We all take inspiration from someone or something: with credit being paid to beloved former teachers or batty great aunts for giving them the strength to succeed, but there can’t be that many blokes who have been empowered by Elton John.
Granted, he may be one of the great entertainers of our times but a 60-something knight of the realm who has successfully battled demons and has been known for diva-ish behaviour is not someone I would ordinarily listen to when it came to life lessons.
In fact the only things we have in common are that we stand up when we go to the gents and both have more than a passing fondness for the Beautiful Game. But that’s about it.
So I was surprised to find myself muttering ‘good on you Elt’ when I heard his most recent views on parenting and how he intends to make his two young sons work for their pocket money.
I had to read the quote twice because this is a man famed for his excesses. But what he said, that when his boys are old enough they will work in the house for their spends, made sense. Despite his millions, he wants his kids to learn the true worth of money, a sentiment which nearly every parent I know publicly shares but often fails to honour.
I am one of those who buckles and rewards their offspring once they have gone a mere hour without drawing on the walls. This basic failure of parenting is down to a combination of guilt, due to missed bedtimes and a preoccupation with social media, not to mention the sheer weakness of will.
It cannot be disputed that today’s children are the most spoiled of any generation and the blame can be laid squarely at the feet of the parents.
On the whole, we too had it easy with our flashy trainers and television in our bedroom, but we were kept in check by our parents’ tales about the end of rationing.
It is hard for someone of my vintage to lecture my offspring on the austerity of my youth because it wouldn’t be true. The 1980s was the decade a nation got greedy, courtesy of Thatcher’s philosophy towards personal wealth, and it was my generation which benefited the most. There are not many of us who can tell stories of childhood hardship.
It is probably Elton John’s age and background which have made him come to his senses but his is a stance which we could all do well to adopt. Next time I approach the till with a soft toy in my basket I’ll be sure to think of the Rocket Man.