I go to baby yoga and dance class too tired to stare at the women and watch Martha cover her face in silk scarves and hop about like a rainbow ghost. I wait for the bit where we are covered in blankets and pretend to be dead, the teacher in lycra, stretching over me, scattering coloured feathers, fanning me under parachute silk—my erection sullen and thick with dark blood --- I want to pull her on top of me and thrust into her angrily. But today there is no blanket, the playing dead session has been cancelled. Around me fathers lie on the floor as if thrown from galloping horses and dropped from aircraft grow agitated— they are ready too – this is the only reason we return.
In the high street an old man is making music by blowing into a traffic cone. Two aged neanderthals are sitting at a table in Costas prodding at a mobile phone, amazed at this thing that lights up their toothy smiles and then switches off. A neighbour next door killed himself because he invited people to supper but had no saffron for the risotto. My wife says it was a symptom of something else. I say he ran out of saffron.
The playground is a testing ground—a science fiction set of silver tubes and laminate frogs that croak when sensors are activated. I dread the French parents, the groomed financial wizards with their Algerian aupairs or the super cool ones with an Algerian wife. Most of all I dread the mound — a manmade hillock with little funnels and perspex domes on top of a labyrinth of tunnels with far flung exits. The toddlers run in and stay deep beneath the concrete. They slip out of sight and I imagine a pitbull running through and tearing open their throats. I imagine a Lord of the Flies stand off with sharpened sticks in the goblin tea making area, blood on strawberry raincoats. Jelly cats splashed with gore. I let Martha go in, she’s eager to explore the dark—the tunnel moulded to her small body, the fake tree roots and plastic mushrooms growing up the wall. ‘Go away daddy,’ she yells as I hang in the entrance unsure from which meerkat exit she will emerge. I hate to let her go. I hear her excited yelps underground. Tonight I will dream of the mound, the eerie sound of the wind whistling through perspex, the goblin tea-set and the spindly limbed dream creature with skin of dandelion fur. Martha emerges and says, 'I’m a little bit freezing…’ Later, remembering my moment of road rage at the Hogarth roundabout, she shouts ‘fucking idiot’ at an old man when he stops his mobility scooter at the zebra crossing.
Eveywhere the images of death. The weekend in Deal where we look at seabirds on the pier but then walking back in the primordial sunlight, silence apart from the hum of sea and anguished child cries of seagulls, we come across the row of invacars parked in formation—thick slugs of cable sprouting out of letterboxes, recharging their corroded low-voltage hearts.