At the End of the Day

Why all babies are Royalty really

My granddaughter has decided that steamed courgettes are just so yesterday, which is worrying for her mum given that she only persuaded Lyla to like them about a week ago. Lyla’s method of making this clear is to throw the courgette slices all over the kitchen with enormous gusto. She has the same stubborn mule face after doing so that reminds me of her Mum at the same age. So the bolshie genes are intact.

Lyla’s diet is remarkably eclectic, in that it consists of three colours (green gunge, midbrown gunge and orange gunge) with additional variety provided by off-white milk and light yellow apple filling gunge for pudding. From time to time she eats chicken bits, but gives lamb the kitchen courgette treatment. Anyway, Katherine Duchess of Cambridgeshire has this all to look forward to – or rather, her bevvy of servants do. It may not be of any interest to you at all, but the celeb mags over here knew Kate was going to have a girl. Oh how they laughed at all the British press – gagged and thus disallowed from printing the news. Oh how silly they look now she’s had a boy.

It’s very hot down here in the South West, and extreme heat does of course knock 9-month-old babies flat. But Lyla’s got a lovely temperament anyway, so the little person is very easy to have around at the worst of times. The heat is, meanwhile, bringing with it the ankle-biting flies (hot on the heels of the nose-investigating flies) but at the same time, the infinitely more enjoyable Swallowtail butterfly.

Swallowtails look like a larger version of a British white cabbage butterfly that’s been smoking just a little too much hash. So they flap about like butterflies are supposed to, and then gracefully dive without warning before lazily rising back up again. Their progress through the air thus resembles the Big Dipper at Blackpool….or more prosaically, sheet music directions during a typical Mozart andante movement. They bring a certain gentility to a raging hot day.

That is nothing, however, compared to the stylish and broadly grinning manner in which Lyla bobbles around the pool in her Baby Support Boat. As is so often the case with things designed for small children, I immediately look at them and think I want one now. It is a bright yellow rubber ring equipped at the centre with a little steering wheel and seat. Give me a decent paperback and I could spend an entire afternoon in such a craft. Give me a copy of the 1956 Beano Annual, and I’d be in there for a week. My granddaughter doesn’t need such sophistication: she hits the water, it splashes, she giggles. Life is so straightforward at age nine months.

About 99% of you will be too young to know of the song written for Frank Sinatra by his chums Phil Silvers and Jimmy Van Heusen to celebrate the time they met his later famous daughter Nancy as a toddler. Either way, it contains this lyric:

She takes the winter and makes it summer/but summer could learn/some lessons from her/

I got a terrible case/of Nancy with the laughing face

It has a haunting, loving melody, and is made greater than great by Sinatra’s late 1940s voice, which was as close to perfection as any performing artist is ever likely to get. But the description of a baby’s smile – its miraculous transformation of a grey moment into the expectation of early summer morninging sun – has always stayed with me. Lyla’s mum had it too. If only one could bottle such times, and then open it at crucial moments to make the likes of Bob Diamond and Rupert Murdoch shrivel up in its beam of indefatigable humanity.

bilkoPhil Silvers went on to become the legendary Sergeant Bilko, a con artist so exquisitely drawn in every way that to watch the show now is to have an appreciation of America in an age of innocence……when the huckster was a laughable minority who could – in his perpetual failure – be lovable. Silvers’ two unwilling partners in crime Henshaw and Barbello were not quite so put upon as the luckless Sergeant Rizzo, the dumb mark who fell for every sting the motor platoon sergeant could dream up. And no episode was complete until Bilko had charmed Colonel Hall’s wife, much to the irritation of her long suffering husband played by the unsung genius Paul Ford. My late 1950s mid-evenings were enriched by this wonderful comedy.

I’ve decided over the decades that it’s not innocence that makes babies special – given half a chance they will be as egotistically manipulative as any adult – but rather their sense of wonder at everything new. And at that age, almost everything is new. Most adults lose this capacity for fascination at puberty, when the tedious desire to seem cool kicks in. I lost it for years, but 13 years ago I was lucky enough to get it back again. In this sense, my ambition is to remain a baby until the day I die.

Earlier at The Slog: How neoliberal thinking destroyed a mutual success story

27 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

    • That’s the woman who allegedly once offered John Humphreys the opportunity of some ‘horizontal jogging’ but, being that rare creature, a wise Welshman, he declined. She couldn’t even beat a sheep !

  1. “…my ambition is to remain a baby until the day I die.”

    Have you heard of ‘the curious case of benjamin button’

  2. I do remember hearing that if you looked back far enough in anyone’s family tree, you would find royalty.

    Indeed, in one episode of QI, Stephen Fry asked the panel which member was related to Emperor Charlemagne. Of course it was a trick question because ALL the panel (and all the audience) were related to Charlemagne!

    It seems that the Emperor spread his seed so widely & wildly, that most of the people on the planet can claim some ancestry to him! Not that I believe it, because I’m sure that there are some goat herders in Mongolia who have more in common with Genghis than Charlemagne.

    If the truth be known, there are two facts that I like to repeat, to show that everyone is special.

    1. That 93% of our bodies components were born in stars. The remaining 7% (Hydrogen) was present at the Big Bang. We are the stuff of stars.

    2. That given the amount of water we consume during our lifetime, there is a reasonably good chance that at some time or other, a molecule of water in our bodies was also present at one time in the body of:

    A) Buddha
    B) Christ
    C) Gandhi

    Of course the flips side of this one is that at one time or other, we had one water molecule of:

    A) Hitler
    B) Stalin
    C) Attila the Hun
    D) Pol Pot
    E) Jack The Ripper

    Personally, I believe that the current Prime Minister is composed of 93% of the last 5 mentioned!

  3. With you there, John. In fact, I can confirm that the Memsahib noticed my childlike wonder at new things at an early stage in our relationship and she has reconciled herself to this. Apparently I pick up clothes and put them away as I drift aimlessly through my life and this, seemingly, counts for a lot insofar as the Old Foe is concerned …

  4. GK Chesterton as a child was enthralled by the movement of the train station semaphore. Later as an adult bored while waiting for a train he remember the rapture with which he view the simple movement of this signaling device. The only thing that had changed was his loss of wonder…………..I’m glad you still have yours!

  5. Glad to hear you are surviving the heat and the damned flies. It’s plenty hot in SE Blighty too – over 100F in my garage where I have been slothfully rewiring the charging system on a Norton and cleaning out the tank/fuel system on a cammy Velocette. One of them will be going to France week after next, si tout va bien.

    Nancy (With the Laughing Face) is a very lovely tune – actually written originally, as you say by Jimmy Van H and Phil S, but for Johnny Burke’s wife Bessie as a birthday present. Burke, the lyricist, and Van Heusen wrote some of the very best music of the period, absolute classics that will live forever somehow. One of my favourite recordings of this tune is by Coltrane (McCoy Tyner/Jimmy Garrison/Elvin Jones) who gives it a movingly slow and lyrical treatment – very much the mood of the album ‘Ballads’ which it appeared on in the early 60′s. It was re-released on a CD ‘The Gentle Side of John Coltrane’ some time ago – definitely one to look out for, for fans of sweet music.

  6. Kate has done her job of providing an heir next she might meet with an accident..ok you are in france and i am invrstgating something in terelation tp something that links to that

    • Job’s only half-done – she’s expected to produce ‘an heir and a spare’ (though not necessarily via the same father, if recent tradition continues).

      • Let’s not forget that this is a ‘Distraction baby’.

        Call me cynical if you will, but if you check back on the dates, you will see that the child was conceived a few weeks AFTER the scandal of the topless pictures of the Duchess appeared in the press.

        We know that the due date for the Duchess was last week. 15 July 2013. Which means that conception took place 9 months prior, some time in the first couple of weeks of October 2013. The topless scandal first appeared on 13 September 2013.

        William & Catherine were asked by the press when they were intending to start a family. They indicated that it would not be for a good few years. They wanted to enjoy married life together first.

        It’s my firm belief that a meeting was convened by the top members of ‘The Firm’ and it was decided that Kate would have to get pregnant, so the press would report her in a favourable light. Furthermore, as the baby would be born before the topless privacy intrusion case came to court in France, the baby would help the Cambridges win their case. There is even talk that the magazine concerned will have to close for 5 years.

        http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/french-magazine-that-published-kate-middleton-topless-pictures-could-close-for-five-years-8588289.html

        Of course the Royal Family did not take into account the wayward actions of a couple of Australian DJs, but even this was turned to their advantage by the sympathy evoked for the bereaved family and the morning sick Duchess.

        This baby had but one purpose – to get back at the media for intruding on the Royal Family. They even let slip (by use of the letter D) the hint that they would have a daughter. Oh my how they must have laughed when they knew it was a boy on the sonograms.

  7. To remain wondrous and see the world with a child’s sense of discovery is a noble and rare in this day and age ambition.

    I read somewhere that the sense of wonder we have in our very early years is why we learn proportionately so much more then. Later, when we have become so familiar with the basics of life it just becomes routine, our sense of wonder tends to switch off……. Fast forward and you can see how so many old people tend to become repetitive and boring old f**ts….

  8. “Even a stone, and more easily a flower or a bird, could show you the way back to God, to the Source, to yourself. When you look at it or hold it & let it be without imposing a word of mental label on it, a sense of awe, of wonder, arises within you. Its essence silently communicates itself to you and reflects your own essence back to you.”
    ― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

  9. …So the bolshie genes are intact.

    Funny thing – etymology and the evolution of language.

    The Bolsheviks, a small Jewish dominated, mainly immigrant cabal, murder some 30-40 million of their host country’s compatriots (what’s the odd 10 million here or there anyway? – they were only ignorant Russian peasants) and less than 100 years later a dimiutive of their name becomes a mildly affectionate synonym for stubborn anti-authoritarianism. OTOH, the NAZIs, whose crimes were arguably far less egregious, provide a de-rigeur epithet for the epitome of pure evil.

    There has to be a lesson there somewhere

  10. Pingback: THE PAEDOFILE: A Family Courts ruling and two obscure arrests are battles half-won – no more | The Slog. 3-D bollocks deconstruction

  11. JW. Ah yes. Sinatra as the front man with the Axel Stordhal Orchestra.
    I recommend the album Sinatra+ (on Fontana) if you don’t already have it. Late 1940s magic; he was never this good a story teller/singer again.

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