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Magnetic North Blog

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Famous Fathers and the Evolution of Respect

In researching famous fathers and sons it became evident that the majority had followed similar career paths. Peter and Kasper Schmeichel, both premier league winning goalkeepers; Martin and Charlie Sheen, both actors with a history of substance abuse; God and Jesus, kind of the same person so couldn't really be more alike; Donald and Donald Trump, both insufferable arseholes.

There is, of course, an evolutionary imperative in copying your father and learning how to read and negotiate the world. Those proto-humans who, from an early age, did not copy the hunting and evading techniques of their parents, did not, in most cases, live long enough to procreate and pass those disobedient genes on. They were not selected for.

Indeed, I remember as a child wanting to be a minister because it was what my father did. I remember thinking that it was a worthwhile pursuit and taking pleasure in the knowledge that showing such respect would make my dad proud of me and perhaps bring us closer - the primal urge to copy and survive still present, but evolved further to include more sophisticated human emotions.

But there comes a time when the child must rebel, and this too is rooted in evolution. The child needs to learn to fend for themselves so that when the parents die they are capable of surviving in the world and finding a mate to start the whole circle over again. Those creatures who, at a certain point, did not break free from their parents, did not, in most cases, live long enough to procreate and pass those overly clingy genes on. They were not selected for.

And so here we are, impossibly caught between two desires, to cling on and to let go; to copy and to create; to honour and to reject. How do we negotiate this dual purpose? How do we keep our parents happy whilst also living our own lives? If your father wanted you to do something that wouldn't really cost you much, like sprinkling some water on a child's head and telling a wee lie about how you plan to bring them up, would you do it? Which impulse would you follow? Respect or rebellion?

I know which way I'm leaning, but if you come see the show you might be able to help me decide once and for all.

Our Fathers
On tour October-November 2017.
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J. Sharp Taking A Walk
07 September 2014
Very much enjoyed your show at the Brunton Theatre last night and the silent walk to start was an excellent addition, creating the perfect atmosphere....