Should I ever have the pleasure of meeting Mr. Neil Lyndon of the Daily Telegraph I will not hesitate to buy him a large drink. In a superb article in today's paper he stands up for the one in twenty 'dads-to-be' who decline the invitation, usually accompanied by severe moral torture, to be present at the birth of their offspring. Apparently, some of them are wracked by feelings of guilt for their cowardice but I can only join Mr. Lyndon in telling them to 'man-up' and 'stand tall' because a delivery room is no place for a man. I would feel pride in my absence when 'SoD' was born but honesty insists that I admit that it was not entirely my decision. It was a stern, not to say ferocious, Scottish nurse in the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps (a QARANC) who, upon hearing the 'Memsahib' let forth a squawk of pain, took one look at me and said, "Oooot!" It wasn't just the fact that she out-ranked me that I skedaddled at speed and went for a smoke and a drink!
Were I to feel pangs of guilt, Mr. Lyndon, a veteran of delivery rooms, soon puts me right:
I now see it as my fatherly, comradely duty to pass on that kind of information, sparing no gory detail, to young men about to see service in that war zone for the first time. Nobody else – certainly not those fluffy NCT classes – will fill them in.
“You do know about the afterbirth?” I murmur solicitously, watching them go green with a certain satisfaction. Nobody told me. When it appeared – about five minutes after the main event – I was already cooing over my first-born son. “Dear God!” I exclaimed. “There’s another one arriving!”
And nobody tells you how hideously ugly and deformed babies are minutes after their arrival. My first look at 'SoD' as he was presented to me by 'Nursie' was a colossal shock because his head look as though he had been rammed inside a pencil sharpener! Well, I didn't know that babies' heads were like plasticene when they're first born. Anyway, my advice to young chaps awaiting a new arrival is 'pull a sickie', or get yourself arrested, or, well, anything really!