The festive season, with all its opportunities for socialising, has made me focus on the question, where, on God’s sweet earth, have my tribe gone?

Not just up north for the bit between Christmas and New Year, or a quick run around the sales, I can tell you.  Now that almost everyone I know in the entire universe is pregnant or with-child I’m starting to wonder who, apart from my Beloved Husband, I should spend my time with.  When I’m not sitting on the floor flicking playing cards into wastepaper baskets, I find myself harking back to the good old days of spending all Saturday afternoon in the pub then having a packet of salt and vinegar Walkers for dinner because you were having so much fun drinking and laughing that you didn’t want it to end by going home for a square meal including all the main food groups.

Last New Year’s Eve was a tribal smorgasboard of New Year’s Eve options.  There was cheese fondue in Dalston, hiking in Scotland, clotted cream scones in Devon and a rave night in Kings Cross to choose from.  We didn’t end up doing any of them (least of all the rave in Kings Cross because I am 33 not 19) and we ended up having a quiet night in with Terry Wogan and Big Ben.  The point is, we had options.

This year we got invited to cream scone Devon.  And then disinvited, some 1.5 minutes later, when our friends registered the reality of us sharing a space with their six month old, “Actually, it could be a nightmare with little Binky waking up when the cock crows.  And it’s not like we eat anything solid anymore, all our food is totally pureed nowadays and we’ll be flat out at 12.01am so you’d have to make your own fun.” A few days later I discovered they’d invited their other friends with a six month old.

This year the Dalston cheese fondue lot have upsized from their studio bachelor pad to a three- bedroomed house in Stoke Newington which is much, much better from their three month old and its play mat, etc.  This New Year they invited their other buddies, also owners of a three month old, for a slow cook beef stew with prunes because “we are totally boring nowadays.  So tired and absolutely nothing to say for ourselves, you just wouldn’t want to spend New Year with us dullards.  We would only hold you back.  Not seen polite society since Minky was born, we’ve absolutely no social lives whatsoever.”

No social lives?  What are these childy people on about?  At least they’ve got each other.  Us childless couples are being deserted like the sinking, stinking Marie Rose of childless couples.  Where has my tribe gone?  I’ll tell you where they’ve gone; they boarded a sparkling ocean cruise liner where women in floor length fuschia frocks sing “we’ll meet Again, don’t know where, don’t know how” and then serve a never ending buffet of cake, pastry, pie and pastel coloured rusks.  My friends are bound for new shores and new tribes where the people speak a different language and dance to a different tune.  We, the childless, have been cast asunder like that bit in Lord of The Flies.

The answer to all this of course is not to stay on the stinking sinking Marie Rose of childlessness.  The answer is not to sink, but to swim in search of new shores ourselves.  The problem is, that from the freezing cold ocean, I can see one land mass where everyone is 19 and still raving in a warehouse in Kings Cross, and another land mass where everyone is 59 and sitting on deckchairs listening to Radio Four.  As I flail about in the backwash of the ocean cruise liner I become convinced that this is what people mean when they say “you’ve missed the boat, love”.

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