Picture courtesy of Norman Rockwell. Picture link.


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Mick Coyle


Up t’no good


Sunday afternoon and I was on my way to see my school mate Ernest Wild, as usual I found Ern banging and clattering in his shed, well more like Aladdin’s cave as it was always full of interesting scrounge or tat as we called it. There were old radios, TVs, motor bike engines and some strange looking gadgets of which I had no idea.

I was now 13 years old and Ern was one year my junior, I had nicknamed him Professor Beaker, I am sure in years to come they were to base the character Doc Brown in Back to the Future on Ern as he was always coming to school with cuts, bruises and burns, the results of experiments that didn’t quite go right.

   “Wow! That looks interesting” I said as I picked up an old air rifle “where did tha get this from”

   “Let’s just say I scrounged it”

Ern was always reluctant to disclose the source of his tat. Off we went to do a bit of target practice.

That morning we had heavy rain but now it had cleared up and was quite sunny. Mrs Turner had just finished hanging her washing out to dry, the perfect target. We spent the next hour blasting the pegs off the washing line and one by one the garments dropped on to the muddy ground. Then we came to the last item on the line, Julie Turner’s blue school bloomers, we called them wrist breakers as they had extra strong gusset elastic to ward off intruders.

A phantom pain stabbed at my wrist as an unwanted memory began to surface, I’d been there before. It was now time to take my revenge; I spent the next half hour peppering holes in these bloomers.

Then Mrs Turner came out to retrieve the now dried washing.

   “What the bloody hell” she said as she scanned the clothes scattered over the ground.

She methodically picked up the garments, placing them in a tatty wicker basket, then she came to the only garment left hanging, the bloomers, she unpegged them and held them up to the light,  little rays of sunlight shone through them. She instantly stared daggers at the two of us.

   “Nowt t’do with us Mrs Turner, but we’ve just seen David Evans playin with his air rifle”

   “I’ll sort that little chuff out” she said as she marched off to David’s house.

Bang! Bang! Bang! She hammered on the door, and out came Mrs Evans.

   “What’s up Edith?”

   “What’s up? Look what your lad’s chuffin done to our Julie’s knickers”

   “Not my lad, he’s been in bed all day, he cracked his head open yesterday”

This wasn’t a lie, as he had been helping Ern with one of his dodgy experiments and had fallen off the roof, (but that’s another story “the gas cooker”) and was now suffering from concussion. Out came David with a large bandage around his head, looking like someone indigenous to the Darnal area.

   “Not me Mrs Turner, it were Ernest Wild an Coyley, have been watchin em from my bedroom window”

 Off stormed Mrs Turner “I’ll chuffin swing for them two little buggers”

We had to hide, Ern jumped into the coal bunker and I followed, it was a dark, hot and confined but we managed to squeeze in.

Then we heard Mrs Turner banging on Ern’s house door, out came Mrs Wild, and after a brief exchange of heated dialogue Ern’s mothers said.

   “Well they were here a minute ago; they’re probably hiding in’t shed”

They tried the shed and found nothing.

  “Let’s have a look in’t coyle bunker”

We were about to be discovered.

The hand of fate moves in mysterious ways, and so do Ern’s bowels. Ern dropped one, it was an SBD silent but deadly, with lots of emphasis on the latter. My eyes started to glaze over and my breathing became sporadic.

Mrs Turner lifted the coal bunker lid,

   “Owwww! What’s that awful smell?” declared Mrs Turner, having just acquired a face full of fart.

   “It’s probably that chuffin cat again, it’s always doing its business in there”

   “Well they’re obviously not in there”

And off went the lynch mob to look elsewhere for their prey. I made good my escape, down the yard over the fence and off home, leaving Ern now suffering from unconstrained bouts of laughter. The next morning I awoke, dressed for school and made my way downstairs.

I entered the living room to be confronted by my mother, standing starch as a sergeant major, hands on her hips and her face looked like she had just passed a barbwire stool.

  “An what the chuffin hell as thar been up’t”

I hadn’t the foggiest idea what she was on about, so I instantly went into defence mode, and gave her one of my angelic smiles. I could see her anger starting to wane, then she gave a shrug and said “And don’t give me one of them cupid looks”.

Plan A failed, and still having no idea as to the cause of her anger I implemented plan B, “lie mode”.

   “A’ve done nowt mam, it weren’t me it was our Kathleen, she broke it”

  “Well explain these chuff’s then” she said as she produced Julie’s bloomers.

Then she threw them at me, they hit me in the face and wrapped around the back of my head, and I couldn’t help thinking, I wish Julie was still wearing them.

   “It weren’t me mam, it was Ernest Wild” I lied again.

   “Well I’ve had t’give Mrs Turner your sister’s best Whitsuntide knickers, if I find out tha’t telling lies lad thal have thi dad to answer to”.

And off she went to Mrs Wild’s.

My stay of execution was postponed, and I went off to school, dreading home time and dreading the court’s verdict and the inevitable draconian sentence.

Verdict; Guilty.

Sentence; A clout from my father and no Beano for four weeks.

The clout I could take but how was I supposed to go a month without my fix. I feared for my sanity. 



Copyright © 2005 Mick Coyle