Child

Brian Cox during his interview last weekend with Lauren Laverne on Desert Island Discs, exhorted us to nurture the child within. And he didn’t mean some psychoanalytical notion of a child, but as we once were. It’s who we are really are, he said. Yes. I agree, Brian. It is. It still is after all these years. My child is about five or six, and very earnest. Sensitive, quick to cry but also quick to feel joy. An optimist yet a worrier, life is full of pleasure for her but also pain. She senses things deeply. She has a huge amount of empathy for others, she seeks out the vulnerable, the weak, the abandoned ones. Lame ducks, her mother used to call them. They were the ones she brought home for tea, the ones she keened towards at parties. Those shy, reticent ones. Her mother couldn’t understand why. I carry her with me as I walk. Sometimes I take her hand. I like her. I always have. She had lovely skin and a sweet dimples on her face when she smiled. She had so much potential to shine. She worked hard at everything. She was careful, diligent. Quiet. Are you disappointed in me? I asked her yesterday, as I walked. No, she said. You have done the best you could, always. Is that enough? Of course, she said, with a smile steeped in a wisdom beyond her years.

I felt better walking this morning, my legs weren’t so stiff. And I was less edgy about being stopped. I saw more people out and about. A dog-walker, a couple. All were far off. No one disturbed me. One of the windows of a house on a terrace of dwellings in one of the streets that lead onto the harbour had been covered in a child’s drawings. They were taped onto the window, painting side out. They were glorious. They were of blue skies and rainbows. A happiness of painting. Shared with us. Thank you.