Sophie McCook

BBC Scriptwriter & Author of New Book Thinkless

Today, like a grubby child waiting for the ice-cream van, I had some money clamped in my hand. I didn’t need to hand it over for another ten minutes but I had counted it, so it was ready for transaction and I didn’t want to put it down. Then a guilty little fear started to nag me, so at last the money went back in my bag. What was the irrational murmuring and where did it come from?

When I was about three, my half-brother told me that money could explode in your hand if it got too hot.

I’ve just googled; ‘Does money explode?’

and then ‘Does money burn in hands?’

Except in relation to the Stock Exchange, the answer is NO, money does not explode in your hand. But I didn’t have google when I was small, in fact I didn’t have much beyond a bunch of wiring in my brain that was busy finding connections. I know, to be honest, that money does not catch fire when held in the hand, but somewhere, the plug of the idea was pushed into the socket of my imagination and that was that.

I have also googled some of my brother’s other assertions; Having a ‘line across your stomach’ does not mean you are near death. Hands might melt first during a nuclear attack, but staring at them for hours does not help. And I am now pretty certain that my parents are not werewolves. 

My brother’s antipathy to small children mixed with a sophisticated taste for ‘messing with the head’ and have given me some of my most priceless memories. For my eighth birthday, he and his school friends planned a complicated treasure hunt for my invitees in the large forest behind our house. There were maps, clues and a tent that was a prison holding centre. It was going to be an event to remember. But my brother and co took it a bit too far; dressed themselves up as zombie terrorists with flack jackets and balaclavas. Small children were bludgeoned from the treasure (a small box of malteasers). The rest ducked behind tree stumps, crying or ran into the woods to hide. 

The PTSD guests were handed back to their parents tearful, covered in mud and twigs,  nightmare primed  and with soaking wet, poo-stained pants. It certainly went down in legend, to my mother’s mortification.

I’m not arguing with my brother’s right to scare the bejesus out of his baby half-sister, that’s fine and who would deny him? But I was a helluva test subject. That’ll be why my parent’s gave me the middle name ‘Gullible.’ At the age of four I was sent to a Primary School Convent. ‘God’, a guy I had had absolutely no experience of previously was now introduced as ‘Huge’. He could see me when I went to the loo. He knew when I had my socks down, had grubby knees and – he really hated my mentioning Menstrual Blood (I thought it would get me gossip points in the playground). The nastiest nun told me the third step on any staircase was cursed, as it was where naughty children sat. The nicest nun told me I couldn’t sing so should mouth my words. I did this for a year or so too.

Anyway, the moral of the story is; even when you get old enough to know better, the electrical connection is made. You may spend your life fretting about exploding currency.  Here are some other good lies to share with the children in your life.

‘If you swallow chewing gum you will fart bubbles and they’ll stick to your knickers.’

‘Monkeys sit on your chest at night.’

‘If you give me your money I will make you the Queen of Saturn.’

‘If you change channels on TV, the TV presenters /actors oxygen supplies run out and they die horribly.’

‘Men with beards take them off at night.’

‘If you get your plaster cast signed, it will seep through and tattoo your skin.’

‘You can’t breath inside clouds and sometimes they fall on your face.’

The best thing about this stuff is that the kid’ll carry it around inside them for the rest of their lives, and when it comes to time for therapy, the counsellor will welcome the chuckle.

PS. Watch out for the money, that one might be real.

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Categories: Blog

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