Any excuse for a party will do and so the Tavern had a throng of visitors today to celebrate Men. Remember men? Had your 'consciousness raised' above women's breasts lately?
It is the One Day of the Year when men get a nod in their direction, usually from a passing motorist lady driving a car specifically advertised for her to buy on her way to a Breast Awareness meeting. Not that this Taverner Knight has anything against breasts. Indeed I enjoy looking at them, which is fortunate as they are everywhere and exposed to view.
But men tend to go un-noticed other than when some gratuitous 'Blame' is spread around, as part of the usual female 'Consciousness Raising'.
Several chaps did have a few things to say on this International Men's Day ; in one case recycled from Father's Day. You remember that day of course. It is when Dad's get a Hallmark card telling him what a dork he is. No wonder we get more Spirit-seeking men in here than women.
So lets hear from two chaps.
First Adam Shand. He writes to and for the general population in the Oz and is clearly a Dad, and he wanted to speak of his Dad-love for his Family. He told us "Why Dads Matter"
"IT may seem", he said, "a little creepy but the old adage holds true: a father should be his son's first hero and his daughter's first love.I am not sure why he had to suggest it was creepy, but I an guessing he was tapping into the female zeitgeist that pervades our society. Better start with some off-to-one-side snide remark about men's motives.
In fact, the relationship with her father is the most important of her life, according to the experts. The connection with a mother's womb is clear and enduring while the father's influence is more abstract and fragile, yet crucial.Every expert says the same which says a lot about the spread of expertise. Except most lady experts, of course, who would much prefer you talk about Breasts. Gotta keep the Consciousness Raised.
For men, playing the hero comes naturally because a father was once a boy, but the relationship with a daughter is less straightforward. Men live their whole lives never grasping the infinite mysteries of women yet here we are responsible for creating the attitudes of our daughters.
This is a cause of alarm in men, expressed mainly through intimations of hostility and violence towards young men who show interest in their daughters. But put away that shotgun, because the terrified boy standing on the doorstep will be nothing more than an avatar of yourself.But that's enough about boys. This is International Men's Day. Let's focus on the girls, eh?
A man's best and worst traits will be represented in his daughter's taste in men. It seems unfair the unwitting male can have such a lasting, even generational, effect on his daughter. I admit, as the father of a 17-year-old girl, to no little angst on the topic myself.
Counselling psychologist Annie Gurton says women receive a powerful boost to their lifelong self-esteem from their fathers.
"Women whose fathers have told them that they love them, that they are beautiful and wonderful, will have stronger, more robust self-esteem than those whose fathers did not, or criticised them," says Gurton.
"For most fathers, their daughters are the apple of their eye and it's easy to do this.
"I quickly know which clients had fathers who were mean-spirited, critical or abusive for they are the ones who value themselves lowly."
There's a tendency in men to over-complicate the issue, but it all comes back to love, says Gurton.The compulsory and therefore ubiquitous fault-finding in men. It had to get in quick. Damned fast this new breed of 'Counselling Psychologists'. International Men's Day cannot get by without an obligatory nod at 'abuse', now can it?
"My main message is that women whose fathers treated them badly will seek men who behave in the same way, for that behaviour is what they recognise as love," says Gurton, who acknowledges that this fate won't befall all those who had poor paternal influence.
Many overcome this setback by seeking other positive male role models such as uncles or stepfathers, or by learning how to recalibrate their taste in men once they are adults.Well thank goodness for that. For a moment there I thought young Adam Shand had forgotten all about International Men's Day.
A research project at New Jersey's Rider University examined the role of the father-daughter bond in the development of positive romantic relationships.
Researchers studied 78 teens and young adults (average age 19), who reported on the quality of their relationship with their fathers and boyfriends.
Girls with good communication with their fathers also had significantly better communication with their boyfriends compared with girls who said their communication with their fathers was poor. A sense of trust with fathers led daughters to better levels of trust with boyfriends.I am waiting for follow-up articles pointing to the obvious Patriarchal message there, about how Fathers are responsible for setting up their daughters for abuse by default.
It was posited by the researchers that these girls learn to create secure attachments with their dads, which enable them to create relationships based on trust and clear communication.Though, to be fair on the researchers they did not get around to mentioning the concerted efforts made to throw fathers out of family life. How our Courts take the Automatic position that Men=Bad.
Best not talk about that on International Men's Day
Some researchers argue this also reflects the individual characteristics of the girls themselves and is not solely linked to the father-daughter bond.
But if your daughter turns up with an outlaw biker with a face tattoo, you can rest assured that you had something to do with it.
A hell-brew of individual characteristics and child-parent relationships has driven her to this.See what I mean?
My teenage daughter is going through a phase of claiming that I am simply the man who pays her gym membership, a life support system for a wallet. If only our relationship were so simple.
I took her out to the movies the other night and I can strongly recommend Tom Hanks's star turn in Captain Phillips. This, my daughter would say, is evidence that I am a bad parent who has scarred her for life.
Halfway through the film, the low-fat, high-protein, chia-seed and quinoa-infused meal she had scoffed began a violent disagreement with her. She demanded to go home but with Hanks in the grip of Somali pirates on the high seas there was no turning back for me.
I suggested it was perhaps sea sickness from watching Hanks and the pirates bobbing around in a lifeboat for most of the movie. Unamused, she stalked off to the bathroom and did not return. She was waiting at the back of the cinema for me at the end with a face like thunder. She could have died, she told me stonily.
My suggestion that we could pop into the hospital on the way home for tests did not lighten her mood.
If that was a test, I failed. I realise now that these innocent outings are, in fact, proto-dates that will set the pattern of her life. When her future husband proves to be an unreliable, uncaring cad I'm going to blame Tom Hanks. Other dads also complain of being played like a Stradivarius by their daughters. My mate Jez Privitelli says nothing works on his daughters, ages 12 and seven.
"I confiscate iPhones only to give them back the next day," he says. "I put chores in place for them to do, only to end up doing them myself, and I say no regularly - which lasts for all of 20 minutes until the next time they ask. No matter how much I try to dig in I can't resist them. My wife thinks I'm too soft."
My advice to Jez is simply to give in. If the experts are right, his daughters' future boyfriends will be generous, forgiving and merciful, like him. These are not battles a father can or should win. Don't forget a daughter's tears will always trump reason and principle.
Another mate, Lyle Turner, confesses he has no idea. "I can't do or say anything that doesn't offend my daughters, aged nearly 14 and 18," he says.
But the late English poet Philip Larkin should have the last word: They f . . k you up, your Mum and Dad. / They may not mean to but they do. / They fill you with the faults they had / And add some extra, just for you.Now look. I am happy to serve good Grace with good grace to anyone who seeks it. But this purporting to speak up for Dad's on International Men's Day whilst subtly undermining the chaps and focussing on the writers own daughter (thank goodness he didn't mention her breasts) is getting even me down. He could have spoken about sons a bit more, Shirley?
I poured him a pink gin with lemonade and moved down the bar to listen to a more eminent chap.
Boris Johnson. He is the tousled-haired Lord Mayor of London. And a funny chap to boot.
Boris may dispense humour where'ere he goes but he is also pragmatic. He doesn't even bother to mention men at all, just what some men DO. Like work hard and become rich.
He doesn't even blame them !!
We should be humbly thanking the super-rich, not bashing them
As well as creating jobs and giving to charity, the wealthy should be hailed as Tax Heroes, He says.
The great thing about being Mayor of London is you get to meet all sorts. It is my duty to stick up for every put-upon minority in the city – from the homeless to Irish travellers to ex-gang members to disgraced former MPs. After five years of slog, I have a fair idea where everyone is coming from.
But there is one minority that I still behold with a benign bewilderment, and that is the very, very rich. I mean people who have so much money they can fly by private jet, and who have gin palaces moored in Puerto Banus, and who give their kids McLaren supercars for their 18th birthdays and scour the pages of the FT’s “How to Spend It” magazine for jewel-encrusted Cartier collars for their dogs.
I am thinking of the type of people who never wear the same shirt twice, even though they shop in Jermyn Street, and who have other people almost everywhere to do their bidding: people to drive their cars and people to pick up their socks and people to rub their temples with eau de cologne and people to bid for the Munch etching at Christie’s.Notice. Take note. Attontione. He doesn't even mention 'Men'.
Please don’t get me wrong. I neither resent nor disapprove of such zillionaires; quite the reverse. I just wonder, a bit, what it is like to be so stonkingly rich, and I wonder – as the rest of us have wondered down the ages – whether you can really expect to be any happier for having so much dosh.
I suspect that the answer, as Solon pointed out to Croesus, is not really, frankly; or no happier than the man .......
(Hooray. He mentioned the word at last ! 'Scuse I interrupting)
....... with just enough to live on. If that is the case, and it really is true that having stupendous sums of money is very far from the same as being happy, then surely we should stop bashing the rich.
On the contrary, the latest data suggest that we should be offering them humble and hearty thanks.
It is through their restless concupiscent energy and sheer wealth-creating dynamism that we pay for an ever-growing proportion of public services.
The top one per cent of earners now pay 29.8 per cent of all the income tax
and National Insurance received by the Treasury. In 1979 – when Labour had a top marginal rate of 83 per cent tax after Denis Healey had earlier vowed to squeeze the rich until the pips squeaked – the top one per cent paid only 11 per cent of income tax.
Now, the top 0.1 per cent – about 29,000 people – pay an amazing 14.1 per cent of all taxes.
Nor, of course, is that the end of their contribution to the wider good.But don't mention that the VAST majority of 'these people', these Rich folk are Men. (Except where the super rich widows come in and come on). We can leave it to a conga-line of feminists to complain that men earn more than women (on average) and quite expect those same feminist dog-whistle-blowers to omit any mention of the vast amount more taxes that those even average chaps pay for all the health services and 'Zozchil Zervices' that are enjoyed predominantly and noisily by women.
|There are more multi-millionaires in London than any other city in the world.|
But let's not mention any of that because it is International Men's Day. Back to the Rich, even if most men ain't.
These types of people are always the first target of the charity fund-raisers, whether they are looking for a new church roof or a children’s cancer ward. These are the people who put bread on the tables of families who – if the rich didn’t invest in supercars and employ eau de cologne-dabbers – might otherwise find themselves without a breadwinner. And yet they are brow-beaten and bullied and threatened with new taxes, by everyone from the Archbishop of Canterbury to Nick Clegg.
The rich are resented, not so much for being rich, but for getting ever richer than the middle classes – and the trouble is that the gap is growing the whole time, and especially has done over the past 20 years. It is hard to say exactly why this is, but I will hazard a guess. Of all the self-made super-rich tycoons I have met, most belong to the following three fairly exclusive categories of human being:
(1) They tend to be well above average, if not outstanding, in their powers of mathematical, scientific or at least logical reasoning.
(2) They have a great deal of energy, confidence, risk-taking instinct and a desire to make money.
(3) They have had the good fortune – by luck or birth – to be able to exploit these talents.
So we are talking about the intersecting set in what are already three small-ish sets of people. It is easy to see how, in an ever more efficient and globalised economy, they are able to amass ever greater fortunes.
The answer is surely not to try to stop them or curb them or punish them – but to widen those intersecting circles that they inhabit.But punish them we must. If they were mostly women.... well that is another matter.
There are kids everywhere who have a natural, if undiscovered, flair for mathematics and the mental arithmetic that business needs. They just don’t have the education to bring out that talent – which is why Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, is so right to be conducting his revolution in schools.
There are loads of kids with the chutzpah to be kings of the deal, and there are plenty of businesses that could be the billion-pound companies of the future but are currently being held back – either by the weediness of the venture capital industry in this country, or else by something as simple as excessive business rates – the single biggest issue that is raised with me by London businesses.
There is no point in wasting any more moral or mental energy in being jealous of the very rich. They are no happier than anyone else; they just have more money. We shouldn’t bother ourselves about why they want all this money, or why it is nicer to have a bath with gold taps. How does it hurt me, with my 20-year-old Toyota, if somebody else has a swish Mercedes? We both get stuck in the same traffic.
We should be helping all those who can to join the ranks of the super-rich, and we should stop any bashing or moaning or preaching or bitching and simply give thanks for the prodigious sums of money that they are contributing to the tax revenues of this country, and that enable us to look after our sick and our elderly and to build roads, railways and schools.
Indeed, it is possible, as the American economist Art Laffer pointed out, that they might contribute even more if we cut their rates of tax; but it is time we recognised the heroic contribution they already make.
In fact, we should stop publishing rich lists in favour of an annual list of the top 100 Tax Heroes, with automatic knighthoods for the top 10.
So, we had daughters and Rich 'People' talked about in the bars on International Men's Day. But precious little about men.
I need a drink.