We godparentless asked you to provide godparenting advice to questioneer Cathy in AMT298, and we knew that such upstanding citizens as godparents would of course supply. Bruno sent us this touching email:

I was asked to be godfather to a baby girl when I was twenty, about the same age as Cathy is now. I certainly didn’t have a reputation as someone worthy of being a spiritual guide (and I daresay that reputation hasn’t improved much in the intervening thirteen years), but I was chosen because I suppose the parents liked me, and perhaps they thought that it would bring something out in me that hadn’t found a chance for expression otherwise.

I can say with certainty that it’s been one of the most positive experiences of my adult life. It’s incredibly easy, really – you just drop into someone’s life, give them thoughtfully chosen gifts and encouragement and then shoot off again before the grind of any real parental duties set in.

But I feel that I have gained at least as much from this as my goddaughter has, because (as a single guy) I have had a proximal experience to real fatherhood, a sort of dummy run including mistakes, let-downs and all, by which I have learned a great deal how I would approach the real thing. Being godfather has given and continues to give me great – even close to spiritual – satisfaction. So I feel Cathy should reflect that being a godparent is a gift as well as a responsibility.

Also, of course, by presenting the godchild with your own choice of books/films/etc you are able to mould an impressionable mind into one that agrees with your own sensibility (to tutor them, as Withnail once said, in the ways of righteousness) which is also very gratifying. I’m extremely pleased that my goddaughter, now thirteen, is well versed in the films of Studio Ghibli and the novels of Neil Gaiman a full ten years before I came across them. And has completed Portal 2.

As to the gift for the christening – who cares. Just show up. If the parents aren’t insane they won’t give a monkeys who gives what at a christening.

Luckily, Bruno, Tom from Derby has sent in a sterling idea for a christening gift:

We got our niece and goddaughter an engraved silver frame (to blah blah, from blah blah, on your christening, and then the date).

It felt like the correct sort of amount to spend as well as the correct amount of gravitas and useful longevity. Her mum has put a picture of us inside it which sits in her room.

Winning gift all round!

The only trouble was we felt it had to be matched when our other niece was christened despite not being her godparents. We got her a silver engraved keepsake box.

Classy, Tom. But what will you do if your goddaughter receives further siblings? The third will receive what – a silver toothpick, or a silver fish-slice? And if the family becomes very big, you’ll end up giving the later children silver nasal hair trimmers and those sticking plasters containing antibacterial silver.


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