Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

My Cloned Son: Already Let Down and Never Getting Better; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

My Cloned Son: Already Let Down and Never Getting Better; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Keith Hann

HAVE you noticed how the most vehement opponents of the hereditary principle never seem to hesitate about giving their own kids a leg-up in their careers? I'm thinking of the sort of bien-pensant lefties who line up to sneer at TV programmes like Sunday night's heartwarming two hours of Our Queen on ITV, yet curiously ensure that their favoured professions of acting, broadcasting, journalism and politics are stuffed full of their own sprogs.

The same individuals are usually full of praise for the comprehensive school system and quick to condemn those who seek to opt out of it. Except in the case of their own children, whose needs must always come first, and who would suffer so terribly if they were sent to the local state school.

I should say right away that I do not condemn their actions, merely the hypocritical disjoint between their words and deeds. I can also understand how they come to feel that little Tristram is peculiarly suited to following them into a TV studio or the House of Commons if they chance, like me, to have a child who appears to be a perfect clone of themselves.

Charlie Hann, aged 33/4, is currently experiencing a severe dose of his first proper childhood illness, all the other major horrors of my own infancy having been more or less eliminated by vaccination.

The NHS website helpfully advises that "chickenpox in children is considered a mild illness, but expect your child to feel pretty miserable and irritable while they have it".

This could not be more spot on (no pun intended), but Charlie adds to it a quality of existential despair that is surely quite unusual at his age. So every attempt by his mother to dispense some helpful medicine or soothing lotion is rebuffed with a firm assertion that it is not going to work.

Similarly, her repeated assurances that he will soon be well again, like his convalescent younger brother, provoke a shake of the head and the bleak certainty: "Mummy, I'm never going to get better."

A statement capped only by his recent sad pronouncement, in response to his mother's guarantee that she would keep a promise: "The thing is, Mummy, you've already let me down. …

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