I AM FIRE or: How I Learned to Start Worrying and Fear the Bomb

The ‘nature versus nurture’ debate explores the argument that human behaviour is determined either by our biology or by our environment (yes, I did take GCSE Sociology, thanks for asking). Is personality a predetermined product of your genes or is it moulded and shaped by the events and experiences of life? Basically; are you born a prick?

My family tree boasts a rich and varied assortment of lunatics. My nan tried to change her name to “Seagull” until my Dad rightly suggested that it would ruin their lives. And on the other side, my Grandad swore blind that Wings were singing about an old lady called “Ma McIntyre”, despite the wealth of evidence clearly suggesting the contrary.

Away from cheery, harmless, old people insanity and onto more deep-seated mental health issues, I was once telling my mum that I have this odd tick in the back of my mind that tries to convince me to do something hilariously terrible. For example, whenever I finish a drink I have a powerful urge to fling the glass at the television. I mean, that would clearly be an incredibly stupid thing to do; but as the glass was spiralling though the air the look on my wife’s face would be pretty priceless, right? My mum replied that she experiences exactly the same thing. When she used to ride on the back of my Dad’s motorcycle, she had a similar urge to get off whilst it was hurtling down the A12. Haha! I imagine my dad would have been pretty embarrassed!!!

The fear that I might, inexplicably, do something totally ridiculous is clearly just another glorious facet of my stupid, bloody anxiety and you don’t have to be a gene genie to look and my immediate family and conclude that I was simply born this way. OR DO YOU?!

I recently went through the severe trauma of moving house and during this troubling time stumbled across one of my favourite books as a child, “I AM FIRE”. This book was a permanent bedtime fixture from about the ages of 4 to 8. It was the eighties, the world was on the brink of destruction. Either by World War III (memory is a bit hazy, but I distinctly remember Regan and Gorbachev having an actual televised wrestling match) or by something called AIDS, which sounds helpful but is actually quite the opposite.

A difficult time. Let’s have a look at the blurb to I AM FIRE, the book I repeatedly chose to have as my final thought before I drifted off to sleep

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“I AM FIRE is the story of the relationship between man and fire from the time of their earliest encounter. It is told from the point of view of fire, in it’s own words. The very imaginative illustrations and the simple text provide the child with an understanding of the nature of fire, its importance for man as a source of light, heat and energy, AND IT’S TERRIBLE POWERS OF DESTRUCTION”

Wowzers. Still, “very imaginative illustrations” sounds good. Let’s take a look at page 1.

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The fuck?

 

Strong opening; successfully managing to freaky as fuck and absolutely terrifying, whilst also summing up my entire physiological profile in a single sentence

 

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I can’t quite wrap my head around these illustrations. There’s something powerfully dark about them. Even Olympic one looks like shit is about to kick off. It’s like they’re images plucked from a cheese induced coma.

 

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Poor old Fire. Pining for the good old days when he could happily torment the fuck out of us.

 

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In that last panel why are those two guys giggling like that? Just what exactly is that meat?

 

 

Starting to get the impression that perhaps Keith Flint was brought up on the same book.

 

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I can’t be the only one picking up a rather creepy sexual undertone here. Look at the puppets stance FFS. “Needed me for heat”. Yeah, alright you dirty bastard.

 

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As if I weren’t feeling uncomfortable enough, this section ends with the guy literally looking straight at the reader, pointing at his doll and raising his eyebrows.

 

 

The car driving over a field. The rocket blasting through the birds. The glass-eyed look of the girl as she extinguishes the lamp. Everything just has this dark undercurrent of dread.

 

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Is it just me or do these pages seem like a commentary on western imperialism? Might have gone a bit over my head when I was six

 

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Nice flammable, deadly, invisible gases. They could be anywhere. They could be EVERYWHERE.

 

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I mean, wow. Think we’ve got the full set here. Notes of drugs, sex, and the evil clowns. A truly horrible image that I sincerely apologise for inflicting on you.

 

 

Oh well, thankfully this book gives me the tools I need to combat this terrifying natural force. Water, air; got it..

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Fuck me, get in the car. It can’t be stopped

 

These words and images are what I routinely chose to experience just before I slept.

 

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Are we supposed to feel sympathy for fire here? It’s a wonder I’m able to resist the voices telling me to burn everything to the ground at all.

 

 

I think the guy in the dressing gown might be the wooden doll guy after a shave. I can’t be 100% sure. It might just be that I’m so traumatised that I see his fave everywhere I look.

 

Uneasy, enigmatic finish. Tones of Ashes to Ashes era Bowie. Roaring out of control fire. And I think we’re done.

Sweet dreams, son!

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