One thing I’ve noticed about middle-age (along with nasal hair and taking an interest in grouting) is that there are a lot of babies around.
I write this with feeling after having to spend an extortionate amount of time with various new-born children over the festive period.
It appears that every single cousin of mine, and 99 per cent of my acquaintances in general, have given birth at some point over the last six months and, worse still, believe I’m interested.
They are mistaken. I’m not.
On Christmas Eve I spent two hours watching a baby trying to roll on to its side unaided. Apparently this is a big deal, or at least that’s how it sounded from the squeals of excitement its mother was making. At one point her husband got a camcorder out to record the big moment.
“Oh my god, this is marvellous,” shrieked mum, as if she were watching man walk on Mars. She turned to me for confirmation. “Isn’t it amazing?” she asked.
‘Yes,’ I answered weakly, then didn’t add, ‘It is truly amazing watching a baby lie on its back turning its body slightly to the left’.
I wish I was young again. When you’re a kid and a relative walks into a room holding a baby, it is acceptable to ignore them and carry on playing footie, watching cartoons or seeing how far the cat will travel if you swing it by its tail then let go.
But as an adult, ignoring new born children is a no-go.
The etiquette when there’s a baby around, as far as I can make out, is to feign great interest, remark on how cute it is (despite the fact a baby usually has some sort of green-coloured saliva dribbling from its mouth), and say the words ‘coochy-coochy-coo’ in a tone of creepy voice you would never adopt in any other social situation.
At the risk of sounding harsh and uncaring, this annoys me.
Don’t get me wrong, I like babies. For starters they’re kind of handy when it comes to the future of mankind.
The problem is I don’t like sharing their company – they spend their days vomiting, crying and soiling themselves, which, generally speaking, isn’t the kind of person I wish to socialise with.
On top of that they don’t do anything. They just lie around. I mean when was the last time you saw a baby help with the housework or brew up?
I especially dislike parents who seem to automatically think you should be excited and interested about their baby.
Let me be honest: unless a baby belongs to either an immediate family member or an extremely good friend (say someone who has rescued me from a house fire, or given me £10,000 in used banknotes), then I’m not really interested in it.
Admittedly I speak as someone who is yet to have children, thus I haven’t experienced what I assume must be the true joy of becoming a father, rearing a child and watching them grow up and get their first ASBO.
But I’m pretty sure that if I do ever become a dad, I won’t thrust Steve junior in the face of any adult who happens to walk by and encourage them to make cooing noises at him.
*Canavan’s Babysitting Services now available to hire. I won’t expect your call anytime soon...
Call the nurse, I’m having a web overload
I feel bad about it but I am one of those sad, sad people that spent time on the internet over Christmas buying sale items.
This was not necessarily because I wanted to, more the fact that the rest of the family were watching Call The Midwife and I had nothing better to do. It was a bad decision.
An hour and a half later I had spent more than £200 purchased 23 items from the Debenhams website, none of which I required or indeed liked.
For instance I bought a keyring with an infra-red de-icer attached not because I needed one or will ever use it, but because it was reduced from £30 to £6. Who in their right mind could possibly resist that? In my head I haven’t spent £6, I’ve saved 24 quid.
According to one expert ( a bloke from Birmingham University with extravagant facial hair, so he must be clever), we as a country spent an average of 40 minutes online shopping during the festive period.
That is a bit depressing when you think about it, but not as depressing – as I keep telling myself – as spending an hour and a half watching Call The Midwife.