“Family Coach” for the 21st Century

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Do you remember the old party game of Family Coach? Someone, preferably with the gift of the gab, tells a long story involving a journey in the Family Coach. Everyone in the party is given the name of a person or the name of a thing. For example, Abigail, the maid or Fido the dog, or Grandma’s umbrella. When you hear your name you have to stand up and turn around. If you are day dreaming and miss your name you have to pay a forfeit. At the words “Family Coach” everyone has to stand up and turn round. The game begins slowly and quietly, preferably around a log fire, with suitable refreshments to hand. Gradually, as more and more names are included, more and more quickly, the Family Coach finally spins out of control.

Today, a story in the Daily Mail reminded me of this old game, but with a bizarre modern twist. I had a lot of fun imagining it as a Family Coach narrative until it struck me that this true story could well be closer to tragedy than comedy.

In the Mail there is a photo of the fathers, and the five children, with their names and all the details of their parentage. Looking at those kids, particularly the only girl (17), who seems sad and uncomfortable, I don’t feel like naming them. The following story could well be a Family Coach narrative but I can assure you the details are true.

First of all there are two men who are the fathers of one or other of the children. We’ll call them Dad and Daddy. Then, there are three Mummies. One Mummy sold (sorry, donated) her eggs for £50,000. We’ll call her Brazilian Mummy. Then there is First Twins’ Mummy, the owner of the surrogate womb that carried the first set of twins. Except that, if the two daddies each impregnated one of the two eggs, then the two resulting children are only half brother and half sister. So can they still be twins?  We’ll call the girl baby Vogue and the boy baby Porsche after their cars. A few years later the Brazilian Mummy and the surrogate Mummy had another baby, a boy, but I’m afraid I don’t know which is his Daddy. I’ll call him Tertius.

Six years ago Dad and Daddy had another set of sort of twins, with Brazilian Mummy but with a different surrogate who I will call Mum Mark 2. The real names of all five children are American cities so I’ll call these two Grand Rapids and Niagara Falls.

In case that isn’t a big enough family to make Family Coach really good fun Dad and Daddy are now going to have triplets—three girls, to even things up a bit. This may get a bit tricky. They have 10 spare embryos in cold storage in California but they don’t know yet if they are girls or boys. Dad, or Daddy, says they plan to implant four embryos in Surrogate Mum Mark 3, if enough are girls, so they could end up with quads. They are going to be called Milan, Paris and London. If there’s a fourth I suppose it will be called Madrid or Barcelona, or possibly Berlin or Frankfurt.

At this point, the story begins to sound a bit fantastic but I’m not making it up. The Daddies will have a problem if those frozen embryos are unsuitable. In that case, first, they will ask Brazilian Mummy for more eggs, because they want the children to be biologically connected if possible. If she refuses they will then hold auditions in Beverley Hills. The chosen woman will have to be “gorgeous, outgoing, confident” but it won’t matter if she’s as thick as two short planks because beauty is more important than brains, which the two Daddies have in abundance. Ongoing talks with TV companies will ensure that you can follow every last detail of this pregnancy right up to the birth.

It doesn’t surprise me that their daughter, Vogue, is the only member of the family who doesn’t think much of this idea.

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