The Killer ToyRobin Ince's Blog
The strangest thing of being human that you can be so far from events before you understand what they meant. For me it was an event nearly forty-seven years ago.
Philosophers, both ancient and modern, have said that the pondering as you live is preparing you to die. Will there be a sudden denouement at your final heartbeat, “Oh, now it makes sense.” And with that moment of satisfaction, a final rush of dopamine reward propels you into the light, followed by the dark. Hopefully, I’ve still got three decades left to show my working out to myself. I am talking to a Freudian now, embarrassed on the couch, trying to make my anxiety into a shape I can box and store. Writing my book, I’m a Joke and So Are You, has led me to the analyst. I feel a little silly about it all. It was so long ago, when my mind was more malleable and absorbent and irrational. A few years ago, I wrote a fiction about the fact. Life can be more manageable if you make it into stories.
The story is below. I’ll tell you the results of it all in twenty years or so.
* * *
He should never have been looking for his toy, but it was new and he was excited.
A blue water pistol.
He must have been fiddling with it in the car on the way to the farm and it got caught up in the rug or dropped under the seat.
While he was looking for it under the seat, something happened.
The car stopped sharply, from 30 to 0 in a second, but he wouldn’t have known the numbers.
It was confusing.
Why did it stop?
His sister was crying and holding her head. She was his big sister to him. Seven is so big when you’re three.
His mother was behind the wheel.
Still, utterly still.
He had never seen her so still.
He’d seen her sleeping, but never this still.
“Why’s mummy’s eyes closed?”
His sister didn’t stop crying. There was blood in her hair. There was no blood on his mum. He didn’t know why she had stopped everything, but he did know it was his fault.
He shouldn’t have gone under the seat. It was the passenger seat. No one in there.
But it had done something.
He had been fiddling around, and the fiddling had caused this.
His sister was told off for fiddle faddling around all the time, and now he knew why.
When he was older, he might realise how much time went by as he sat confused in the crying and the silence.
He didn’t cry.
He didn’t know.
He couldn’t see into the dark.
He couldn’t see the van that seconds before had been over the speed limit and unaware of the curves in the road. It was still now too.
For the time being, all that had happened was some kind of nothing that he had brought upon everyone by looking for that gun.
He wasn’t looking anymore.
It was probably in reach now, but he didn’t want to move, because he didn’t know what movement would do. He didn’t want to cause anything else, he had done enough.
There was a woman now. He thought she might be quite round, tied up in a big beige coat.
He didn’t know if she’d come out of the fields or from along the road. Maybe she was from the van or car behind.
Did she know what he had done?
She had a big roll of toilet paper ready to mop the mess in his sister’s head.
It was all becoming jumbled now.
Had she come to the car twice and gone back for the toilet paper, or did she come running with it in hand?
So much going on, people looking at him, did they know he was guilty?
He wondered if he was concealing it all or giving it away.
No one seemed angry with him.
He was waiting to be told off, but everyone was busy with his sister, with him, while his mother was left alone. Did anyone know she was there in her silence?
One day , everyone will be dead, and everything he caused, everything he did by looking for that blue plastic pistol, will be forgotten and of no consequence. The consequences will be finished, but not for now.
* * *
Footnote: – The book is not all about me, it is about lots of other people, therapists, neuroscientists and comedians, but I do barge in from time to time.
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Robin Ince is a multi-award winning comedian, writer and broadcaster. As well as spending decades as one the UK’s most respected stand-ups, Robin is perhaps best known for co-hosting The Infinite Monkey Cage radio show with Brian Cox. For his work on projects like Cosmic Shambles he was made an Honorary Doctor of Science by Royal Holloway, University of London.