Opinion: Matthew Munson -Catastrophes, mime and a new vocabulary

The latest journey for Matthew and Bryan

I could tell you about the most terrible week I’ve had; how my mobile phone is on life support and being treated in the emergency room at … err, a local shop. How my Facebook account was locked out twice for reasons I’m not entirely clear about. How my glasses are slowly breaking apart, so I need to get an eye test and buy a new pair rather quickly before I become blinder than a bat.

But if I expanded on any of those things, I would be guilty of some rather severe hysteria. Yes, it’s rather annoying that all of these things have happened together, but the world is not going to collapse in on itself just because I am having to deal with simultaneous catastrophes. There, you see, I’m doing it again.

I’m not usually one for hysterical outbursts – it’s just not in my nature – but I do worry about things that are important; my son, for example, and my writing being two examples. My son recently visited another school for a sports activity – it was lovely, as he’s not that interested in sport, so it was nice for him to be introduced to different activities – and when I arrived to pick him up, I couldn’t get into the school. All the entrances seemed impenetrable, and there were no signs.

As it turned out, the school office manager had just popped out to make a cup of tea when I rang; perfectly reasonable, it must be said, but in the moment when I didn’t know where I was going, I was frustrated, anxious, and worried that I wouldn’t be able to get in and be there for Bryan. I was, however, and Bryan didn’t even notice anything was wrong; he was too busy enjoying himself, and I was soon able to relax.

This weekend, I took Bryan over to Canterbury for an hour-long theatre show called “Gulp”, all about a woman’s adventure through plumbing and water. It had sounded interesting, so I thought, “Well, why not.” We were both entranced by it, although it stretched our imaginations to the limit when the characters spoke entirely in a language of their own making. We really had to think about what they were doing in mime and talking about, which was challenging at times, but the two women had a knack of making children laugh and bringing them back in from occasional moments of shuffling and “Oh, look, there’s something interesting over there.”

I was struck by a moment of despair when we got to the train station and saw the train just starting to pull away as we crossed the footbridge. “Bum!” Bryan exclaimed which, under the circumstances, could have been far worse.

The despair was down to the fact we had 45 minutes to wait until the next train. “Bum,” I agreed, and immediately I thought one thing; how can I entertain an eight year old for 45 minutes? Well, of course, worrying doesn’t do any good at all, and of course it was fine; we ended up having a great time playing tag on the station forecourt, then doing multiplication and division questions (he won that game) and “Name your favourite / least favourite / five things beginning with the letter …”. The 45 minutes whizzed by, fortuitously, and we were home by 8.30pm … a late night for a little boy, sure, but occasionally warranted. It’s a pleasure to spend time with a child just relaxing and laughing, and I couldn’t ask for anything more. Well, maybe for Bryan to remain innocent enough throughout his life to think that “bum” is the worst word in the world to us.

Incidentally, have you ever realised how many swear words you know? A simple test; bang your funny bone on something hard when a young child is listening in; then your mind will work faster than it ever has done in the past, and then – only then – will you realise the breadth of your invective and just many words are off-limits. A whole new vocabulary is being invented the more accident prone I become …