Thought I’d share this piece I wrote at virtual Holmfirth Writers Group (which now meets via Zoom) on Monday: imagining life in year 5 of lockdown and explaining things to children who have known nothing else.
The Outside People
Where are Outside people, Mummy?
They are in all sorts of places, dear, all over the world. But the ones we know are mostly in this country, in towns and cities very much like ours, living in houses quite similar to this one.
Then why are they so different from us, then?
Different? Why do you think they are different? They talk very much like we do, don’t they? And they talk about the same things we talk about. You talk to Miranda and Chelsea and Zoe almost every day, don’t you. Don’t they like the same sort of things as you?
Well, Zoe has a mouse that she likes, that I don’t like at all. But I suppose we all like drawing, and dressing up, and playing games and things.
There you go, then. And it’s the same with me and Daddy. The Outside people we like to talk to have similar interests to us, so we’ve always got something to talk about. That’s why they’re our friends. Aren’t Miranda and Chelsea and Zoe your friends too.
Oh yes, they’re my friends, but they are still different.
How are they different? Aren’t they just the same as us?
Well, you’re always telling me that I can never go Outside because it’s not safe. But my friends are Outside – that’s why I can’t be where they are. So they must be different if they can be Outside but we can’t.
No, dear, that’s not right. They are not really Outside – they are inside, in houses, just like ours, like I said. It’s just that those houses are in different places to ours, and between their houses and ours there is real Outside, where we can’t go. And our friends can’t go there either. So for them, we are Outside people too. So do you understand now why they are not really different from us.
So … they are really Inside, but a different Inside, with Outside between their Inside and ours?
Yes, well done, you’ve got it!
But they are still different, though.
Why? In what way are they different?
Well, Inside people, here in this house, they have a smell. And they feel like something. Look, when I touch your cheek it feels soft. But when I touch the faces of my Outside friends, they just feel hard, like plastic. And they have no smell. And your face is round and … knobbly, but their faces are just flat. So you see, Mummy, Outside people really are different. Why is that?
[ pic (c) Dennis Hamilton 2007. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license ]