From Simon Cowell to Prince William: There’s only one thing worse than the old 1970s dad – and that’s the new dad

The old dad would never get mushy-eyed over nappies and 'feelings'


It was sweet yet slightly  disconcerting to see Simon Cowell cooing his pride that he would soon be a father. Not that babies aren’t delightful, they’re smashing – in other people’s houses, mainly, in half-hour bursts – but Cowell was probably the last man we’d have envisaged slipping into the male baby-babble twilight zone.

Until recently he was an archetypal unreconstructed bloke. His hobbies included smoking ciggies, making dollars, humiliating Louis Walsh and persuading his ex-girlfriend Sinitta to wear pants. After that, our intelligence on Simon’s thoughts and feelings was slim pickings. Then, kerpow! With the emergence of news of a fertilised egg lurking within his friend’s wife’s innards, Simon’s touchy-feely factor was turned up to 11. “Things are changing in my life right now, for the better,” he said, sounding like the opening bars of a John Cougar Mellencamp track.

Earlier in the week, Prince William gave a lengthy, rather mushy interview about his feelings as the daddy of little George. The first nappy. The importance of driving his family home. I tried to envisage William’s father giving a similar interview in the 1980s. But Charles always was old school. The only thing Charles gets emotional about is wonky guttering and sales downturns on his Duchy Originals ginger biscuits. When it came to babies, the man was an emotional Gobi Desert. 

The all-new, starry-eyed dad – a man who has found great perspective and enlightenment via his sperm striking lucky (or damn unlucky, but he’s softened to the idea) – is a modern phenomenon. It’s charming, I’m fascinated by it, but also unnerved. Once we could count on half of the population – the penis-owning half – to manage to reproduce without losing its marbles, taking four weeks off work, changing its Twitter avatar to a creepy baby’s footprint and merrily updating people on the consistency of their offspring’s last crap.

“It was like a pellet! We were sooooo relieved as little Beryl’s not done a poo for two whole days and…”  new dad, on and on and on, ignoring the world’s expression of sad dismay.

New dad is now every bit as lost in the journey as new mum. The 1970s dad didn’t go on a “journey”, not even to Boots to buy breast pads. He did not crouch beside a home-birth pool with a small sieve on a stick retrieving birthing matter. No, 1970s dad was at a darts tournament. (The midwife could ring the Prince’s Head and ask for Frank if there was any news).

Interestingly, 1970s journo dad found his new fatherhood not to be news at all. He didn’t call his editor and ask to write almost exclusively for the next few years about his wife’s postpartum bleeding, or how he felt about lads’ mags and lapdancers through his new enlightened eyes, or how blissful his babymoon was.

No, he let the ladies get on with the self-indulgent “Ooooh, I’m the first human being ever to push a baby out of my bits” waffle while he penned something meaningful about the latest Middle East crisis.

Dads of yesteryear didn’t consult their sports shop on what papoose might be most suitable for cross trail running. The only place they were running was far away, very fast, from the screaming lump. In fact, they felt exactly like Prince William let slip that he felt in the final comments of his gushing interview, when he admitted he couldn’t wait to get back to shift work so he could get some proper sleep.

Perhaps the biggest shift in behaviour with modern dad is  that he’s better at talking a very good game.

Only one direction for Louis: out!

As the photos appeared from this week’s One Direction film premiere – the boys stood in a sullen line enduring yet another migraine-inducing screaming session from hordes of gibbering girls – I played my favourite boy band game: “Who’ll jump ship first?”

My money right now is on Louis Tomlinson (pictured with girlfriend Eleanor Calder), for no other reason than his permanent expression which screams: “I outgrew these clots 11 months ago. Help me. SOS!”

Three years is a long time for any boy to be marketed like a product, for 4am taxi pick-ups and to have one’s parents’ front hedge used as a fan club HQ. It’s a long time to sing the same moronic lyrics six times daily, answer the same question about your favourite sock colour in 17 different languages, and have your girlfriend called names on the internet 1,000 times an hour.

I hope, when it happens, the Samaritans are ready with backup.

Someone must answer for these shocking calls

The annoying telephone cold call just got a damn sight colder. For the past eight weeks, prisoners at HMP Oakwood, near Wolverhampton, and Drake Hall women’s prison in Eccleshall, Staffordshire, have been paid £20 a week to cold-call home-owners and fish for insurance details. Inmates in headsets sit in specially built prison call centres, clutching a script, phoning householders to ask what valuables they own.

How exciting! I was, after all, a little bored with my nightly bickerings with harmless yet annoying idiots cold-calling to offer me cheap gas. Now, in a wonderful Russian roulette-style game, I can potentially argue with actual banged-up criminals. I can slam the phone down on people perhaps imprisoned for rape, murder, burglary or just plain old fraud. People who have access to my postcode, my full name and a good long time to think about where I live.

Or perhaps you’re a compliant soul? You can just have a nice chat, tell them how many laptops you have and when you’re off on holiday. I’m not against prisoners learning skills – I’m all for it – but in this case I’d like all my calls diverted to the residence of Justice Minister Chris Grayling.

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