practical matters

A Mere Domestic Convenience: Parenting and Its Pitfalls

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Love kids? Then clearly you’ve never been a stay-at-home dad. I have, and the whole weird and wonderful experience has taught me an important lesson: that when it comes to children, a little of them goes a long, long way.

Which is why, after four years in the saddle, I’m breaking out of the stable. Don’t get the wrong idea – as a (part-time) stay-at-home parent, I’m the beast here, not the rider. It’s just that I’m tired of doing the donkey work.

And my kids are great. Happy and healthy, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, they’re all I hoped for and more. The only problem, of course, is that they’re children. Dependent, demanding and – most trying of all – distracting. I mean, how’s a bloke supposed to think?

By going back to work, that’s how. Before long, I’ll be a full-time employee again, having spent two days a week at home for the past five years. Sitting at my desk doing my mundane work, I’ll soon be able to daydream in peace – all through the week.

It’s sad, really, but true. And yet I’m not the only one who feels this way, you can be Shaw of that. George Bernard Shaw of that, in fact. Ever read his essay, ‘What Is Wrong With Our System of Education‘? You should. In it, GBS cuts close to the bone, his tongue only half in his cheek.

‘That children and adults cannot live together comfortably is a simple fact of nature,’ Shaw writes, instantly making me feel a little less guilt. Fortunately (for me), he carries on in much the same vein.

. . . if I have to be medical officer of health, wardrobe mistress, sanitary inspector, surgeon for minor operations, fountain of justice and general earthly providence for a houseful of children . . . I shall be so interrupted and molested and hindered and hampered in any business, profession, or adult interest, artistic, philosophic, or intellectual, which I may be naturally qualified to pursue, that I shall have to choose between being a mere domestic convenience and getting rid of my children somehow.

Well, I have chosen. Rather than ridding myself of my kids, though, I’ve decided to rid them of me – Monday to Friday, at least. Out I go and in comes that mere domestic convenience, my more-than-willing wife.

She loves kids, you see.

The New Fat is Thin: Why It Pays to Make a Pig of Yourself

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Fat is back! Well, not fat but fat. Whoa, boy – I think you’d better start again.

Fat is back! On your fork, that is, and not on your figure.

That better?

I saw something on the telly the other day that has all but saved my life: a ‘science’ show about fat. Guess what? We’ve had it all wrong. That food thing we’ve been calling ‘fat’ really isn’t – it’s ‘thin’.

Hearing this, I almost choked on my skinny latte, whatever that is.

I’ve been worried about my health for years, you see, ever since I first realised that ‘success’ was taking its sweet time coming. Hence the need to hang around indefinitely, by keeping myself healthy and rude. In rude health, I mean.

Science has stepped in to help. Not that my diet has ever been low in fat – buttered cheese triangles are a staple of mine and I won’t touch yoghurt unless it comes laced with double cream. It’s just that my menu was missing the best fat-bearing food there is.


To think I might have perished prematurely – all because I eschewed cured pig. Oh, the horror of it all, the horror!

Now, though, my diet is truly complete. Any day that doesn’t begin with a dose of bacon – ‘fatback’, of course, because there ain’t no other cut – lacks something special: a porcine slimming pill. I mean, look at pigs themselves. If we didn’t have to rend them into rashers, the poor swine would probably live for ever. How? They’re made of bacon. Think about it.

Because when it comes to being healthy, it pays to make a pig of yourself.

Oink, oink!