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Feel the Fear and Suppress It Any Way

There was a child in my flat this weekend, a real child of eight years old. A child of questions, answers, unfiltered opinions and energy. As a woman who bounces between overdosing contraceptives and enforced abstinence, this was a capacious culture shock.

The first problem a visit like this poses is physical. There are books, booze, ashtrays, bin bags, bills, false eyelashes, shoes, porn, horror movies, ornaments, wires, dimmer switches and underwear all over my general area. Everything I own is either a danger to, or in danger from, an eight year old.

The second problem is that I’m inherently jealous of children. It just isn’t fair.

I took my niece (we’ll say niece to avoid a ‘Modern Family’ style explanation) to Alton Towers (that last parenthesis may imply I swipe children, not so, just go with niece). There is a ghost train there that is so lame that I exited it feeling mostly scared that I paid £40 to get into Alton Towers. After the ghost train my niece was the white faced and blubbering level of terrified; and I was really jealous of that.

If I was in any way maternal, I would have consoled her, but I’m not, so I didn’t. Instead, I badgered her with probing questions about what she had found so scary. Was it this particular plastic skeleton? Those foam decapitated corpses? The booming sounds of tortured deaths? Tell me, whimpering infant, exactly what was it that really frightened you?

Between the sobs and reignited memories, she couldn’t explain the specificity of her fear. The fear came from the sum of the Ghost Train’s parts; it had all been so frighteningly stimulating.

After I’d decided the kid had learned more phrases to describe methods of demise than I could reasonably explain to her mother, we went about our day of roller coasters and extortionate food outlets.

My niece’s reaction had made me desperate to remember the last time I had been so openly fervent about something. When had I last been so ardent about a situation that I had an obviously noticeable physical response? After thirty years trying to reduce the amount of public embarrassment caused by my emotions, I now need a massive hit of stimulation to behave like I did when I was a child. I’m chronically jealous of an ability to be publicly unrestrained and not be labelled  as ‘mad’ or ‘disabled’. Only children hold this privilege.

About four hours after the Ghost Train incident, while we were in the queue for the Guaranteed Whiplash, my niece looked up at me and, unprompted, said:

“Oh… I’ve forgotten all about the ghost train.” She looked a little bit worried and stared past me thoughtfully. I think she was right to be worried. I wanted to tell her that she should try to remember, not forget the fear, not become immune to low budget stimulation. Instead I said:

“Good.”

As the nearest responsible adult, I’d stuck the knife of reinforcement in. I may as well have said, “That’s excellent, you’ve died a little bit inside. Now just keep doing that over and over until you’re all grown up and being really stimulated by simple things is almost impossible.”

My niece is a clever girl and I have no doubt she will rationalise her ghost train experience very quickly. She will ‘grow up’ a little bit and I will be a little bit less jealous of her.

 

Why Would I Write a Blog?

I like writing. I like reading blogs. I like the word ‘blog’.

I can’t write a whole long book.

I’m pretty sure I can rule out having a lot to say as my reason to write a blog. (Ha! ‘blog’, great word!) I’m not reporting anything. I’m not a traveller, or an activist, or a scientist, or a philosopher, or a chef, or a spoken word poet, or a credit to any field anywhere.

The internet brought me here against my will. It’s kidnapped me by putting brilliance, wit and learning at the tips of my fingers, and unlike books, it doesn’t end up with my chocolaty finger marks all over it after use.

The internet never stops. If you go anywhere else and stay there, eventually you’ll stop finding new stuff. Not the case on the internet. Everything links to somewhere and something, and even if it’s shite, it’s something else, something new; a never ending satisfaction of the biological itch for finding a peculiar existent and stabbing our brightly coloured flag in it.

I’m probably getting a bit excited about it there, but I am a recovering luddite and I’m just recently part of the technological revolution. I’ve used the internet regularly for only five years; with three and a half of those exclusively spent gambling. Five years sounds like a long time, but it doesn’t feel that way when you get shown how to work stuff by a six year old. “Look Auntie Kat. You can animate that text… watch…”. “Oh. Really? But I don’t want to. Is that okay?”

Old habits die onerously, and my old reading and writing habits involved paper. I used to think publishing could only be printing. Publishing used to be a massive personal achievement involving the labour of many men and machines, seeped in the smells of dead trees and ink. Then I realised the modern world offers the opportunity for publishing words by pushing a button, or more accurately, ‘clicking’ something named after a button.

If the information revolution means I can be a published author, or at least a publishing author; then I’m joining up, albeit in a tardy fashion.

I’m going to write a blog because other people do it. I do things that other people do. I’m going to write a blog because maybe just one person, 3000 miles away will read it and imagine what I’m like without ever having to meet me. I’m going to write a blog because I can.

And finally because I do really like the word ‘blog’.