Bugger me, Alf muttered as he found himself in total agreement with (a) an Australian and (b) a celebrated feminist.
Yep. He’s in tune with the thinking of Germaine Greer, at least on the matter of Sir Elton John and his domestic arrangements.
Sir Elton is married, of course, but does not have a wife.
Nope. He has a husband, a bloke by name of David Furnish.
But Furnish – it seems – is named as ‘mother’ on the birth certificates of their two sons.
Don’t ask how the pair managed to produce two sons. According to what Alf remembers of his biology class many years ago, two blokes should not be able to spawn two sons, or children of any gender, but the science on this matter may well have moved on since then.
Something or someone called a surrogate mother is said to play a role in human reproduction nowadays, but he can’t find Surrogate on a map.
What Alf does know – or rather, what Alf has just read in the Daily Mail – is that Sir Elton is listed as ‘father’ and Furnish as ‘mother’ for Zachary and Elijah.
This seems reasonable, because if Sir Elton was listed as the mother he would have to email Her Majesty to ask for his title to be changed so he is known as Dame Elton.
Alf further is aware that something called IVF was involved in the process that gave rise to the births of the children.
It’s all very bewildering for a bloke from Eketahuna North, where such a carry-on is far from common.
Anyway, Germaine has come out – so to speak – to complain that this is an example of how the motherhood concept has been deconstructed.
She has also criticised this IVF thing.
Germaine Greer has criticised gay parents Elton John and David Furnish for listing a man as the mother on the birth certificates of their two sons.
She said the move was an example of how the concept of motherhood has ‘been deconstructed’ – before going on to criticise the process of IVF.
Sir Elton is listed as the father and Furnish as the mother on the documents for their sons Zachary, four, and Elijah, two.
Both children were born to the same California-based surrogate mother – who the couple said they love ‘like a sister’ – and both share the same anonymous egg donor.
Germaine is not the only celebrity to voice disapproval of Sir Elton, 68, and Furnish, 52.
We are reminded that Sir Elton was recently embroiled in a high-profile row with Italian fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana who called their IVF children ‘synthetic’.
Alf is unsure if the singer was able to demonstrate the children were not synthetic.
But he did refer to a miracle.
He also called for a boycott of the fashion house.
Sir Elton said: ‘How dare you refer to my beautiful children as ‘synthetic’. And shame on you for wagging your judgemental little fingers at IVF – a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfil their dream of having children.’
Germaine cut loose with her criticisms at something called the Hay Festival.
Alf was dismayed to learn she is now 76 years old. Because he can recall when she first began her feminist fulminating, this tends to date him.
She penned her best-selling book, The Female Eunuch, way back in 1970.
Now she has said:
Sometimes I think that really the problem is the concept of motherhood, which we can’t give any real structure to.
‘Sir Elton John and his “wife” David Furnish have entered on the birth certificate of their two sons that David Furnish is the mother. I’m sorry. That will give you an idea of how the concept of motherhood has emptied out. It’s gone. It’s been deconstructed.’
She went on to criticise the process of IVF, by which the couples’ children were born.
‘We now have a “genetic” mother, who supplies eggs. It depends entirely on where she is if she is going to be allowed to know what happens to the eggs. And women tend to care.
‘An egg is not a sperm, we do not produce 400 million of them in one go. One miserable little egg pops every month.
‘Then they give you follicle stimulating hormones and you have seventeen or something [eggs] and they give you cut-price IVF and distribute the rest of your eggs where they see fit.
‘In some places you are allowed to know what happens to them, in other places you are not. What you get is a reduced bill for IVF because a child is being born by the people involved using your eggs.
‘I’m sorry. Did we talk about this? Did we sit down and talk about what eggs mean to women?’
Alf put the question to Mrs Grumble: had she sat down and talked about what eggs mean to women?
She hadn’t, at least not that she could recall (although she did establish early in the marriage by consulting Alf’s mum that he likes his eggs sunny side up).
But she wasn’t too fussed about this failure.
She was fussed, however, about blokes who can’t sort out if they are the wife or the husband or the father or the mother when their sprogs arrive, whether those sprogs result from a miracle or something the scientists have concocted.