Aiden Smith, dad to Bella, 5 months, has some shocking news for expectant fathers: you might actually want to spend less time in the pub…
Dads: Are you sitting comfortably, reading this at home? Yes? Then stop. Stop immediately. Head for your local. Done that? Got a pint? Best get a shot, too – you’re going to need it. Because your pub days are over. Pub culture is dying. We’re getting healthier, snuffing out fags, cutting out booze. But you are playing a part too. ‘Not me,’ I hear you mutter, ‘I’d never help some huge chain convert my beloved local into a soulless coffee shop.’ I said that, too – once upon a time. But believe it or not, by your partner’s third cry of ‘epidural!’ you will have turned down a trip to the pub at least three times.
Naturally, you will have celebrated the news of your imminent arrival in the pub. Most important events of your life have probably been celebrated in the pub – if they haven’t actually occurred there in the first place (except, I’m hoping, conception). But your first reason to avoid your local is already about to hit you. It arrives when you find that your lottery fantasy no longer features a flash new car, but instead a super-expensive pushchair with on-board iPod and climate control. That’s the moment when you realise that baby stuff costs money. And if babies need anything, boy do they need stuff. Prams, cots, sterilisers, babygrows, mountains of nappies… all this, plus stuff you’ve never even heard of: topping and tailing bowl (£39.99), anyone?
Thanks to this you will cancel all magazine subscriptions, start taking sandwiches to work and – shock horror – ditch the pub. You are now an embryonic Responsible Parent. And this will delight your partner. Until, having cleaned up your own act, you start lecturing her on the dangers of half a glass of red wine with Christmas dinner. Then she will just wish you’d go off back to the pub where you belong. She may even tell you this. (A word of advice, here: don’t put it down to hormones. You really are being a smug pain in the neck.)
In the meantime, Champions’ League nights in the pub will slip by, avoided with increasingly flimsy excuses (‘Sorry, bad night: I’m bare-knuckle cage fighting with Jeremy Clarkson’). And on it will go, until the major pub-based event of your life arrives: The Wetting of the Baby’s Head. Why on earth, you might ask, would I miss out on a legitimate, tradition-sanctioned, recrimination-free night on the lash? Am I mad? Well, it’s a kind of madness, I suppose. It involves gazing at your firstborn for hours on end, marvelling at her unique ability to utter the word ‘ak’ and make green poo. She is clearly a child prodigy.
All this might not sound like good news. But just think of it like this. Which event would you rather relive – your stag night or your wedding night? It’s a no-brainer, really. Unless, of course, you married Tracy Barlow from Coronation Street.
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