With Cheerios stuck to his jumper, Aidan Smith takes Russell Brand to task over his avoidance of nappy duty, but says it just might be a great piece of satire.
This is going to sound like a big, fat boast, like I’m preparing my entry for Dad of the Year 2019 – and at the same time my acceptance speech for when I romp to the prize – but here’s how yesterday began for me ...
6.30am. Heated up bottle of milk for junior, youngest of four.
6.50am. Nappy change.
7am. Made breakfast for other three, though only two ate. Eldest got back under blanket on sofa, where he’d been all weekend. “I’m too ill to go to school,” he wailed. “Nothing to do with Mondays beginning with double maths?” I sneered. Wife scolded me for lack of empathy, kissed kids goodbye, returned after remembering to kiss me. “And don’t forget the packed lunches like you did last week. Twice.”
7.15am. Breakfast for junior, still not eating. Still pooing, though. Another nappy change.
7.50am. Issued five-minute warning for school run. Had usual “Trainers aren’t acceptable footwear” squabble with second eldest – with usual outcome. “At least you listen to me, Hectic,” I sighed, removing Cheerios from his hair and strapping him into carseat. “Dad, stop calling him that. His name’s Hector,” scolded second youngest. “Okay, but right now Hectic seems more appropriate.” Remembered packed lunches but forgot Hectic’s hat. Childminder was going to be taking him to zoo. I suggested: “Tell Suzy you’d rather not look at any animals on windy hillsides and that you want to stay indoors in the monkey house because you’re going to be majoring on ape behaviour for your university thesis.” “Ga,” replied Hectic.
8.15am. Had usual Radio Scotland vs Capital squabble with second eldest, pointing out that commercial station’s apparent company-wide practice of pronouncing “sandwiches” with a “g” in middle was tremendously annoying. Usual outcome.
8.40am. Dropped off those attending school. Deposited youngest, excelling himself with deposits of his own, with childminder who glowered heavily. Drove to wife’s work and left car. Returned eldest home on bus, having had to plunder second youngest’s piggy-bank for fare, snapping blade on kitchen’s most indispensible knife. Told eldest he could watch TV and on no account was he to disturb his father who had to write an angry article about Russell Brand. “Okay Dad,” he said, “but you’ve still got two Cheerios stuck to your jumper.”
Russell “I don’t change nappies” Brand. How on Earth does he pull that one off? How does he get away with not pulling off honking diapers, gingerly tying them up in a vain effort to limit the pong because the supermarket had run out of those scented poly bags (again) and then whisking them straight out to the bin, or even better the neighbour’s bin?
Brand caused an explosion with his dadhood confessions. Of his two daughters, Mabel, two, and Peggy, six months, he said: “I’m very focused on the mystic connotations of their beauty and grace – not so good on the nappies and making sure they eat food.”
His wife Laura would appear to take care of these fairly important duties but the comedian must give her the odd night off, right? Surely she’s accorded a break from poo and Peppa Pig and pouches of squished fruit and poo. But Brand has never looked after his girls for a whole day. “She wouldn’t go away for 24 hours, Laura,” he said. “She respects and cares for their safety too much.”
My first reaction to reading this was my usual one concerning Brand: that he was being provocative. He has made a career out of the casual presentation of absurd remarks or odious deeds. Like turning up for work the day after 9/11 dressed as Osama bin Laden. Like making a hoax call to the police during a stand-up show. Like those voicemails to Andrew Sachs about having shagged his granddaughter.
The thing is, not to suggest that turning up his nose at nappy-changing is the more obnoxious act, but the remark if made in jest simply isn’t funny. It sounds like something you’d find in Loaded, the magazine having closed in 2015, hirpling on for a few more years after the official demise of laddism. It sounds like something Jacob Rees-Mogg would say, which must be troubling for a comedian who cultivates such a cool and edgy image. It sounds like Jacob Rees-Brand is struggling for new material and is reduced to rehashing lines which have lost the power to shock.
Or ... he really does mean it. He actually doesn’t change nappies. So what is Osama Rees-Brand’s image exactly? Is it Victorian Dad? Or, with all that talk about “mystic connotations”, is it New Age Dad? I guess he would claim he’s being fluid, elusive and impossible to pin down. But not taking his share of the load, those heavy nappies and the rest of the less glamorous aspects of parenting, makes him look a little bit pathetic and a big bit chauvinistic. What’s his excuse? That this work is menial and interferes with his creating and conceptualising as an “artist”? “I get up, I meditate and I pray ...” Brand continued. “I do some writing ... I do Brazilian jiu-jitsu quite a lot. I go to the gym.” Give me a break.
The words in this article – I’m sure you can tell – were assembled without the aid of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. But I don’t want to fall into the trap of competitive parenting because my blunderings listed above are a mere snapshot of the Hectic-inspired hecticness in this household. There is, though, one last chance for Brand to redeem himself. If he’s opting out of the heavy lifting in protest at all the dads who put on a show of doing it but are about as much use as a chocolate stairguard, then it’s a great gag.
I could just about believe that, too. At least until 6.30am tomorrow ...