WHAT I’VE LEARNT ABOUT FA­THER­HOOD

David Bad­diel was the first co­me­dian to sell out Wem­b­ley Sta­dium. On the eve of his Aus­tralian tour, he re­flects on kids, gen­der and his foul-mouthed dad

Men's Health (Australia) - - Mh Dad - – IN­TER­VIEW BY LUKE BENE­DIC­TUS

My dad has Pick’s Dis­ease, a type of de­men­tia the symp­toms of which in­clude ob­scen­ity, dis­in­hi­bi­tion, ap­a­thy, mood swings and ex­treme im­pa­tience. When the neu­rol­o­gist told me this list of symp­toms, I said: “Sorry, does he have a dis­ease or have you just met him?

When we were grow­ing up, my dad was ex­actly like he is now: sweary, an­gry, and only able to show his emo­tions in sweary, an­gry ways. In a doc­u­men­tary I did about my dad on Bri­tish TV, at one point he is told that I’m say­ing, as a joke, that he never loved us. He replies: “That’s com­plete bol­locks”. That’s the near­est I’ve ever got to my dad telling me he loves me, and tells you what he was like as a fa­ther – a man who could only say those words in an ag­gres­sive, neg­a­tive way: lov­ing, maybe, but in an in­cred­i­bly male way. My dad in­flu­enced my ap­proach to man­hood mainly in re­ac­tion to it: I don’t get an­gry much, and tell my kids I love them all the time. Hav­ing said that, I am very sweary.

He never gave me any good ad­vice, ever.

My dad was not a bloke to keep things in. In the lat­ter part of his life he sold Dinky Toys at an an­tiques mar­ket. A very fa­mous TV co­me­dian once came to his stall and bought some of his mer­chan­dise. My dad didn’t know who he was, but later, hav­ing been told, went and watched his show. When the very fa­mous TV co­me­dian came back for more toys, my dad said to him: “I saw your show. It was shit.” Soon af­ter, the co­me­dian’s ca­reer crum­bled. But more im­por­tantly, what kind of sales­man was my fa­ther? We des­per­ately needed money at the time. I was 37 when I had kids. It’s the only thing that’s ever prop­erly changed me. For the first time, I re­ally felt a psy­chic shift to­wards proper em­pa­thy, to­wards think­ing about how the world looked to some­one else, to think­ing about some­one else and their needs first. It’s made me, in a small way, but I can only move in small ways, a bet­ter per­son.

The dif­fer­ence be­tween rais­ing a boy and a girl? My chil­dren just are very dif­fer­ent. They just are a ridicu­lous ex­am­ple of na­ture over nur­ture. They’ve got the same up­bring­ing, come from the same DNA, but she is very girl­like and he is very boy-like.

When Ezra was a year old, I re­mem­ber him root­ing about in my part­ner’s make-up box and think­ing: “Oh, okay, maybe he’s go­ing to be quite fem­i­nine, gen­der-fluid, all good.” Then he picked out of it and held up, like the torch on the statue of lib­erty - I’m not sure what it was do­ing in there - a screw­driver. Like: “Don’t worry, I’ve found my phal­lus, dad!”

SARAH AND COLIN BAD­DIEL WITH TWO (AND A HALF) OF THEIR CHIL­DREN.

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