We have just returned from an all day child birth class. My state of denial about the pregnancy is becoming harder to
sustain. Susan has a lovely bumpy shape and all these child birth classes seem to be more than just academic (although I
am wondering just what I am going to do at next Wednesday’s breast feeding class). On the spectrum from sick as a parrot
to glowing mother-to-be Susan is fortunately closer towards the latter end (although she gets tired a lot of course). Due date:
15 May. Sex: F. So far my principle concern is that the SatSu (our working project name for her) might be too white.
The Old Satnam would have been somewhat sceptical about the thought of going to a child birth class but this New Satnam
has to admit that today’s class was very useful (self-check: how long have I been living in California? 5.5 years?). A very
entertaining American Woman gave the child birth class. I almost got off to a very bad start when I considered asking her
when she was due. Then I realised that she was not pregnant. She had a magic wand that she used during the class to
dispense rewards for people that gave answers (any answers) and she could have just as easily used it to turn me into a frog
– or even worse in California — a smoker. Although the class was very interesting, it was also quite scary — especially for
Susan. The teacher did make a jibe at the four British people in the class by quoting an article claiming that the British were
“too posh to push” which was resulting in a higher incidence of C-sections (in the US it is customary to abbreviate unsavoury
words down to one letter to reduce their impact).
I have discovered a new world of technology which has previously gone totally unnoticed by me. Forget “prams”; today’s
moms have “travel systems”. Styled more after sports cars than functional boxes on wheels these are complex
interconnecting components of prams, child seats, cup holder attachments (for child and driver) complete with shock
absorbers, tastefully designed in Italy and cost more than my first car. We’ve taken quite a few for test drives. We have even
managed to find one that fits our sports car (yes, we looked ridiculous outside Mothercare trying to fit car seats into an open
top Miata MX-5 during a freezing cold Scottish January morning).
Since research is in my veins I have decided to do a literature search not by reading the conventional books for parents to be
(except for a “Best Friend’s Guide to Pregnancy” which I like because it is written by someone that used to be a Playboy
centerfold and thus is not totally infused with political correctness which is pumped by the state into the air here anyway).
Instead I have decided to read about the life of working mothers e.g. “I Don’t Know How She Does It” by Allison Pearson
which I highly recommend as a very entertaining read. And I have decided to stock up on morality by reading books like “How
to be Good” by Nick Hornby which actually taught me more about how to be bad and the three books by Tony Parsons
(“Man and Boy”, “Man and Wife”, “One for my Baby”) which also give a pretty good checklist of things to do if you want to
totally ruin your life. I wonder if it is a coincidence that I used to regularly watch Allison Pearson and Tony Parsons on the
BBC2 “Late Show” back in the days when I was thin and wore all black. However, my favourite recent read is “Bel Canto” by
Ann Patchett which inspired me to go to my first opera this weekend (it could equally have inspired me to kidnap some state
head in a mansion somewhere). As far as I can tell opera (so far in my experience equivalent to Verdi’s “Il Travatore”) is just
like Indian Bollywood films but with far less colour, drama, hysteria and tragedy and a lot more high pitch notes.
My backup Plan B career is making slow progress. I can now play the chords A, Am, Am7, C, D, Dm, D7, E, Em, F, Fmaj7
and G which means that I can play a (massively) simplified version of “Romeo and Juliet” by Dire Straits on my acoustic
guitar. The piano has been quite neglected and Susan is refusing to give me singing lessons unless we are suitably isolated
from other humans e.g. select regions of the Antarctic. So don’t hold your breath for my 80s rock star career to get off the
ground any time soon. My current music obsession is Electric 6 with their song “Danger! High Voltage!” which
simulatenously appeals to my electrical engineering instinct and my disdain for American chain restaurants (one of the lines
is “Fire in the Taco Bell”) and it comes complete with an utterly absurd (disturbing?) video that is so terrible that it is good.
It’s hard to believe walking around the streets that this is a country about to go to war. It’s also hard to engage the Americans
that I know in conversations about such topics — a cultural difference I guess. Most of the foreigners I know are quite vocal in
their opposition. One American I know said he was against the war because it will make other countries hate America even
more but based on what I see on FOX news this is very much a minority opinion. The USA was put on “orange” terror alert
(the second highest, the top one is red) on Friday. Some Americans have been wondering when it is OK to remove the stars
and stripes from their cars but most seem to have erred on the side of caution. Even I have wondered about putting the US
flag on the back of our cars just to avoid abuse. I have already shaved off my goatee beard. When I had a full (well, as full as
it gets for me) beard I got stopped 100% of the time for the “random gate check”. When I shaved down to the level of a
goatee the random gate checks miraculously went down to 0%. However other types of abuse have not abated so (despite
Susan’s protests) I am now clean shaven.
Susan’s parents are coming over for the birth from May 6 to June 3 so if any of you have a spare room during that period I
would be interested in staying. No, no, it’s not that bad. They are actually going to stay at a nearby hotel (don’t ask).
Meanwhile I have to wonder how many more of my words I am going to have eat. Take, for example, video cameras. Old
Satnam: “over my dead body”. New Satnam: “that could be useful for filming the birth and sending tapes of the sprog to
grandparents”. Old Satnam: “Walt Disney was a Nazi sympathiser and no child of mine will ever watch any of his terrible
films”. New Satnam: “It’s a girl so we should get Pocahontas — right?”. Old Satnam: “I’d much rather have a bus pass than a
people mover.” New Satnam: “Don’t you think a Toyota Previa will be handy?” Old Satnam: “I really wish people would not
keep showing me their ultrasounds”. New Satnam: “Shall we email everyone our ultrasounds, post them on our web page or
I am turning into an emotional wreck. Well, even more of an emotional wreck than I was before. The two ultrasounds have
made me feel like I am melting inside and filled me with unexplicable warmth. I have grown up with the time honoured West
of Scotland male tradition of ensuring it is a cold day in hell when you shed a tear. But now any random scene (in real life,
TV or books) involving young children or babies is enough to bring tears to my eyes and fill me with irrational emotions totally
beyond my comprehension. Tony Parson’s books’ were terribly bad for this as were the first four series of “Cold Feet” which I
have watched several times recently (see how sad our life is). I keep staring at other people’s chidren in public places (usual
reaction: mother picks up child to protect against mad staring possible child kidnapper with the superficial appearance of a
Muslim terrorist). At work my emotions have turned me into a paranoid wreck. A few twangs of the guitar by Lloyd Cole or
U2′s “One” and I am reaching for the Kleenex. I don’t even like U2. I wonder if I will ever get back my heart of stone and cold
calculating logical mind instead of being this warm mushy fuzzy thing.