Tuesday, September 24, 2002


It was 1974. I was eight. Those were halcyon days when kids were actually allowed out of their parents’ site without them worrying themselves to death about non-existent kiddie fiddlers or getting creamed by a forty ton lorry when crossing the road. The world was a safe place to live in. Ish.

A quick wriggle through the hedge at the bottom of the garden, a dash across the school field, often to the shouts of the school caretaker, and we were in the local park. At one end was the playground, a death-trap of cast iron play equipment with roundabouts and swings with jagged edges and unexpected hinges just right for severing little fingers. Nothing wrong with that. A little mutilation’s good for kids. And that’s where I went with my brother.

Spit 'em out, boy!

He was at the top of the slide, a fifty foot tall monstrosity that appeared to have been left over from the construction of HMS Belfast. Such was the pressure difference from top to bottom, your ears would pop and you’d get a nosebleed. You were also travelling at something approaching the speed of sound, with nothing to stop you at the end except your arse against concrete.

Nigel at the top. So, it’s only natural that I should stand on the slide at the bottom. If I was a retard.

"Get out of the way!" he shouted. “I’m coming down!”

"No!" I replied. "When you slide down, I'll jump over you. It'll be a great stunt."

So he slid. He came down like a lightly greased exocet missile. I forgot to jump, and once again my life was rudely interrupted by Newton’s Laws. His feet caught me square in the shins., causing me to catapult up into the air. By all accounts, my one-and-a-half somersault with pike would have graced any diving competition as I flew through the air with gravity waiting in the wings to slam me back to earth.

It was a beautiful slow motion moment as the slide came up to meet me, followed by the blinding white light of pain. I landed face first and teeth went everywhere. I’d also bitten through my lip and I looked like I’d gone ten rounds with Ali.

Luckily, Nigel had the presence of mind to pick up the severed molars and shoved them back in from where they came. I spent the next two hours in the dentist’s chair having sharp edges painfully filed off and loose teeth fixed back in. Nearly thirty years later, they’re still there. Thanks bro.

The following week, we tried it again. I remembered to jump. I was right. It was a most excellent stunt.

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