I've begun a new year with a new pastime: watching my boychild grow, in the same fashion as others watch their gardens grow.
I would have thought, as a veteran pappi (because Master Ben bar Levi is my seventh child and definitely "the last son of my right hand") that I might have become inured to the developing infant syndrome.
I'm certainly out of practice with the diaper changing and have yet to give him a bath, but while I may be sluggish in practical terms, the sheer wonder of watching my newborn change hour by hour, day by day, reassures me I'm not yet an entirely crusty cynic and contradicts my usual mantra that I'm not surprised by anything.
Umbellically attached, as it were, to this miracle of the mundane, this life as a work in progress, it's impossible–at least for me–not to feel in a permanent state of excitement, which borders on awe. To feel Ben's tiny hand gripping my finger, or to watch his little bow cowboy legs still in their crapaud womb position kicking out with surprising strength has me fantasising about future glory days in the Barclays Premier League, a Creole Jew striker scoring endless goals for our very own club-the Yids, Tottenham Hotspur to all unbelievers. Or maybe he'll be the cricketer I always wanted to be and I can sit in the Concrete Stand at the Oval, admiring his boundary stroke play; proudly cheer him on at Lords, where a new age Windies will wreak the kind of havoc on the ole Mudders Country I haven't witnessed since that heady occasion in the 1990s when Ambrose and Walsh took out the entire English team for less than 40 runs.
No harm in fantasy, which I find excellent therapy in my off-guarded moments of life's enervation. It's a delicious sensation, savouring the magic of life moment by moment, which children and especially babies induce in adults. According to the experts, my Ben can't focus on anything more than 30cm from the end of his decidedly Jewish-style conk–his nose. So it's fun to lock eyes with him, as close up as possible and also to watch his response to sounds, like his big sister's soca loud voice, which he obviously recognises after many in-womb listening sessions.
Seeing with new eyes is something we can all do, if we forget that we've forgotten how to do it. But then this morning I heard about a genetic mutation which produces a condition called tetrachromacy in humans, the result of which is seeing a whole range of colours rather than one. Whereas you and I will look at a leaf and merely see green, a "tetrachromatic" can pick out pink at the extremities of the leaf, touches of turquoise and purple towards the centre.
A young woman in California with tetrachromacy, has turned her condition into a vocation as a painter, as since childhood she's been driven by what must be similar to a permanent state of pyschodelia, which us lesser mortals can only access with the aid of hallucinogens like mescalin, peyote or LSD.
Being at the centre of a Jackson Pollock explosion, or a pointalist landscape might sound like the buzz of a lifetime but what might make for a one-off experience must surely pall, when one has to endure it 24/7.
Although the Californian painter admits that the condition can be distracting, when she focuses on a canvas, it's exhilarating. Sometimes she doesn't even need paints, water will do. As a child she spent many happy hours with a bucket of water "painting rainbows" on the wooden fence in her garden.
As she reached one end of the fence, wielding her brush, the other end would have dried out and she'd dash back to the beginning to start all over again, the drying wood changing appearance and colour by the second. For us with regular vision, shade and shadow merely represent greyness. For her there's violet and purple.
Here's another gem of the new year, passed my way by a man I refer to as the Attorney General, as he addresses all and sundry with the pedantry of an irascible judge. There you go AG!
Maybe he was simply tiefin' my head but what he told me appealed to my shaky sense of logic. Apparently recent clinical tests suggest that one of the most reviled creatures on the planet–the common fly–may be the answer to Ebola and a few other deadly diseases. According to the AG, fly mucus is the universal antidote, the antibody to end all nastiness. If you pause for a second to consider what the fly gets up to, or lands on, consumes without apparent harm, then maybe the AG is talking sense. If he's correct we may all have to revise our opinion of the fly–no sh.... Which leaves us conveniently at the end of this column, having travelled from the sublime to the stinkifulous.