A Brain on a Plate

Little Jake is with me again. He says he is feeling sad. “I like being with you” he says “but I miss my Mummy”.

It started to rain in the night. I heard it and thought: what are we going to do today? It is still raining now.

What he said had made me remember days from long ago, those sad, sad Sundays.

“I know”, I said. “I am going to show you what makes you feel sad”.

He looked up.

After breakfast I got out the plasticine and I found an internet site which showed the parts of the brain.

I also got out a big plate.

We started with the amygdala. “That word means almond, which is a little oval-shaped nut”. I showed him one.

We made that with red plasticine.

Then we found the septum.  We made that yellow.

Then we found the hypothalamus. We made that purple.

Then we found the thalamus. We made that green.

“What does the thalamus do?” He said.

“I have forgotten”, I said. “I will have to check”.

Then I got out some crinkly packaging material and laid it around the plasticine.

“All these give you different feelings.” I said. “Round them is a covering called a cortex. That is where all your knowledge is stored. Some parts of the cortex are where you think about problems and come up with ideas”.

“I think I’ll call my Mum and tell her about what we just made”, Jake said.

“Good idea”. I said.

I wish it was always so easy.

I  think of my dark, incomprehensible rages, the loneliness, the shame and the regrets.

At this time of the year, before the leaves have come out on the tall trees, you can see the nests high up in the top branches. The rooks are fussing around their nests, chattering and squabbling.

And I think I saw the woodpecker that I hear drilling in short machine-like bursts. A flurry of rusty red and greenish wings.