With apologies to John Hegley

Over the weekend
I broke my glasses.
I thought never mind,
on Tuesday or maybe Wednesday
I’ll go to the optician
and he can fix it.

So on Wednesday
the man took my glasses.
He peered at the broken bridge.
He looked at the bent frame.

He stared at the loose screw.
The pause was eight months pregnant.

I should have said,
“Look, I know you don’t want to know all this, but I was six years old, I was in a village two miles from home, and me and my mum and dad were at the summer fΓͺte. And there in front of my eyes was the most orange, most yellow, most exciting thing I’d ever seen. A dozen children jumped up and down on it, this giant day-glo cushion with walls and a blue punchbag sticking up in the middle. I gazed in awe. So my mum paid the man and on I went. I bounced. This was fun. I bounced some more. This was even more fun. I bounced some more again. And then I got adventurous. I wanted to hop over to the punchbag and hit it. So did another boy. So he hopped, and I hopped, and he hopped, and I hopped.

My memory fails. My mum says that our heads collided. But I think I slipped around the punchbag, but I think we both got up and started bouncing again, but I know I didn’t make eye contact with my parents, but I know I didn’t want to stop, but I had to. I had a warm bath and an early bed.

The next time I saw one I was eight. I held in for two minutes and then I asked my mum. She said no. And because my mum was fair, and because my mum let me do most things, and because my mum said no and meant it, that was that. I deflated myself.

But in my thirties, when a friend said, “I’m getting married,” I was very excited. And when she said “there’ll be a bouncy castle,” because that’s what they got called, I was very excited. A quarter of a century on I was worried it’d disappoint, but it didn’t. I jumped. Everyone else jumped. We got out of control. The walls sagged a bit, once. But no-one got hurt. And we had fun.

So every year at Greenbelt, when I saw the playground I started wondering. And every other year at Greenbelt I did nothing about it. But this year I steeled myself, went up to the man and said, “You wouldn’t let me on this would you?” He motioned with his hand. My heart bounced. “Everything in that half. Two pounds for fifteen minutes.” I had fun. But I learnt a lesson. I’ll pass it on. If you ever find yourself lying on top of a thin four-foot-high inflatable wall and you really need to get down, a belly flop is fine for your back but a belly flop is bad for your glasses. And I learnt another lesson. When you go back on the assault course, hide your glasses in your shoes. Don’t put them in your pocket. And I know this makes me sound like a six-year-old fool, and I know you think I’m a mid-life crisis come early, but really, I only want to know how much that’ll be to fix.”

I should have said all that.

But instead I said,
“Would you take cards
or should I go
to the cashpoint?”

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12 thoughts on “With apologies to John Hegley

  1. At this rate you’ll become a true bloke yet… Bouncy Castle & Assault Course? Welcome to my world.

  2. Rhys, I am so glad that the bouncy castle at said wedding opened you up to six-year-old joy.

    That is just SOOOO cool.

    As for glasses related accidents, it makes a better story than from (a) sitting on them or (b)breaking them during wiping clean.

    Not that I know anyone who has done either…erm…ahem…

  3. did you bounce at our engagement party? I didn’t realise it was such a thing of joy. we’ll try to repeat it next year…!

  4. Could I just say:
    – cogently argued piece about the difficulties of public translation: 1 comment
    – some rubbish about bouncy castles: 7 comments and counting

    I think I’ve found the level. Though in this case of course it does go up and down, and up and down, and up etc.

    No, blonde, I didn’t, but don’t worry – I arrived quite late and the castle was deflated within about 10 minutes of my arrival. (And it was a castle designed for adults to bounce on wasn’t it? Don’t worry, I won’t tell.) Actually, I think it was the same guy who loaned *the* castle for the wedding I mentioned, so do thank him for that should you see him again…

  5. I for one enjoyed the bouncy story… and next time you write about public transport, i’ll be sure to comment πŸ™‚

  6. so you do synthesized speech? that’s what i did my thesis on in graduate school… the comprehensibility of synthesized speech. it was very interesting – and the technology is getting better and better every day… are you teaching computers to speak (like a dog) …(to think?)…"speak, computer" …or are you working on speech synthesis systems? so interesing. i work with a lot of people who need augmentative and alternative communication (aac)… like stephen hawkings (who has ALS)… or little kids who need a comoputer to help them talk…
    πŸ™‚ on that note, i better skedattle and get moving – time for work… have a good day!

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