So the lovely new mummy put her teaspoon down, turned to me and said, how would you describe your parenting style?
Well, that left me a bit baffled, let me tell you. When did parenting get a style? When did that happen? My mum didn’t have a ‘style’. She made us sarnies in the summer, threw us out to play and made sure we stayed away from powerlines. That was about it.
Her only direct intervention, beyond insisting on the brushing of teeth and spitting in hankies to wash faces, was as a sort of red-haired UN peacekeeper to stop me and my younger brother killing each other.
He was born when I was two. I was expecting a puppy. As a result, I was bitterly disappointed and loathed him on the spot. I called him Rover for the first six months of his life and insisted on patting him on the head, until he got bigger and started thumping nine bells out of me.
Style for mum would have been for hair, shoes and hemlines. We all know how fast they change, and how little they mean.
Times have changed, apparently. Even parenting has styles, now.
You can have Attachment Parenting, where you and the child are never separated. You wear them in slings, like a sort of fashion accessory, breastfeed until they are 22 and co-sleep in the same bed.
Remember those nights when they just wouldn’t sleep, you were so tired you feel asleep with the little darling next to you? Well, that’s called co-sleeping now.
The problem with this Attachment lark is that I keep seeing Norman Bates and his desiccated mamma as a classic example. Now there’s a boy whose mum would not let go.
Then there are the ‘Affirmative’ parents. The word ‘No’, they say, is over-used in society, so set no boundaries and let the child decide. We have all been in restaurants, cinemas or buses with the product of this particular style.
Once, at 35,000 feet above the Atlantic, I nearly gave in to a mini-banshee who was screaming for the door to be opened so she could go walking on the wings. Only the thought of the decompression taking my gin and tonic with her stopped me.
Don’t worry, I was strapped in . . .
I can’t wait for Leith museum
FOR centuries, Leith was Scotland’s arrivals and departures lounge. Everything happened here. It’s seen people come and go to trade, flee, sell, besiege, marry a royal, greet a royal, start a colony, burn the country, bring in wine, chuck out convicts, dispatch a regiment or just get on or off a ship.
Her bigger sister at the other end of Leith Walk has tended to hog the historical limelight. It’s because of that castle, I think.
Well, at last it looks like Leith is a showcase for her fabulous past. Never underestimate Leithers, who have a grim determination built from centuries of burning, besieging, famine and plague. They are on the verge of creating a new museum dedicated to the grand old port.
It’s looking like the Custom House will be the site, and I’d like to book my tickets now, please.
Come off it David, your ladies’ act is just another Flash in the plan
DEAR Mr Cameron, a quick word. Nobody is fooled by the ladies you’ve suddenly shoved in your cabinet, like a dodgy stage vicar in one of those tiresome trouser-off-and-on farces.
There’s an election on the horizon, even we know that.
They used to refer to you as Flashman, after the great fictional character created by George MacDonald Fraser. I wasn’t so sure. Flashman, you see, was actually quite clever, whereas you have never stuck me as being that bright.
But now I see you are Harry Flashman.
Dear old Flashy was such a coward he never hesitated at hiding behind a lady’s skirt when the going got tough, and now I see you are exactly the same.
Flashy would approve.
Style? No. Just food and hugs
BUT then I looked at the new mum, and the little head snuggling in the crook of her arm, and I realised she’d only been in the job a couple of days, so I stopped ranting and said, I don’t have A Style. Neither do you. You’re her mum. You’ll love her, feed her, cuddle her and are hard-wired to stand in front of a truck to save her if need be.
You will make mistakes. Tough. You’ll lose your temper. So? It’s not all like an advert for Pampers, with serene smiling mummy and gurgling bonny baby.
You’ll scream at her when she’s a toddler, she’ll scream at you when she’s a teen. You’ll nag her to do her homework and she’ll hit the roof if you tidy her room.
And then one day the storms pass, and there’s a fabulous addition to the human race. Parenting is not a style. It’s love, hugs and dinner. With a lot of shouting.