When I was little chap, no more than four or five, my Mum would often park me in front of the radio. There, I would listen to a classic British children’s program appropriately titled, Listen with Mother, while Mom wandered off to the bottom of the garden to smoke weed. The one thing I will always remember (and I am sure hundreds of thousands of British kids have this forever stamped on their brains) is the opening moment of the program: “Are you sitting comfortably?” the narrator would ask. “Then I’ll begin.”
It really didn’t matter if you were comfortable—the bastard would start reading anyway. But, I remember this as a learning experience, as I remember so much of my childhood. As a wee one, I learned, for example, that if I was making a grumpy face and the wind changed then my face would be stuck in that expression forever. I learned that I should “do as grown-ups say, not as they do.” Therefore, I avoided the bitter divorces, drug addictions, and charges of tax evasion that accounted for most of my uncles and aunts. The person most responsible for turning me into the sociopath I am today was my lovely little grandmother, who told me frequently that if I didn’t eat my vegetables then I would be killing little children in Africa. And, God would probably kill a few angels in Heaven as well, just to prove a point.
As a result of these life’s lessons, childhood was a very confusing time for me. I spent my formative years in a state of depression worrying if my eating habits were responsible for the painful deaths of entire African families. I fretted over the logistics of speaking only when I was spoken to, secretly daydreaming about watching with mild indifference as the adults responsible for filling me full of this shit were flattened under a runaway train that only I had seen coming.