Grace Dent: Who exactly is supposed to be interested in Kate’s baby? Not me – and not anyone I know
ON hearing about the eight-week-old cluster of cells attached to the lower portions of the Duchess of Cambridge, I leapt to call my editor and be placed on Royal Wombwatch, crying "pick me!"
Let me be one of the professional mum-bores destined to spend more than 200 days tracking every twinkle of eye, bashful royal head tilt, Harrods buggy delivery, midriff ounce gained and lost, name hint, piece of soft cheese avoided and controversial decision to walk, run or ski.
Poor Kate, at the mercy of the mum-journo breast-feeding Stasi, the baby-led weaning bores, the writers who’ll waff on against private education having pulled every sharp-elbowed trick in the book to get the best school and are currently writing about how hands-on they are while their nanny takes the baby to Starbucks. I love these women. Bonne chance, Kate. You’ll need it.
“Put me on Wombwatch!’ I said. Then I remembered: I don’t give a damn. Regardless of the acres of newsprint and TV coverage currently devoted to the subject, I’m still not wholly sure who does. Do straight men care about the “hyperemesis gravidarum”, possible conception settings and womb lining thickness guestimates of Kate Middleton? No, they do not. Most men quietly like to return to the days of shoving women through the doors of A&E at nine months and then going to a darts tournament.
Do gay men want to know this stuff? No, the ones in my life greet all news of anything south of my navel with loud retching noises and swatting at me with a ramen menu. Thus it seems the prospective audience for the Royal Wombwatch is women.
Yet again – maybe you’re a woman who empathises with me – I find myself to be that peculiar sort of bird uncatered for by media who doesn’t really care about a stranger who never speaks pushing one out. I will walk into a newsagents later this week and be confronted by the vast printed Hadrian’s Wall of Kate Baby Special Editions glaring back at me and I will continue to feel unmoved and I’ll buy Private Eye and a Lion bar and not one single stuff about Kate’s ovaries will have been given.
Little girls, young women, don’t believe the hype! There’s more to life than being slim, fitting into a size 6 Issa frock, finding a Prince and getting knocked up. Seriously, I have tasted freedom and grasped education by its nobbly ears and worked jolly hard and earned money and lived wholly by my own counsel, and it is bloody delicious.
One thing I do feel irked about is that Kate Middleton wasn’t afforded the standard “Don’t ask/don’t tell until 12 weeks in case anything goes wrong” privacy deal that we would afford someone who works on the tills at B&Q. But of course the rush for the media to shout from the rooftops Kate’s compliance as a good little broodmare – her transition from “Waity Katy” to silent, ambition-free spouse and now to provider of heir to the throne – would outweigh any of her personal wishes.
We like to claim that how we treat women has changed since Diana, Princess of Wales but it hasn’t really. When William’s mother tried to speak out against her designated royal path, she was swiftly painted as a lunatic. I wonder how we’d react if Kate appeared at the window of the King Edward VII, pointed at her stomach and told the entire world’s press to naff off and leave her alone?
Babies are a lovely thing. They are hope and fresh chances and glee and pudgy limbs and heads that smell delicious. I’m a fan of babies. I think all babies should be anticipated and showered with gifts and vows of unconditional love.
But as I watch the excitement outside the hospital in Marylebone, my petty mind keeps straying to the tiny tots at the infant schools four miles away beside my house who I know are arriving each day starving hungry. The teachers are feeding them with bagels and bread brought from home each morning so they have energy to run in the yard at playtime and hold a picture book. Classroom assistants find coats and extra clothes for them in mid-winter when they show up with cold arms and legs. Bitter widespread poverty is at play.
All babies are special but some are a damn sight more special than others. Kate Middleton’s womb is a charming good news story, a delightful smokescreen, a fairy tale, but meanwhile our throwaway attitude to new life festers on.
Independent News Service