Mums go at it on R5…

I am always intrigued by the guests on the Richard Bacon Show on R5 – not just  because I have known and worked with Richard a few times over many years – but more because I tried to get on to the show myself to publicize my book- how tom holland eclipsed his dad. And failed.

The producer liked the idea of the book but they wanted Tom to join me for the interview – which I was not entirely comfortable about. The book stands up on its own merit and I hoped, so do I as a guest with previous novels, two R4 series and TV appearances including the Royal Variety and Have I Got News For You…  I also thought dragging my son along to the interview could embarrass him and also compromise him. So I held firm. No Tom.

Okay, no Tom. No interview and I remained principled but completely gutted.

This week on Richard’s show were two guests under the banner of pushy mums – one of whom lost it with the other. It made for exciting but quite uncomfortable radio. As the author of the above mentioned book, I am interested in this subject and acutely sensitive to the accusation that I might be a pushy parent, or even worse, an opportunistic one.

One guest was Daisy Waugh – the Sunday Times columnist who I had heard of – and one was Anna May Mangan – a writer who I hadn’t. Anna is a self-confessed pushy mum and from her ‘ordinary’ background, her kids have become doctors and lawyers.

Daisy Waugh was immediately combative and strident in her claim that mums should not be pushy and just let their kids find their own thing in their own time and way.

Easy for you to say Daisy – Anna implied – but I have no family connections…

This is where it all got messy. Daisy was furious at this inference – that her famous surname might have been a help to her as a writer and I fear that she protested a little too much. Daisy fumed that, in fact, she did not go to a private school until she was 15 and furthermore, she failed all her A levels  and did not even go to university.

Which rather defeats her argument, because how many writers with a column in the Sunday Times have no A levels let alone a degree? I expect not many. Possibly even none. And I would imagine that that the majority of them have Oxbridge degrees to boot – and the same will be the case across all media outlets.

Whether Daisy likes it or not – hers is a surname that keeps on giving.

But so what?  Such is life. As I say in my book – I don’t like nepotism but only because I didn’t much fancy being a teacher or a nurse. But had my old man been a movie director….

Nepotism is a fact of life as much as respiration is. And if I can help my kids along then believe me, I will.

But for people like Anna – who can’t afford to send her kids to the schools where the majority of the illustrious people in our society hail from – think of a prominent person now – in the arts, the media and nowadays, even sport (football and boxing withstanding) and you will find a very high strike rate for the private schools.

For people without the means and the connections – they do have to do more and they can’t encourage their kids to opt for the free spirit route – so well done Anna – for helping your kids along and for holding your cool on the radio. I was on my way to a gig and you helped the journey along.


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