I am writing this article nine months pregnant.
I did not write this next sentence until three weeks after giving birth. It is all I can manage.
Now four weeks have passed, and life is a sea of used nappies, baby wipes, and tortured screams.
In many ways, looking after a newborn is like taking charge of a tiny, semi-comatose alcoholic, with great dress sense. So far, my son has been gifted three wedding suits, 100 baby-grows, matching sailor outfits, towels, a selection of designer winter coats from Burberry and Ralph Lauren, and baby rabbit slippers.
My wardrobe consists of one pair of size 16 maternity jeans, a vomit-stained nightie, a massive Parka and a pair of beat-up Adidas Gazelles. I look like Liam Gallagher just before his first trip to the Priory.
All of this seems irrelevant to the subject at hand. I am supposed to write about the two new books we are releasing, both sequels to the infamous Ladybird pastiche, We Go to The Gallery, which led to a legal tussle with a big publisher. All three books are about motherhood, written from the perspective of someone who had never experienced it.
My brother and I come from a family of semi-cannibal black sheep. My mother's extended family is a patchwork of severed relationships, mental illness and fabulous success. They are not boring. My father's family form a plucky Middle Eastern trading syndicate, selling shoes, holy water and diamond tiaras in the global marketplace. There is no word for art school in Lebanon, which is how my father ended up here.
My partner Russell is descended from the great pre-war East End, since scattered to the far reaches of Essex and the Home Counties. So we have called our baby Sid, as it evokes the Cockney marketplace, and commemorates our beloved great uncle Sid, a renegade tax inspector from the Rhonda Valley. Which brings us back to the books, as the sales figures for all three have recently been audited by HM Revenue & Customs.
Our two new books explore neither heritage nor our own experiences of becoming parents (My brother Ezra is a new father, too). They are about Mummy, a fictional character that we created when we were stranded in our parental home by Chinese inflated property prices. She is a progressive hysteric, obsessed with rebellion. She treats the destruction of a system as if it were a system in itself, one which will nurture her children into proud, fair warriors of the intellectual elite.
The format fits her chaotic, guilt-ridden polemic perfectly, and is just as easily applied to the outside world as it was to contemporary art. In We Learn at Home, Mummy extracts her children from the vicious gulag of state primary school education, and puts them to her own delicately planned home schooling programme. She teaches them to lovingly hate themselves, through an exciting arrangement of lessons, games and emotional torture. In We Go Out, Mummy takes her children into the modern world, where they encounter every thorny issue from Poundland to ISIS preachers, and the proper free-minded responses to them, as dictated by Mummy.
The culture of appearing open, as a means of shutting oneself into narcissistic echo chambers containing only those who share your own views, is a chief target of all three books. It is the peculiar, prevalent hypocrisy of our time.
I have been preparing these books for my entire pregnancy. Ezra and I write together, and I illustrate using gouache, watercolour and photographic collage (a slow process).
On the day of the scheduled but cancelled book launch at Waterstones, I went into labour, although nobody realised at the time (I was two weeks premature).
My brother and my partner both told me that I was just imagining things, and that I would have to man up for the real event. They then proceeded to order multiple pizzas and chain-watch episodes of Red Dwarf, while I writhed in agony for two whole days. However, it turned out that cheap 1990s comedy sci-fi is the perfect anaesthetic for the early stages of childbirth. I switched to morphine on day four. I have not slept more than four hours since, which is why this article does not quite make sense.
On another subject entirely, I find myself increasingly distracted by short tangents, or forgetting what I was just saying.
I was going to name our new baby after my grandfather, Ralph Sallon. He was a renowned caricaturist, who insisted on seeing the worst in everyone. So we chose Sid instead, a name which occurred to us just as the rabbi was reciting prayers after his brit. He paused mid-flow to ask us his name, and Sid just plopped out, much as he had. The name is not Hebrew, despite its popularity among East End Jews in the 1920s, so we settled quickly on Isaac for his official Jewish name. Sidney Isaac Cliffe, or SIC for short.
I am now officially a pair of udders, attached to two human beings: myself, and Sid.
Since I gave birth, the breast-feeding police have been hard on my case. They have turned up three times so far, wearing nurses uniforms, demanding that I breast-feed constantly, telling me that using formula is just a terrible idea, because it is unnatural, branded and capitalist. They contain a piece of "Mummy" also, although thankfully they do not seem to know or care much about other issues like art, racism or the environment. They are despots of kindness, and I write this huddled from their piercing gazes, terrified of some lactose-based torture that they devise as punishment.
Our next book will almost certainly be about babies, as that is all I can think about at the moment. The Dung Beetle new-born series will contain childcare and baby feeding tips deliberately aimed at undermining the prevailing healthcare orthodoxy of natural, baby led "attachment" parenting.
It will be called The Detachment Theory Handbook, and will make the first step in our raising the next generation of heartless, cold-blooded lizard fiends.
We very much hope you buy lots of copies of our new book, so that we can afford buy a bedsit in Tottenham, and wooden toys for our children at Chanucah.