Dear Oliver James,
Ah, Oliver. Oliver, Oliver Oliver. I can call you Oliver, can't I? After all, we have history, you and I.
Oliver, here we are again.
In one way, I should be grateful to you, for you regularly provide me with some of the most entertaining keyword searches to this blog "I hate Oliver James", "Oliver James cunt" "Oliver James wanker" and with each one I send a silent message of affinity to my google searchers. My people! You have found the right blog!
I read your recent piece on maternal stress in the Guardian with interest. By interest, obviously I mean 'rising levels of apoplectic fury'. It is another meisterwork from the NoLips stable. So. Mothers who are stressed in pregnancy have terrible broken children. Cortisol, blah blah blah. You are the Calvin of perinatal cognitive science. Everything is ordained, mainly before birth, we are all damned by our poor lifestyle and childcare choices. I note the reoccurrence of your favourite phrase "cortisol levels are jammed high". Funny, this happens to me whenever I see your byline. I think you and I have been here before, have we not? But if you will insist on repeating yourself, then I must do the same.
Oliver; imagine, if you will, the following hypothetical situation. Imagine that in the sixth month of a second pregnancy, the mother - already parent to an 18 month old - loses her own mother in an accident. Imagine next, that she spends the next four days on the phone to Italy, trying to get her mother's body repatriated. Factor in the grisly and inaccurate press reporting that gives her recurring nightmares. Hypothetically, you might also imagine dealings with the undertakers and coroner, the 18 month old going a bit crazy at the change of routine and environment, the house full of warring relatives, the exponential loss of sanity of one member of the immediate family. The funeral for 600 people - venues! Catering! Tricky coffin choices! All manner of fun. Next we are going to add into our hypothetical example, the sectioning of the aforementioned member of the family under the Mental Health Act in a famous South London institution. The consequent adoption of another family member - a completely devastated family member - into the pregnant mother's household. The torturous bus trips across London to the loony bin. A month after this, we must incorporate in this case study a snap decision required virtually overnight to move to another country. All this between the 6th and 9th month of pregnancy. Let's not even go into the first year of this poor, damned child's life, or his older sibling, exposed to the savage, cortisol flooding effects of childcare - gasp - outside the home.
I am only including the case study as it is one I am glancingly familiar with. But my point is this. Oliver, we cannot all exist in your cosy middle class bubble of smug solipsism. Events get in the way, even for those of us who do normally live in your bubble. And as for those outside of it; what about those for whom "stress" is an inevitable consequence of not enough money, or housing insecurity, or ill health or any number of unavoidable life events that you would appear to believe we can somehow prevent if we are sufficiently, what? Clever? Devoted? Loving? For them, and indeed for all of us, what does your conclusion that maternal stress is not optimal for child wellbeing contribute to the sum of human knowledge? Could you not devote your vast mental faculties to something that would actually NOT make mothers feel like shit about the situations they have been placed in, and the choices they have made?
So. Oliver. What I thought we could do next is this. I will send round my damaged, aggressive, ADHD stressed foetuses, those for whom "the harm is already done" (dickhead, February 2009).
Look, here they are:
So scary! And tragic.
And they could use their untrammelled violence and innate aggression to kick you in the balls. If you have any.