So it’s been a bit of a crud week. There was a strange fog that descended over our house post book-launch. Brexit happened. And no matter how anyone voted, I’m pretty sure we can all agree there was fallout from that. Social media which had been buoyant and full of pictures of comedy cats was now a full-out forum for people displaying their rage, their grief, their sadness. Everything was tinged in grey. My usual levels of optimism were muted and not by news of the falling pound or Nigel Farage’s face but just a general sense that there had been a large seismic shift in us all working together towards a higher common goal: being bloody decent to each other as human beings. Because when you have kids, all you really think about is the world they grow up in. You hope it can be filled with more comedy cats than people calling each other ‘racist twatting c**ts.’
Anyway, enough of that, it’s frigging depressing and that’s not why you come here. I hope. Let’s talk about how Michael Gove has a big ol’ Thunderbird face. Am I right? Or not. Because he might be taking over and he has problems with ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ which makes me want to call him bad words. Yikes. Must stop the cycle of hate.
So, let’s go for funny and whilst we’re on the subject of liars….here’s a note that Arya wrote to me in the week:
That’s right, the King of the North and I have ruined all the magic for Arya. She knows we lied. She found the teeth. She didn’t just find teeth. The highly efficient King of the North labelled the teeth.
Ned: ‘Maybe they’re my teeth.’
Arya: ‘But they’re in an envelope with my name on…’
Ned: ‘Right, bath time…’
Ned believes in traditions and memories but we've never quite seen eye to eye on the mythical tales we feed our children. Ned is just too morally sound and far more of a realist. I’ve already spoken about how much he truly hates Christmas but he doesn’t do the Santa thing. I made him do it once. When we lived in Singapore, he was the token white dude in the community and so he was asked by Jon Snow’s preschool to be Santa that year. This is how that turned out. Yes, that is a full-on cotton wool beard.
So every year, I wrap the presents, I write the letter and leave footprints in flour. Ned always stands there whilst I’m necking the Bailey’s (geddit..) I’ve left out for him, confused. You are lying to my children and getting them to buy into a commercial fuckfest of consumerism and greed. We’re not even Christian. You don’t even like turkey. I never know how to respond to this. I assume it’s because he was never fed enough foil covered chocolate as a youth. I carry on regardless hoping that evening some ghosts will visit (and possibly give him a good festive slapping) whilst he sleeps.
I'm also the Easter Bunny. I leave clues around the house. I write a rap, yes…a rap from the Easter Bunny himself to the kids because in my head, EB is a bit more gangsta, no? He looks the sort to beatbox and pop a sneaky Windmill in.
So I scatter chocolate about the house with wild abandon and hide it in the washing machine. Ned always looks on.
‘Remember you’ve put that there. You’ll forget.’
‘No I won’t…’
Fast forward to the next day where I put a load on and it looks like the laundry’s got diarrhoea. And I am the tooth fairy too. I haven’t overdone the tooth fairy….I know some parents who do the tiny notes and the doors and the glitter. But good maths taught me that with four kids, it was probably best to stay within the realms of 20p a tooth. We’re also outside of the M25 so I refuse to pay your London prices for used enamel. I also regret to inform you that sometimes I forget. Sometimes the tooth fairy drinks too much gin of an evening and forgets to put on her wings. Nothing makes you feel like a shitter parent than the sound of:
Arya: ‘Mummy, the tooth fairy didn’t come? Did I do something wrong?’
Cue Ned glaring at me. If you’re going to do it, at least do it properly.
Ned: ‘Maybe she had a busy night…maybe lots of children lost teeth yesterday and she didn’t have any change…’
So why do it? Why tell my children these bare-faced lies? I tell my children not to lie all the time. Don’t tell me you didn’t eat that whole packet of Jammy Dodgers! You’ve got crumbs all down your front! Oh, the badness and moral shame of it all. So I’ll tell you a story. When Jon Snow was five years old, we had lunch with a little girl (whose name I can’t remember) from his swimming class who’d just lost her first tooth.
Me: ‘Wow, how much did the tooth fairy bring you?’
Little Girl: ‘Ummm, nothing. There is no tooth fairy. My dad just threw the tooth in the bin.’
I remember looking over at that girl’s mother, glaring.
Little Girl: ‘And there’s no Santa either….my dad just buys me the presents.’
I am a kindly person but I’ve never felt a stronger urge to gag a child. I saw Jon Snow’s eyes rolling about in his head trying to work it out. He went to speak. I was on the verge of tears.
Jon Snow: ‘Oh, well…that’s a shame because Santa comes to my house…’
And. Breathe. He still believes. That’s a good thing…
So ever since that day, when Ned is laughing at me whilst I try and get all the wrapped presents out of the loft or I am hiding chocolate eggs in his pants drawer, I think about that little girl. No doubt you’ll grow up just fine, you’ll have a healthy and fulfilled life and go on to do great things. But I’ll argue your life possibly lacked a little bit of magic. Sometimes, we lie. We tell children a chubby man in red brings you presents, that fairies come and collect your teeth. They’re not huge big malicious lies really. You lie because you want a child to believe in magic, that anything is possible. It encourages a kid to dream big. I had a mum who did all those things for me and it made me a dreamer, a dreamer of the best kind. Anyone who knew me when I was a kid would tell you I was full of stories. And I used to tell people those stories all the time, I used to tell some huge whoppers. I was a complete fantasist, not because I was mean or unhappy but looking back now, it was because I was imaginative. I had a mind that worked overtime weaving all these stories about in my head. And it was only when I became a lot older did I write some of those stories down and try to make a career out of it...
And so in a week of real gargantuan lies that have turned the world on its head, I feel totally justified spinning a bit of useless twaddle about a rapping rabbit. Because this is the week I’ve had Jon Snow (the son, not the newsreader) start to ask me questions about the world: about Brexit, about Turkey, about a man with horrifically shit hair that might soon be in charge of most of the Western world. God fucking help us. And so I lie again. I tell him things will be alright. I tell him that we just have to be nice, kind, to look out for each other and work things out. It’s not how real life is at all. But I lie to make him feel that the world he lives in can and will change for the better. He can be part of that change. I want him to feel safe and reassured. I want him to think anything is possible. Now, more than ever is the time to believe in a little bit of magic.