Thursday, 21 February 2013

School friends, parties and a rock god: commenting on Katie Hopkins


My best mate at primary school was called Richard Finnigan. He was the sort of kid who Katie Hopkins would dislike:

Call me controlling, call me ruthlessly aggressive. But I'm convinced one of the best things I can do for my children - India, eight, Poppy, seven, and Max, four - is to choose their friends for them.

Richard's parents were separated and, since it was the 1960s and a Catholic school, this was a big deal. Moreover Richard's Mum, Mary, was a real hippy - trips to Kathmandu and everything - who famously lived with a rock god.

Breaking up with Farthingale shortly after completion of the film, Bowie moved in with Mary Finnigan as her lodger.  Continuing the divergence from rock and roll and blues begun by his work with Farthingale, Bowie joined forces with Finnigan, Christina Ostrom and Barrie Jackson to run a folk club on Sunday nights at the Three Tuns pub in Beckenham High Street.

So it's no surprise that, when Richard had a birthday party, only two of us - me and Andy Bower - turned up. You know - drugs, long hair, tut, tut.

The Finnigan's lived in one of those huge Victorian houses on Foxgrove Road (now mostly demolished and replaced with soul-less blocks of nice flats or twee little cul-de-sacs of town houses). The house had a huge and rather overgrown garden, a tangle of rhododendrons, self-seeded ash and sycamore and the vestiges of paths, statues and ponds that marked its former glory.

For us boys this was brilliant - we weren't interested in the presence of the rock god but in the prospect of jungle adventure, tree climbing and the discussion of those things that matter to nine-year old boys. And we were looked after in that slightly offhand but rather sweet way of hippies. Someone fed us - usually something slightly spicy and pasta-y, probably vegetarian. It might have been Richard's mum, or the couple with a little toddler called Siddhartha, maybe even the rock god himself, this didn't impinge on us - we just welcomed the food.

Parents who want to control the fun of their offspring or who think that somehow the thing we disapprove of in the parents will rub off on our children are telling us more about their own inadequacies than anything else. And, at school, children will make friends with who they wish to not who their controlling mums want them to be friends with.

Perhaps Katie should ease up a little - rather than taking the ridiculous view that consorting with thick children will make her children thick, she should perhaps consider whether her controlling nature might just be damaging them.

Mind you this is the woman who thinks that people who do things she disapproves of should pay more tax, so discovering she's bringing up her children to be ghastly little fascists like her shouldn't surprise us, should it?


1 comment:

Pam Nash said...

It's by making friends of their own choosing that kids learn how to interact with the outside world - so I agree with you.

A slight problem - who is Katie Hopkins?