OPINION: 'Not all dads want Homer Simpson T-shirts for Father's Day'
- Credit: Nick Richards
What to get dad for Father's Day this year?
If you're lazily trawling the shops today for a gift to sum up what the man who co-created you means to you, I hope you don't fall into the predictable and stereotypical trap of picking up some of the utter dross served up my Britain's supermarkets.
In a year when Covid has wreaked havoc on everyone's lives and thrust centre stage the issue of just how obese Britain is, I find it a tad weird, but not unsurprising, that the usual array of utter crud is dished out as potential presents to give to dads.
Yes folks, sum up the love for your father with a load of beer, chocolate, peanuts and whisky to celebrate just how unhealthy he is.
These treats are on the same supermarket shelving racks as a dreadful array of T-shirts featuring such male icons as Homer Simpson quaffing a can of Duff beer, Del Boy Trotter and Peppa Pig's dad - the big lump of podgy porcine flesh that is Daddy Pig.
And the good news is that you can get sizes up to XXL.
I like a joke and have spent many hours watching The Simpsons, Only Fools and Horses and Peppa Pig, but I don't in any way wish to see myself as a father at 46 using Homer Simpson, Del Boy or Daddy Pig as a role model.
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And what kind of father wants or needs an XXL T-shirt of such perceived masculine heroes to decorate their lardy gut on such a special day of the year?
Are men really lacking that much aspiration in the eyes of supermarkets?
Most of the men I know in their 40s are fit, active and health-conscious. They pend time, money and effort trying to fight the gods of ageing by running, cycling, rowing, walking, boxing and playing football.
Why then would we want to settle for what amounts to a tarpaulin-with-sleeves depiction of all that's wrong about being a dad - being fat and drinking too much - to decorate our bodies?
I'd be offended if my children thought I was such a lardy leviathan when they saw me on the beach that they considered it hilarious to get me such abysmal aisle artefacts.
I'm not suggesting you get your dad a barrel of Skyr or a vat of whey protein but, why can't supermarkets think a little outside the box?
It's Euro 2020 - a football for dad would encourage a kickabout with the kids at any age. It's Wimbledon soon - why not tennis rackets for a bit of garden fun with your old man?
Why not protein shakes or resistance bands or boxing gloves or.... anything but a Toblerone and a bottle of Bells.
Supermarket shelves are full to the rafters with fitness gear in January when we all feel like Jabba The Hutt but why isn't Father's Day seen as a time for kids and parents to enjoy outdoor fun together with something a little healthier and inspiring?
As a parent I think you have to be a role model for your children - that's certainly what I've done as I get ready to celebrate my ninth Father's Day.
I signed up for my first half marathon on the day I first became a dad simply because I knew I'd need to be fit and active in my 40s and 50s to keep up with them in the park, on the basketball court or on the beach.
I didn't want to be that dad who was too unfit or lazy to join in.
And I see the other dads on the school run who think likewise, those that wear running gear to take their kids in so they can dart off for a run straight after. These are the good dads, the ones I'll chat to, the ones I'd go for a run with.
On the flip side there are those dads who like to sup big cans of energy drink for their breakfast while walking their kids in or even worse, those who feel the need to sneak a cigarette in with their offspring inches away, getting just as big a tobacco hit as they are.
I don't want anything to do with these parents - don't they realise that children are ultra observant and usually follow the behaviour of their parents?
I want to be fit and healthy for myself first, but a massive part of me running, going to bootcamps, larking around on the beach, playing football and basketball upon request, even if it's at 6.30am on a work day, is to show my kids that it's good to be active and that it derives immense pleasure.
If sporty dad-of-four Cristiano Ronaldo can wipe millions of the share price of Coca-Cola this week by removing bottles of fizzy pop from a Euro 2020 press conference and suggesting we drink water instead, then surely big companies can rethink their Father's Day output.
I'll give them a hand - bring out a healthy bar packed with vitamins, protein and nuts that's great for dads when they're in the park with their kids or out on a run, swim or cycle.
Tell dads it gives them the perfect pick-up and an energy boost when dealing with moaning kids who wish their dads were fatter, lazier and drank more.
Give it a black wrapper with red writing.
Call it a Pa's bar.
They'd sell millions.