What is the smuggest thing you can imagine? Is it Jamie Oliver splashing some balsamic on an organic free range chicken breast and declaring it ‘pukka’? Is it Damon Albarn talking about his latest project involving Tibetan drummers and the artworks of Banksy? Is it Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan lying in a jacuzzi full of £50 notes?
Well forget it, because I’m here to tell you that the smuggest thing in the world is a room filled with contented, heavily-pregnant women rubbing their bellies.
I know this because I walked into one yesterday morning, as Mrs Brit and I attended our first antenatal class. Almost half of the women had brought their partners along and I was one of seven men. We sat in fraternal solidarity, the brotherhood of the babyfathers, occasionally cracking wise and shifting uncomfortably during the more anatomical discussions. Mind you, that stuff wiped some of the smugness off the ladies’ faces and no mistake. Not a dignified business, giving birth.
Anyway, it was all useful info and we met lots of nice people. However, there was one remarkable moment. The midwife taking the class – a very matter-of-fact lady not afraid to make use of alarming hand gestures – divided us into groups and invited each group to write its questions about pregnancy and birth on a large sheet of paper. She then held these sheets of questions up to the whole class and undertook to answer them.
But as soon as she held up the first sheet I felt a quiver of excitement, because nestling at the bottom of it, underneath all the mundane queries about what to pack in your hospital bag and the drawbacks of the epidural, was a quite magnificently unanswerable philosophical poser.
As the midwife marched authoritatively through the list, getting closer and closer to this impossible question, I began to physically twitch with anticipation. I heard nothing of her explanations of birthing suites and dilation, my whole being was focused on how she might tackle the great conundrum, scrawled in red marker pen, at the foot of the page. At last she got to it. She read it silently to herself, paused briefly, then read it aloud as I gripped my seat in tension.
The question was: “What does my unborn child dream about?”
Well, she didn’t miss a beat. She just looked up at the ceiling, sighed gently and said: “Hmmm. Food, probably.” Then she carried straight on to the next sheet.
God bless the NHS, I thought.