Charlie Brooker became a father last week, and already British satire (and, quite possibly, British parenting) is not the same.
The crusty, salty TV host/comedy writer, described succinctly by one publication as a "satirical pessimist," waxed rhapsodic in the Sunday paper about the moment (during an emergency C-section on his wife, "X-Factor" host Konnie Huq) when he first met his son:
... after some furtive rustling, they lowered the drape just enough to let you clap eyes on a squealing, squirming creature which your brain doesn't quite believe is actually there in the room. And in this moment, your universe momentarily pauses while a fundamental shift in perspective takes place.
Apologies for swearing in the presence of a child, but the first thing I thought was 'F**k me'. Not just as an expression of surprise, but as a mission statement, as in: 'F**k me and what I want -- from now on, my task is to protect you, whatever or whoever you are.' Prior to the birth, other dads had warned me that 'bonding' might not happen for weeks, even months. Also, I was worried I might simply feel nothing. Instead I felt reprogrammed, head-to-toe, in an instant.
Well, maybe not completely. Yet. By the next paragraph, Charlie is promising his readers that he will revert to his edgy, nasty self, ASAP.
"Can I tell you what I'm not going to do?," he writes. "I'm not going to turn this column into a series of wry observations on fatherhood, and/or lengthy descriptions of just how brilliant my son is." After all, he says, "there's quite enough deification of kiddywinks in the media already, thanks. The way people burble on about the joy of infants, you'd have thought babies were being beamed down from heaven to save us."
No, Charlie. The way people burble on about the joys of infants, you'd have thought we'd all had the same rebooting as you did. That we'd all lived the "momentary pause" in our own individual universes, and that none of us was the same as we'd been.
Isn't that the reason behind every entry on every parenting blog, in every parenting column, anywhere? Aren't all parents an "after" of their "before" -- someone who really didn't get it, until suddenly they did?
"It'll wear off, I'm sure, and these pages aren't the place for it anyway," Charlie says.
No, it won't. And yes, they are.
"Now let us never speak of this again," he concludes.
Who wants to join me in a bet that this is not the last parenting column from Charlie Brooker?