Having walked down through the piercing blue and gold of a spectacular midwinter spring along the promenade, halfway to Sovereign Harbour, east of Eastbourne – which, for me, is as good as east of Eden – I stood in the wet fish shop ordering my dover sole, kippers, fresh prawns and jellied eels. Bliss – except you couldn’t hear yourself speak out your fishy order for the noise of the dear children around your feet. Screaming, shouting, charging about in a state of hyperaesthesia and hyperkinesis for that they had seen a live fish in a living fish shop
Suffer the little children who have never before seen anything livelier than a chicken nugget or a takeaway pizza
I don’t blame the children for the pandemonium. But their parents, rather than embarrassed, seemed proud of this display of tantrums as good as anything by Gordon Brown, our most forgettable Prime Sinister. Why didn’t the noble dad threaten the little sods with a clip around the ear? Why didn’t he offer to take them to a “movie” featuring the doom-laden sentimentality that we have come to know and loathe as Walt Disney Productions Inc? I’ll tell you why not. Because the kids are the masters now and therefore must be obeyed, accommodated and indulged by every means.
When I was a parish priest, christenings were a torment. Give me a good funeral any day. Or even, at a pinch, a wedding. But they would turn up to the baptism with the sainted little Troy, Sky or Gemma along with a great number of their fellow creatures: Mumsnet mid-twenties airhead wives (or partners of course – you can never be too careful these days); everyone bearing “their” own hysterical and uncontrollable sprogs.
As a poor parish priest what do you do?
Well you try to be as charitable as possible. You bend over backwards to accommodate this efflorescence of modern parenting. You say, “Look, we don’t want to do baptisms at the dark hour of four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon; a hole and corner private party; a mere curtain-raiser for the booze up and the cake. We welcome this child into the congregation of Christ’s flock. So it is desirable that his (or her of course) baptism be conducted within the context of the Parish Communion. We don’t expect young children to be as docile in the service as our oldest churchwardens; and if they get restless, please take them out to the vestry where we have a creche and numerous toys…”
But they do get restless and noisy. And they do get savage. But they won’t take them out. They regard even the idea that they should remove the noisy productions of their own selfish genes as an insult. An infringement of their hideous progeny’s inhuman rights. And so, of course, the ordinary members of the congregation are unable to hear the words of the service for which they come every week.
Not a word of criticism is allowed against these vacuous suburbanites with their amusing taste in clothes and diet and “music” and above all in the choice of names for their doubtful offspring. And indeed, I sympathise with them. For “kids” are the masters now
I came home with the noise of the fish shop still migraining in my ears to read in the daily paper that parents are now giving their children “ a second birthday” In other words, when a child in the family has a birthday, the other children must be given cards and presents too, so that they do not feel neglected.
O brave new world that hath such people in it it! Or as Sky would say – presented with a cabbage – “Yuk!”