I wish I was Charlie. I wish I was brave, and fun, and witty, and wise. I wish I had a talent, a skill, and the vision to put that gift towards defending the values that make life worth living. But how can I be Charlie? I can’t even draw, And I’m scared. I don’t want to be scared. I want to be Charlie. I didn’t used to be scared. I used to intervene when I saw domestic violence spill out onto the street. I used to march for things I believed in. Hell, I used to offend people not for the greater good, but just because I was a bit of a drunken twat and it seemed fair sport. Not anymore. Now I am frightened. And my athlete’s foot flares up quite often. It makes it difficult to march. I bet Charlie’s got lovely feet. Brenda, my yoga teacher, thinks I’m called Maddy. Athletes foot permitting, I go to yoga once a week to unwind from the usual things: the housework, and the kiddie chaos and the mindless massacre of innocent, talented, inspirational, human beings, and the fact I chose to bring children in to this life of miserable doom, unnecessary suffering and perpetual evil. I corrected Brenda once, a few weeks ago. But then I didn’t have the heart to tell her again. It’s not nice to make people feel daft, is it? Tonight she called me Maddy 17 times. I only realised she was talking to me 13 times. Which means she thinks I ignored her 4 times. I hope I didn’t cause offence. How can I be Charlie, when I can’t even be Abby? I bet Charlie never has this problem. After yoga I get home, and because I leave for the class shortly after the kids go to bed, the house is still at a tip when I return. I start to pick up the mess. Being a mother is often about picking up the mess. For example, tonight I picked up 3 pairs of pants, 4 Ninja Turtles, a Postman Pat, a Lightening McQueen, an empty packet of Haribos, and 6 half full cups of cold tea. On the bright side, I had no need to pick up the pieces of my murdered children. Or pick up the pieces after my child murdered someone else’s children. I’m grateful. Who should I thank? I thank Charlie. I go into the kitchen, wipe down the table, and pile up the kids’ drawings and crayons and stickers and pencils. I flick through the drawings and the sketches: smiling faces; happy families; puerile scenes of people doing poos; eccentric pictures of Banana T-Rexs; abstract pictures of every colour of the rainbow; rainbows, imagination; unhinged; unhindered, unheld back; and bonkers creativity. Some of it is genius. Some of it is crap. All of it is beautiful and liberating and levelling and insightful and full of hope. It’s all Charlie. Today it was crayons. Tomorrow when they ask for felt tips, they will be given. For I will be brave in the face of the felt tip pen. What harm can it do – the walls are due a repaint anyway. And if I have my way, and I assure you I will, we will have cracked open the paints and the glue and that untamable anarchic wonder of creativity and magic wishes – the goddamn glitter – by the weekend. And we will create chaos and mess and ideas and tell you to fuck off if our messy kitchen conflicts with your view of the ideal life. Or at least I will tell you to fuck off. Out of earshot of the kids. We may not have guns or grenade launchers, but we will always have play-dough and dreams and sketch pads and chalk . We will acquire an art-supply armoury quicker than you can say, “Where is Charb?”. And while we might not fight you on the beaches, because we really don’t want the faff of the sun screen and the three trips to the car and the sand in the ice cream and a war, we will provide an army. It will be a creative army, a free thinking army, a junk-model army. We will make sure our children know what it is to be Charlie. Even this sagging, dowdy, middle-aged mum, with her floors covered in pants, and her banal routines, and her athletes foot is going to play her part. You, you strange little blots on our liberated landscapes are just a Peppa Pig sticker away from total annihilation. Now be off with you. And don’t call me Maddy. Je Suis Charlie.