The year is 1983, and in South Africa bombs are going off all over the country. Car bombs, hand grenades, limpet mines. The country is in the grips of ‘Die Groot Krokodil’, sanctions and civil unrest. George Orwell, you were only a year off. But where am I in all of this? Oh, I’m still little.
I am just 8, and I’m hiding in my bedroom. Door closed much to my mothers dismay. I’m sporting a rather large injury to my chin as a result of a horse riding accident a few days earlier. Horse riding, oh how I hated it, doing my mothers bidding on skittish ex race horses. I still have the scar to remind me of that day, flying head first over the third obstacle.
I’m hiding in my books and I’m hiding in my trees. I’m hiding in imaginary worlds and in my grans art studio, counting out buttons and marveling at her Chinese Vermillion, Naples Yellow, Prussian Blue …
The thing is, I don’t think I have ever grown up, I’ve been hiding all my life. But that’s ok. Hiding can be good too, even as an adult. The question I have, pretty boy, is about the heart. Does the heart let you hide, or is that the only place left to hide?
"But there are no such things as water-babies."
How do you know that? Have you been there to see? And if you had been there to see, and had seen none, that would not prove that there were none. If Mr. Garth does not find a fox in Eversley Wood—as folks sometimes fear he never will—that does not prove that there are no such things as foxes. And as is Eversley Wood to all the woods in England, so are the waters we know to all the waters in the world. And no one has a right to say that no water-babies exist, till they have seen no water-babies existing; which is quite a different thing, mind, from not seeing water-babies; and a thing which nobody ever did, or perhaps ever will do.”
The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby