My third time on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, this time to promote my 12 Shows of Herring. It’s always a surreal experience, due to the early hour, the combination of guests and the subject matter discussed by Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer. It’s not my natural home and I don’t feel comfortable performing the role that better of funnier comedians might take of larking about and interjecting throughout. But I like eating all the food they cook and (today) trying to get drunk drinking rum punch and chatting with the other guests backstage.
I had been on baby duty last night and Phoebe had unusually woken up a couple of times in distress (she has picked up a very gentle cold and her nose was blocked, which is apparently scary to babies as they don’t realise that they can breathe through their mouths - the fucking idiots). So with this additional level of tiredness the whole thing felt like I was watching proceedings from inside a fish tank. Gyles Brandreth took on the role of eccentric buffoon and proved much edgier than me - I had reined myself in when the guy who plays the snowman in Frozen (very nice man) said that in America they didn’t eat pets. I wanted to say, “No, you just shoot endangered species, and then don’t eat them”, but Giles had no compunction in making cracks about the unusual proclivities of MPs and the bad diet of the Scottish. He was also up on his feet to attempt to use the spiraliser that turns vegetables into “pasta” when I just sat dazed and confused and apparently looking bored. But the interview part of the show went well and I enjoyed the rum punch (which seemed to make Lovejoy a bit giddy and confused in the next section (the cutaway camera just missed my plug, glug, glug action as he floundered a little.
I fell asleep when I got home, missing out on much of a family day as a result and making me somewhat disorientated and grouchy on my date night with my wife. The hardest thing about having a baby and the thing that I hadn’t really anticipated in all my worry about poo and keeping the baby alive is the way it transforms your relationship with you partner from a social arrangement, where you go out and do all the things that you mutually enjoy, into a small business that operates for 24 hours a day and haemorrhages money, which has to keep running for the rest of your lives and which throws up crises unexpectedly at any time of the day of night which you have to drop everything to deal with. I wonder if it might be better to have babies with someone you don’t like - a) you then get to see them in terrible pain at the birth (if you are not the one having the baby) and b) you can get on with the competitive business of parenting with them, whilst still going out and having fun with the person that you love, free from the responsibilities.
You can of course choose to create that second model post baby.
But I love my wife and want to be with her for whatever short time remains of my life. so hope to find the correct balance between keeping our new business working well and finding time to keep things as they were before and be people as well as parents. As it was we had some mildly disappointing tapas and then I struggled to keep my eyes open watching Inside Out (which seemed to be a smart and moving film, though it just helped to bring home all that we have ahead of us, steering the path of maintaining our child’s happiness and helping her through the ups and downs before she turns against us and wishes the business was under different management).
Having a baby is like a torpedo smashing into the ship of your life, but it’s a torpedo that you willingly fired at yourself and then steered yourself into. So you could send the rest of your life bailing out water together and asking why firing a torpedo at yourself was a good idea. But knowing that it was. And then nurturing the torpedo that did all this wonderful damage.