Wednesday, October 16, 2002


When I was about 12 we used to play cricket on the “Helicopter Pad”, a circular clearing in an overgrown bramble on the edge of our estate. It was hardly, if ever, used to land helicopters as far as I could tell. Possibly because there weren’t any multimillionaire helicopter owners living on our estate of family sized new builds and maisonettes. With the distinct lack of chopper activity we used it because its edges served as convenient, though rather short, boundaries.

During one particular game, as I reached my quadruple century with my 37th consecutive six Jeremy, a kind of Gonch Gardner character produced from his pocket the last of the highly illegal French bangers he had brought back from a family holiday.

The application of these bangers had become more elaborate and ambitious as time went on. A loud bang in the middle of a field was no longer enough of a rush; we needed more ‘edge’. For example one time we lit one and rolled it down an alleyway making the bang louder and also offered, if we were really lucky, the chance to mutilate an unsuspecting dog walker coming up from the other end. Another time we embedded a couple of bangers in a cowpat. It was cool.

It was only a matter of time before we moved to blowing up wild animals.

Jeremy found a slug making it’s way to the boundary. Matthew, a chubby lad who became anorexic when he discovered girls, sensed the fun and gave up his bamboozling spin attack to watch. I stood from afar with the bat, patting down bumps like the pros do. A banger was lit, they both ran and BANG! Mud, stones, and presumably slug parts went everywhere.

“Did you hear it scream?” said Matthew.

Today, eighteen years later, thinking about this episode, it has only just struck me that he was perhaps making that bit up.


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