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A Matter Of Life h/c

A Matter Of Life h/c back

Jeffrey Brown

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Page 45 Review by Jonathan

“Hey dad.”
“What?”
“Do you know what the sun looks like to me?”
“What?”
“A bug!”
“Hey Oscar? Are you chewing on my hair?”

The first full colour autobiographical work from Jeffrey finds him in a relatively sanguine mood by his standards! As a contented husband and parent he's reflecting upon two extremely different elements of his life, that of fatherhood and faith. Very much brought up in the church, tricky to avoid when your dad is a minister really I would have thought, Jeffrey followed a similar path to many such kids faced with relentless biblical indoctrination. Namely extreme boredom followed by a gradual process of extricating oneself as teenage years began to offer far more enticing alternatives.

There's pressure, even as an adult, polite enough, for him to maintain his Christianity, from family and friends, but unless one hears the calling for themselves, no amount of worrying about someone's soul is going to lure them back into the flock. I always personally thought the metaphor of the general public as sheep and the preachers as good shepherds was a mildly disturbing one myself, sheep not being particularly highly regarded for their capacity for thinking for themselves, make of that what you will... He's not without beliefs, spirituality, call it whatever you like, our Jeffrey, commenting as he does very early on in this work, almost apologetically, that this lack of faith in Christ doesn't mean he doesn't believe in something bigger than himself, but this element of the work certainly provides some insight into how he believes that part of his life shaped who he is today.

It's interesting, to me at least, therefore, that the other aspect of his life he chooses to illuminate for us, in comparison as contrast is too strong a word to use, I think, is that of being a parent. Becoming a parent, provided you stick around and do your bit, I suppose, is to create a bedrock so solid, for your entire life to be very firmly grounded upon, that you won't have any time for worrying about your soul, or indeed whether Jesus or even his Dad might just find you special enough to want to whisper in your ear. On the other hand you'll find yourself so delirious with tiredness at certain moments that you'll be gazing skyward at the firmament requesting divine intervention, true believer or otherwise.

Being a parent, as Jeffrey ably shows us, instantly means you become part of something bigger than yourself anyway, whether you're ready or not. And whilst Jesus may or may not have died to save us, you will feel like ending your own life after sacrificing everything, from your social life to your sanity, to keep your little bundle of joy happy and healthy.

Here are Jeffrey and his wife having to pacify their highly medicated son Oscar, suffering from an allergic rash on his entire body and a double ear infection to boot... with the power of the Smurfs. Sounds straightforward? No, even a saint would have their patience tested by an ill toddler...

“Oscar, can we watch something else? Mummy's getting tired of the Smurfs?”
“NO! SMURFS!”
“I can't take it anymore! We've watched nothing but Smurfs for four days!”
“I know, but look at him, he's miserable.”
“I'm going to buy more Smurf DVD's. We can at least watch different episodes.”
..........
“Crap, this is the only Smurf DVD they have.”
..........
“Got it!”
“No, REAL Smurfs! Real Smurfs!”
“Oscar, this is the Smurfs.”
“I think he can tell this is from later seasons!”
“NO NO NO”
“Don't argue with a three-year-old on steroids.”

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