Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Boundlessness And The Model Rabbit
This afternoon, some time between moulding a green Peter Rabbit out of Play-Doh and, colluding in his eventual demise by means of a poison carrot, Speckly Woo and I shared our thoughts on the world, as we see it, respectively.
For the most part, when we spend time together, I listen intently while she arrows me with sharp observations, such as the fact that I have black bits on some of my teeth (fillings) because I didn't brush well when I was little.
Currently, the home education support group has taken on the theme of daily life in Britain during WW2. Last Friday, she picked up on the plight of evacuees and was intrigued to learn that children were packed off to the safety of the countryside, to live with people they didn't know.
Just after Peter Rabbit had been despatched, having eaten my ill-proportioned, poisoned red carrot, Speckly Woo was deep in thought. She was rolling a tiny piece of Play-Doh between her fingers - a miracle pill, designed to bring Peter back to the land of brightly coloured misfits - when she suddenly made reference to the gas masks that evacuated children had to carry at all times. "They were to protect the little children from 'naughty smoke', Grandad," she said.
This prompted me to remember a question I had asked in childhood. Nothing unique, in that almost every child must wonder, if they don't actually ask, 'where does the sky end?' It was explained to me, that there was no end, which seemed a bit of a lame answer to a boy with a headful of Dan Dare. I was hoping there was an outer limit that my heroes headed for. Some place where they could tie up their space ships, get a couple of shots of cosmic 'red-eye' and catch forty winks before embarking on the next adventure.
For years, I wrestled with the concept of infinity. Okay, I could see space rolling out to way beyond the point where I could no longer see. But, the more I tried to imagine 'no end', my mind kept providing me with brick walls, fences and huge sheets of white. And beyond every one of these barriers was, of course, more space, until the next partition.
Whilst preoccupied with the conundrum of time and space, I had been - under instruction from Speckly Woo - almost unconsciously creating a crazy rabbit, with large eyes and an evil grin. "Where does this fit into the story?" I asked, handing the long-eared specimen over.
"You'll see, Grandad," came the sweet reply, "but first, I must cut his head off, to make sure he's safe."
Back to Earth, then.