We have bought my son a new, well old, first car. It was delivered yesterday and I thought I would use it to pick him up from work. It was a journey which made me contemplate our relationship to the car we drive.
My own car is a sports car, a low slung special edition of the Mazda RX8, sleek and black, but to me, I thought, just a tool for getting from A to B. I also have access to my wife's big black pick-up truck, a Nissan Navara, again a vehicle I have viewed as nothing more than a tool. But now I found myself in a tiny and basic, bright red Citroen C1, it was an eye-opener.
For the first time in years I was self-conscious in a car, surrounded by a cage of untinted glass I felt on display to the world outside. I felt timid, somehow diminished, not at all myself. It is not the fault of the car, which although basic was fun to drive and more than capable of pootling around the urban roads between me and my destination. It was that I was stripped of the sense of identity I garner from sitting inside "the beast", the musicality of its twin exhausts burbling away, the smell of leather, the sense of being enclosed within its darkly exotic confines. Likewise the truck creates an ambience of its own, it says "I am big, I am powerful, get out of my way". Using those vehicles you just feel safe and protected, you are unaware of the subtext they create. But this new car has none of those things, it is a tabula rasa.
I am sure that my son will engage with this new creature, discover that it has a personality of its own and form a lasting friendship. Perhaps one day he will fondly tell his children about the adventures he had in his first car, though, because of its diminutive size, I am fairly sure those children will not be created within its confines. To me though, it is alien, the equivalent of realising that you are using the wrong toothbrush. This car says "I am a social worker", where I need to feel that "I am shark".
Thursday, 22 August 2013
And so it is I discover that I am not Prince Charming, not even Baron Hardup, I am Buttons, a bit-part player in my own life. This amuses me greatly, and it could be worse, I'm not an ugly sister. But it certainly puts a lot of things in perspective. And yes, I chose that particular playbill because I saw that show. Steve Gutenberg's career died before my very eyes, whilst my wife cried when the fairy coach was pulled by real white ponies.
We were the only people unaccompanied by children that saw it, and consequently our names will probably now be on a register somewhere. What can I say, my wife knew I liked the guy in Cocoon and the Police Academy films, she made the assumption that therefore I must also like a 300 mile round trip to see him in Cinderella! That was right up there in the top 5 crap surprise gifts she has bought me over the years, though nowhere near the top 3. She is what I like to think of as 'gift-challenged'.
So anyway, there you have it, Prince Charming gets Cinderella, Baron Hardup gets to make out with the Good Fairy, and I get to stand at the side and throw sweets at children and old ladies.
It is a funny old thing life.
Feeling all warm and happy this morning. I know, this isn't the place to wander around smiling.
Still, before my normal miserable self returns, let's make with happy music. This is Kent band Rexon, fronted by the awesome cosplayer Kelly Jean. For their cover of The Heavy's 'Short Change Hero', used as the intro music for the wonderful game Borderlands 2, Kelly became the game's Lilith. And what a brilliant job she/they did.
It fills me with happy.
Don't worry, I shall be over it by this afternoon, I've still got an essay to write.
Sunday, 18 August 2013
I wrote last year that elements of this song represent my own and the human condition.
At least it does for those who have not adopted the Buddhist/Mindfulness trick of living only in the present. I was reminded this last few days that I can't be counted among their number. I have decided that I am an adopter of the rice pudding school of life, form a thin skin across the past and hope it doesn't break else you're back up to your eyes in gloop.
I was unprepared for the reemergence of my ghost this week, though happy once I'd got over the shock. I dropped through the skin so hard I dented the bottom of the dish. On the plus side rice pudding and the past taste good, I'm happy to wallow for a while before climbing out.
In real life I have completed the last assignment for my child development module, just the exam to revise for between now and October for that one. No let up though, this week brings the penultimate essay for the counselling and psychotherapy module. I shall be writing about the systemic and sociocultural approaches despite not really having a scooby what they are. Answers on a postcard please, else I shall have to resort to re-reading the course materials tomorrow. That might be a good idea anyway, I am acing this module so far, I haven't done that since the tier 1 modules a few years back. If I can keep it up, it will mitigate the inevitably disappointing result I shall get in the child development exam. I know now why it is the most hated element of the degree.
Oh well, night blog. Who'd have thought, three posts in three weeks, we're on a roll :)
Friday, 16 August 2013
Still spending most evenings sitting outside a prison waiting to collect my son from work, I find myself having a growing affection for its comings and goings. Whether it is staff having a last smoke before going into work at 7:30 in the morning, or the gentle stream of visitors, mums, dads, wives, girlfriends, toddlers and babes in arms leaving in the afternoon.
Even without its walls, the heartbeat of prison life rings out. New arrivals in armoured vans, departures carrying paperwork and small bags of belongings heading for waiting cars. From time to time small groups gather by its doors awaiting the bus that'll take them to work. This is a walled community within a community with which they have no contact.
Occasionally alarms ring out, someone inside is doing something daft and the place goes into lockdown. My wait will be longer than I had expected. Most times I shall not know why, but some are revealed by shouted voices. A prisoner on a roof taunts at those whose job it is to talk him down, whilst fellow residents yell encouragement from their cell windows, delighted at a break in their routine.
A fleeting glance shows only tall walls, razor wire and distant rooftops. But familiarity tells a different story, all life is here confined.