As a father to two daughters I am there first male role model and I’ll be honest that terrifies me. I am their advert for the male species and I don’t think I can handle that sort of pressure. On Christmas Day last year, the eldest witnessed me eating a pringle crumb direct from my own belly button, so I would imagine it’s not going well.
Ironically thought I might be doing a brilliant thing for female empowerment. To show them how useless men truly are and that they don’t need one in their life to succeed.
Over the years the idea of what it means to be a man and in particular a father have changed dramatically. In the 1950’s I think of dads as more like company directors. Always wearing a suit, there for the main meetings but never at the coal face of real graft. I’ve seen pictures from old family albums and my Grandad wore a suit everywhere, even in the height of summer. There’s a photo of him sitting on a beach in Bridlington, wearing a full three piece tweed number, eating an ice cream. He looked like a fox hunter who’s horse had got lost.
I always imagine the dads in the 50’s were like the father in Mary Poppins. Came in the house at six o’clock in the evening, lit a pipe, kissed the children good night, thanked the nanny, pulled a hat over their face and then went to sleep.
I think a lot of fathers back then didn’t have that much of an input. My own father lost his mother at a young age and he and his brother were brought up entirely by their dad, who worked down the pit. His Dad only slept about three hours a night, he didn’t even bother going to bed, he would just slump into an arm chair in the corner and turn the light off. Like a ninja, just a silhouette in the darkness, cigar smoke occasionally rising like a Red Indian settlement, “they say Ernest doesn’t sleep, he just waits”
I only knew my Grandad for a few years. He had a stroke and I used to visit him in the old peoples home. He would drive his electric wheelchair around with me hanging off the side. He couldn’t speak, but he often looked at me and I knew what he was thinking. “What will it take to shake off this annoying pr*ck, I’m trying to watch the Snooker here!”
My dad was basically brought up by his elder brother. His childhood made the film Angela’s Ashes look positively idyllic. They have a similar same age gap as my own children. From the age of six, my dad was basically left in the care of another child. That is madness, but for that generation it just seemed normal. I can’t imagine my twelve year old looking after my youngest, she can barely look after herself. The other night she announced she was going for a shower, at 7pm. I knock on the bathroom door at 8.30pm, she’s still not had been in. She’s spent two hours just staring at her phone with the water running. You leave a six year old with that and it’s clearly not going to end well. After the third day of giving her Fruit shoot and Haribo for breakfast and sending her to school in a tutu and a bin bag, social services would rightly be involved.
In a way I’d like to see it as an experiment. See if my eldest can channel her inner Cinderella. I’m sure she’ll soon forget about Tik Tok and Whatsapp groups when she’s having to do intense counselling sessions with a six year old to stop her being afraid of having to take a dump at school. You haven’t got time for gaming when you’re a full time turd whisperer.
It’s a miracle my Dad is so balanced and loving really. I don’t know how he came out of that unscathed. Occasionally he’ll be reminiscing and just drop something so causally into the conversation, “yeah, well that summer was a bit of a write off, because your Uncle Eric had shot me in the neck with an air rifle, just missed the jugular, it was my fault really, I volunteered to hold up the Coke Can. Anyway, who fancies some cheesecake”
When I was a kid I found my mates Dads just scary. I never really saw them. They just existed in a series of grunts, smells and the sound of an engine accelerating as they left for work. They weren’t Dads, they were more like Poltergeists. Was there anything more frightening than a dad who worked shifts? “We can play Scott, but in silence, bring your slippers and hold your breath” it was like hiding from a Velociraptor. I remember completing a level on Mario and having to stifle my celebratory whoops with a cushion on the face, it wasn’t relaxing. We’d be having dinner, potato waffles and crispy pancakes, because that was the law in the late eighties and the floorboards would creak above us. My mate and his mum would look at each other as if to say, “brace yourself, it’s stirring”
One of my mates dad was called Geoff, he was like the king of the dads. Only one syllable that name, he didn’t have time for two, he had radiators to bleed. I reckon he looked like dad even when he was seven. Came out fully grown, already able to grout a bathroom. He was probably breast fed bitter, his mother didn’t wind him, he winded her. He was a gun dealer, totally legal, but it was a bizarre job he had. He had a cupboard under the stairs which was full of weapons, like a gangster Harry Potter. I can remember seeing it opened on my way up to my mates’ room. What a sight that was. There were guns, pictures of tanks and calendars with boobs on them, like naughty Narnia, it was like the ultimate stag doo in there. All that was missing was a rotating stick of Doner meat and a tray of shots.
I am trying to maintain my identity as a man, but it’s not easy. When you’re a Dad, people just sniff it on you, and I don’t mean because you’re wearing Paco Rabanne, you just give off those vibes. I took my eldest daughter to a festival recently, she’s getting into music and it’s wonderful. I went to get us a drink and I was walking through the field back to her and I heard the sound of a drug dealer coming through the crowds. “Anyone want coke, speed, pills, weed?” He took one look at me, in my cagoule and just stopped, “sorry mate” I mean I was offended, but what would have to offer me. “You fancy some acid?” “It’s alright mate, I’ve already got some, that Burrito was way too spicy for me, you got a Rennie in your bag, I’ll just have half, just to take the edge off”
It’s obvious to everyone else too. In May 2018 I had a car accident. I was driving back from a show and someone just ran into the side of me. At first, I thought, “well that’s a committed heckler!”
It was a young girl that hit me. She was only 21 and was visibly upset. I told her to ring her parents, I overheard the whole conversation and what she said to her mum annoyed me more than the accident.
“Is the person you ran into okay?”
“What is he like?”
“Is he a young man?”
“What do you mean?”
“No, he’s like a dad man!”
A Dad Man, that sounds like a really rubbish Avenger. The only thing he assembles is Ikea furniture and he’s too stubborn to look at the instructions. His superpower is sarcasm and he spends his days wondering around the city asking the criminals to “pull his finger”
But that bothered me. I’m not defined by my kids, just as a wife is not defined by her husband. I’m virile, I’m sexy, I’ve got dreams, I’m still cool! Honestly, I was so upset I could barely button up my cardigan.
But I am a Dad, and I’ll be honest I do love it. I like doing dad things. I’m a member of the national trust. It’s like a middle class cult. There is nothing more enjoyable than dragging your miserable children, on their weekends, around a 17th century Victorian scullery. I like to be one of those keen dads too. Who throws out nuggets of interesting but useless information that no one listens too. “Look at this. It says here, this along with basket weaving was one of the key industries for the Mormon community”
The problem isn’t society it’s other dads. Now you have these sexy ones, that work out and look like GQ models. They work from home and spend Sunday mornings pushing a running buggy through the park. They love that don’t they? To show you that they are fit, but still a great father. I’m not buying it mate. It’s Sunday morning and you can’t have half an hour to jog without pushing your own DNA in front of you. You’re weak and needy.
I hate seeing a man with a running buggy. Mainly because I’m too lazy to do it, but also looks like you’ve just split up with your wife and that’s all she’s left you in the divorce, “If you want it Julie, you’ve have to race me for it!” either that or they’ve just stolen a kid.
This lot are ruining it for dads like me who want to let themselves go! They’ve got six packs, they’re well groomed, they even smell nice. That isn’t a dad!
Dads should have bellies, moobs and wear clothes from Asda. They should spend most of the day with their hands down their jogging bottoms, basically dads should all be Homer Simpson.
I do keep fighting though. My girls need me and I want to make them proud. This is what gets me out of that dressing gown every morning. I’ve got a job to do and I’m not going to let them down.
Olivia is twelve now, she’s growing up. I know the day is coming when those hormones will be raging, she’ll be emotional all the time for no reason, and when that day comes. I’m going to do what any good father would do in that situation. I’m going to send her to my wife.
I sometimes get jealous of other men. It happened last year at an event I was hosting in London. This man was the coolest guy I’ve ever met. He was this brain surgeon from LA. I never wanted to be another man so much. He asked me a question and I didn’t respond and I realized it wasn’t because I wasn’t interested in what he was saying, it was because I was just staring at his face. The conversation was about how high pressured his job was. He said, with a voice as rich as a chocolate brownie baked by a Kardashian:
“When I go into the theatre Scott, it’s not about my personality anymore, it all comes down to the skill in these hands, whether I succeed or fail is all down to these” and he held them up, his perfectly manicured nails glinting in the spotlight.
What could I say? A Stand up comedian, facing an award winning surgeon?
“Yeah, that’s just like me in the theatre mate, but with knob gags!”
I went onto his Instagram page after the event and there is a picture of him coming out of surgery in the full scrubs, looking up to the camera and the caption read
“Another life saved”
“Wow……the man is a hero!”
I went onto mine and frankly it’s embarrassing.
I’ve got one at exactly the same angle, my arms outstretched, looking up to the camera, but I’m halfway through eating a massive pizza. I had captioned mine too, it read:
“Another slice gone!”
I have a long way to go.
Scott Bennett Comedian
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