My three-year-old has just discovered that he has an imagination. For the past three days, he has been taking me by the hand and escorting me purposefully through an invisible supermarket, carrying an invisible basket and taking invisible products off invisible shelves. "Milk. Cheeeeese. Pizza." "Nanas, bing-bings (biscuits). Pizzas." (Do I really buy that many pizzas?)
The excitement of a man riding a horse-and-cart down the road has opened up another imaginary world, in which I am taken on a ride to wherever Hugh fancies going. "Park! Seaside!" We eat imaginary ice creams, build imaginary sandcastles, wave to an army of passing friends and, if I get my bit of the narrative in at the right moment, curl up in Hugh's blue bed (which is in fact Iggle Piggle's boat) and sail away to the garden in the night, where the children can play with Makka Pakka and the Pontipines whilst I guard the boat with my eyes closed.
In twenty years time, Hugh too might be writing dark stories involving deaths in mysterious circumstances...which leads me to wonder. Do you suppose novelists are just adults who never left grew out of make-believe?