Mirth and Woe: Uzi Lover
On things that you used to do as a kid that would get you killed TO DEATH these days
As a member of Her Majesty's Cadet Forces, I had a not unnatural fascination with firearms.
Sadly, they wouldn't let us take the real guns home with us, so alternatives had to be found.
Luckily, my old dad was a member of The Military Guild Book Club, in which he received some terrifying Book of the Month through the post every four weeks.
My favourite was one analysing the outcome of any NATO/Warsaw Pact confrontation, which confidently predicted the complete destruction of Birmingham. However, a close second was one with great big fold-out pictures of current military firearms in extraordinary detail.
Passing it around the more maniacal members of our Space Cadets squadron, we put it to good use in making our own replica guns from whatever we could find in sheds, garages and the local tip.
We turned up at our next cadet evening loaded down with replica firearms of varying quality. My brother had carved a pretty good Ingram Mac-11 from a single block of wood, while there were various sub-machine guns and a pretty adventurous M-16 assault rifle.
Mine was an Israeli Uzi 9mm sub-machine gun made out of wood, some bits of metal, and a big lump of plastic. Apart from the fact that the barrel refused to point in the right direction, once painted gun-metal grey, it was a reasonable facsimile of the real thing.
Then, dressed up in combat fatigues, we did what any idiot teenager would do: we ran around the streets of Henley-on-Thames playing silly buggers with toy guns.
Like a bunch of demented Private Pikes, we ran up back alleys and vaulted in and out of other people's gardens going "Na na na na na na na na na na!"
Ian the Shed threw his fake German stick grenade (made from the handle of a sink plunger and a tin of Heinz sponge pudding), which bounced off a cat and provoked what can only be described as an official Henley-on-Tames rebuke: the flickering of net curtains.
It was only when Jezzer - tanked up with special forces fizzy pop and Mars Bars - became our only casualty of the evening by chundering with gusto into the gutter (all the hedges in Henley being booby trapped) that a window was flung open, and an elderly, distinguished voice raged: "If you don't leave THIS INSTANT I shall summon the police!"
We left, that instant.
These days, it would be rather more than net curtains. I am certain, in fact, that there would be the sound of multiple sirens, closely followed by a group of heavily-armed coppers raining down on us from above, with one mission in mind: to kill us TO DEATH.
Good thing The Man didn't find out about the home bomb-making factory, then.
It's political correctness gone mad, on acid.