I need to talk about Bob again. Bob is the Major’s imaginary friend who breezed into our lives a few months ago. He proceeded to outdo me at every opportunity, turning the Major’s head with his carefree attitude and generosity. Bob was clearly a man of means, there were offers of steak and laptops and pretty much anything that I wouldn’t provide for my son. The Major asked me if we could build a den in the back of our car. I told him that the car wasn’t big enough. Bob’s car was big enough.
We never met Bob even though we invited him to the house on several occasions. Bob moved into a home up the road (and down the road and up a mountain). He opened up a shop selling ‘daddy magazines’. At one point the Major demanded that we go out and find Bob. We headed to the local park where I identified an elderly man with a trolley as Bob. The Major explained that the man wasn’t Bob and threw a strop when I refused to continue our search for Bob in the car. I quickly grew to despise Bob.
So when the Major announced that Bob had in fact died I had to try very hard to suppress an air-punch. The details of Bob’s death are gruesome. It happened at the Sea Life Centre in Brighton where it seems a shark somehow escaped from his tank and bit Bob’s head off. The Major and Bob’s wife Sheila tried in vain to rescue Bob by yanking him from the shark’s jaws.
But Bob is back. Back from the dead. It should have struck me at the time that something didn’t ring true about the shark story, especially when holes began to appear in it. The Major later revealed that Bob’s head had not been removed by a shark after all. It was Kung Fu Panda.
The prodigal Bob has returned and has moved into a new home. This home is built from cakes and sweets and phones – all partially contraband items in our household. I’ve pictured a sort of modernist Hansel-and-Gretel house, an Apple store made of Wham Bars and banana bread.
It is probably senseless to search for reason in the chaotic workings of the Major’s mind, and attempt to rationalise Bob’s various states of dead and undead. I’ve speculated that Bob is less an imaginary friend and more an imaginary government inspector working for a regulatory service – Ofdad perhaps. So if the Major thinks that my standards as a father are not being maintained then Bob is drafted in as an improved dad-figure. Bob provides competition, motivating me to raise my game if I’m not supplying enough sweets or cakes or I’m not allowing the Major to play with my phone enough.
As always I may be overthinking this, but if this is the case then we may need to plan another trip to Brighton. And quickly.