Packing Tape and Cardyboard

And for family and those interested: here are pictures of Pascal’s latest creations. Until the other day, for a month, his room had been unnegotiable because there was a very complex airport and shipping arrangement everywhere. We had to kiss him goodnight in the hallway because only he could pick his way to his bed without destroying some delicate crane mechanism or precarious tower of tiny crates ready for loading on some paper, cotton and blu-tak vehicle.

And then one morning it was all gone, packed tidily into boxes outside his room. And very soon this took its place:


This was before the roof was completed, after which there was no adult access. I wish I could show you inside. It was a home for the Teletubbies. There were beds and internal walls and all kinds of detail. You could only get in on your tummy. It was rather wonderful.

Meanwhile the trains continued to be assembled, many at a time, until we had this many:


And then they went on a fire.

Friends were invited, marshmallows, sticks, logs gathered and so on but the point was that they had to be burned. And soon after, the Teletubby house was burnt in a similar ceremony. Internal walls with pictures and light switches and decorative shelves which no-one had really seen except Pascal himself and his fleet of soft toys – all gone. There was dancing, screeching and a large cardboard structure alive with flame toppling where it shouldn’t.

And now Pascal is building a go-kart, (we bought some plans) and planning also maybe to tackle a steam engine for his school project on the Life and Works of the Rev. W. Awdry.

Jonathan says: “If you want to get a small child’s attention, start sawing a piece of wood.” All three boys have got involved and the kitchen is a shed.

Even though I worry about where we are going to put six-foot rockets and the nine-foot dragons (really) and it is on some level a relief that Pascal has built into his building routine a little light immolation, I am sad about these things as they are carried down the garden to the bonfire. A friend of mine who is a photographer was pretty horrified about the sacrificing of all this artwork. She blogged some of his Dakotas here. Pascal is patiently building the entire vehicular cast from the Duxford Air Show in stiff card and sellotape.

At The Factory we are working on an adaptation of The Odyssey, I am loving it and confused by it. How do I process that story through my Western, contemporary, feminist, Judeo-Christian story-telling filter? What do I make of it and how do we tell it without telling things about it? I am also nearing the end of a book I am writing and as I get closer to the end I find myself increasingly caught up in how good it should be. I want it to be really, really good. I want it to be admirable. This is about as constipating a position as it is possible to find. Could I write an entire book, admire it for a bit, then throw it on a fire to clear space for the next one? Could I give it away without my name on it and never know how it was received?

By coincidence, not long ago, Pascal was also learning about Greek Myths. I didn’t really believe Greek Myths could possibly take his fancy. I was thinking what does the autistic mind do with a story like the Odyssey, when he came home with his own version – a cartoon about Agamemnon. I have to find it and scan it but until I do you have to know it was rather wonderful series of photographs of a clay Agamemnon and a ship and assorted Greek characters. The final frame was Agamemnon lying on the ground at the foot of a sticky, plasticine cliff.

And after we read his Agamemnon story through and he had showed it around proudly he went back to putting windows on his GNER 225 HST and he said: ‘I don’t want to die. I want to be alive. I don’t want to be like Theseus’ Dad. I would get dead. If I jumped off the cliff I would get dead. I want to be… (and he looks at me very cheerfully with his eyebrows raised) Yes? I am just alive.’

I thought it was a great speech.


7 thoughts on “Packing Tape and Cardyboard

  1. Weren’t the Celts forever throwing objects of beauty into bogs as gifts to the landscape? I always have a sense of loss when something I’ve created disappears, which means I end up with great mounds of stuff gathering dust.

    The go-kart looks to be quite a project! Well, as indeed does the Odyssey. …there was a youth theatre musical version of the siege of Troy on the telly back in the 70s, and I still remember some of the words- “Menelaus, melancholy brother, you know we hate to see you suffer…” and so on… it was of its time…

    • Indigenous Australians dropped a little blood onto the soil when a gesture of thanks/ hope/ appeal was called for. Which seems perfect. But I’m no good at it either.

      A musical version of the siege of Troy…? Lordy. Your references are wide.

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