with three different women. This is not a boast, it’s a confession. I’m not proud of it; on the contrary, I’m ashamed to have helped the world’s population top 8 billion. Let me tell you about them.
The youngest is a big disappointment. I just don’t like him. Are you allowed to say that? Despite being in his late 20s he still lives with his mother, whassername. He spends all his free time pumping iron at a David Lloyd gym, resulting in grotesquely over-developed biceps like sides of ham. Fine if you’re a hod-carrier, but faintly ridiculous when your labours boil down to nothing more taxing than pressing buttons at a call centre, and jarringly inappropriate if every evening those humongous arms are clinging to mam’s bra straps in front of a Poirot repeat on ITV3. Like so many men who obtain their instructions on masculinity at the Sylvester Stallone Finishing School and glean their world view from a flick through Metro on the number 47 bus, he thinks thinking is a waste of time – time that could be better spent gelling his hair. He’s never had an original thought in his life and, having thoroughly internalised consumer capitalism’s core value that only the superficial matters, for him everything is skin deep – literally. Taking this approach to its logical conclusion, he has turned his torso into a public announcement of his shallowness by plastering it from neck to waist with an ever-growing tattoo that glibly ransacks global iconography with sub-Celtic lettering, Maoriesque squiggles and Aztec aspersions swirling artlessly around a few chucked-in ferocious beasts. He cannot articulate a single reason why he disfigures himself like this. I told him that tattoos and muscles are the transparent attempts of the boring and powerless to look interesting and powerful, but he didn’t listen.
I get on much better with the middle boy. I love him. I call him “Pixie” – he looks just like one, with his funny nose, pointy ears, protruding Adam’s Apple and gossamer-light mince. He’s as gay as the day is long – for which I take full credit; his mother, thingummyjig, had nothing to do with it. Being a Deep Green who believes we need to put the vainglorious human project into a managed reverse gear, I sussed out long ago that this can only be lastingly achieved by reducing the human population, and that can only be done by increasing death rates and/or reducing birth rates. Since advocating lots more death would be unlikely to go down well with the Man on the Cwmbach Shuttle Bus, cutting birth rates is the only answer. How do you do that? Easy: you educate women (uneducated women have three times more children), you neuter religion and it’s pernicious “go forth and multiply” message, you make abortion and contraception available free, unconditionally and on demand, and you actively promulgate and promote homosexuality. This latter I did with Pixie, pushing the financial and self-expression advantages every time I had access rights, and the outcome has been better than my wildest dreams. There won’t be another line added to the family tree from his branch, that’s for sure. As a bonus, he’s having a great life; unpredictable, unorthodox and unconstrained. For many years he was a scion of the vibrant Cardiff rent-boy sector, able to make £200 a go for half an hour’s work dry-humping an early-retired alcoholic in Michaelston-le-Pit. He’s good at relationships: he’s had hundreds of them. When choosing a boyfriend he goes for size: the other guy must have a wallet of at least 9 inches. I’m a bit worried about him at the moment though. Earlier this year he moved to Efrog (York) with his latest conquest, and their ground-floor flat was recently inundated by the River Ouse. Their possessions are ruined, they’ve got weeks of cleaning-up ahead and they don’t have home insurance. I told him it was a mistake to leave Cymru, but he didn’t listen.
The oldest is a wrong ‘un. Out on licence after spending seven years as a non-paying guest at Her Majesty’s Swansea, Dartmoor and Parc budget hotels, he’s currently making up for lost time by shagging his way through the available female population of Ely. Every time my phone rings I expect it to be his probation officer, telling me he’s violently assaulted another poor woman in one of his uncontrollable drunken rages and he’s back in the slammer. And next time it will be for good, because he was unfortunate enough to commit his original appalling offence, in which he bit off the end of his then girlfriend’s nose (I blame his hateful mother, oojamaflip), after the Blair/Blunkett Criminal Justice Act of 2003 came into force, which made him subject to the draconian new Imprisonment for Public Protection rules. This means that, whatever your actual sentence in court (five years in his case), you can be held forever if the parole board decide you fall short of beatification material. He’s not the obedient type (that’s my boy!) so he ended up doing more porridge than the Great Train Robbers, while his eventual release earlier this year came with so many stringent strings attached only a nun in a Pyrenean silent order could possibly comply. He’s tagged, he’s regularly tested for alcohol and drugs, and he must be in the bail hostel between 8.30pm and 7.30am every day or else he will find himself being issued with an orange jumpsuit in the Parc reception area before he can say antidisestablishmentarianism. I had a soppy notion that those eternal seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years languishing in a cell would allow him to pursue self-improvement, take advantage of the many excellent opportunities now available behind bars – and perhaps even learn to read and write. No chance. Mind you, he did make lots of new friends, so maybe he can earn a living handling stolen goods – well, you want the best for your kids, don’t you? Not having a paternal bone in my body, I’m like a casual acquaintance rather than a dad with him. However when we met up last week for coffee, a stimulant the parole board permits, I tried to be different – if only to disarm future criticism of my parenting skills. I mouthed a few perfunctory platitudes from the Responsible Adult Handbook before lapsing into hippy idealist mode with the Bob Dylan line “to live outside the law you must be honest.” He didn’t listen.
Interesting Dic. Although I am prompted to ask why did you ever have these children in the first place?
You didn’t want them. Were they “accidents”? or just conceived with no thought of the long-term consequences? These days it takes 22 years or more to bring children up – and in that time they come first – not their parents.
It’s a tough concept for 70s kids to get their heads around. It means giving stuff up. Putting someone else first, not yourself.
I’m not lecturing here – No need to. You know what you did.