Cooper Brown: He's Out There

'The nurse looks at me like some kind of psycho-hobo and asks if I've been drinking'
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The Independent Online

First, the announcement - Mini Cooper is born. He's a boy, weighed seven and half pounds (like you give a shit) and his name is Humboldt-Fog Somerset Brown. I know what you're thinking: what a stupid name. I totally agree, but Victoria insisted on it. It's apparently some family tradition. Every male member of her inbred family for the last God-knows-how-many generations has borne the name Somerset. Who am I to break this delightful tradition? She wanted to call the kid Aubrey. Can you imagine? Little Aubrey would have had his ass kicked from here to Somerset every goddam suicidal school day of his miserable life.

I kind of wanted Cooper Jr, but that was never going to be allowed. So we compromised. Humboldt is a little piece of Northern California that's very dear to me. It's famous for the fog that rolls in off the Pacific. It also happens to be the name both of a very good cheese and a very strong strain of marijuana (Victoria doesn't know about the last one). It's a totally cool name and you certainly won't forget my kid once you've met him! It's a name destined for the movie screen.

By the way, I've had all the obvious jokes already from Ben. Humboldt-Fog's a tiny little wrinkly bald thing and guess what? He looks just like his dad! Ha bloody ha. That's the only laugh I've had this week. Nothing, but nothing could ever have prepared me for the hell of birth. It's two o'clock in the morning, Victoria is asleep in my bed at the Cooperdome and I'm finishing off a good bottle of Glenlivet while watching Platoon. Suddenly there's this God-awful screaming from the bedroom and I think we're being burglarised. I stumble into the bedroom and there's Victoria lying in a total mess on the bed screaming: "My waters have burst!"

I had absolutely no idea whether this meant that she'd lost the baby, had the baby, or was actually having the baby, but I freaked out. She's screaming and swearing at me to call an ambulance and I'm screaming back asking her whether she's sure. (Deep down I have to admit that I sort of wanted to see the end of Platoon.) Why does this kind of shit always happen in the middle of the night? I end up semi-supporting her down on to Westbourne Grove where I hail a back cab. We get to St Mary's, Paddington, and the frickin' cab driver tells me that he has no change for a £50 note. I end up having to give him the whole thing. Thanks a lot, asshole.

I get her into the hospital and they wheel her off somewhere and I figure my work is done. Then this nurse comes up to me and asks me for the birth plan. I tell her the plan is for me to go and get a stiff drink while they birth me a baby. I ask her if there's a bar. She looks at me like I'm some sort of psycho-hobo and asks if I've been drinking. I tell her to piss off and do some nursing. She tells me she'll call security if I use language like that again. This is what Tony Blair's Britain has become - a place where a freaked expectant dad can be arrested by a nurse for trying to get a drink.

I eventually follow her down a corridor and she points to a room where I am supposed to put on medical robes. I'm really feeling weirded out at this stage, and I check that she realises that I'm the dad, not the doctor. She tells me that Victoria is in "breach" and is going to have a Caesarean section. For some reason I am supposed to witness this. I ask the nurse whether I can ring the health insurance people, because I want to be sure that we're covered for all this before everyone starts playing at being ER heroes. She says I can't use my cell in the hospital. I ignore her and ring them anyway. I have a screaming row with this idiot at the insurance company call centre. I have been pouring money into this scam for years, but it now won't even cover a Caesarean. I've totally lost it by now and I'm screaming that I'm going to come round and stick my health card up her ass and she hangs up, telling me that she doesn't have to put up with my language. Just as I lower my cell, this huge Iranian security guy grabs me in a headlock and tells me that he's going to kick me out of the hospital that I'm now paying for. This is the hellish insanity of my world at 3.15am on Tuesday morning. In hindsight, I should have let him kick me out. I negotiate and am finally taken into an operating theatre where Victoria is already on the slab and everyone in masks is running around doing medical shit. There are at least seven people in the room, none of whom seem that essential and I can't help thinking that I'm paying for all of them.

I'll spare you the horrific details, but let's put it this way: I have seen a LOT more of Victoria than I had ever imagined possible. If truth be told, it's made me find her vaguely repulsive when I think about her. Is that normal? Is any of this shit normal? Men should not be in the hospital.

I have no idea who my real dad is, as my mom was "shared" around a floating collective of deadbeat hippies. Whoever he was, one thing I know, he wasn't hanging around the delivery hut watching his squaw getting prised apart - and he was a hippy. I'm in real, total shock right now. It's like some sort of post-traumatic disassociation thing, everything feels floaty and distant. Maybe it's mix of Platoon and hospitals and whisky but I haven't slept since it happened. What's that song? "Everybody's changing and I don't feel a thing..."? Life's never going to be the same from here. Cooper out... really far out.

scoopercooper@gmail.com; www.myspace.com/scoopercooper

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