7pm. My wife was out, my son was in my arms, and I was dreaming of dinner. He had drunk all but the last of his bottle and was asleep, hand to ear as he does, like a disk jockey. Not long now, i thought, and I will have the evening.

He coughed and I heard it rise. A splutter first and then all of it. A torrent of puke, as if poured from a jug. No time to run, all I could do was sit and wait; make sure he could breath and watch as he coats my lap, my chest, my arm, his hair, the pillow, the chair. 

He woke up and smiled at me, which was decent of him, but his chipper mood didn't last. I carried him to the bathroom, like a man crab, so as not to drip too much on the carpet, and lay him on the matt. He burst into furious tears, as I stripped us both naked, filling the bath with our clothes. 

The smell was sour and sweet with that bile note that catches the throat. It reminded me of the rotten yoghurt we were served at that Persian restaurant we found. My wife had laughed so much about that, back when it was just the two of us and we went out after dark.

I cleaned him as quick as I could, and wrapped him up again holding him on my chest, his perfect brand new self, and me his ridiculous father, soaked to the balls in vomit, the very balls responsible, in part, for him that had vomited.

Which is basically what Elton john's circle of life is about. 


You can’t help a cough, and yet, the lizard in me wants to leap across the aisle and grab my teenage co-traveller by the throat. I would lift her from her seat, her face purpling, the train table that once bore a selection of M&S bits, splintered into sticks.

Cries would come up. “Mercy! Help us! A man has become monster and he has one by the throat” and “Let her go!” and more “it’s not her fault” etc.

“Lies” I would scream, “whose fault is it then?!” Rage splitting my face like a lychee, my brain then out, eyes hanging, jaw wide and cracked teeth sharp and higgly piggly.
I would Slam the desperate body against the window which would burst into gems. and hang her out in the wind. “stop the train! Alarm” a shouter might shout. 

“No” It would be the Train Guard, dressed in robes of orange. High Viz. “It’s better that we get to a station. It’s easier to get help in a station” His voice strong, clear, humorous. Everyone calms instantly, some even sleep.

“you” he would say “You must forgive her It’s not her fault she has a bit of a tickly cough and a two hour journey”.

“I cannot accept it” I would shout in my new lizard voice “the girl revels in it. she has the face of a pig and it has no happiness. she is sour and is coughing too loud on purpose”

“I cannot say what she did look like, as all i can see is her now,” said the guard, “head about to pop, life leaking from her broken frame as it flaps in the wind. You must let her live or she will never have a chance to repair her behaviour. Like BBC3.”

Passengers would acknowledge the guards grasp of contemporary issues, but i would still be conflicted.

“i may let her go” I would say “but first you must hear me”. “Quickly then” the guard might say, "she has so little time"

“she has those beats by dre headphones, and i know she got them not through honest work but by a demanding tantrum”

“you assume she did”

And i would know i had gone too far.