LESLEY KEATING: Don't condemn me for being an only child

Lots of parents say they don't want their first-born growing up an '˜only child' as though it's some sort of social stigma. After all, they'll be spoiled, not know how to share, lack confidence and be unable to make friends.

Sunday, 3rd June 2018, 9:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 10:30 am
As an only child, Lesley never felt lonely.

Only children must be really lonely with no siblings...

Well, shock, horror, I’m an only child and I’m actually quite happy with it.

I’ve no idea whether my life would have been enhanced by having siblings to play with, to compete with, or get hit over the head with an assortment of toys by, because it’s not the hand I was dealt.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

I didn’t learn the rough and tumble of family life or have to share my parents but I did resent having people proclaim it was ‘such a shame’ as I was actually perfectly happy, thank you very much!

For the record, I wasn’t spoiled, whatever that actually means. I certainly didn’t get everything I wanted, I had to do chores, be polite, wait my turn, and earn my pocket money.

But I was lucky; I did get lots of love and was a confident and empathetic child as I had to interact with adults a lot.

I was also lucky growing up with space to be creative and imaginative as I spent hours alone writing stories, drawing, dressing-up, singing and acting.

I enjoyed a close relationship with my mum but I also had plenty of friends too – including one or two imaginary ones. I admit I got upset easily when involved in early playground squabbles, but I also had a very advanced vocabulary for my age because of regular interaction and discussion with adults. Swings and roundabouts.

Lots of celebrities have been only children too, from Elvis Presley and John Lennon to Charlize Theron and Natalie Portman, so I’m in good company.

The whole point about being an ‘only child’ is that it’s not a choice and it’s not a fault, it’s just a fact. And, like anything else in life, one you learn to deal with because that’s just the way it is.


Now and again we all have ditzy moments and do daft things like put the car keys in the fridge, but last weekend I well and truly excelled myself.

After shopping, Mike waited in the car while I went to get a newspaper.

I then got back in the car and was just doing up the seatbelt when a man’s voice said ‘Er, wrong car love!’.

I don’t know who was more shocked, me or the stranger I’d just sat next to.

Instead of an apology and a dignified exit I then burst into uncontrollable tears of laughter as I got out again.

So, if you were the owner of the black Mercedes outside Waitrose last weekend please rest assured I’m really not a danger to the general public – only to myself.


Dear British Rail, or whatever you’re called these days.

I completely understand it’s not nice to continually have a hard time in the press with comments from passengers about your delays, cancellations, overcrowding and pricing. So, I’m really sorry if I’m adding to your woes right now but I feel I must make a general observation.

I appreciate your guards sometimes make announcements during my journey about the route and any issues. But please can you teach them to enunciate clearly? It may prevent them from sounding as though they have a small gerbil stuffed sideways in their mouths.

And also have a word with the ones who seem to be attempting to stick the microphone up their nostrils while you’re at it?

It makes them impossible to understand which, I believe, defeats the objective.