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Babies? Not in my back yard

March 25, 2013

I’ve been thinking a lot about babies recently. Don’t get alarmed, I have no intention of breeding myself, in fact, quite the opposite. Now that Our father is pretty much as finished as it will ever be, I’ve been thinking about my next project, and whilst I’m keen to go back to Creepers, I think I need to immerse myself in genre-appropriate culture first – the works of Stephen King, some supernatural thrillers, maybe hang around the back alleys of Littleport on a Friday night – and so, prior to that, and to ease me back into solid writing, which I haven’t done in quite some time, I thought a short film might be fun. I’d like to know more about the film making process, to find out what exactly the director, producer, editor etc. do all day, and to see the creative process behind the actual production of a film. I know my bit inside out, but how does a film translate from 110 wine-and-tear-soaked pages to an hour and a half on the big screen? Perhaps making a short film myself, with the collaboration of others of a similar disposition, would enable me to find out – and make me a better writer.

So what’s this got to do with babies? I’m not in some whimsical mood, pondering on the ‘gestation’ of a new project or anything like that – rather, my idea for a short film centres around babies, or the lack of them. Being one of those suspicious characters that is an educated woman in her mid thirties, who has been married nearly a decade and has a steady job, yet Does Not Have Children (I can hear the Daily Mailers recoil in horror and indignation), I often get asked how and why this particularly sad state of affairs has transpired. “Just keep trying”, I’m advised with a comforting pat on the arm by well-meaning old ladies who refuse to believe that I’m not. “Your husband will come round eventually” sympathise others who think it’s all my other half’s fault, and that I actually spend every night begging and pleading him to get me pregnant. Of those who do actually listen, and understand that right now, neither my husband nor I want children in our lives, pretty much all still give us reassuring pats on the back and say, “I’m sure you’ll change your mind in time”.

This ‘in time’ business particularly irks me, that I’m in any way dangerously close to my available ‘breeding window’ and that if I don’t get a move on my womb will shortly close its gate like some particularly fastidious budget airline. A few years ago the newspapers chose to take up many hundreds of column inches of their Sunday supplements with cautionary tales of the women whose ‘prosperous careers’ caused them to leave it too late to breed, or those who struggled to get pregnant even after years of ‘distressing’ IVF. Then the Government started to pay them to print something else – I think cautionary tales of foolish people who left it too late to plan for their retirement.

The general message was that if you left it beyond 35 to push out some generational tax-paying fodder you were recklessly irresponsible, would regret it later, and don’t come crying to the NHS when your unfulfilling career fails to make up for the gaping hole left in your life by the absence of offspring. It made me ggrrhhh.

Anyway, what my upcoming short film and this diatribe about the Government’s policy on childless women have to do with each other is that the film will focus on a group of couples who have decided, for one reason or another, that breeding isn’t for them, and such is the ostracism that they’ve experienced from their family and friends that they’ve joined together and formed a club – the MADWACS (Married And Don’t Want Any Children). These people consist of a bunch of 30- and 40-something couples who prefer to spend their time going on nice holidays and buying furniture of a fabric that won’t be imperiled every time a toddler comes within spitting distance, as opposed to wiping snotty noses, spending their entire pay cheques on car seats, and centering every topic of conversation around the latest adventures of Peppa Pig.

This group of intelligent, educated, middle-class and reasonably well-off couples refuse to believe that, come a certain age and career level, all of their worldly experience and possessions must be pooled and swapped for two decades of vomit, back-chat and trips to Lego Land. The plot will of course throw many obstacles their way – including, inevitably, a baby – but its overall message will be that two people can constitute a ‘family’ unit without need for infants, and that their contribution to society is just as valid as those who require a five-door saloon and bulk orders of SMA baby formula.

Maybe I’m writing a film for myself here, and no one else will agree – but I doubt it. In my workplace there is a whole department of people who are married or in a steady relationship, are progressing into their 30s and see no place for children in their lives. We’re a mixture of males and females, and, although I can only speak for myself here, I’m confident none are feeling pressure from their other halves to change. We’re basically NIMBYs, but from the perspective of the womb. The fact that the world requires propagation is absolutely fine with me – I’d just rather you did it elsewhere; I’m rather fond of my view.

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From → Blog, Film

One Comment
  1. Katey permalink

    Hilarious 🙂 Glad i’m not the only one who feels like this. Can I start the : “DDMADWACS (Doesn’t do Marriage And Doesn’t Want Any Children)”? Yes, I hate my job and am reading allllll of your blogs. lol x

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