Sunday, 11 November 2007
I was walking my kids to school the other day and for some reason they started asking me about Taking Comfort. They wanted me to tell them the story, which I had told them before (obviously leaving out the very dark bits and certainly the sex scene), but for some reason they wanted it again. It was almost like they wanted to check they had it right, and that, yes, their dad was as mad as they feared.
But I had the sense that somehow the story made sense to them. A guy feels threatened and overwhelmed by the dangers of the world, so he finds himself taking totems from scenes of disaster or tragedy, in order to prevent similar things happening to him. Somehow a child could accept the logic of that.
A few days later, Luke, who has just turned 8, said to me, "Dad, I'm like Rob." Which I have to say sent a shiver through me.
"What do you mean, Luke?"
"I'm like Rob in Taking Comfort."
I tried to remain calm. "In what way?"
"Well, I was playing football in the playground and the ball kept hitting me in the face, so I went around and picked up a load of leaves from the playground so that it wouldn't do it anymore."
"Ah. Yes. Right. Okay." I tried to explain that it was only a story and that it doesn't actually work. And that Rob does go a little bit crazy in the book.
He seemed to understand this, and though I thought he might be disillusioned, he told me that he is still going to read the book when he's old enough, which he reckons will be when he's 18.
My wife, who had overheard the exchange, was of course horrified. By the leaves in pockets, that is. "Luke," she said, "Will you not put wet leaves in your trouser pockets. It's a hell of a job to get them out."