According to philosopher and post-Freudian psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan, a child, between the age of six to eighteen months’, will enter the Mirror Stage; putting it bluntly, during this phase, the child begins to identify with its own image, not that it has any facility to put this into any rational context, of course. Prior to this the child is merely its mother, it has no sense of anything outside of this though, gradually, what Lacan called ‘The Real’ will fragment, a child will have awareness of erogenous zones via its being fed and cleansed and ‘the mother’ will disperse into a gaze, a breast, a voice rather than an entire entity. This is all well and good but what about his dear old dad, eh?
The truth of the matter is that dad isn’t really of much use in the first six months outside of ensuring the mother isn’t getting too shitfaced on Negroamaro. Sure, he can change the odd nappy and feed the odd bottle, but when the nappy winds up shit-side down at the end of the babybay and the bottle remains full following an hour of screaming tears, mother will gladly step in and help old dad out.
What he can do (when he’s not working) is push a pram and because he’s managed to sire a child who is healthy and rather beautiful, he can push the pram with a certain degree of swagger, even if he doesn’t look, well, responsible enough to have kids.
Of course I’m not the only man in the world to have long hair with a few metal/biker trimmings, it’s just that there are less of us than people with short hair without metal/biker accoutrements. To be honest if it was just the Motorhead Tee and a couple of skull rings I’d probably be able to slip in behind the dying breed of hipsters and posers that populate East London, but the hair (and to a lesser extent the beard, these days) is the assumption nail in the judgement coffin. Now it’s perfectly clear to all and sundry that this metal/bike shit is way out of control, therefore I shouldn’t be allowed to have kids because I obviously worship at the cloven feet of the Horned-One.
Whilst that may sound like an exaggeration in my neck of the woods, people will make obvious attempts to peer into the pram to make sure I’m not wheeling round bits of old bicycle or a dead pig. When they see a perfectly normal (albeit a rather comely) baby the expression of relief/joy on their faces is a site to behold, like they’ve just discovered it’s best to first remove the trousers before taking a shit.
Generally speaking, though, London is broadminded enough to cope with us. This was put into some sort of context on a recent sojourn to south Italy, people would stop and stare open-mouthed, some barely disguising visceral contempt. The lady leaving her seat on the plane is one thing, people getting out of swimming pools and changing tables in dining rooms is another. More than anything this sort of reaction was more tedious than unsettling, we returned fire with a ‘what are you fucking staring at’ attitude which obviously made things worse, though this ludicrous deadlock usually broke once we’d scooped the kid out the pram for a feed or a bloody good cuddling. You could read it in their faces, “maybe… maybe they’re like us after all.”
I’ve yet to test the good folk in these green and pleasant lands outside the capital, say Harrogate or Chipping Norton for the sake of argument, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I, we, were cajoled into a giant whicker haircut by bitter churchwardens before being lawfully immolated by racist Barristers as the townsfolk mistakenly chanted ‘kill the pig, bash them in’. Yep, that would almost definitely happen.