Life, uh, finds a way

There are many phrases I would use to describe myself as a child. Chief amongst them would be scaredy cat. I went through a phase of waking up in the night and going from room to room, checking on my siblings and my parents to make sure they were still breathing. I was scared of everything. I didn’t like the way the stairs creaked late at night. I was creeped out by the way the hands floated in The Handymen section of Zzzap! My biggest fear was E.T. It still takes me a second to remember that I’m not scared of ET when the little turd jumps up on my TV. I once spent two therapy sessions watching ET to try and get over my fear. I was 25 years old and I paid £80 to watch a film about an extra-terrestrial.

Because I was such a scaredy cat, my parents were protective about the films they would expose me to. I didn’t see a lot of classic horror films until I was much older than my friends.

One of the films that I really wanted to see was Jurassic Park. It was all anyone at school was talking about. I was seven, about this high *points at hip level*. Everyone seemed to have action figures. I desperately wanted to see it. The deal was, I could watch Jurassic Park, if I could make it through ET. I have a memory of being physically restrained to be shown ET. In my mind it was like the Ludovico Treatment in A Clockwork Orange. This might not have been my parents’ finest hour when it came to ridding me of my fears. I didn’t make it through ET. I can remember wrenching myself free of the restraints and running upstairs. Needless to say, I didn’t get to see Jurassic Park.

Cue 2018. Arguably, I’m an adult. The real secret is that I’m just a six foot tall child. It’s a very clever disguise. It’s one step above a pair of children, one on the other’s shoulders, inside a long coat. My lovely friend Benjy asked if I wanted to go to a special screening of Jurassic Park at the Prince Charles cinema in Leicester Square. It was being shown on 35mm and would be as close to seeing it in 1993 as I was likely to get, apart from being slightly better dressed in those days. I jumped the chance. 

I feel I should state now that I have seen Jurassic Park. I’ve seen all of them, as a functioning adult. I knew what was coming and I was totally there for it. In the words of Kevin McCallister, “I’m not afraid anymore.”

We arrived late for the cinema, as is the fashion, and met up with Poppy and Dom. The four of us hustled inside to get out of the rain and I made Poppy buy me popcorn. We sat in the back row like we were all going to make out with each other and I got to enjoy Jurassic Park as it was supposed to be seen. In bitty, grainy darkness, with popcorn and everyone enjoying every single moment of it.

The biggest cheer went up for the shot of Goldblum as Dr Ian Malcolm reclining unnecessarily with his shirt open during a meeting. I saw Poppy leave her seat when the velociraptor attacked Ellie and the kid actors were not as annoying as any of us remembered. 

I guess the important thing here is to do something every day that scared you. I got to do something that once terrified me. To be able to do it as an almost-functioning adult, to realise that you’re going to be okay and that you have got this is an important distinction to be able to make with your adult brain. So no matter what you’re going through, just remember, that you have got this.

Photo by Poppy Adams.

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