On paper, Crystal Palace shouldn't be a very good place to bring up a baby. It sits at the top of several steep hills that tower above London. It's so high up that in the olden days, ill people were advised to move here to enjoy some of its fresh, clean air. Buggy friendly it is not. Yet, it's packed with oodles of families just like us, negotiating the knackering inclines every day. Head to any pub round here for a Sunday lunch and you feel out of place if you don't have at least one little person at your table. And while the battle for high chairs may sometimes get bloody, the thing that seems to attract families is the very modern sense of community. (The slightly cheaper-than-average London house prices are admittedly a big draw too, but let's ignore that for now.)
James thought that he had tapped into this community on Friday when he had the day off work. He took Samuel to Monkey Music - a very PC baby class that as many dads go along to as mums. Then later we all walked to the park and there were dads with babies all over the place.
"You know," he said as he pushed Samuel towards the play area. "I feel like I've joined a secret club. Every time I've seen a dad with a baby today, we've sort of smiled and nodded at each other in recognition."
"Really?" I asked.
"Yeah. It's like there's a special brotherhood of fatherhood. Just watch this," he said, subtly pointing at the lone bloke with the buggy walking towards us. "He'll give me the special nod."
James smiled expectantly, but the guy stared determinedly into the middle distance and strode past without so much as a glance.
James looked a bit crushed.
"It must be his second child," he said.