Four mothers who epitomise everything that’s awful about Britain
Motherhood is a trial, a blessing, a gift. Most mums will tell you that having a baby is the one single thing that made sense of their lives, made them complete, made them whole.
Having a family is the best thing they ever did — how many times have we heard that? Yet tragically, not everyone thinks that way.
Out on the margins of society, a baby can be many things: an afterthought, a hindrance, a means to an end, a terrible surprise. They are bundles of joy not for their precious little selves, but for their merits elsewhere. Most notoriously of all, as tokens to be bartered to ensure better housing and benefits.
All of this in a society which actively encourages women to do so. Where did we go so wrong?Two mothers are in the news this week . . . no, let’s make that four mothers. A quartet of mums who, between them, epitomise everything that is bad and getting worse about this country.
Most shocking is the case of the 12-year-old girl, who has given birth. The father is only 13, which makes them the youngest parents in the UK.
New record: A couple have become Britain’s youngest parents after a girl aged 12 gave birth. Their faces have been pixellated to protect their identities
We profess ourselves to be horrified by child brides in India and Afghanistan. This is the sort of thing we expect to happen in uneducated tribes in Third World countries, yet it happened here, in our midst.
The child’s own mother was only 15 when she had her, which says — I am sorry, but it does — everything you need to know.
The girl’s father — not with her mother any longer, no surprises there — says he thinks it’s great. His argument is that his daughter is not on drugs, a baby is a wondrous thing and she is in a committed and loving relationship.
I feel slightly sick that he is crediting his little daughter with complicated emotional and sexual feelings that she cannot possibly have, but it clearly makes him feel better about his (non) role in her catastrophic upbringing.
‘Working the system’: Sinead Clarkson, 36, got pregnant at 15 and has never had a job. She says the benefits system doesn’t makes it financially worthwhile to work
Come on. At her age, she is too young to understand what a relationship is, unless it is the one she enjoys with her teddy. Note that she got pregnant when she was only 11 years old, and neither her mother nor her father even knew until she was eight months gone.
This is more than lax parenting. To me it suggests serious negligence, perhaps even a neglect worthy of prosecution. Will that happen? Of course not. But I’d have both parents arrested, just the same.
Meanwhile, in Rochdale, a 36-year-old jobless mother encouraged her own 19-year-old daughter to ‘work the system’ by having a baby, which she has duly gone and done.
Mother-of-two Sinead Clarkson has no qualifications, has never worked and takes in £1,200 a month from the State. ‘I am better off on benefits. I refuse to work for a pittance and struggle,’ she says.
Bad enough that her own life has been stunted by a system that has suffocated any spark of ambition or drive, now she is ushering in a new generation who will behave in exactly the same manner. Her daughter has done what Mum said, and is expecting her first child in three months.
Cause for celebration? Yeah — in our Cash-for-Kids system, she immediately gets an extra £400 a month in benefits once the baby is born. Woohoo! The Clarkson mums not only make a mockery of the system, they divert money away from the impoverished and the desperate, who need and deserve the money so much more.
They haven’t even tried to get jobs. And despite the millions spent on sex education and the role models who are supposed to foster ambition in young women, far too many girls still dream of nothing more than getting knocked up.
It does not help that sex education in schools is non-judgmental, or that contraceptives are handed out with no mention of moral boundaries.
But I don’t blame the State, I blame the parents. They are supposed to be the moral guardians.
‘Maybe we could have done more,’ said the father of the 12-year-old mum, which has to be the understatement of the year. ‘We cannot keep her wrapped up her whole life,’ he insists.
Fine, but she had not even reached the age of consent. She is and was a child who needed to be protected. At the very least there is supervision, discipline, teaching right from wrong and taking an interest in your child’s life. The basics of family life, so terribly ignored here.
We’re all supposed to clap our hands and say: ‘Babies, how lovely! Don’t be judgmental.’ Both these babies might have tremendous lives, rise above their circumstances and the short-sightedness of young mothers who have brought them into the world with all the planning of an impulse purchase in Primark.
Following in her mother’s footsteps: Ms Clarkson (pictured left) admits to encouraging her eldest daughter Melissa, 19, (pictured right) to have a baby so she can live an ‘easy life on benefits’. Melissa is now pregnant
Yes, it might turn out like a Ken Loach film, with the quiet nobility of the morally impoverished overcoming all obstacles in the end. The 13-year-old father might stand by the 12-year-old mother — until the next girl or football match or Xbox distraction comes along.
The teenage girl who had a baby just so she could get a bigger flat and more benefits might turn out to be the mother of the year. Yet what are the chances?
The cycle goes on, teenage mum begets teenage mum begets teenage mum, driving down a one-way street to a dead-end life. They have failed and been failed in every way. By their own mothers most of all.
Diaz swerves battle of the curves
Cameron Diaz stars in the new film The Other Woman with curvy Sports Illustrated model Kate Upton and actress Leslie Mann.
The plot so far. Three women find out they have been dating the same man and together plan their revenge on the unsuspecting cheater. Girl power! Not quite.
Kate Upton, Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann pose at a photocall in Sydney for their new film The Other Woman
Possibly in an attempt to garner publicity for the new chick flick, it has been hinted that Diaz is jealous of Upton’s voluptuous body.
Yet isn’t it really irresponsible to promote the tantalising, headline-spinning notion of one beautiful woman being jealous of the different body shape of another beautiful woman? When will Hollywood ever learn?
Even if this is one cat spat I am not buying. ‘I am 20 years older than her. I’m not trying to be her,’ said Diaz, when asked about competing with the shapely model in what cultural commentators call ‘the bikini stakes’. Quite right, too.
Singleton Diaz is sporty and sexy, with the glowing confidence of a fortysomething woman in her prime.
Jealous? Not her.
They’re back! Padma Lakshmi in a bib’n’trew combo – the modern equivalent of dungarees
Prepare to be very frightened. Dungarees are back. Padma Lakshmi and Kris Jenner (no, me neither) have been photographed in the new, super hi-fashion bib’n’trew combos.
Who dares follow their example? For women of my generation, it is third or possibly fourth time around for these aberrations of taste.
There were our childhood ones, followed by a revival in the Eighties, when I recall my own bright green dungarees that I thought were so fabulous, but now realise made me look like a failed Rainbow presenter alongside Zippy and Bungle.
Then, for some, there was cramming your kids into Osh Kosh ones. And here they are again.
Hmmm. Even on Padma they look like something you might wear to howk tatties. Or, for non Scots, serve wine in a posh restaurant.
Why ARE women so desperate to copy Kate?
Who are these weird and insecure women, who rush out to buy every dress the Duchess of Cambridge wears? It is not that Kate’s evolved style of understated elegance does not have its charms, but surely grown women can pick a frock for themselves without having to check it out on the DofC first?
You don’t see men rushing out to buy Prince William’s tragic dad jeans, do you? No, thank goodness.
That is a gift, one that Princess Diana did not always have. Diana could be moody and troubled, but now we understand why. Behind the Palace curtains, her marriage was a mess and her life was in uproar.
Sunny, beaming Kate operates from a rock solid marriage and a husband who supports her all the way. It really shows — and it makes a big difference.
Pause for a moment to remember that only a few years ago she was just another pretty girl from the Home Counties. Now she is a thoroughly modern duchess, a credit to us all.
This girl is going places
Oooh, excitement is building about one of the most keenly anticipated films of the year, the screen adaptation of Gone Girl, the terrific thriller by Gillian Flynn, which is due out in October.
Fans of the book — that includes me — can’t wait to see what they’ve done with it. So far, so promising. Ben Affleck appears in a bleak trailer as the accused husband. ‘I did not kill my wife,’ he croaks.
A Gone Girl: Rosamund Pike will star as Amy in the film adaptation of the thriller by Gillian Flynn
The female lead is being played by frangible British actress Rosamund Pike, who always looks as if spun sugar wouldn’t melt in her mouth. She knows she has a task on her hands to bring the dark character of Amy, the missing wife, to life. Can she do it? I hope so!
I know that David Cameron needs some quality time with his family. I know that his hairless knees and hideous, curd-coloured calves need their annual airing before they petrify, like tree stumps, under his Westminster suits.
I know he believes in God, even if God might have a job believing in him.
Yet the fact that he is out in Lanzarote does fill me with foreboding. With UKIP marching on his flanks, jets being readied for Russia, an election in the offing and the Scots massing on the border, I hope he knows what he is doing.
It is nice that he can relax — but can we?
‘Chillaxing’: David Cameron pictured on holiday in Lanzarote with his wife Samantha
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