Ok, so the story is, I am stocking up on kitchen roll and cereal. Don't tell anyone I am down a sinister alley in Newport feeding my addiction, ok?
The coastal road on this sunny July day gives a view of sparkling sea, little boats and unfeasibly fluffy candy floss clouds. Inevitably, debate in the car turns to death.
"I like dead things" muses Fingers, a propos of nothing. I wonder what has prompted this. Possibly the dramatically thrashing death throes of the lobsters barbecued by Posh Family last night. Lashes, who witnessed their demise in full, went to bed awed, muttering "reflexes.." under his breath. Possibly they overheard the previous evening's phone call from the Bearded One where he set out in five concise bullet points his minor heart attack and eleventh hour angioplasty whilst blithely assuring us that he was now fine, in better health than ever, but that if he had hung around for an hour or so more he could very well have been dead. (And as an aside, if anyone can tell me what the appropriate response to this is, please tell. I was a bit flummoxed.)
We reflect on this briefly. Lashes follows up a few moments later. "Why does God let things die?"
Where the fuck did he come from? We're a strenuously rationalist bunch. The Space Cadette (accidentally) bought Lashes and Fingers an updated version of Noah's ark recently, set in the Gherkin, and I felt compelled to change all references to God to "a horse". Maybe I missed a few? I'd blame the in laws but they're fairly apathetic in such matters too. Anyways.
Intent, in some half-arsed way, on giving a balanced view of the various theological models for death and afterlife, I start out with "the people who believe in God think that you go to somewhere nicer when you die. So that's ok for them". Fingers and Lashes look quizzical, presumably imagining what such a thing could consist of. Weapons, Fruit Shoots, endless droning Pokemon cartoons and many many small scaly creatures?
The CFO cuts me off. "But we think nothing happens at all. You just die and there is nothing after that. Because otherwise there wouldn't be space for all the new people."
"Yes, that's right" I say, ever mindful for the need of mutually supportive parenting, ha ha ha. "But" I add, keen to add a more upbeat note to proceedings (it is the holidays after all, I would hate to think my rural-induced nihilism is contagious) "just think how few people you know who have died! Almost none if you don't count animals!"
"Grande mamy will die soon" opines Fingers
"She might" agrees the CFO (she is ninety five) "but she might not." Crones in his family tend to stagger on haranguing their offspring for longer than anyone can still imagine. I cannot imagine she'll let go until the whole family Calvados reserve has been bargained against visits and kisses and lavish attention.
"What about your maman?" says Lashes. "She died and she wasn't old."
"No darling, you're right. But that was an horrible horrible accident and that almost never happens. You mustn't mustn't worry about accidents."
We contemplate that a little longer.
"I will not count her" concludes Fingers "That doesn't count".
It shouldn't count, he is right. It shouldn't even happen. Instantly, unbidden, the thought of their lovely uncle, my brother, and his bastard inoperable brain tumour floats across my consciousness. But that shouldn't happen either. So we just won't let it.
"Dead things like dinosaurs" says Fingers.