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Home > Culture and Society

Doing it 4 the kids

17 September 2004

On Monday, Jason 'Batman' Hatch, as he's become known, snuck his way up the front of Buckingham Palace dressed as 'Batman'. There he remained for five hours, posing for photos and chatting to security guards and policemen. Then he came down and told the waiting press, 'It was easier getting to the Queen's balcony than to see my own children.' Two days later it transpired that his latest girlfriend had recently dumped him because 'he was hardly seeing anything of our daughter'. Perhaps Hatch only wants to see his kids when he's not allowed to. Perhaps he just likes getting on the news.

There are two schools of thought surrounding Fathers 4 Justice and their peculiar ideas about cartoon-hero-themed direct action. One sees their antics as proof positive that no man should ever be allowed any kind of access to his children - they are after all children themselves, with scant regard for correct procedure, cause and effect, or indeed spelling. The other sees their stunts as some of the most effective attention-grabbing since Ms Pankhurst et al started breaking windows, attacking politicians and chaining themselves to railings more or less exactly a century ago. Now as then, any publicity for the cause is seen as good publicity.

And say what you like about F4J, they are very committed to their cause. Unless of course you believe the stories that began to emerge in the tabloids on Wednesday suggesting that the ringleaders actually don't give that much of a damn about seeing their kids and in reality are more interested in dressing up fancy and getting their faces in the paper.

As well as ex-partners slamming them and old arrests and cautions coming to light, the Daily Mirror reported that there had also been a lot of F4J infighting and backbiting. Deputy leader Eddie Gorecki apparently quit the organisation in disgust after founder Matt O'Connor went 'on a bender' and got too drunk to attend a rally. Gorecki branded him a drunk and a liar, and for some reason he chose to let other F4J members know his feelings about their leader in limerick form.

Well, why not? Choosing the most ludicrous medium possible is clearly enormously important for these people. In the limericks, Gorecki described O'Connor as 'pissed', 'lazy' and as 'a man doing things deceitfully', which in a million years of limerick-writing would never ever scan well. Shortly after he stormed off however, Gorecki is said to have withdrawn his resignation, prompting rumours that he had only resigned in the first place because of sour grapes over being passed over for the Batman costume this week.

Gorecki had been Batman last year atop the Royal Courts of London and claims to have brought a humanity to the role that no other peeved father would ever be able to muster. On Monday afternoon he was heard muttering darkly, "You call that a utility belt? It's nothing but a fucking bumbag."

According to their website, F4J's demands are perfectly straightforward: "The law must be changed to include a presumption of equality between parents, the role of the father in children's lives must be recognized and valued and family courts must penalize parents who flout court orders allowing visiting rights." When put so plainly, without the distraction of ludicrous costumes and members' convictions for gross indecency and threatening behaviour, there are few who could disagree with it.

So far, Blair and the Labour Party have not been impressed by Fathers 4 Justice and have given them short shrift, despite the invaluable work they have done in helping the government realise exactly where national security is most lax - everywhere. Michael Howard on the other hand, who frankly speaking would allow himself to be sodomised by a grizzly bear if he thought it would net him a few more votes, has praised the role of men in children's lives and promised that the Conservative Party would definitely tackle mother-centric court-discrimination, given half the chance.

Last week O'Connor promised that 'if Labour does not wake up very quickly and introduce the legislation we demand, then I and 10,000 committed activists will rise as one and fight against the Labour government - and Labour will not win the next election.' Blimey. Expect to see 10,000 flabby fathers in masks, capes and bumbags blocking polling stations in May 2005. In the meantime, in the light of Wednesday's grizzly scenes in Parliament, how long before some poor father is shot in the head?

We give it a month.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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