Not now Bernard, but maybe later
Yesterday, in Edinburgh, I had an epiphany.
Oh, yes, I hear you laugh and say Edinburgh? In August? And this 'epiphany,' [insert your version of the knowing chuckle here], was it at the dead of night, by any chance? And were you outside the Gilded Balloon or round the back of the Pleasance? You'd just gone to see a film made by students about fifty shades of black, right? Or maybe a conceptual dance show where two naked women weighed down by plastic pearls span round in circles to Tori Amos songs? And I bet you were with one of your friends, someone else who claimed to know someone famous, a grungy hippie nodding quietly, and two Continental guys who weren't sure what was going on? And there was alcohol involved, wasn’t there? You sit back, fold your arms, and wait for my crushed response. There’s always alcohol involved.
But now it is my turn to laugh, in a high and trilling tone, and say, ‘well, rehallay, darling, what sort of girl do you think I am?’ Hmm. At this point I may also have developed curiously immobile flicky-out hair and a name like Cecily. (I should probably point out that the fact that I appear to belong in a 1950s farce was not my revelation. In fact, that’s probably nearer a nightmare.)
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. This was none of your usual half-baked midnight blinding light sort of experience, sitting with last drink in hand and making up names of constellations to make yourself sound knowledgeable. (Because it’s, like, profound and cool to know about the stars, you know?) This happened in the clear light of day. I was sober. There were even children present.
Yes, that’s right, children. Lots of them. And that is kind of key to the whole epiphany sort of thingygummy. Regular readers will already know about my attitude to the common or garden child in relation to me. I’m a little less than broody. My thinking up till now on the subject would be probably best summed up in an Oscar Wilde misquote – to be around one would be misfortune, to be with two would be just plain carelessness. (None of my friends actually have children yet. When they do the party line will change to incorporate the acceptability of known ones in small cheerful bursts.) So yes, deciding to see out our time in Edinburgh by going to a children’s show seemed a little crazy.
But what the hell. It was Edinburgh. You can do crazy there like nowhere else. So we went completely all out wild and bought tickets for a children’s show, crazy girls that we are. And ‘Not Now Bernard! and Other Monster Tales for Children’ was actually very very good. Well conceived, convincing and amusing, and really enjoyable, even for those of us who weren’t accompanied.
Yet here’s the thing. There were at least fifty children in that room, and not once did I feel irritation towards them. If anything, I actually loved seeing them all completely absorbed by an hour of theatre. They were all rapt. Nobody fidgeted, or cried or got bored. They had such amazing attention spans. If ‘Not Now Bernard’ had been a cartoon it would have been over in ten minutes, and they would have been on to the next thing. I really enjoyed watching them being so enthralled, and so my revelation is this: being around children can be rewarding. I'm still not enamoured of the hyperactive whining, screaming, thrashing three-foot monsters encountered in supermarkets and swimming pools, but I love the kid that sits open-mouthed in a theatre, completely riveted to his seat.
So yes, when I have my baby shower, don’t bother with the layette, the little booties, the hand-stitched blanket and the fifty plastic rattly toys that play tinny nursery rhymes. Give me tickets for the theatre, darling, the theatre. And now I feel my hair flicking up and out again and I’m starting to bat my eyelashes. Shit. Maybe becoming a character in a 1950s farce is a horrible side-effect of this sort of thing. Just don’t let me start persuading you to call me Cecily.