When I was six, I had a wheeze. I had noticed that gumboots were impermeable to water from the outside, and deduced that they must also be impermeable from the inside. So my younger sister and I decided to fill up all the gumboots in the hall with water, and then watch some adult putting his or her foot in it.
The scheme was a triumph, and we were pursued around the garden by an adult armed with a stick – I am not exaggerating – as thick as your arm. We knew it would hurt; we knew we were for it in a big way. But our very terror reduced us to helpless and invertebrate laughter.
We both laughed so much that we couldn’t run, and we sank to the grass at the bottom of the garden and were soundly and deservedly thrashed.
I mention this because my mind has been much occupied with themes of terror and laughter, ever since a group of us went to see the first showing of The Passion of the Christ. I am afraid to say that I was late, and, as I entered the foyer of the Odeon West End, a man with an earring broke off from his mobile phone call and said: “It’s all right, Mr Johnson, you’re in time for the Crucifixion.”