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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.


Whit said...

I didn't know that. Interesting.

Wouldn't it be safe to open up the windows again?

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

What a perfect Fourth of July post. ;)

A Bishops Wife said...

I didn't know that either.

My mom was just telling me on the phone, that during her trip to England, people said we Americans were "wasteful". Maybe we should not have so many windows. LOL.

Jerry Grasso said...

I've gotta know, which King, and when did this all happen?

And, did you get the question:

"What dis dah tax?"

Hope your trip is going great!

Melissa said...

Ha! Love it!!!
And I didn't know that about the windows... what an interesting little tid bit of information!

Linda said...

A taxation on windows? I had never heard of that! What idiot King decided he needed to add more cash to his coffers and came up with that idiotic lunacy? Geez, and I thought we came up with some stupid stuff here in the States!

kristina said...

I don't understand taxes, especially in April. My own window here [=Jersey City office---a much more "traditional" sort of American city, with one-way streets, dead-ends, slanted streets, brick buildings somewhat as in your photo ] looks to the windows and walls of a brick dorm: When is a view not a view?

I'll wait for when, if, we ever get to China and Charlie can talk about Chinese peoples.

marymaddux6272 said...

For what it's worth, I think what you do everyday, thoughtfully making three children's lives better, counts as "working on the big problems."

I'm happy your daughter is working on big ones too.

And it is ok for us to feel understimulated sometimes. Someone once told me I wasn't supposed to have all of my emotional needs met by a three year old.

And my no nearly 10 year old was away when I felt like I didn't have purpose. Spending meaningful time with our kids always counts as important.

I was just frustrated that I didn't know what my meloncoloy was about and happy he articulated it for me. Maybe next time I feel that way, I will spend some time working on a big problem and make myself feel better in the process?

Warm regards.

P.S. Have a blast in England.

marymaddux6272 said...

Maybe it's good I don't know how to spell melancholy?
1. a gloomy state of mind...

I was spelling it so poorly spell check didn't even catch it. Sorry I forgot to research the correct spelling before making my post.

marymaddux6272 said...

I think I'm tired. Spell check caught it, just didn't know what I was trying to spell...

OhTheJoys said...

Who can explain the English?!

Karen Hossink said...

My, how hard you have to work!!!
It was fun "riding with you" through the rain and listening in on this conversation. I enjoyed my own brief history lesson about English peoples! *grin*

Bea said...

Personally, I think we should always call them "English peoples."

Christy said...

"We" Americans have been questioning the English taxes for a few hundred years now....I guess it was the American side of your son talking that day....we know what side of the harbor he would have been on in Boston I think :O) Or else he would have been questioning why we didn't brick up the harbor instead of questioning the king ;o) What a cute story....thanks for sharing!

Joeymom said...

Here, we have to explain false doors in colonial-era buildings. Because there was a tax on closets, many uper-crust homes and taverns would install false doors, to make themselves seem wealthier.

Fun, huh?

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