Tom Hodgkinson: Home-baked bread made my son weep

Share
Related Topics

The summer holidays are here, the sun is shining, and my children are doing what they like best: sitting on a pile of sleeping bags and watching television. Sometimes you feel like giving up being a free-range, organic, anti-consumerist parent. It's too much like hard work.

We moved to the country partly so our children could experience an idyllic childhood. They would leave the house at eight armed with a hunk of bread and a piece of cheese. With this rustic meal bound in a spotted kerchief, they would saunter down the lanes whistling and spend the day communing with nature before returning at six, tired and happy.

What we get instead is fighting, jumping on the furniture, whining, passive consuming, unbridled materialism and a fierce hatred of anything home-made. Every week Victoria or I make delicious bread with the finest stoneground flour, and every week they say: "It's dis-gus-ting."

When we gave Arthur nutritious sandwiches made with home-baked bread for his packed lunch, he actually wept. All his friends eat tasteless, over-processed non-bread made with the Chorleywood bread process. That and processed cheese and meat products. That's what they want.

I don't even really know how our children manage to watch television, since I threw it out five years ago, in an organic rage. They seem to use the internet to find all their horrible programmes. They're clever, you know. The problem is, it seems like too much effort to give them a proper childhood, because they resist our efforts to give them freedom with such determination.

And so eventually I cave in. Their methods of persuasion – screaming, wailing, repetition – are highly effective. I sometimes wonder whether they've all gone on a "how to get your own way with parents" course. And even when I do summon up the energy to tear them from the screen, they somehow manage to find another: this morning, I strode in to the sitting-room and told them to get out. An hour later, I found them in another heap in the barn. They'd surreptitiously moved the technology out there.

And when they commune with nature, they commune with it in the wrong way: I just looked into the garden and was delighted to see my eldest son tripping among the daisies. But my delight turned to rage when I saw he was shaking unripe apples from our beloved apple tree.

Last weekend the weather was rotten, so I gave in and allowed them to enjoy their fantasy weekend: Pizza Hut, McDonald's, Cascades and Funderzone. Cascades is an indoor water park on a holiday resort near where we live. The resort is peopled mainly by working-class Welsh families, and I felt like a real ponce as I was the only adult in there without tattoos, and that includes the women. Every human being in there, from 16 to 80, sported at least two impressive examples of body art. I was mercifully released after an hour-and-a-quarter of extreme boredom, then had to suffer stinging eyes for the rest of the day thanks to the levels of chlorine – that chemical used as a poison in the First World War – in the water.

Am I alone, or is the despair of the organic parent a common phenomenon?

Well, one mercy for our kind has been the rise of the festival. We are going to four this year, generally running an Idler Academy tent. Festivals are full of friends, sell real ale and organic burgers, and are car-free. And your children can run reasonably wild.

At Port Eliot in Cornwall, we hardly saw our children. Henry in particular went feral, and succeeded in his plan not to wear shoes for the entire four days. We camped in a large group, so there was plenty of company for the adults and plenty of company for the children. The adults chatted, cooked and drank while the children played in gangs, and we all got a break from the claustrophobia of the nuclear family. My fantasy of childcare is drinking real ale in a field while my children play somewhere in the distance, and this dream can become a reality at the modern festival.

Running a tent, though, is hard work, and Victoria and I have to put up with being teased about being very diligent for those who profess to promote idleness. At his gig in our tent this year, the performance poet John Cooper Clarke came up with the best version of this gag I've yet heard: "Tom and Victoria, relax!" he said. "Get a job!"

Tom Hodgkinson is the editor of 'The Idler'

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
 

Never underestimate the power of the National Trust

Boyd Tonkin
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss