Ooo, Hebburn is a Place on Earth

English: Jerry Springer at a Hudson Union Soci...

English: Jerry Springer at a Hudson Union Society event in January 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t kids say the funniest things? (To be said in Tony Blackburn voice for ultimate effect).

My daughter last night, for example. Lying in bed, exchanging our ritual Jerry Springer-style ‘final thoughts’ before shut-eye.

Her: “Daddy didn’t die in Heaven.”

Me: “Mmmm? What do you mean?”

Her: “He died in Grandma’s bed.”

Me: “…Yes…”

Her: “Where is Heaven?”

My atheist bile began its stealthy rise. “Heaven…well…it’s not real, sweetheart.”

“Father Michael says Cheesus died in Heaven.” Pauses. No response from Mother. Sings: “I am the Lawn of the dance says He….”

It brought to mind the old play-on-words M used to sing about a town in our native North-East: ‘Ooo Hebburn is a place on earth!’

I tossed from side to side for a good while, contemplating religion. I concluded that maybe it would just be easier if I got one.

My daughter attends a faith school (Church of England I think, although not entirely certain.) It was the nearest one and to be honest, when I enrolled her I was in sudden-death induced catatonia. It could have been orthodox Jewish and I would have signed her up. But she comes home with all this gubbins and I don’t know how to deal with it. At Easter time, she was distraught because Cheesus was resurrected from the dead yet daddy wasn’t. But why wasn’t He?

“Because Cheesus is…a fairy?” I proffered.

It didn’t wash. A man in a dress had come into school and suggested that Cheesus was a real, live human being who had come back from the dead. The man was adamant about this point. He completely confused my daughter. And me.

Maybe it is just easier to believe that M has gone to Heaven. To an, ehem, ‘better place’, because actually the prospect of anything else is too much to cope with. In a sense, it’s too difficult to explain.

Yeah, at 10pm on a weary Friday night, that suits me actually.

He’s in Heaven, sweetheart. With Cheesus and the fucking Wombles.

The Bard’s birthing room

English: Birth place of William Shakespeare, S...

English: Birth place of William Shakespeare, Stratford upon Avon, England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several years ago, M and I visited Shakespeare’s house in Stratford-upon-Avon with some friends. The house stands alone and detached – a wattle-and-daubed anachronism in the middle of a busy commercial street. It was difficult to approach it with the reverence it no doubt deserves though, as the four of us couldn’t stop laughing. Each room had been set up as an approximation of its 17th century self, each with a descriptor stuck near the door. “This was probably the birthing room”. “This was probably the scullery”.

“This was probably the shitter,” my mate said, peering into a small locked closet round the back.

The problem was, we all knew how we were supposed to feel on a pilgrimage such as this  – awe, deference, respect – yet shuffling around the tight little corridors behind a fleet of Japanese tourists, I’ll admit I felt nothing. And neither did the others. Except an overwhelming desire to take the piss.

My experience of widowhood brings to mind that trip. I think I know how I’m supposed to feel. Indeed people tell me how they think I should feel and how they think they would feel if it were them. But in reality, how I feel bears no relation to how I think I should be feeling.

Just as I was a bad visitor to the Bard’s birthing room, I wonder sometimes if I am ‘bad widow’. Because some days, I feel positively joyful. Other days I wonder how the hell I’m going to go on. Most of the time, I just want to take the piss.