I don't have a shed, or my own special armchair. I do, however, know the names of top 40 artists and I have never been excited by a sale of appliances. Nevertheless, I betray enough of the tell tale signs that I'm turning into my father - and some other ones, beside - to make me ponder seriously matters of heredity, conditioning and, of course, mortality.
In The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde wrote: “All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his.” It would indeed be a step too far for a man to turn into his mother: it takes all a man's energy to turn into his father. A survey released yesterday found that most men morph into their fathers by the age of 38, and helpfully provided a list of the behavioural traits that can be regarded as evidence. It's true that I have a penchant for telling jokes that only I find funny, and I have been known to have an afternoon nap, but the similarities I have noticed between me and my father, who died almost 30 years ago, are both more numerous and particular.
For instance, an unwillingness to queue in an orderly fashion. It used to embarrass me as a child that my dad would refuse to get in line like everyone else. He'd always seek a queue-jumping dodge, sometimes by befriending the official in charge, sometimes by pretending he had special privileges, often by simply looking like he knew where he was going in a way that brooked no questioning. Without even thinking about it, I've become that same person, impatient at the sight of a queue and with an ability to get in places I wasn't strictly allowed (valuable for a journalist). About 20 years ago, I got into Wembley Stadium on Cup final day without a ticket, and I once ended up pitchside at an American football match among the Philadelphia Eagles players, so confident was I about my right to be there.
I have an identical sense of humour to my father - I still tell some of his jokes - and I am just as bad at driving as he was. Bizarrely, I even noticed myself a few years ago descending a flight of stairs in exactly the same weird, staccato way as he did. But don't we have children so that we can establish a human imprint, and impose our own likes and dislikes on them?
I felt this myself particularly keenly last weekend. I have brought up my daughter as a Manchester City fan, and it has been a largely positive aspect of our joint lives. We've spent a huge amount of quality time together, and, of course, had the bonding experience of sharing triumphs and disasters. Last Sunday, Manchester City suffered a rather painful setback in our quest for the Premier League title. My daughter was inconsolable. I just felt guilty. What right have I to burden this poor girl with so much potential for heartbreak? Hasn't she got enough to worry about without this extra load I've given her? They do f*** you up, your mum and dad. And not just when you turn into them! Happy Easter.Reuse content