The Times, 21 December 2006


I read recently that Time Magazine are placing a mirror on the cover of their Person of the Year issue, presumably to convey that we are all 2006, or some such crap. I can’t help but think 2006 would be better summarised with a distorting mirror, like they have in fairgrounds. Because this was the year when everyone was in the wrong place, and it has to end now. Our New Year’s resolution should collectively be this: children will stop being adults, and we’ll stop being children.

Firstly, that means no wearing of fairy wings by anyone over the age of 12. An 8 year old blonde child in wings looks like a beautiful fairy. A group of women in their 30s in wings look like flying ants, only big. This scares everyone. In exchange, children will stop wearing adult clothes – buying cashmere for a baby is precisely the kind of behaviour that provokes revolution and guillotines. If you aren’t old enough to go to the dry-cleaners unaccompanied, you aren’t old enough to wear cashmere.

Secondly, people will accept that entertainment is not a babysitter. My stand-up show has an age restriction. This is because I swear like a trooper, and I don’t like to do it in front of children. Well, not since I left the teaching profession, anyway. I know that most 12 year olds could swear till even I blush, but I don’t like saying c*** in front of them, and most of an audience will get rightly huffy if I do. Only here’s the point, I’m not the one doing something wrong – I’m doing the same show I do every other night – but someone’s read the brochure and assumed I meant other people’s kids. This year someone tried to bring in a baby. A real live baby, to a stand-up gig, at night. Night, the time when I am given to understand that babies are usually asleep. A small child at a stand-up gig, or a dinner party, come to that, is precisely as creepy as a 56 year old man hanging around a kids’ playground. Go away.

Thirdly, in particular, 12a films are not a babysitter. 12a means a particularly hardy 10 year old might enjoy it, and you might want to take them. What it doesn’t mean is that 200 people have paid £9 to hear a toddler wail through Casino Royale. I don’t hate children, or parents, I quite like ‘em: the problem isn’t the child, or the film, it’s that one of them is in the wrong place. If I were 18 months old, I would cry at the sheer noise of the cinema, let alone the stench of old popcorn, the chill of the air-conditioning, and the plot twist of The Prestige.

Here’s the deal - if children stop coming to my gigs, I won’t go to their houses and steal their Charlie and Lola DVDs, after distracting their parents with kirsch (or bad ribena, as it’s known in my house). This is called a compromise, and you grow into them. And if babies continue trying to inveigle their way in to dinner parties, I shall only let them in if they pay tax, can’t afford a house, and like olives. That should sort the men from the boys.