I’ve reached that interesting stage when, as a parent, my kids are beginning to teach me things. If it weren’t for Crox Minima (aged 10), for example, I’d never have written a children’s book called Defiant The Guinea Pig: Firefighter!, which
my our agent liked so much when she read it over the holidays that she’ll be sending it to a prospective editor very soon.
And a couple of long road trips with Crox Minor (12) has given me an insight into her musical taste. We plugged her iPod into the car sound system and, as well as a few tunes by the likes of Queen and Styx (refugees from her Dad’s collection) I was introduced to some new sounds, all of which were extremely pleasant. (Oh noes, it wasn’t as it was in my teenage days when my father would barge into the wall of Van Halen emanating from my bedroom and invite me to ‘turn that f***ing noise down, boy’).
There was Avril Lavigne, who was a bit whiny, but overall quite good – especially the trash-metal guitars. There was a remarkable song by Katy Perry called ‘I Kissed A Girl And I Liked It’ which, apart from being a great tune, had a very well-crafted and frank lyric of the kind we’d just never hear when I was a lad. But most of all there was, and still is, and will ever be, the remarkable Lady Gaga, who reminds me of a very young Madonna but with a much more knowing head on her shoulders. Her songs are all about glitzy clubland, but full of wit, vocal gymnastics and (my favourite) extremely antique synthesizers. The whole effect is very, very sexy – to the extent that I do wonder what my 12-year-old thinks she’s listening to. For driving through a long, foggy English night, the heavy club drums and bass keep you awake like nothing else. But the track that gets us both turning up the volume to eleven is ‘Gay Bar’ by the Electric Six – a track that Crox Minor heard somewhere and which I happened to have secreted in my collection – atomic surf guitar mayhem. For my next trick, I must take up Crox Minor’s invitation to dig into the Death Note graphic novels to which she seems to be partial. As a Dad, I feel it’s my duty to have some familiarity with what makes my kids tick. Not just to keep a weather eye in a protective way, or even out of a yearning for a lost youth – but because I might learn something interesting and new.