I am living my very own Groundhog Day, but instead of a day it’s the never ending repetition of a single conversation. It goes like this.
Stranger: Aww. He’s lovely. How old is he?
Me: Just turned one.
Stranger: Aww. What’s his name?
Stranger: Ooh, like the prince! Hello Prince George [laughs]
Me: Hmm [plastering on a fake smile until the stranger gets bored and walks away or starts talking about the royal baby]
I’ve already had this conversation four times this the week. It’s the one I’ve been dreading ever since they announced the name of the royal baby. Actually, since the birth of the royal baby. Actually, since the announcement of the pregnancy, when a whole range of royal-baby-name-experts (is that really a thing?) crawled out of the woodwork and started pontificating about possible names. It seems that when you’re a royal it isn’t the job of your parents to choose your name; it is the job of pompous, snorting, overbearing aristocrats on Radio 4, and they chose George months ago.
We chose George several months before that.
In many ways, it doesn’t matter. It’s not exactly an unusual name. Our George was born a full year earlier so people shouldn’t think he’s been named after the prince (though from the conversations I’ve had, it’s as if people do). It’s not likely that we’ll be socialising with the royals and have awkward but amusing incidents where the two get confused. Ha ha ha!
That’s the thing. We have absolutely nothing to do with the royal baby, but now somehow seem inextricably linked. Before, people would engage in a discussion about my son, but now as soon as they learn his name they’re talking about some other child, a child none of us know and none of us will ever meet!
It’s symptomatic of the strange fascination with ‘The Royal Baby’ which has always baffled me. There are approximately 370,000 babies born in the world every day. The vast majority of those I will never meet and don’t give a second thought. I’m not being mean, it’s just a fact. I will almost certainly never meet Prince George, he will have no impact on our lives as we will have no impact on his, so why would I care?
I thought this was a pretty sensible and logical approach but soon found myself being labelled a cynic, a misery and even cold-hearted.
I wouldn’t call myself a Republican – in reality I just don’t care that much – but I did find myself becoming increasingly cynical as the media coverage of ‘The Royal Birth’ became so preposterous it was practically parodying itself: the ridiculously intrusive and pre-emptive announcement that she’d gone into labour led to endless speculation about every detail of the poor child’s life before it had even taken its first breath in the world and press camping outside the doors of the hospital like a group of deranged stalkers hoping that a stray piece of placenta soaked tissue might accidentally float out of the window so that they could splash it across the front page and analyse it in disgusting, intrusive detail, giving them the world’s greatest exclusive. All it needed was for Chris Morris to pop up in the press throng and it could have been an episode of Brass Eye
Then there was the horrendous commercialisation of the whole thing. Companies launched themselves on to the royal bandwagon, capitalising on the birth of an innocent, oblivious child to sell more toys, clothes, shoes, socks, mugs, dribble bibs, cakes, washing powder, toilet roll, sink and plughole unblocker – well, you get the idea. George at ASDA especially must have been over the moon!
Label me cold-hearted if you want, but I was happy to turn off the TV and computer and wait until the whole thing blew over.
The only problem is, when I finally came out from hibernation, I discovered a side that wasn’t so bad after all. Seeing a photograph of Kate, William and George for the first time my initial thought was still ‘For God’s sake, isn’t there any other news?’, but another part of me (I guess the mum part of me) thought ‘Aww, they do look happy’. I guess that’s the thing about being a parent, while you can recognise the increasing amount of nonsense in the world, you also know the most simple pleasure in the world: looking at and loving your child. Seeing them look at their George made me look at my George and for a brief second, I could find something in common with a family so far removed from my own life.
And on the plus side, we’re never going to struggle to buy gifts with the name George on them.