In announcing his retirement from the music business yesterday, Phil Collins was keen to dispel a number of myths. First, he isn't mad; neither is he 'past it'; he isn't sulking as a result of hostile press coverage either, nor is he going because no-one loves him anymore. He said as much on his website, in his own words. So why is he going? Well, I'll let the man tell you himself. He says, 'I am stopping so I can be a full-time father to my two young sons on a daily basis.'
There. Simple. He's going to be a stay-at-home dad. But no, surely not? Just as a sceptical press habitually scoffs at politicians who want to 'spend more time with the family', they seem to find it impossible to take Phil Collins' statement at face value. Surely, Phil, you've got a part coming up in Eastenders? Surely, you're going to pursue your somewhat flaky interest in the Alamo? Surely... surely.... surely. Oh for Heaven's sake, what's so unusual about wanting to give more time to his children? After all, he doesn't (one assumes) need the money. But the idea of a dad - be it Phil or anyone - giving up a career, lucrative or otherwise to do womens' work seems so incredible that the rumour mill starts grinding out alternatives: he couldn't hack it, lost the plot, he's not a real man, he's past his best.
Well, I hope Phil won't be put off by the nay-sayers. And somehow, I don't think he will. I can certainly recommend it, this stay-at-home dad thing. Ok, the money isn't great but I'm richer now than I've ever been, paid handsomely by the experience of being there, at home, for Sally, Charlie and now for Eloise. I've done a few jobs in my time, involving at different stages chains and chalk and cassocks. But stay-at-home dad has been the most rewarding.
Whether the highest-earning recording artist of all time will think so, of course, remains to be seen. There are those - including the NME - who seem to think his talents are going to be best-suited to changing nappies and wiping noses. But in spite of what anyone else says, I think the Phil is a legend. That 'In the Air Tonight' drum riff has got to be a classic. And he plays in a gorilla suit, as well!