Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Why Alfie, Chantelle and PR gurus are a sad parable of modern times

Some politicians are calling it the ultimate sign of ‘Broken Britain’, and really, who can blame them?

Chantelle Stedman (15) has given birth to a baby girl, Maisie Roxanne. The father of the child has been named as Alfie Patten. He’s 13 but looks about 8 years old. He claims he’s been Chantelle’s boyfriend for two years, making him a mere 10 when this ‘relationship’ began. So far, two other teenage boys have come forward to say that they too could be baby Maisie’s proud daddy. They are Tyler Barker (14) and Richard Goodsell (16).

To make this shambles of a Stork-story even worse, PR-gurus have been drafted in by both sets of grandparents, and now a bidding war involving six-figure sums has kicked off. Alfie’s father, Dennis Patten, has taken to wearing a devil mask when he leaves the house. Presumably so he can charge the media for pictures of his handsome face when the price is right. Reports say that Chantelle has done nothing but cry since she gave birth and Alfie has allegedly been throwing tantrums over a possible DNA test. You couldn’t make it up.

When I was a young teenager, I knew very little about sex. What I did know was that it was a disgrace worse than committing mass-murder to have a baby ‘out of wedlock’. I only knew of one girl in my town who committed such a crime and the poor girl became a byword for shame and sin. Privately I wished her well but the message was clear: there must be absolutely no babies before marriage.

Twenty-five years on and the situation is very different. Children are bombarded with sexual images from the minute they’re able to sit up and watch a TV screen. A liberal mindset in the government means that anyone complaining about ‘gymslip mums’ is branded a religious relic and a bitter old dinosaur. And while I agree that it was a good day when the last Magdalene home shut its doors, things have now gotten completely out of hand.

Some children think having sex is of no greater importance than sneezing. It’s just one more bodily function to them, on a par with eating and drinking. No matter that most young men cannot possibly understand the physical and emotional consequences for a young woman’s body as she is plunged into pregnancy before her menstrual cycle has even stabilised.

No matter that some of these babies have to be delivered by C-section because their mother’s pelvis isn’t yet developed enough to accommodate a baby’s head. Needless to say, a fair few of the junior dads will soon get bored with the drudgery of parenthood and will go back to their computer games, or move on to the next girlfriend, leaving a trail of havoc in their wake. And Mr Taxpayer ends up footing the bill, as usual.

Who’d be a parent these days? It’s never been more important to finish school and get an education. In an uncertain workplace only the strongest will survive. But the result of our uber-competitive society here in the West is an ‘underclass’ that has given up the Rat Race entirely. And which has now resigned itself to a life on benefits. Where the only chance of easy money is to get involved in a murky scandal and then sell the details to the highest bidder.

Witness the tragic figure of Jade Goody, the ultimate underclass pin-up. Poor Jade was possibly the most under-educated girl in Britain when she turned her car-crash life into a million pound industry. The mother of two (gorgeous) sons now plans to marry her jailbird boyfriend Jack Tweedy. Though it won’t be an easy wedding as she’s dying of cancer and he has to wear an electronic tag on his ankle, and is obliged by the courts to spend his nights at his mother’s house. It moved me to tears to see a picture of Jade being wheeled into a designer store at the weekend, in a bid to find a wedding gown, even as doctors say her cancer is so aggressive she may only have weeks left to live. Jade has suggested she may die on camera but I hope to God we won’t have to witness that final outrage. I can only pray that the father of her two lovely boys (mercifully, not Jack Tweedy) will do his duty and bring the lads up in private and in a secure and loving family environment.

At least I’m hopeful that Jade’s two sons will have a better upbringing than that poor wee mite Maisie Roxanne will. Only a few days old and already the subject of a DNA test and a bidding war. Dare I say it (oh, dare I say it?) Maisie Roxanne should be adopted or fostered at once and have her name changed to protect her from her gold-digging grandparents. Alfie and Chantelle should be immediately enrolled in single-sex boarding schools and forced to complete their education. And all monies should be prevented from going to anyone connected with this sorry mess.

I’m a liberal and proud of it but this is getting ridiculous. Girls need to be taught to value themselves more. Not only to prevent the trauma of teen pregnancy but so that they can reach adulthood with their dignity, their hormones and their education intact. And boys need to be given a handy little pamphlet entitled Sex For One (and a big box of tissues).

It’s a topsy-turvy world when (mostly educated) women in their 20s, 30s and 40s are remaining childfree so they can go on working hard to pay the mortgage and buy nice tea sets in John Lewis. While an entire generation of (mostly under-educated) kids think it’s ok to have a baby when they’re 13 and then sell pictures of it to the tabloids.

I daresay social services will do little or nothing to help rescue Maisie Roxanne from her baby-father, her pasty-faced mother or her mask-wearing grandad. There but for the grace of God go I, etc.

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