Friday, 6 November 2015

Car Crash.

When I was about twenty I crashed my parents’ car. I’d just passed my test. I was turning right across two lanes. The driver coming towards me in the opposite near lane stopped and beckoned me on. I went. Another car coming up fast in the further lane ploughed straight into me. Smack: huge dent in the nearside. I drove home. Went straight up to the bathroom in my parents’ house. Pulled the blind down. Crouched in the corner in the dark. Shock. Humiliation. Wanting to disappear.

Everyone you know is fighting a battle you know nothing about, so be kind,” I read this week, I also watched Homeland: Season One, all of it, back to back and read an article in the Guardian about the migrants in the camp at Calais and caught a snippet of a programme about a boy who nearly died in a motorbike accident, 19 years old, smashed to smithereens, and wrote 11,000 words and watched Catastrophe on Channel 4 and read that suicide is the biggest killer of men between the ages of 18 and 45. But I knew that.

“Tell me if you ever feel suicidal,” I say to my boys as they're going out the door on their first day back to school after the half-term holiday.

“I’m feeling suicidal right now,” says Youngest, “what you gonna do about it?” 
I laugh. He laughs. Middle One laughs. Without humour (and music) life would be barren as a refugee camp. Never hang out with people who can’t joke about anything and everything and especially themselves. Or with people who refer to themselves in the third person. Often these are the same people.
There are jokes about sex Catastrophe. Filthy ones. When Rob Delaney pretended to wank into a loo because a woman at work turned him on I tweeted it was close to the bone, which I thought was funny, and quite wonderfully so did he.

I go trick or treating with Youngest and his friend and my friend and it's so busy we can’t walk on the pavement. Lots of houses have signs on the door that say: “Run Out!” I overhear people speaking Polish and Spanish and French.  “Foreigners coming over here stealing our sweets,” says Middle One when I tell him about it later and I laugh because that’s a joke.

Adorable children keep coming to the door when I’m cooking something to take to a Halloween dinner party. “What do you say?” I ask. “Happy Halloween?” they reply. Surely they shouldn’t get sweets if they don’t know the drill.

I sit next to someone at the Halloween dinner party who says, “Your children might go off the rails and get into drugs."

“I doubt it,” I say.
“How do you know?” he says.

“The bigger tragedy for me, more than an interrupted career, would have been never to have had children,” I say.
“How do you know?” he says.
“I know,” I say. “I would have had children at twenty if I’d found someone willing to have them with me... and if I’d been a competent driver. I would have spent £100,000 on IVF if I’d had problems conceiving. If that didn’t work I’d have gone to China and stuffed a couple of little girls in my luggage.” That's also a joke.

I tell people I hate Halloween ever since I made that K9 costume for Middle One out of two cereal boxes covered with silver foil with red transparent Quality Street papers for the eyes and ears that swivelled and he threw a tantrum and said it was rubbish. He was about eight years old.

But I don’t really hate Halloween. I’ll miss it when the children have gone. It was once about death but now it’s all about confectionery. That’s quite funny when you think about it.

Everyone wants to go up to the bathroom and pull the blind down and crouch in the dark in the corner sometimes, especially when the doorbell keeps ringing.
I realise that now.

Love E x


P.S. I haven’t had a car crash since. I love driving. Especially now with heated seats and music turned to max.

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