Choice Eccentricities

If I had to list the aspects of the internet that I love with OMG, dangerous intensity – we’d be here a long while. But one of them is the fact that I no longer have to shell out money I can’t afford in order to read the broadsheets. Which… are no longer broadsheets, in fact, but you know what I mean. And I still buy the actual real paper item from time to time, with the full intention of enjoying the letters pages and the crossword (not the cryptic. I can’t do the cryptic without having my hand firmly held by a wizened and wise crossword professional who must carefully translate the convoluted esotericness to me), but inevitably it ends up lighting the fire or lining a nest box because all my spare time is no longer spare.

Anyhoo. What I am wordily working around to is that I read something yesterday that really tickled me. (If you are uninterested in Italian current affairs or busty models, then I suggest you skip down to the next bit, where I get worked up and upset again.) This was in yesterday’s Times, and refers to the juicy-sounding events that Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister, is said to have been attending recently. That last line is… beautiful. 

According to the Italian press, some of the pictures of the parties show topless women embracing under a shower beside a swimming pool. The reports said that Mr Berlusconi was clothed in all the photographs, some of which showed him driving girls round his estate in a golf buggy while armed guards stood on the perimeter wall.

Imma Di Ninni, 30, an actress and reality show star on Mediaset, denied that there had been any scandal at the villa. She said that the new year party consisted of “music, dancing and chatting” and that the Italian leader had always “behaved like a gentleman”, showing his guests his extensive gardens. “He is an expert in botany,” she said.

Of course, so often the media send me into a different kind of tizzy altogether. Since having Harry, the images that I used to have some natural immunity to when they popped onto the TV screen, now seem to have sneakily acquired hard-wiring into my core.

When I was little, I can often remember my parents and teachers informing me – often with quizzical or bemused expressions – that I had a very vivid imagination. God knows what choice eccentricity I had uttered that day to incur the puzzlement of my seniors, but they were bang on the money. I do have an uncontrollable imagination. I am able to sink myself into a good book so entirely that it is almost physical pain to me to emerge, blinking, into my real life.

Often, I openly pity my husband’s thoroughly matter-of-fact and pragmatic upbringing. He lives within a mental space that simply does not stretch to allow his imagination much free rein, and literature is a closed book (ba-bam!) to him. I often tease him by telling him that he is 2-dimensional and emotionally devoid of depth; he senses the grain of genuine criticism implicit in the chaff, and ruffles up nicely (Bless the man! Despite once giving his considered opinion – after struggling through the first 3 chapters – on Lord of the Rings as ‘much too wordy’…) before vociferously denying that he is any such thing.

Yet… John has experienced as much horror and trauma in his life as the next man. He has witnessed violent accidental death. He has experienced the fear that his baby son might have died, alone among strangers. He has spent his life amid hundreds of tiny everyday animal tragedies. And – perhaps not unrelated to the last item – he has dealt with all of these things in their due season… and then put them to bed. He does not have nightmares.  He isn’t, to the best of my belief, haunted.

This plane. The Air France one. It had 7 children and a baby on board. I have morphed from confident flyer to a miserable shaking jelly of fear following a oscillating-bouncing-bomb type landing a few years ago, which I suspect has helped this event play on my mind.

John, you see, does not helplessly and continually picture his son’s frightened face, hear his desperate screams and feel the terrified clutch of his chubby arms as, encircled by fiery metallic death miles above the ocean… falling, agony, dying, unspeakable horror.

As I do.

Harry has one parent who is closed to many of the more peculiar inner worlds of the mind, and one who is very… open. I can’t for the life of me decide the (hypothetical, as he will be who he will be) question of whom he would do better to take after.

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