Good news: when I was very young I had a large collection of toy cars. (I may be unravelling here. Don’t worry, everything’s under control.) I would spend hours playing with these things. Days.
I didn’t push them along the ground and say broom - and broom broom would clearly have been superfluous - I simply ordered them in a meticulously straight line. Not just straight, you understand, but straight. The cars would stretch out along the attic bedroom floor and I’d be lying on the ground making sure that every single bumper was perfectly aligned. And that was the game. And it took a bloody long time to get good at it.
Mummy: Why don’t you run the cars down the yellow track, Jame?
(Crazy talk. Then I’d just have to spend forever lining them all up again. Where’s the fun in that?)
Mummy: Come on, let me show you. (Reaches down to pick up a car….)
Mini-me (without looking up): Step. The Fuck. Away. Mummy. Or learn to live with regret.
Mummy: Don’t swear to try to impress your future blog readers, Jame, everyone knows you don’t talk like that.
Mini-me: Why are you spoiling this?
Mummy: I’m not, you are. I’m not the one making this up.
Mini-me: Fair point.
Mummy: Let’s just run a car down the track and see if you like it, okay?
Hate when that happens. And why does she still call me “Jame”? Why give me the I to begin with – only to take it away? I could nip back to the attic and ask her.....but she’s not really being herself, is she? I’d be quicker simply asking mini-me, to be fair.
Me: How come mummy still calls me “Jame”, mini-me, even though she knows that I really don’t like it?
Mini-me: to be honest, I’d be a bit more concerned about the fact that we still seem to be calling her “mummy” in here. Maybe time to move on, hmm?
Me: I’ve never liked you, mini-me, you know?
Mini-me: Imagine my surprise, you shitty little cliché.
Right, that properly hurt. (Oof. I actually felt that one. Incoming! Incoming! Success.) Now I just feel bad about myself. That’s the last time I try one of those for a while, I tell you that for free - it’s not worth the hassle. All those gentle angels I’d like to talk to in my head seem to have armed themselves with quite the attitude. What is wrong with these people?
But the lining up the cars game was beautiful. It would annoy my sisters, unfortunately – although not as much as the fact that I would often refuse to open Christmas presents for weeks on end and would always insist on having to do so in private – but they’re a forgiving confederacy of tangles. It certainly never stopped them from asking me to play:
Sisters: Would you like to come and brush the dolls’ hair, Jamie?
Brush brush, chatter chatter, laugh, torment and tease. Lovely.
But the real action went down in the thuddingly enveloping silence of the car game. Once you’ve tuned into the rhythm of your heart, pulsing hotly in your ears, you’d be a fool not to make a musical accompaniment.