Leo and #Justice

Leo has been asking me ALL DAY, ‘Why does Mr King hava go to jail?’

‘Because he took some money’ is not enough of a reason for Leo.

And because I’m a Liberal parent, I’m just not gonna say ‘because he is a BAD MAN’. I’m not going to say it, although it might reassure Leo.

So why does Mr King, the smuggler in Graham Greene’s The Little Steamroller, have to go to jail?

Is it because he was grumpy?

Mr King is grumpy (Ardizzone)

Mr King is grumpy (Ardizzone, from The Little Steamroller, by Graham Greene, 1974)

Is it because he lied?

Mr King lies to a customs official (Ardizzone)

Mr King lies to a customs official (Ardizzone)

Is it because he crashed his car and lost his hat?

The Little Steamroller deliberately crashes into Mr King's car (Ardizzone)

The Little Steamroller deliberately crashes into Mr King’s car (Ardizzone)

Leo just can’t see stealing some gold and hiding it in some toy bricks as nearly as awful as having your hands ‘tangled up’ and being locked up in a cell without Mummy and Daddy, with no one to talk to and where you can’t get out. The only way out for us, at teatime, bathtime, bedtime, was to enact a role play where one of us would be Mr King. We said sorry, we gave back the gold, and then the policemen mended our car and our hat and we went home and had tea. But the hand-cuffs were insupportable. When I tried to mime wearing hand-cuffs Leo simply shouted ‘No!’

The day has been torture, and Leo has won. Because I don’t know why a punishment should ever be more painful than the original crime.

As Gilbert & Sullivan’s Mikado says, let ‘the punishment fit the crime’. By the way that was a brilliant production by St Albans Chamber Opera in March. They’ve another opera coming in May. http://www.stalbanschamberopera.org.uk/

His teeth, I’ve enacted,
Shall all be extracted
By terrified amateurs.
(Cartoon by W. S. Gilbert)

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