Basingstoke. Kraftwerk. Karaoke slam.

Our so-called “columnist” with a pile of words in some kind of order. His column feels like that day your parents moved house and didn’t think to mention it. Eh? Not happened to you? Just us then…

Illustration: Joel Benjamin


The words fill my screen like an absolute unit. I stop scrolling Facebook and look again at the status update. Basingstoke. Kraftwerk. Karaoke slam. It was posted by my friend Kenneth, the one with the bendy leg. He chose one of those colour backgrounds which make your Facebook status updates look like a big gay brick. It’s the internet equivalent of using your outside voice at a funeral. Basingstoke. Kraftwerk. Chuffing karaoke slam.

It makes a change from Kenneth’s usual Facebook posts where he vomits on about his kid. Oh look, my lad’s wearing a school uniform. Oh look, my girl’s eating her potty. Oh look, child number seven’s pointing at a goose.

Parents can choose to do anything with their children, anything at all: poke them up chimneys, sell them to the circus, inflate them and enter them in cross-channel balloon races. But instead they post photoshoots all day, every day with their offspring trussed up with kidnap victim grins. If you’re so desperate for your child to be loved, give them plastic surgery. Slice off that puppy fat. Gold-cap those baby teeth. Implant a massive beard like God.

One of these days, Kenneth is going to ask me to babysit. This will be a huge mistake. The last time someone lent me something, I ended up snapping its nozzle off, and step ladders don’t even have nozzles. My gaff isn’t child-ready. I’ve got half a Ludo set, ZX Spectrum cartridges without the Spectrum, and an I-Spy book which isn’t quite filled in because I forgot what a chaffinch looks like. I have nothing modern. The moment he starts asking for ‘Candy Crush’, ‘Minecraft’ or nitrous oxide, I’m stuffed.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy Kenneth is a dad. I congratulated him on turning his man-splurge into a cogent pile of boy flesh that walks, talks and dribbles in roughly the right order. I’m delighted he’s up to his nose in nappies or whatever it is parents feed their children. I’m overjoyed his kid’s in a “good school”, which is code for “it’s near the off-licence”. I am okay with dad and boy wearing matching Crocs because, according to a recent Facebook post, “they fit like gloves for hands if feet were hands”. I’m okay with this. I’M OKAY WITH THIS. I AM ABSOLUTELY FINE WITH ALL OF THIS.

Basingstoke. Kraftwerk. Karaoke slam. It’s then I notice the status update is a week old. I check for more recent posts from Kenneth. Did he hit the high notes in ‘Pocket Calculator’? But there’s nothing. Of course there’s nothing.

We edit our social media like we edit our memories of childbirth: just keep the good stuff and forget about the poop nets. The EDM artist will Instagram a video while making fat beats, but she won’t post the hours of furious laptop-bashing as Windows updated. The DJ will post a selfie with adoring clubbers, arms aloft, but he won’t take a picture of the dirty kebab he ate alone in the taxi home.

I’ll never know how the karaoke slam went because if the result isn’t worthy of a mauve breezeblock of shouty text, then all we’re left with is a return ticket to Basingstoke and a Croc-full of shattered dreams.

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