Edinburgh Waverly station. ‘I boarded a train and accidentally got into the ‘family-friendly coach’. I wondered which carriage was designated for bad-tempered middle-aged lesbians who want to kill anyone eating crisps or apples.’ Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian
I was once banned from my local Starbucks, in the Nappy Valley area of north London, because a woman in the queue in front of me had read my column from the day before, in which I railed against brattish middle-class kids.
When I sighed loudly for the third time, getting sick of waiting while she patiently and somewhat smugly explained to her five-year-old the difference between a babyccino and a caramelised honey creme, she turned to look at me disapprovingly and recognised me from my byline photo.
An argument ensued about my child-negative views, and the barista, who today will no doubt be sporting a topknot, piously asked me to leave, explaining that Starbucks has a “child-friendly policy”. As if that was not obvious, given how many baby buggies I’d had to climb over to get anywhere near the counter.
I was reminded of this episode recently when I boarded a train and accidentally got into the “family-friendly coach”. I wondered which carriage was designated for bad-tempered middle-aged lesbians who want to kill anyone eating crisps or apples, but my investigation bore no fruit. What, I asked myself, would a “child-free carriage” look like, except for bliss? When I mentioned this to the ticket inspector, he looked at me as though I had said I could prove the pope was not Catholic.
Badly behaved posh kids are the worst on buses. They kick and scream, and are often indulged by parents who glare at you with sheer hatred if you do anything other than bill and coo at them.
On flights, I have witnessed parents push their way to the front of the queue, for no good reason other than that they are travelling with a couple of teenagers. Why should they be given even more privilege than they already have? I have lost count of the times that cabin crew have asked me to move from my aisle seat in order to let a “family” sit together, even though the older kids would far prefer to be away from their folks so they can play noisy computer games and not be told off by anyone, because everyone knows it is illegal not to find every bloody thing cute when done by kids, except for slaughter their parents.
As a regular flyer, I cannot tell you how overjoyed I am about the news that Indian budget carrier IndiGo has adopted a “quiet zone” policy that bans under-12s from its premium seats. I can’t afford to travel anything other than working class, but it sets a precedent for an airline to acknowledge that young children can be a total pain in the arse for other passengers.
I usually fly for work, but if I have nothing to do on arrival until the following day, I love to spend time on long-haul flights boozing, cursing and crying at films such as My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. Clearly, some of you will be disgusted at this, but I can’t say I am keen on kids slamming me in the back, screaming in my ears, and sticking their jammy paws all over me when they escape the clutches of their guardians and look for someone to play with.
They even interfere with my supermarket shopping. I can’t find a parking space because the only ones free are the numerous “parent and child bays”. What exactly is the cut-off age for using these? My mum says she has “three children”, so presumably next time she visits we can park in one because she is with me? If one does nick such a bay, the ensuing kerfuffle is far more vicious than the justifiable anger displayed by disabled people if an able-bodied driver parks in one of their spaces. Why? Because parents feel so entitled. They seem to believe they have bred in order to do good for the rest of humanity, rather than making a very selfish choice.
“My children will look after you when you are old,” they bleat at me, when I sensitively ask why they had their own kids when there are plenty of unwanted children in care. I am sure that is a conversation had by many a couple deciding to reproduce. “Shall we, darling?” “Yes, I think we should. I am worried about Julie and other old childless couples sitting around in adult nappies if we don’t provide some care for them in the future.”
Do me a favour – have your kids, and enjoy them all you like, but please try to keep them from bothering me.