“Oh let me get my hands on your mammary glands, but pray god, never let it be known they have a function”, gasped Morrissey, as he rode pillion on on his Vespa

So there was this story in the news,   and I had ten seconds to spare…

Apparently, the west end cafe that asked a breastfeeding woman to disguise her child as a napkin does allow discreet breastfeeding. Just how flamboyant can it be?
I have heard rumours that spinning the child around like a catherine wheel causes rapid expression, though can lead to vomiting too.
Whenever one of these “woman told diners are puce and uncomfortable due to fear of millisecond teat exposure”, it just seems to cause a creasing of the face and a vaguely confused, “is this still really an issue”.

I rarely hear an argument against that doesn’t have me reaching for my Big Book of Sigmund Freud.

I do think there is a line to be drawn somewhere. I think if two mothers are frantically tugging at their mammary glands, attempting to have a food fight across the able with their own secretions, then the maitre d’ should intervene. As yet, I haven’t seen that, though I imagine it may make a neat scene should John Waters ever write another Pink Flamingos sequel.

Amongst the arguments I’ve hear against breastfeeding when not dressed in a surplice or beekeepers hood and garb is that it is not nice to look at when you are eating.

Stop looking then.

I find being stared at puts me off eating, so why keep looking at someone who is breastfeeding. If you are someone who keeps staring at other diners, maybe you are the issue.

I suppose there is some possibility of extraneous slurp noises disturbing your consomme, but public places are frequently echo chambers of slurps, snorts, sniffs and, curse them all, whistling. There are so many ways that humans can annoy me in public that breastfeeding is still in a chart position similar to a third d:ream single on my list of “why I try to avoid going out unless entirely necessary”. (Actually, I have vastly underestimated D:ream’s popularity, their third single, U R the Best Thing, charted at no.19).

What’s more, people are really going to have to up their table manners and eating dexterity before declaring babies have the worst table manners. I once saw a drunk man trying to eat a scotch egg. He was confused by the geometry of this ball of meat and hen dropping, unable to work out where he should begin, eventually, he thrust it at his mouth and mainly missed.

Someone once told me that they worried that other men may find it sexual. If we start asking for everything that may possibly be considered sexual to be performed behind a napkin, curtain, or closed door, we soon have derelict streets. Also, some people may find things done behind closed doors sexual, so then we have to put a curtain around the closed door, and then when someone finds that arousing…oh it goes on.

(reminding me of the lovely Jenny Eclair joke – “Dorothy Parker said ‘men don’t make passes at women who wear glasses’, I don’t know, most men I know would fuck a tree”)

I have not as yet met a man who has said with a wink and a curled lip (let’s add a waxed moustache too), “you know my favourite thing? You know when a woman has one of her breasts out, but it’s obscured by a baby’s skull, phwoar”.
It seems to me you have to go out of the way to find this offensive or disturbing, or still have issues with a nursemaid from an Oedipal nightmare of your youth. Perhaps for some, it is the fear that something so often used as ornament in mass culture is suddenly given purpose before your very eyes.

For all those that suggest the argument “it’s natural, just get used to it”, indubitably leads to “well pooing is natural, but you won’t catch me doing that in the John Lewis restaurant. What next, masturbating in Fortnum and Mason’s truffle corridor?”, well maybe they should just get on with it. Let them be the Rosa Parks of public pooing and supermarket onanism if they really feel that will improve their lives. Crap or get off Claridges dessert trolley.

I continue to tour, from Exeter to Edinburgh to Sydney to San Francisco – all details here http://www.robinince.com (also a series of London gigs with Brian Cox, Mary Beard, Stewart Lee, Josie Long and the like)

The brand new episode of the Vitriola music podcast with Michael Legge and I is here https://soundcloud.com/vitriolamusic/vitriola-10-my-favourite-wig and on itunes

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18 Responses to “Oh let me get my hands on your mammary glands, but pray god, never let it be known they have a function”, gasped Morrissey, as he rode pillion on on his Vespa

  1. sonmicloud says:

    This is very, very funny, and spot on too. Thank you for the laughter and the waxed moustache too.


  2. krismccracken says:

    A beautiful bit of work! Could not agree more.

  3. Dusty says:

    I’ve reread this several times now and the Scotch egg bit gets me every time. Bloody funny. Have shared with all my public health colleagues (the day job) as a wonderful piece of pro-breast feeding literature.

  4. Dusty says:

    And PS – when you coming back to Southend? Missed you at our best pub; the Railway. 🙂

  5. robinince says:

    definitely back next spring

  6. Dusty says:

    Hurrah! didn’t see it on your page. Will keep an eye out. 🙂

    • atsperson says:

      Yay to another Railway gig! Will definitely be there after missing the previous two. Excellent piece by the way, made even more topical by Farage’s ludicrous comments today.

  7. Kylie Gibbard says:

    Good egg. And thank you for bringing up the “what next?” brigade. My pet hate when it comes to the exasperated Daily Mail reader!

  8. latambourine says:

    I was wondering today how shocked Mr Farage would be if he noticed me breastfeeding my 3yr old as it is unlikely that I would do this ‘in a corner’. I wonder if he or anyone reading this would consider this to be ostentatious breastfeeding? My 3yr old (i think) has actually not asked to BF in public since she has been 3. However should Mr Farage ever approach me, I think I might ask her if she is feeling peckish. Your blog post is lovely 🙂 .

  9. aitinn says:

    Like your style!

  10. Andy says:

    Excellent. A beautifully crafted balance of wit and sarcasm. 😀

  11. jacqueline S says:

    Love this observation about draping a napkin on baby’s head: ‘some people may find things done behind closed doors sexual, so then we have to put a curtain around the closed door, and then when someone finds that arousing…oh it goes on’ 😀

  12. j says:

    I’d definitely do a tree… But not if it was breastfeeding, that would just be weird

  13. noodlemaz says:

    Also disturbing that people even get to comparing *feeding a child* to excreting waste (an actual health hazard) or masturbating (something I think we can all agree is private unless otherwise agreed with people in the vicinity). Like children eating is something to be hidden away from view or it might… make you ill, or is sexually inappropriate.

  14. r says:

    I took Farage’s comment to mean that he felt the babies rather than their mothers were ostentatious. Naturally, that led me to visualise babies wearing monocles and tiny, wobbly top hats and, oh I don’t know, a technicolour fucking dreamcoats or something. I don’t know. If I’m to believe my parents, as a baby I wasn’t very ostentatious. There is exactly one photograph of me before the age of nine. I’m sitting in a puddle, crying. Now and in the photograph. My parents don’t seem to remember me much but it’s fairly common knowledge that I was a fan of the old eating milk, shitting and pissing in situ.

    Here’s my theory. Bullies always tell us that bullying is about jealousy. They…well…. they definitely would say that. I think it’s right: people who want to tell other people how to feed their babies want to eat, piss and shit in public. I wish they’d admit it.

    I for one welcome the new generation of ostentatious babies.

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