Friday, October 10, 2008

Mirth and Woe: Treehouse of Horror

Mirth and Woe: Treehouse of Horror

The kid who lived next door to my grandad had a treehouse.

An only child, he got the thick end of his father's generous nature, and one summer the old fella knocked up a platform a good fifteen feet up the stout tree in their garden.

Over the years that we knew Steve, this platform grew and grew, and every time we visited something new had been added. Trap door, rope ladder, windows, carpet. Before long it was a regular mansion. Up a tree.

He could actually hold summer sleepovers in it, and it was the prime base for many a game.

The lucky, lucky git. He also had the best board games and electronic toys of any kid I knew, but he was never spoiled. Generous, like his dad, he was always willing to share.

Alas, this attitude did not spread to the horrible little scrotes that lived in the pre-fab estate round the back.

Laindon – where this story takes place - was once a tiny village in the Essex countryside. Sadly, in the 1960s, somebody decided to merge it with Basildon as part of a concrete New Town, made from the cheapest building materials known to man. These being slabs of pebble-dashed concrete held together with spit.

Into these dreadful flat-roofed boxes they poured much of the East End of London, who had to go somewhere after Adolf Hitler had turned much of their old stamping ground into rubble two decades previously.

The new kids from the concrete new town didn't, on the whole, get on with the existing residents with the big gardens and cars on the drives.

We never found grandad's turtle. We can only assume he ended up in some former cockney's oven, living up to his name: Mr Crusty.

If there was one thing that raised the ire of the scrotes, it was Steve's treehouse.

In particular, they didn't like the well-spoken lad who owned it, the equally posh kids visiting from the *cough* West of London, and – what must have struck them as the worst kind of class traitors – my excellent cousins, both natives of Basildon, but granted honorary posh kid status.

Every now and then, while playing up in the treehouse, or racing down the newly-constructed slide, There would be a cry of "You're a bunch of fuggin' wankers" and a missile would come lurching over the fence and rattle down the tiled roof.

"I say – that's a bit off, what?"

"More tea?"

"Don't mind if I do."

"I say Steven, some of those oiks are climbing over the fence."

"Good Lord! Some of them appear to be armed with any number of hammers and sticks. That's a bit of a cheek."

"There's a chap, Nigel, pull up the rope ladder."

We pulled up the rope ladder, and watched the Artful Dodger's less artful and dodgier offspring attempt to climb the tree, and presumably do us a little bit of damage.

We surmised this from their cries of "You're going to get yours, you posh bastards" and "Gor blimey Mary Poppins, step in time."

Not a moment to lose. An urgent rattling on the trapdoor betrayed our predicament – the enemy was at our very threshold, with nothing but malice in their hearts.

But, sadly, they had not thought through their plan of attack. Coming up through a trapdoor, rather than charging helter-skelter up the slide, left them at a disadvantage. They had to get at least halfway through the small hole in the floor before they could even wield a blow, and as the door swung open to reveal a face twisted in righteous anger thos flaw became only to apparent.

With a quick couple of stamps, Steve planted his boot squarely on the fingers that had appeared through the trap door.

"Agh! You fucker!" came the response, but naked determination saw our grizzled foe clinging on to dear life.

Fair play to him, he hung on until Andy lamped him one on the face with a pair of size eight boots.

"Ooyagh!" he said, in surprise and alarm.

"Ooyagh!" he said again, this time as he fell from the tree, falling only a few feet, but landing with a leg either side of a stout branch.

". . . . . . .!" he said, before rotating cartoonishly from the branch, and collapsing on top of his brothers in arms.

Eventually he managed to squeak "Me plums! They killed me plums!" before being dragged through the hedge, from where the sound of copious vomiting soon emerged.

Later, a knock on Steve's front door. It was some toothless old crone, the twisted face of her offspring hidden in her skirts, doing a surprisingly bad Eliza Doolittle impression.

"Wha'choo done to my Danny? He ain't done nuffin'."

"Go away mad woman," said Steve's dad in his best Professor Higgins, "before I call the police."

Posh Kids 1, Filthy Oiks 0. The natural order restored.

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