It is my daughter’s fourth birthday next weekend. Can I believe my little baby is four? Yes I can, because I understand the nature of time. Also it actually feels like she’s always been here. I am surprised she is not 400. She’s a real delight at the moment, cheeky as Hell to me, but learning to draw and write her name and recognise letters and able to join in with suggestions for names and locations when I ad-lib bedtime stories for her. I tell her stories of Phoebe and the Tiger and each time ask her to name the tiger and each time she changes the name. This is just our unspoken understanding of this story. Tonight the tiger was called Horsey in story one and Beard in story two (though she may just have been looking at my beard for that second one - she’s already learned the number one story writing rule, use the stuff that is within three feet of you and write about that..
Our son is a fucking idiot though. But one out of two isn’t bad.
Today we took her to buy her first bike for her birthday. Last night she’d asked for a car - I think she meant a toy one that she could sit in, but she seemed to have specific ideas of driving away from home in the rain, so maybe not. But it brought home the hard truth that every step she makes takes her a little further along the path to independence and makes us ever less necessary.
But I am trying to stay in the moment and enjoy her company rather than fret about the time when she will leave me.
She whizzed around the shop floor on the Frozen bike that she had selected, wearing her Frozen helmet, whilst I wished we could be frozen in time and be here forever. But I understand the nature of time. And stopping it is not only a real pain, but also messes up so many other things that it’s probably not worth it.
How was I even a person without these tiny idiots to hang around with?
Time is of course flying by, but that’s its nature. When I lived in my flat in Balham, every time I bought the Sunday papers and looked at the Culture section of the Sunday Times, I would marvel at how quickly the week had gone. It didn’t seem like seven days since I’d last looked at the Culture section and thought about how quickly the previous seven days had gone. There’s been over a thousand Culture sections since then. I don’t even get the Sunday Times any more because I don’t live in the 20th Century and yet still I think about those 1990s Culture sections and how many Culture sections have gone by. How many more Culture sections do I have in me? Will I outlast the Culture section or will it outlast me?
Imagine if I’d bought all 1000 Culture sections and put them in a pile. I could have won the Turner Prize. I can’t believe I haven’t won it for my other art already. Ian Turner is a fucking dick.
Anyway my little girl is starting the long bike ride away from me, yet somehow it was still a joyous thing to see her pedalling around. She’s only a couple of hundred Culture sections old. Hopefully she will outlive newspapers all together. But most of us might do that.
I listened to a lot of Jon Ronson podcasts ahead of tomorrow’s RHLSTP and they are just brilliant. Do check out his work
. It’s astonishingly clever, witty and humane. Can’t wait to chat with him again.