Monday, 22 August 2016

CHILDHOOD CAPERS - CHAPTER ONE...


Image copyright DC COMICS

It was around 1970/'71, and myself and two pals were leaning on a railing outside a row of apartments above the neighbourhood shops.  Passing below were three thuggish, slightly older females who hung around with the local neds.   They glared up at us.  "Whit ur you f*ckin' lookin' at?"  they trilled in their delicate, girlish way (sarcasm).  "Dunno - the label's fallen off!" I yelled back.  The gauntlet had been thrown down, and the trio of nasty nedettes responded by mounting the stairs, their Doc Martins pounding the steps in pursuit of ourselves.

I say 'pursuit' because the moment I opened my gob, the other two legged it and I followed.  These girls were bigger and older than us, and as hard as nails.  Having been brought up never to hit a 'girl', we'd have been at a distinct disadvantage trying to defend ourselves against the furious assault that was surely forthcoming.  We fled past the front of the apartments towards the door to the interior stairway which led down to the shops below.

We reached the bottom door with a sigh of relief.  Once we were through that exit, our safety was secure and an inglorious fate would be avoided.  Alas, 'twas not to be - the door was locked, being early evening, and that avenue to freedom was denied us.  We considered going back up the stairs to the first floor offices above the shops and below the apartments, and using the corridor leading to the library to escape.  Too late!  We heard the 'girls' on the steps and realized discovery was imminent.  What to do?

Then I had a brainwave!  The bottom flight of stairs wasn't closed off, allowing us to seek shelter under them, so I beckoned my comrades to conceal themselves as I did likewise.  We bunched together tightly, as the merest glance under the stairway would've revealed our presence, and tried hard not to make a noise.  The nedettes pushed and pulled at the locked door, then grunted in frustrated rage.  "They must've got out on the first floor!" one snorted.  We expected them to return to the upper levels again, but they plonked themselves down on the steps above us and each lit up a cigarette.

We moved not a muscle and feared even to breathe, lest we betray ourselves.  After a seeming eternity (but was actually only a couple of minutes or so), they ascended the stairs and made their exit, amidst much muttering and detailed descriptions of what damage they'd inflict if they saw us.  We stayed rigid for a few moments longer, but once their voices were no longer audible, we exhaled a collective sigh of relief.  What a narrow escape and we knew it.  I can't recall any other moment in my life when I felt more alive, every sense attuned to my surroundings, and I'm sure my two friends felt the same.  (I wonder if they even remember it now?)

Even today, I think back to that moment and recall how I felt at the time;  the excitement, the exhilaration, the fear, and, of course, the sheer relief and gratitude at having survived a precarious predicament unscathed.  It was like something from a Investigators or a Mission Impossible tale - a truly thrilling moment that lives on forever in my mind, and reminds me that, once, my life was more than the uneventful series of events that it is now.  I felt like James Bond, even though, at that time, I'd not yet seen a Bond film.  However, I knew that anyone who had a real car like my Corgi Toys Aston Martin must be a cool guy in the face of danger - much like myself, in fact (he said, modestly), as the tale I've just related surely testifies.

Okay, so, technically, we ran away from three girls - but that's only because we didn't want to hurt them.  (Well, that's my story and I'm darn well sticking to it.  Wanna argue?)

Ever been in a similar situation?  Then let's hear all about it in the comments section, o fellow Mellows.  Spill the beans!

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