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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15 Responses

  1. Perhaps enough imagination to appreciate literature, without the excess that lends itself to picturing tragedy so vividly? I have to say, though, that I think imagination is a spark that needs nurturing. Depending on how it is encouraged, it can lead you to wondrous lands and fascinating mental adventures. Or it can lead you to where you are able to figure out exactly the right way to pull a car out of a ditch or fix a fence – because you can picture it in your head. Maybe you can guide Harry to the inner worlds, and John can teach him how to close the door if it gets too scary there…

  2. I too have an imagination like you and can fully appreciate Mr Berlusconi’s study of botanicals in their natural environment.
    This also lends to a darker side and I wonder if that is a uniquely mother’s burden, to envision all and worry. I agree with A, perhaps you and John make a good team, you will balance each other out and Harry will inherit a bit of the best of each of you.

  3. The Air France news prompted a similar response in me too. If in fact it is a trait unique to mothers, I hope my daughters don’t grow up to possess it quite as intensely as I do. But I suppose it is there in order to preserve our protective instincts toward our (and all) children.

  4. I too have the vast expansive imagination but have learned that real life can be scary enough so have forbidden myself from walking down the road of imagining every disaster possible. But I had to physically make myself stop because I honestly don’t think it does anyone (myself heartily included) any good.

    MIL is/was a massive worrier/panicker when Husbando was a child (there is a story involving a vat of fake blood and a skateboard “accident” which is hilarious when he tells it but I’m now surprised that she didn’t have a heart attack!) I don’t think its done him a huge amount of harm – he doesn’t worry about natural disasters, flights, etc but is a huge worrier about left on stoves, irons, house burning down things. Maybe Harry will find his own way through the fears to a place somewhere between you and John, a place you hadn’t expected!

  5. Hello Wifey,
    Thanks for dropping in, I was just roaring around on the quad bike feeding the piglets, sorry to have missed you!
    Frog

  6. I think it is very much a mom thing. I hate to give ammunition to men who snicker about “that time of the month” and so on, but I wonder if it is partly hormonal. (Especially after just reading this–http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/02/my-brief-life-as-a-woman/ . Hope that link comes through.) At any rate it’s certainly all wrapped up with mother-child love, for me, and it’s worst when I have a newborn around, as I do now, again. I find my brain randomly coming up with absolutely horrid and vivid images of likely and unlikely harms that might occur, and must firmly ignore them. I have been steadily pushing Air France out of my head too. Staring those fears down just doesn’t work.

  7. I know exactly what you mean. I can (and do) do the same thing. Envisioning my child in those circumstances. It got REALLY BAD when I was picturing the gas chambers at Auschwitz. I think it might help us be more empathetic, but if it goes too far (and I wish I knew to prevent that) I think it can undermine the joy we take in our own lives or cause us to worry ourselves to a standstill.
    I’m thinking about all of those children. How their parents or caregivers comforted them in those final moments, how they tried to protect them. I pray it was painless and quick, I only wish I could stop the imagining too. I think Harry would be best off a mixture of both, empathy and pragmatism.

  8. There’s recent research showing that parents with divergent styles and worldviews raise more resilient children. So, good on ya.

    I’m with you, though. I imagine all the worst. I haven’t ridden a train since a friend died in a train wreck in 2005. In fact, I can’t hear the phrase “train wreck” bandied about jokingly without wincing inside. And that’s just ONE smidgen of craziness inside my head.

    I think there must be a good reason for women to worry so well, and for men not to do so. I think it is at least partly hormonal. I think you should accept it as part of you, and just be aware of it as an aspect of you. At least, that’s what I tell myself over and over every time anything bad happens and I get a whiff of an idea about it.

  9. Recently here in a small Ontario city a little girl went missing. After a month or so two people (a 28 year old man and 18 year old woman) were arrested and charged with 1st degree murder and abduction. I replayed over and over in my head the fear of this little girl along with her cried for her mother. So much so that I was not sleeping.

    The Air France disaster has also set me into a spin.

    I could have written this post and substituted Sgt and my names for yours.

  10. Well, if opposites raise more resilient children, my kid will never know a problem exists. My husband and I are polar opposites! As for you, I agree that it’s just a mom thing. I never knew how my mother worried about us, but if it was 1/10th of how I’m feeling about my pregnancy, I’m amazed she’s sane. She also said that if I’m revisited by child anything like me, I should purchase a helmet and hang on!

  11. Oh yes, same images, same fears, it’s hidious. But after thinking about it I try to move on and not let the fear affect me, because ultimately I don’t want it to affect him. If anything happened I don’t want to look back on the time we had together and say I spent that time being scared of what could happen. C and I are similarly different and for sanity’s sake I hope that Tricky takes after his dad.

    hugs xxx

  12. a close relative of mine knew and worked with three of the passengers on that plane. she is comforting herself with the knowledge that they probably had had a glass of wine or three and were asleep or nearly so. and the reports also help, given that if the cabin depressurised at that altitude everyone would’ve been unconscious in seconds. fingers crossed, no-one wants to imagine worse.

  13. I panic about planes crashing, about the kids being mown down by a car, being bombed, any number of things. Each such disaster intensifies the fears. I don’t talk about it though.

  14. On a lighter note, did you see the bit about the Czech politician being shown naked and “in a state of excitement” and him saying “the picture must have been edited”?

  15. […] I came home. I slept. I feel nearly human again – or did, until I saw the news, which upset me back at the time. Nagging nausea is still an […]

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