Call me a dweeb, a geek and a nerd, but I went through a pubescent phase where I liked nothing better than sitting down with a big pile of balsa wood, some needlessly complicated plans and a frighteningly sharp craft knife; building enormously detailed scale model gliders.
Sad, isn't it? While my contemporaries were poring over magazines full of naked women, the only models I had an interest in involved several weeks of construction. The end result would be about four feet long with a wing-span of six feet, and with a following wind could do some serious damage if you accidentally took one straight in a soft, vulnerable part of your body.
Of course, we went to enormous measures to ensure that this sort of thing could never happen.
With the right radio control gear, and a large, windy open space, your fragile creation of balsa wood and tissue paper became a fearful weapon for frightening grannies, dive-bombing dogs and getting hideous and bloody revenge on the snotty little creep of a kid who just wouldn't leave you alone.
I had spent months building my craft, and even managed to finish it despite overcoming the obstacle of watching the dog eat it, for which he was greatly chastised. Up the park Graham and I went, he to launch the thing, and myself to twiddle the knobs on the radio control unit and pretend I knew what I was doing.
"Can I have a go?"
Oh crud. Greebo.
Greebo was one of those snotty little bastards who followed you around everywhere like a lost puppy, and then run home to his dad when you told him to fuck off, or, on one memorable occasion, broke the little git's nose.
"Fuck off Greebo."
"I'm telling my dad on you."
So he did. His dad told my dad, and my dad told me to "let the little shit have a go and perhaps he'll fuck off."
We let him have a go. Dads, eh? What do they know?
Up, up up into the air my beautiful, beautiful glider went. Soaring away into the blue, blue sky, climbing and diving, turning and err... soaring a bit more. You get the idea. I handed the remote to Greebo with a shrug.
His inexperienced fingers played over the controls, and my wonderful contraption lurched this way and that, narrowly missing a line of trees, and almost disappearing into the wilds of the London Road and certain destruction. Suddenly it hove back into view, coming straight at us, diving madly like a German Stuka on a bombing run.
Funny, both Graham and I - friends since the age of five - seemed to have a telepathic connection. We always seemed to do or say the same thing at once. And so in this case:
Graham and I fled for our lives, but Greebo stood there, transfixed, the monster getting closer and closer, his fingers frozen on the remote control as it whistled towards him.
Right in the love spuds.
"Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrr!" said Greebo as the air burst out of his body. He keeled over, and remained in a foetal position for several moments, wimpering softly to himself.
My beautiful, beautiful glider was no more - the impact had sheered the wings off and the fuselage was now about eight inches long, the rudder flapping forlornly like the tail on a naughty puppy.
It had been most excellent, made even more gratifying to find that Greebo had fallen directly into the kind of turd that could only be left by a Great Dane.
A week later, Greebo was back, still limping.
"I've made me own glider," he proudly announced, his voice an octave higher than usual.
Grudgingly, we agreed to meet him over the park to witness its maiden flight. And what a glider it was. He had eschewed the usual lightweight designed favoured by most model-makers, and gone for and old broomstick, with wings of scrap wood covered in newspaper. It took two of us to lift it, left alone get it airborne.
But fly it did, for five wonderful, glorious seconds. Graham and I took a wing each, and bowling along down the slope we got up enough speed and launched the lumbering thing into the void.
Up, up, up it went as Greebo operated the useless controls. Over, over, over, it flew in a great loop with a mind of its own. Down, down, down it screamed, picking up speed as terrified onlookers fled for the safety of their homes.
Dear reader, let us count Greebo's blessings for him, and they are but one: he was facing the other way.
Straight up the arse.
He keeled over forward, the leviathan still stuck there, and unerringly allowed a Great Dane shit break his fall.
There were only two things Graham and I, trained first-aiders, could do in the circumstances, and we did both. We laughed ourselves shitty, and we left him for dead.
The next one I built had a spike on the front. Just in case I got lucky a third time.