For new mothers and fathers the two best bits of advice I can offer in bringing up children are 1) when they are babies, get them into a daily routine which definitely includes dunking them in the bath at 6pm and 2) when they are teenagers don’t disapprove of the things they like.
My children have tried to like what I like, musically. This is quite important in our house because I play my records all the time. There were moments of tension, as when my son called Steely Dan “lift music” (a glance from my wife ordered me not to react) and almost open rebellion when my daughter, then 12, ordered me to turn down Blue Oyster Cult. Having your children telling you that your music is too loud must surely be one of the milestones of parentage, like seeing their first, faltering steps across the carpet or watching them as third sheep from the right in the school Nativity play.
There is a great premium to be gained from all this mutual understanding, though, and that is the first time you realize that you actually love some of the music you have heard through your children, and they suddenly decide that they adore something you played them when they were little.
I remember walking through a garden centre in West London about eight years ago and suddenly having the theme to a children’s program called 64 Zoo Lane pop into my head. I started humming it but couldn’t remember the words. “I know it,” said my eldest son, and sang the whole thing. I felt the tears welling up. It is at such times that you realize how quickly your children are growing up and how soon they’ll leave those innocent times and tunes behind them. By the same token I am so pleased to have introduced my children to the music of David Bowie, which they all adore and get the most wonderful lift whenever they enthuse about something they have heard us play.