I HAVE a plug of banana sealing my ear.
It was placed there… rammed there… by the three-year-old occupying the train seat next to mine.
A three-year-old, incidentally, who is unlikely ever to reach four.
I don’t know his name. I don’t want to know it, although it might be handy if I decide to sue.
It’s probably Rasputin.
It’s been three hours. Townsville is still 12 hours away. He has two more bananas, some grapes, and a cup with a spout, containing what I gather, from the state of my trousers, is milk.
By the time I get home I shall look like a fruit salad.
This child obviously has had a deprived upbringing.
For a start, it has clearly never been smacked – an omission I’d be happy to resolve immediately.
But they frown on that sort of thing now. It’s not even allowed in schools. And I can sense that this particular mother is very modern. She will have strategies.
At home, no doubt, she has a Time-Out Room where she sends this shambling Neanderthal to consider the consequences of his actions. That would be the second stage in a program of loving rationality. The first step would be to ask him, calmly and without irritation, why he plugged up the gentleman’s ear with a banana.
The world has gone barmy! She’s the one who needs a time-out room, so she can consider the consequences of her inaction. And while she’s there she can take the entire population of do‑gooding child psychiatrists and paediatricians with her!
What good are strategies when you’re incarcerated on a train with a homunculus that has the personality of Gollum!
Where are you going to send him to think about his actions? How are you going to remove him from this theatre of destruction?
Personally I’d have no problem with chucking him out at the next bridge, but wouldn’t a slap on the wrist be more acceptable to everyone concerned?
Or maybe I could just yell at him. Cause and effect. He sticks a banana in my ear; I terrify him. Problem solved. He might even go and sit next to the gentleman on the other side of the aisle, but I’ll bet he thinks twice about painting him with food.
And yes, I know he’s only three. And yes, I know he’s only learning how he relates to society as a whole.
I want to help him! I want him to understand that a brief and avuncular eye contact just outside Brisbane does not make me his personal property. I want him to learn that while a wombat might be soft and furry, its bite can take your finger off.
And don’t start telling me we need laws to protect children from violence. We already have laws to protect children from violence. You’re not allowed to actually rip their arms off.
There are 11 hours to go. Anything could happen. What do I care if his mother yells at me. I won’t hear her anyway.
I have a banana in my ear.