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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Detour down a blind alley – the right to light

“What it is?”
“What is what dear?”
“Dat fing?”
“What thing dear?”
“Da fing dat is not dah window?”

“Er…” I gaze out of the car searching for ‘what it is?’ is England, in the rain, driving on the wrong side of the road, where everything is very confusing for them, not the least of which must be the rain, driving on the wrong side of the road. “Do you have any more describing words to help me dear?”
“Um……when is a window not a window?”
“Oh dear, I’m not sure that that really helps lovey.”
“Er dat fing on dah houses which is looking like a window but it is looking like dah wall too.”
“Oh yes of course, silly me.”

Now that I understand the question, ideally I should like to provide a fully comprehensive answer that is capable of being understood by a six and a half year old. Preferably an answer that is full enough to curtail additional questions or confusion. I would prefer to avoid matters that they are unlikely to understand, like tax. [translation = abstract concepts such as money, currency, exchange rates and tax have yet to be covered] I need the conversation to be brief, as I have to move on to more important matters, namely the schedule for the day.

It is important to cover the schedule for the day, for otherwise uncertainty and stress levels will rise. I have already carefully worked out what to say about the schedule, smoothing the pitfalls and glorifying the moments that are of positive significance for them. This detour in the conversation is unscripted, or maybe my brain is just too slow to keep up with them. “Those windows were windows, but a long time ago, in the olden days, they bricked them up, got rid of the glass.”

“English peoples are not liking dah windows?”
“No, English people love the windows but ….
“English peoples have no windows so dey cannot see dah grey sky?”
“Er no it’s..”
“Dey have no windows to keep out the raining?”
“Er no, it’s that..”
“English peoples not want to see dah wonky roads?”
“All very good ideas but…anyway English peoples....I mean English, er .. British people, I mean you are half English, I mean you have dual nationality, you're English too, that is to say British. Do you remember that we talked about that?”
"What you say? I am half? I am dual? What I am?"
"Never mind that now, where were we?"
"We are in dah England remember?"
"Yes I know, I meant....what did I mean?"
"You are saying I am dah half a jewel."
"I was? Er, windows, we were talking about windows."
“Yes you are dah good rememberer. English peoples are keep dah houses warming?”
“Good one, yes, I know it’s cold but..”
“English peoples hate dah Windex?” [translation = Windolene]
“Not really, it’s just that..”
“English peoples don like blue?” [translation = Windex]
“English peoples are dah very stoopid peoples?”
“No dear, they didn’t like the tax. In the olden days the King said that people had to pay tax depending upon the number of windows they had, so because people didn’t want to pay too much tax they bricked up a lot of their windows.”

Three pairs of eyes examine houses in the rain with bricked up windows. I try not to count the houses. I try not to count the bricked up windows. I perseverate about how to explain the abstract concept of taxation to an autistic, speech delayed six and a half year old person. [translation = how can I avoid percentages?]

“Not stoopid English peoples, stoopid English King!”

Spoken like a true republican.

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