So, to ITV I went again, this time to Lorraine’s show, only Lorraine has very sensibly decided to get out of town while the whole of central London turns, for the duration of the Olympics, into a massive car park with traffic moving as fast as the Head Honcho of G4S towards the Piss Up In A Brewery of the Year award.
So for today, Lorraine is called Nadia instead. It all makes sense, in a TV-ish way.
The debate this time, is this:
Would you pay a professional photographer to take photos of you during labour and, (brace yerselves, ladies – if I may use such an unfortunate turn of phrase given what follows) at the BIRTH OF YOUR CHILD?
It takes a while to get one’s head around it; which is presumably what the photographer would be trying to do as well, what it all the legs and birthing balls (not your husband’s – the ones you sit on in the delivery room) and amniotic fluid somewhat buggering up the picture’s composition.
Now, it’s all a matter of personal taste, of course, and I don’t know what’s on your mantelpiece.
But here’s what’s not on mine:
a tastefully framed 12”x10” black and white arty shot of……my ripped perineum, complete with the high-res matted crown of the head of my child emerging from my holiest of holies like a blood-and-mucus-enveloped basket ball ripping slowly through the centre of a giant oyster.
Childbirth is indeed a beautiful event.
So magical, in fact, that I want any memories of it do magically disappear in a puff of afterbirth.
There are VERY few advantages of being female where human reproduction is concerned. And when I say ‘very few’, I mean…one. So it seems strange to me that anyone would want to over-ride it. Here it is:
we are at the head end.
Thus we don’t EVER need to see the mess that lies at the Other End. This joy is reserved for our partners, who them have to erase the image as fast as they can or find someone else to sleep with.
Using a mirror to show me what I truly don’t ever want to see is bad enough; having a permanent record of it, should I ever wish to be reminded of The Moment Of Faint-Inducing Rippage once the ghastly memories of have thankfully faded, is tantamount to insanity.
I kind of understand the attraction of having some parts of the momentous event recorded in little pixels of blood, sweat and tears that one can pore over in years to come, when the children have grown up and there’s nothing left to talk about apart from the days when you used to have things to talk about.
But after three horrible labours, during which I was convinced for every second of the entire 37 hours of HELL that I was going to die ANY SECOND NOW, OH JESUS CHRIST SOMEBODY PLEASE GET THIS CHILD OUT OF ME!! , the reality would have been an album full of shots of:
- Mummy crying in the kitchen.
- Mummy screaming in the bathroom.
- Mummy throwing plates at Daddy, and making a mouth shape that would strongly suggest to any lip-reader or teenager looking at the picture that she is saying something about Daddy being a COMPLETE BASTARD for doing this to her, and why doesn’t he DO something useful… no not THAT ferchrissakes, something ELSE, like…like…..like Oh I don’t know, like FUCK OFF AND GO AWAY?? Hey! Where do you think you’re going….?
- Mummy biting Daddy’s shoulder until it bleeds.
- Daddy swearing, but not in such a way that it might look as if he a) is angry with mummy for maiming him or b) needs more sympathy than Mummy.
- Mummy puffing and panting like a blow-fish after a 400m freestyle.
- Mummy bursting all the blood vessels in her face from all the screaming and blow-fish impressions.
- Daddy offering cold cloths and hopeful words, like ‘Sorry’, ‘Is it getting any better?’, and ‘Sweetheart, did you mean to kick me in the balls just then?’, while trying to sneak at peek over Mummy’s shoulder at the cricket on the – oh man, is that the score….?
- Mummy trying to remember whether to breathe IN or OUT during a contraction, but not being able to open the Goddamned book due to the sweat pouring from her hands.
- Daddy crying, to make it seem like more of a joint effort but really because Pietersen just went out for a duck.
- Mummy throwing up into a cardboard bowl shaped like a jelly bean. (Quite why they are always this shape is one of the Great Mysteries of Modern Medicine.)
- Daddy trying not to throw up, even though it’s almost impossible not to throw up when someone in front of you just threw up.
- Daddy driving very fast down the M11 the wrong way, while shouting at the Satnav and looking nervously at the dropping fuel gauge.
- Mummy losing more blood from between her legs than you’d find on a plate of rare-as-hell steak in a top Parisien restaurant.
- Mummy with her legs in stirrups, losing her mind, manners, bowel control and, curiously enough, her sense of humour.
- Daddy wondering if he should perhaps leave, lest he never finds Mummy sexy EVER again, while maintaining a face that says ‘Well done, honey, you’re doing GREAT! I definitely don’t think this is NOT the most gruesome thing I’ve seen since the uncut version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and I don’t want to leave right now and go to the pub with my mates. No. Not at all.’
- Mummy, smiling limply, lying in a blood-soaked bed with a sticky, blotchy, squashed baby which resembles as an alien after a moose sat on its head for three days.
- A generic new-born baby that, frankly, could be anyone’s.
(Incidentally, the above should be printed out and given to all 14-year-olds as a form of contraception. It’s my contribution to lowering the world’s population growth problems. These blogs can change the WORLD, you know.)
Now then, to be fair, the shots of the birth that you’ll see in my Lorraine interview are actually very beautiful. Serene, stylish, and not-at-all-like-anything-I-recognise-as-real-labour.
But….that’s what’s wrong with them, for me. They are TOO perfect. They’re a magazine shoot. A perfect version of the imperfect process of getting a human out of another human.
And I don’t want my life to be a glossy photo shoot. (Apart from all the glossy photo shoots I have to do. Those are allowed to be glossy; it’s in the contract, daaahling.)
In a world full of fakery and photoshop, I want a place reserved for REALISM. I want blood and guts and pain and beauty and fear and joy and sadness and maybe a sprinkling of multi-orgasmic thrown in there for good measure.
Quite apart from the safety aspects of having a photographer in the room checking light levels and composition, and could you juuuust tip your head down a smidgeon, Mrs Fraser, that’s it, a little more to the left….lovely! Beautiful….and give me just the hint of a smile…no a little less….hmm, too much now – can you split the difference? Oh sure, when the next contraction has passed is fine, if you like….oh that’s GOOD. Magic!
….quite apart from all of that, is the issue that EVERYTHING is photographed and recorded these days, and me no likey.
Why do people feel such a terrifying need to record, document, film, photograph, share, show and capture every nanosecond of their lives? Is it no longer possible to BE in a moment, enjoy it for what it is, and use that weird thing called MEMORY to remember it later?
Gigs, exhibitions, events, birthdays, nights out in the pub with a friend are now accompanied by a sea of iphones and cameras, recording and sharing the minutiae of our lives via social media within seconds, making everyone present nervous of looking like an arse for even one second because..
CLICK! Forget what it is you were just taking a photo of because hey, you have the photo now so you don’t have to remember or feel anything.
Of course I’ve done this too; my Facebook page is, like most people’s, evidence of some fairly vile, trigger-happy, self-promoting behaviour.
But I don’t want to be part of a show all the time, and I don’t need a photo album of…my entire life.
I certainly don’t need a picture of me giving birth, with the caption, “The saloon doors are open; come on in!” as my profile picture.
No, no professional photographer for me, in the delivery room thank you very much. I am very happy not have every second of my life recorded – especially the bits that Mother Nature has already gone to considerable effort to make with a special ‘This Memory Will Self-destruct In Three Days’ mechanism.
Having given birth to the whole of Humanity, this woman knows a thing or two so I’m inclined to go along with her.
Here’s the clip. Enjoy. I’m wearing the shortest skirt it is legal to wear on British television, which I hope distracted the viewers enough that they ignored what I was saying. Cunning.