When Derek came home from work he was wearing a big white box over his head. I didn’t say anything. I thought, he probably knows he’s got a box over his head, and I got on with making his supper. But when the sausages were ready, he told me he wasn’t hungry
— What if I cut them up for you? Make them smaller?
— I don’t care if you make them smaller. I can’t eat them.
Well, I hoped it was one of his phases, like that time with the hairdresser and next door’s chinchilla. But the box stayed on his head, and the more time passed, the more difficult it was to mention it casually. Sometimes it seemed like he was going to broach the subject himself, and I’d find myself quickly saying something to prevent him. Strange, that, because I really was getting worried. He was beginning to smell a bit, for one thing.
One night, just after Strictly, he blurted it out, out of the blue.
— I thought you might have noticed the pinhole camera on my head, mother.
— Pinhole camera? I thought it was a cardboard box!
— Why on earth would I be wearing a cardboard box?! Honestly, mother! You are funny sometimes!
He explained how the light comes in through the hole and something about how everything’s the wrong way up. I asked him if I could look inside it, but he said he couldn’t take it off at the moment. He asked me if I wanted him to describe what was in there. I said yes, please, lovey.
He spoke for hours and hours. I didn’t understand everything, but it felt good, sitting there like that, quietly listening to my boy telling me how he sees the world.