If I Don't Admit it, it Ain't HappeningMatthew Parris, always worth a read.
Where but in Britain does there exist this remarkable capacity to be shocked by what we already know? Rather like those wives who are pretty damned sure their husbands are having an affair, but would prefer not to hear the fact stated, it seems that what affronts us is not the truth, of which we were more or less aware, but a change in the status of the truth.
A mate of mine told me a strange tale that illustrates this curious phenomenon.
A couple of weeks before my mate's stepson's sixteenth birthday, the lad's girlfriend had booked for the two of them to go to London for the weekend as his Christmas present. They'd been going out for 18 months or so, and had started a sexual relationship after about 6 months. My mate and his wife had not been too happy about this at the time, but had talked it through and were somewhat surprised and mollified at the young couple's responsibility. They are both bright, ambitious kids, the last thing they want is a baby and they know all about STDs and the rest.
The boy's biological father, who is also involved in his life, was informed at the time and didn't speak to his son about it at all.
When the idea of a weekend in London was tossed around, the stepdad and mother's worries were all to do with the practicalities of two youngsters being away for the weekend in the smoke - but they reasoned it was all part of growing up and hey, in a couple of weeks the boy was going to be 16 and the girl already was. If they were nearly old enough to get married, earn a living etc, they were surely old enough to spend a weekend away together.
But then the biological father threw in a googly. He objected on the grounds that his son was under the age of sexual consent. But you've known about his sexual relationship for months, was the not unreasonable reply. Surely the time to object was when it first came to light? And okay, then, how about they change the booking for after the boy's 16th birthday? Actually, came the reply, I'd still veto it. Why? Well, I don't approve of this sexual relationship, I don't think my son is sufficiently mature enough to handle it and by giving my consent to him going away for the weekend would mean I condone the relationship. But you've tacitly condoned it for months. You've left any practical difficulties to the mother and stepdad. Now you're wading in at this stage, it doesn't make sense. I'm sorry, that's just the way it is. And that's how it stayed.