Written by The Expectant Father
You know, it's not that easy being an Englishman. We're despised the world over because of the actions of our ancestors (Let me again apologise for “Carry on up the Khyber”, I can assure you lessons have been learnt.). But I can assure you, it isn't any easier being an Englishman in
I was born into the English middle classes. This meant I inherited a great tradition that has been passed from generation to generation of middle classer: a duty to aspire to become an upper classer.
An aspiration that is rarely achieved but one that must be followed nonetheless. In our futile pursuit of this goal, us middle classers behave as we think the upper classers would. We are polite, dignified, gracious and always, always terrified of offending others.
It is mainly this fear of offending and the shame that it might bring that keeps us middle classers going. In
So the Englishman has developed an anti-shame defense mechanism, the “stiff upper lip”. This is not acquired by a white collar-starching accident but by years of institutionalised bullying and abuse. It enables an Englishman never to show his emotions (or otherwise behave inappropriately). It is endless useful, as there is no greater shame for an Englishman than to allow his to lip to wobble. Even when watching his dearest, most loyal and trusted hound/butler being put to sleep. It is embarrassing for him and more importantly it is embarrassing for the vet.
The stiff upper lip comes into play with an Englishman's children too. Children are dirty, noisy, disobedient and, in all, just plain offensive. It is best to leave the wife to look after one's offspring. On top of this, an Englishman is too busy wondering why Baines hasn't invited him to the Norfolk Broads on his yacht this weekend to be dealing with children. Unless, that is, his children need disciplining. Dishing out a jolly good spanking, like those he received at Boarding School, is the sole responsibility an Englishman has towards his children. If he shows them he loves or cares about them in any way, they will not respect him nor fear his spankings.
Yes, the stiff upper lip is an Englishman's metaphorical “back bone” (the back bone is his literal “back bone”).
But a funny thing happened on the way to me becoming a father: I discovered maybe I wasn't such a stereotypically Englishman after all. My stiff upper lip has disappeared; I cried when my wife had a miscarriage a year ago and I cried again when she told me she was pregnant this time. And God help me, I'm pretty sure I'll cry when I hold my son in my arms for the first time. What's more, I'm going to be the one staying at home to look after him. As I'm not the violent type, spankings are out of the question but will I be able to show my son I love him?
As an expectant father it's something I genuinely worry about. Nearly as much as worrying why Baines hasn't invited me to the Norfolk broads on his yacht this weekend...
Ian gave up his job as an exotic dancer in the Gin Joints of Lichfield to become an Expectant Father"