The miraculous misconception

Related Topics
IT SEEMS most unfair that when it comes to adoption the rights of the child are paramount, but when it comes to tinkering around with fertility, the rights of the child come nowhere at all. It cannot be desirable for a woman of 58 to have a child, however much she wants to, because she will be in her seventies when it is entering its teens. The argument that men can have children into their seventies and therefore women should too is no use - there comes a point where biology should not be flouted and childbearing is it.

What really worries me, though, is not these few, freak cases but the effect on women's attitude to motherhood generally. I already notice that younger women seem to think that childbearing is something that can be postponed until it is convenient for their careers. In fact it is never convenient for one's career and women who wait for the ideal moment might well wait for ever.

Until now there has at least been a cut-off: they would try for a baby till 40 or 45, but then give up and get on with their lives. Now they might go on dreaming of motherhood into their dotage. Yet caring for children is essentially a young person's job, as I was vividly reminded the other week when I had a stint of it myself. The physical reasons are obvious, but there are even more pressing psychological ones: you need flexibility, a cheerful pragmatism and an ability to tolerate mess and muddle that are harder to find after 30.

Women who plan their lives too carefully, who demand the perfect career, the perfect home, the perfect lifestyle, before embarking on the perfect baby, are already demonstrating one major disqualification for parenthood: perfectionism. That is why I am also very worried by women who want to have children without fathers - if they can't compromise enough to share their life with a man, how can they compromise enough to share it with a child?

Of course, it's all very well for me to talk: I've had my children. I am aware that there will be women reading this who are not so lucky and to them I apologise. But there is so much materialist pressure now to make late motherhood fashionable that someone must speak for the alternative view. It suits the state, the media and some pioneering doctors to promote the idea of 'miracle babies' and to push the age of childbearing ever further back, but it suits the child to have young parents - and preferably one of each sex, living happily together ever after. That is the true 'miracle baby' nowadays but, like all miracles, it is increasingly rare.

ONE HESITATES to accuse an eminent psychiatrist of being mad, but I would just like to float the notion that the good doctor Anthony Clare might be suffering from folie de grandeur. The evidence is as follows. For the first in a new series of In the Psychiatrist's Chair, he chose to interview William Roache, the actor who plays Ken Barlow in Coronation Street. He probably thought it would be a challenge. But of course the sane person knows that there are some challenges - jumping into an erupting volcano, for instance, or fighting off a pack of Rottweilers with one's bare hands - that are better avoided.

Mr Roache, it will be remembered, sued the Sun two years ago for saying he was boring. The result was a Pyrrhic victory: he won the libel case but was made to pay the legal costs which far exceeded his damages. Now every journalist knows that it is a libellous thing to repeat a libel, so I shall not dream of doing it. But I found Dr Clare's interview with Roach, well . . . dull, frankly. Mr Roache described himself as 'a very normal person who slumps in front of the television'. He chatted - though 'chatted' gives a rather over-animated impression - about his belief in astrology, Druids, cosmic cycles, natural harmonies, reincarnation, and he assured Dr Clare that 'self-involvement is a permanent process'. I hope Dr Clare has not succumbed to the belief that he can make anyone interesting: that way madness lies.

ANNE DIAMOND is one of those annoying people who always does everything slightly better than you expect her to. I admired her campaign against cot deaths, and now I am forced to admire her latest incarnation as a Daily Mirror columnist. She was particularly thrilling this week on the press coverage of Judy Finnigan.

Ms Finnigan is the Judy half of Richard and Judy, the married couple who preside over ITV's Good Morning. They interviewed me once, and I got the strong impression that she was the brains and he the beauty - especially when she told me, long before Camillagate, that the Prince of Wales was having an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. Anyway, she was the victim of a grunge photographer this week, snapped on holiday in Antibes in a pink bikini and looking a bit Rubensesque. There was absolutely no story attached - she was sunbathing with her husband - but the tabloids duly went to town - 'Finnigan or Thin Again', 'Wish You were Rear', etc - in an orgy of gloating over the fact that she looked a bit flabby.

Anne Diamond came charging to the rescue: 'This is Fleet Street fascism. It's the fault of male editors who still believe women are to be gawped at and bitched about . . . How the editor of this particular organ, David Banks, has the nerve to poke fun at Ms Finnigan, or anyone else less than 20 stone for that matter, I have no idea.' Bravo]

THE OTHER day I had a phone call from a reader saying: 'You don't know me, but I invented the rabbit.' Oh really? I said, putting on that wary, got-a-right-one-here voice one uses for nutters. He asked if I'd seen any rabbits and I said yes, in fact I was in the country last weekend and there were masses of them. I said I knew a place in Yorkshire, near Grassington, where they had black ones that climbed trees. I was racking my brains for more fascinating facts about rabbits when he informed me, curtly, that the rabbit was a mobile phone. He rang off, obviously convinced I was a nutter. Oh well.

React Now

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

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The woman featured in the Better Together campaign's latest video  

Tea and no sympathy: The 'Better Together' campaign's mistake is to assume it knows how women think

Jane Merrick
On alert: Security cordons around Cardiff Castle ahead of this week’s Nato summit  

Ukraine crisis: Nato is at a crossroads. Where does it go from here?

Richard Shirreff
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution