‘Daddy, when do you want to die?’
Momentarily winded, I surreptitiously checked that the eight-year-old’s head was not revolving through 360 degrees, her eyes were not spitting red fire. ‘Er, well, I don’t really want to think about it’ I answered, lamely.
She insisted. ‘All right, then: when I’m 86.’
‘No, I mean what day? I want to die on a Tuesday.’
I shouldn’t be surprised. We used to live in a house next to a cemetery – a beautiful Victorian one, with cedar trees and stone angels and a chapel. The Daughter loved to say goodnight to the angels she could see from her bedroom window. She learnt to walk tottering through the gravestones. Her first taste of freedom was speeding her tricycle through the yews and along the path to the cremation plots.
Now she likes filching a glass chipping or two off the odd grave; blue ones are her favourite, being rarer than green. ‘I hope blue ones are still in fashion when I get to be buried,’ she says.
It’s no use being shocked: most children seem to be fascinated by the macabre and are entirely open in their curiosity about death. So as long as it doesn’t tip over into morbidity, I’ll go with the flow. But I still don’t know why she’s chosen Tuesday.