Sleep walking to their early graves in front of a flickering screen which deletes the soul click by click.  Demented youngsters awaiting their daily diet fed to them by the electric babysitter.  Infantalised logic with lashings served up on noxious websites, they smile those crocodile smiles, all the while bored out of their skulls.  They know the deceit of the playful rope.

Plaits in ribbons, tied with fortitude, tied to the naivety of youth.  Retinas burning with upside down images, they spatter dead insects on their faces, aware of what is out there; a lid lifted and cockroaches race one another, scuttling away into dark corners.

Knotted up by the suits, they can’t see a horizon here or in the distance, and so they drink oblivion before our eyes.  Sweet wrappers replaced by condom wrappers, soon they will make it all start again, the merry-g-round, the millstone around their necks.

But they were my feet that stayed under the table.  They were my eyes I chose to close, and I turned away from the flashing screen.  They were my hands that ripped the ribbons from their hair, and cast them down into the gutter.  It was me who took the rope and secured it around their necks.  It was my mind where all this began, when I chose to declare, “They’re not my problem!”  I kept it all to myself.  I kept it all to myself; everything I had to give.


I wrote this piece in response to the painting Stephen Irving displays on this page of two children with a skipping rope, whose heads have been replaced by skulls.  The painting is about stolen childhoods.  At the time, I played a lot with double or multiple meanings.  Feel free to check out Stephen Irving’s art, T-shirts and other work on his website:




About catherinehume

Catherine Hume: Writer, social care worker and a liver of a life less ordinary.
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