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Giles Coren: ‘Dads Need To Be Silent Providers’

Never mind expecting a round of applause for procreating, columnist Giles says dads should just accept that they’re invisible

I am a huge fan of Alec Baldwin. I love the bouffant hair, the hairy chest, the deep voice… And I positively worship his character Jack Donaghy in 30 Rock. As an actor, he is something very special. But as a father – to borrow a phrase from the Hollywood vernacular in which he is so fluent – Baldwin totally sucks ass.

This is the man, remember, who phoned his 11-year-old daughter in Los Angeles from New York a few years ago, and was so furious when she didn’t answer the call first time that he left a message saying, ‘You are a rude, thoughtless little pig. You don’t have the brains or the decency as a human being. I don’t give a damn that you’re 12 years old, or 11 years old, or that you’re a child, or that your mother is a thoughtless pain in the ass.’

What a way to talk to your daughter. And that’s on top of not even knowing how old she is. And giving her the name Ireland. Triple cruelties.

Pushed out by baby

Baldwin has since moved on from that family to a new wife (half his age) who has just given him another daughter, Carmen. Now, you’d think that, aged 55 and second time around, Baldwin would have got the hang of the self-effacement and humility that fatherhood requires. Not a bit of it.

On the Late Show With David Letterman recently he said that he feels invisible now that there’s a baby in the family. ‘No one even sees that I’m there anymore,’ he moaned. ‘I thought about taking my clothes off and sitting nude at the breakfast table to get some attention.’

'The point of fatherhood is you learn to become an imperceptible force'

What a dork. What a vain, dimwitted, selfish twerp. Like all actors, Baldwin feels invisible if the whole world isn’t staring at him, but the point of fatherhood is you learn to become the imperceptible force that holds everything together. The unseen and unapplauded facilitator. Like God. Or the internet. Difficult for any man, and especially so for an actor. But that’s where your power and glory lies.

Accepting your role

It’s not about going ‘Look! Look! I’ve unloaded the dishwasher and warmed a bottle,’ and expecting to be cheered and clapped like you’ve just split the atom. It is about altering your nature as a man, and learning to become the silent provider and protector who allows everyone else to get on with the little things. And there is no greater glory.

Baldwin also whinged to Letterman that, ‘Babies definitely prefer their mother to their father’. Well, I’m sure they do if he’s Alec Baldwin. And who could possibly blame them?

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