Tuesday, 13 June 2017

CRIVENS! GUEST POST: CHILDHOOD CAPERS - DOWN IN THE PITTS! FATHER FACILITATES SKYLIGHT VANDALISM...



Regular reader, the bold JP, has decided to respond to my
invitation to write a post, so without further ado, here it is.

******

As a small boy, one day my Dad said to me "Son, I'm giving
you this - it's all that remains of my childhood catapult.  It was
a beltin' catapult, but it's all I've got left of me toys, an' I'm now
givin' it to you, so look after it!"  He handed me a bare, gnarled,
age-darkened Y-shaped piece of a tree branch, with a bit
of grubby string bound around the handle.

Now jump forward a few years and the latest craze in our
village was for metal (Milbro) catapults you could get from the
ironmonger's, and which could fire marbles for miles because of its
really strong rubber.  But they were just too pricey for me to buy, so
I thought "Ah, I know!  I'll mek one me sen out a that 'un me faether
gimme!"  (I don't know why I was talking like Kes, as I lived in the
Midlands!)  So I took some strong rubber off an aeroplane-launch-
ing toy, made a slingshot and threaded the rubber through it and
bound it tightly to the cut-out tips with strong thin string
and it was made.  But would it be any good?

There was only one way to find out, so, armed with a bag of
marbles, I climbed up on the bedroom windowsill, opened the
window wide and let one fly!  Wow!  It went for miles!   It was
just like a bullet!  But what should I aim at?  In the field behind
our garden was a telegraph pole, but in the next field to the
right, there was a pumping station with a glass skylight.

No contest.

And so I began showering the building with marbles!  As it was
so far away I couldn't actually see or hear if I was hitting it or not,
but it didn't matter, because in my head I was The Smasher!

After a while, I was rudely interrupted by a very angry man in a
boilersuit, standing below me in the back garden.  He was shaking
both fists in the air and saying "Grrr!"  Red fumes were rising from
his even redder face and steam was billowing out of his ears!  He had
a huge lump on top of his head and his face was covered in scratches
and crossed plasters.  "What do you think you're doing?!" he
yelled up at me and began pounding on the back door.

"Get down here now!" he bellowed, so I went down to the back
kitchen to face the music.  "He's been smashing my windows with
his catapult!" Mr. Angry was yelling at my parents.  "What were
you doing that for?" he demanded of me, whilst little birds and
stars circled the purple lump on his head.

"I didn't know I was," I lied, "I was aiming at the telegraph pole."

"Well, you're not a very good shot then!" he retorted.  "You're
not even supposed to have a catapult, anyway!  Where did you
get it?" he interrogated, with a stern look in his eye.

"Me Dad gimme it." I answered.

Then silence.

My Dad had turned bright red and wore a sickly grin.  Sweat
was pouring down his forehead.  "Go and fetch it - I'm going to
confiscate it!" Mr. Angry ordered, so I did as I was told.  Then I
was sent to my room, so I climbed the stairs, saying "Bah!"

As I closed my bedroom window, I could see Mr. Angry down
below, surrounded by these strange symbols - @#*%∆$#@!!

I never knew exactly what went on downstairs after that, but
for the rest of that week my Dad had strangely taken to walking
around the house with his trouser pockets turned inside-out!  Any-
way, I stayed in my room for the remainder of that evening, and
the next day, I thought it best not to mention the matter.  And
guess what?  Nobody spoke about it again - ever!

Which was probably for the best I suppose.

29 comments:

John Pitt said...

Thanks for posting it on here, Kid! I am truly honoured to be on here and now I know my story will be read by millions world-wide!
FAME! - At last!
I won't let it go to my head, though!
(....must share this with my brother!....)

Kid said...

That'll be Billy Millions, who lives at World-wide Avenue. (Wait 'til the women start throwing themselves at you now that you've had a guest-post on this blog.)

Colin Jones said...

I remember John writing about a catapult on your other blog, Kid, but I don't remember if this was the same event. As for doing naughty things as a child - on the outskirts of my village there was a long narrow road and we kids thought it would be a hoot to put a huge pile of ferns and sticks in the middle of the road which would force any passing cars to stop. So we all hid in the bushes by the side of the road and waited for a car to come along. A car drove up and stopped at the obstruction in the road - the driver looked out and spotted us hiding and said "Oi, you kids - get all this stuff moved, NOW !!" (or some such words). So we sheepishly trooped out and did as we were told - that was my pathetic attempt at being Dennis the Menace !

Kid said...

Ah, that was your mistake, CJ. If you'd attempted to be like Beryl the Peril you'd probably have got away with it.

John Pitt said...

Hi Col, yep, it was the same story from "Mild & Mellow".
That was a good wheeze, wish we'd thought of it! Who says kids weren't influenced by comics, eh?
Reminds me of a time when we used to collect spent bullets from a rifle range in a nearby Aerdrome that we used to sneak into. One day, snooping around we found an unexploded bomb from the war! After chucking stones at it and it didn't go off, we moved it to the middle of the road and left it there! But, it was just a country lane and there wasn't much traffic in those days ( I think it might have been a Sunday? ), so we never did see who came across it,as we had cycled back to our village again. The plan had been to place it in our school front playground to get school cancelled, but it was far too heavy to get to our village on our bikes!
The Bash Street Kids had nothing on the Mill End Lane gang!

paul Mcscotty said...

Nice story John although I think you got let off lightly for all your shenanigans. I remember making a cattie (catapult) out of a tree branch as a kid but it was pretty rubbish as the elastic I had was weak. I do recall those lethal store bought metal catapults and they could wreck some amount of damage. I wasn’t allowed one as a kid and got a potato/spud gun instead , not quite as deadly as a metal catapult as you basically had to hit someone on the head with the actual gun to get any reaction.

Kid said...

And there would have been nothing OF the Mill End Lane gang had that bomb exploded, JP. Nutters, the lot of you.

******

Talking of which, I actually did hit someone on the head with one of those guns, PM. The reaction I got was to get my @rse severely skelped by my dad.

John Pitt said...

As kids, we thought that it would just have been like a giant banger!

John Pitt said...

For some strange reason (?) I DID get off lightly for that incident, McS, but I usually did get a thrashing!
I had spud guns too, - my favourite was a blue metal one, that would also fire caps and could even double up as a water pistol!

Colin Jones said...

I should mention that there were four roads into my village and the one in question was the least used. About one car every hour or so which gave us plenty of time to build the pile of ferns and branches.

Here's another tale to relate but I wasn't being deliberately naughty this time. I was visiting my friend, Carl, who lived about 3 miles away and Carl and his mother decided to catch the bus into the local town so, of course, I went too. Carl's mother paid for her and Carl but I had to pay my own way. This was in the early days of paying the driver upon boarding the bus which I wasn't used to because the bus to my village still had a conductor. So I gave the driver my fare and there was about 2p change or some similar tiny amount. Instead of waiting for my change I reached into the tray of coins and took it - oops, big mistake. "You cheeky monkey !!" exclaimed the driver angrily. Of course, everybody on the bus was staring and I felt totally humiliated. Carl's mother was furious and kept on about it for the entire time we were in town and even after we returned. Yes, I know it was stupid of me but it was MY money I'd taken from the tray, just a few moments before the driver intended to give it to me anyway - I was hardly Al Capone !! Anyway, I never made that mistake again !

Kid said...

That was probably the Lone Star Spud Gun, JP (although there were others). I've got one.

******

I suppose it was frowned upon in case someone helped themselves to more change than they were entitled to, CJ. I'm surprised that Carl's mother didn't pay your fare. That's what my parents would've done if one of my friends had been with us.

Colin Jones said...

Kid, Carl's mother was a moody old so-and-so. Sometimes she was really friendly when I visited and other times she made me feel unwelcome - perhaps on this particular day she didn't want me around. Carl was adopted but his adopted mother was related to his biological mother (I never knew who she was). By contrast, Carl's adopted father was always really nice and friendly. He died about 10 years ago and he always remembered me and spoke to me whenever we met.

paul Mcscotty said...

I used to "dog" school a lot in my last year as I had so many free periods and folk were just smoking and getting into trouble. So one day at 8am ("dogging" it) I walked about 5 miles into Glasgow (from my School) and I bought a platform ticket (this allowed you access to the platform only - to say "goodbye" etc but not for a trip) anyway I jumped a train thinking it was going locally within Glasgow however I ended up on the Edinburgh express that only stopped at Edinburgh (45 miles away). You can imagine how stressed I was (being just 16 years old ) and how often I had to dodge into the toilets to avoid a ticket inspector. Anyway I thought I would just get off the train and quickly jump another train back to Glasgow but the trains ended up being cancelled for some reason that I can't recall and I had to get 2 buses home (barely scrapping the fair originally meant to buy comics) and a very loooong walk - It took me until after 6pm to get home. That didn’t put an end to my “dogging” school during free periods but after that I only did that within a local radius., until one day a group of us we dogging school in a local shopping centre when a group of 3 teachers came in from one entrance of the centre and a similar number of teachers entered from the other end cutting us all off – most of us were all rounded up but I managed to slip into a shop and got away with it. However that ended my days as teenage rebel :)

Incidentally “dogging” means not going to school when you should and not what it seems to mean now.

John Pitt said...

Aye, that was it! ( looked it up! ) I actually had two of those and I also had a "Gambler" Spud Gun as well, but that was a bit cumbersome to use!

Kid said...

That's a great wee story, PM. Now write a guest post that I can publish on the blog. Incidentally, what excuse did you give your parents for being so late home and missing your tea?

******

As well as the Lone Star one, JP, I've got a very similar one by another company, but I can't remember the name. I don't know if the other one was out in the '60s though, 'cos I got it brand-new in the late '90s.

paul Mcscotty said...

I had planned to meet up with my pal after school Kid and as no mobiles then you didn't need to keep in contact - I actually got home around the time I normally did for my tea.

Kid said...

I see. So - what did you have for your tea? (Only kidding.) Right, get to work on your guest post.

Kid said...

Oops, missed you out, CJ. Yeah, it sounds as if she was trying to put you off accompanying them on that occasion. Do you still see Carl?

Colin Jones said...

No, Kid, I haven't seen him since I was about 16 - we drifted apart in later years. But his father told me that Carl was married twice !

Kid said...

Some people are just too greedy. Once is more than enough for most folk.

Dave S said...

Love that story, JP, I never had a catapult - I think I tried to make one once and the whole thing snapped the first time I tried to use it. Mr Angry sounds like a neighbour of mine when I was very young who seemed to have a mission in life to stop kids from enjoying themselves.

There was a tree which grew in the back green of the building she lived in which grew at a 45 degree angle and leaned into the back of the building I lived in, and if I ever tried climbing up on the branches on our side, her curtains would twitch and she'd come rushing out, like a steamroller in a dress, full of righteous rage.

She once done this when an older cousin of mine was visiting. My cousin, who even at a young age had Hulk-like strength, simply reached up to a huge thick branch maybe 3 inches thick, hauled at it til it snapped then casually tossed it into her garden. She wasn't happy.

(Incidentally, the same neighbour also came to our door once to complain that our cat had been biting the heads off her flowers. Quite what she expected us to do about it, I dunno. I think my mum said she'd tell the cat to stop it but couldn't promise anything.)

Kid said...

Gotta be honest, but as I get more old and grumpy, I'm more on the side of your former neighbour, DS. (With the exception of the cat instance.) Older people living on their own only want peace and quiet in their own house at their advanced age, and often feel under threat by noisy kids. I see kids running around my neighbourhood, breaking trees, fences, throwing litter around, etc., and generally doing anything they want. Their parents just don't seem to care. I'd rather see a neighbour's cat in my garden than their kids any day of the week.

Dave S said...

Littering really annoys me. Totally ignorant and lazy behaviour. I live not far from a Royal Mail sorting office and go past it every day on my walk to and from work. It is not unusual to see people coming out having just collected a parcel, opening it in the street and just dropping the padded envelope or cardboard box on the pavement and walking away (usually they tear their name off first, obviously caring more about their own security than the right of anyone else to enjoy a clean environment).

The council litter police could make an absolute fortune by just hanging around there for a couple of days.

Kid said...

What I hate worst of all, DS, is seeing people spitting on the ground - INSIDE the covered shopping centre of my town. They're inside for feck's sake - would they do that in their house? Some old biddy could come along and slip on their spittle. What kind of barbarians do we have in our society for crying out loud? I think the police should be allowed to batter them on sight! Obviously I don't mind someone spitting into the gutter outside, if they really have to, but INSIDE? I just can't believe it.

Dave S said...

People don't seem to take responsibility for anything these days - used to be that folk would treat public spaces as if they were their own, clearing up after themselves and generally taking care of their surroundings. Nowadays many people just seem to think that it's all someone else's problem. The state of Glasgow city centre these days really disappoints me, especially the half mile or so of Argyle Street between Hope Street and Stockwell Street which is absolutely filthy. I've seen rotting food (and worse) lying in shop doorways that's still been there 24 hours later.

Quite apart from the effect on health this could be having, it's disappointing that this must be some visitors first impression of the city. Surprising that the council don't seem to be doing much about it either, since they're usually more concerned about how our city looks to the rest of the world than they are about the people who actually live here (end of rant).

Kid said...

You rant away, DS. It saves me doing it. Agree with everything you said.

John Pitt said...

Hi Dave / Kid, well all this is interesting!
Well, Mr. Angry had a bloody good right to be angry! - I was smashing his windows, for feck's sake!
BUT, as for your own angry neighbour, well, I have in the past had to put up with neighbours who complain for the slightest thing and have even rowed with neighbours for throwing stones at my cat, to get it out of their garden ( the best thing to do is chuck cold water at them, from a cup! )
As regards grumpiness and age, I have actually mellowed a heckuva lot since reaching "middle" ( cough! ) age. I find it better to tolerate the kids, rather than make enemies out of them, or else they CAN make your life a misery with vandalism, etc. So, noisy playing I will endure, rather than incur their wrath! Of course, I do grumble to the missus when I see litter outside our house, etc. and I am sickened by the sight of the vandalism on some of the neighbouring estates, but if I stopped grouching all together, she'd think that there was something up with me!

John Pitt said...

Oh, and Dave, if you're interested?
http://m.ebay.co.uk/itm/vintage-milbro-catapult/362004504840

Kid said...

I don't mind cats in my garden. My only concern is that they kill the wild birds I feed, so if I see them stalking the birds I go and gently chase them (the cats) off. Otherwise I'm quite friendly towards them. I've got a Milbro catapult (complete) and I thought I'd shown a picture on the blog, but I can't find it. When I dig out the catapult, I'll show it on the blog.

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