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» I witnessed a crime

This is my brother's story...
A few years ago when my family was still council estate scum, my brother was lucky enough to be bought a brand new racing bike for his birthday.

Now, my brother loved like that more than a human should love a method of transportation, and more often than not he'd be either riding, cleaning, or fixing his two-wheeled, pedal-driven wonder.

Anyway, one day, my bro is walking back from school (they didn't have bike sheds and he didn't want to risk a TWOC-ing) when what should he see but some kid riding HIS bike up the main road towards the shops our kid had just departed from.

Of course, my bro wasn't too pleased about that, and at once legged it towards the approaching youth and questioned why he was riding his pride and joy:

Youth: "I'm borrowing it to do my paper round"
Our Kid: "I don't think so, give it back"
Youth: "Piss off or I'll kick your head in"

It was at that point that my bro shouted for help, and luckily enough there was a bit of a bruiser walking past who came over to assist...

Bruiser: "Give him his bike back"
Youth: "It's OK, I'm his brother, I'm only borrowing it"
Our Kid: "No he isn't, he's nicked it"
Bruiser (seeing our kid starting to cry): "Give him his fucking bike back or I'll do something you'll regret"
Youth (laughing at the whole situation): "Honest mate, I'm his big bro" (turning to youth) "Aren't I?"
Our Kid (now in floods of tears): "No, you're not, I want my bike back"

At this point the youth is shoved off the bike by the bruiser, my tearful brother gets his little friend back and witnesses the bruiser giving the youth a bit of a slap as a form of vigilante action.

So, justice done, you might think.

Well, hang on.

Firstly, the bike 'theft' wasn't the crime.


Because it was me on the bike.

Yes, my brother pretended to some stranger that I nicked his bike (which I was genuinely borrowing to do my paper round on), and to top it off witnessed the bloke giving me what would warrant Actual Bodily Harm in a court of law.

The aftermath?

I kicked the shit out of my brother when I got back after my paper round. After I told my mum (yes, she of the wardrobe out of the window post), he got a bit of a hiding off her too.

Harsh, but fair, no?
(Sat 16th Feb 2008, 21:50, More)

» I Quit!

Boy's Brigade
In the times when we lived on the festering wastes of a council estate of Sheffield, my mum and a group of my mate's parents had decided to push us all in the direction of the local Boy's Brigade based at the local church, this after a number of events resulting in us becoming what the community police officer could only describe as 'thieving little bastards'. Surely the BB could turn us into good Christian boys?

Now, for those of you who know the organisation, it's basically a blend of Scouts, Cadets and Sunday School - in other words, you make things, play football, march and read about the bible. With my mum's family being all god-fearing folk, me and our kid having cracking left foots and technical nous, well, we fitted in like hands into the proverbial glove.

Like all good stories, there's an antagonist, a fellow I can only name Steven (for that was his name). Now, whilst I was a geek but cool with it (yeah, right), Steven was a Grade 'A' Premium NERD. Nobody liked him, he hated football and his sister was a bit of a mong.

Anyway. After a couple of years I found myself in the Junior section, and I was doing really well. I could make a mean model of the crucifixion of Christ and to top it off in my world, scored one of the goals in the North Sheffield five-a-side competition final.

Despite all this, I was still not group leader. No, this was Steven. Why? Because mummy was verger (or something) at the church, and because my mum couldn't afford the proper uniform (or the barbers), I didn't look the part either, Steven with his clean pressed uniforms and 'smart' side-parting.

Still, I had all the badges Steven did, and was finally aiming for the Gold badge. I once again helped the football team to victory, got pretty damn good on a bugle and my model of the holy grail went down a storm at the Easter fair.

Surely leading the chosen team to glory in the Bible Studies Competition would seal my destiny???

My fate was to be sealed at a (frankly pompous and overblown) ceremony at the Sunday service at church the week after.

We were all lined up in front of the altar in our full uniform, shook hands with the local religious types and were given special certificates by the pastor in celebration of our efforts.

Now, the group commander took to the altar and I knew that this was the time I would finally take my spot as group leader by getting the gold badge the doddering feller had in his grasp, and had to hold myself back from jumping the gun and snatching the thing from him.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I would also like to take this time to reward a young man who's contributions to this company have been exemplary, in terms of his spritual, community and active attitude throughout his time with us. So it with great pleasure that I award Steven with the Gold badge..."


Where was the justice? I had blazed a trail through the brigade (so much so that I was getting overtures of joining rival companies) and this snivelling, useless shit had got what was destined to be mine? Where was the justice?

My response was one that I would re-live and re-enact for years to come.

In tears, and with the whole congregation (including my dear mother, my aunt and a barely-able-to-contain-himself little brother) watching, I bawled "FUCK THIS FOR A LIVING, YOU CAN SHOVE THAT BADGE UP YOUR ARSE", kicked over some of the ornaments on the altar, and stormed out of the church with family hurriedly and ashamedly in tow.

I never went back to the Brigade, and the day after in school, I sought my cold-served revenge by giving the smug bastard Steven a pasting in the school canteen after he failed to hold his tongue after the previous day's events.

So, I'd sworn in church, embarrassed my folks and beaten a god-botherer up.

I think I made my point, don't you?
(Wed 28th May 2008, 13:21, More)

» Have you ever seen a dead body?

Sort of applies.
I've never been good with girls. Throughout school I was the epitome of the shy geek with a better taste for shitty indie bands and computer games than for nubile, hormone-energised young fillies off the local estate.

It got worse as I got older, but there was one time when there was a little chink in my socially-inept armour, and someone, fortunately saw through it.

X was a lovely girl from the next estate. She went to the same school as me, and was in a different form, so we didn't really know each other until later on in school. We often chatted a lot at break time, gave each other fleeting glances in the classroom and other such innocent behaviour. I liked her a lot, but was too crap as a communicator to do something about it. She was popular, friendly and quite pretty too - so what would she want with a bungling loon like me?

I was known then for being the school boffin - not totally amazing with grades but hard working and a bit of a teacher's pet. Obviously, because of this, I was a target for the school thuggery legion, and despite my frame (I'm a big lad - not fat, just stocky), I often took a few punches for my scholarly nature. I look on this now and just accept that it's the way of the world, but then it was hard, especially in the polarising environment of the school corridor.

One day, I was pushed about a bit by the main school troglodyte, and cracked my head on the wall. I fell on the floor, head in hands, whilst the rest of the school shuffled past, not wanting to get involved.

Until I heard a friendly voice - "Scentless, you OK?". It was X. She helped me up, brushed me down (A female! Touching me! Call Roy Castle!), and flashed me a smile.

"Don't worry, they're only jealous of you. I think you're great.". Then, with no-one looking, she gave me a peck on the cheek.

Well, wow. This was a whole new world. Most girls I knew were uber-geeks like me fearful of the opposite sex or horny page 3 wannabees who doted on the very kinds of nutters that liked to give me a bit of a pasting.

But this, this was different. It was completely innocent puppy love stuff but it was the first time I felt like I would be able to talk to a girl I actually liked.

That was a Thursday. Friday, we had lunch sat together in the canteen, then said bye to each other after school, and skipped off home for the weekend. I could feel something blossoming, and it wasn't just the thing tucked into my BHS Y-fronts.

Strange as it may seem, I couldn't wait for school to come round. As far as I was concerned from then on, X WAS school. Despite this I didn't tell anyone about her during the regular Saturday night cider-swilling in the park - but I was really excited about what might happen between us.

So, Monday came, and I literally ran to school. As I arrived, there seemed to be a general sense of sadness and anger - but being one of the social underclass in school, I couldn't seem to find out what was going on, apart from we'd find out in assembly that morning.

Assembly came round, and in front of the year, the Head told us that there'd be a sad accident on Saturday, and unfortunately X had died.

She'd been hit by a speeding car on a main road near her house. The Head didn't go into too much detail but it was clear that it wasn't pleasant. X was an intelligent, lovely girl with her whole life ahead of her, and some idiot in a chavmobile had killed her.

I never saw her dead body, but I did see the coffin in the hearse whilst I was doing my paper-round a few days later, her parents in the car behind. I was gutted. Not for me - I'm not that selfish - but for X. She didn't comply with the idiotic social hierarchy in school, and she always saw the good in people - something I've always respected in a person since.

I often look back at that time and think 'what if' - not because I'm a shallow bastard, but because X was so great and deserved better.

Sorry for the lack of funny. I've never told anyone this, because no-one really knew what had happened for that brief time between X and me, but I felt here was my chance to get it off my chest.
(Wed 5th Mar 2008, 13:20, More)

» Voyeurism

I'm going to regret this...
Many moons ago, I had a girlfriend from a large town in Suffolk. She was a cracking girl, we got on like a house on fire, but there came a time where she couldn't find work oop north so had to move back home to her folks (we weren't at the moving in stage yet) so for a few months we did the difficult long-distance thing.

Unsurprisingly, when we did find ourselves in each other's company, we were like rabbits. Except, when I visited it her it would mean me staying at her parents' house, on the sofa bed, alone (very conservative, her parents were).

So any opportunity to make with the nekkidness was taken up with aplomb - especially one night we'd been out in town and she couldn't keep her hands off me. So we decided, as we got to her house, that Something Had To Be Done.

As it happened, her parents were in bed, but to ensure they weren't woke up by our antics, she decided to take me down the garden path (literally), into the wooded bit at the end of the garden, and give me a bit of a seeing to, her on top, me lying back and thinking of England.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, there was an alleyway that ran past the back of the garden, and the fence separating was slightly exposed at said wooded area.

So when I look up past my darling girlfriend's shoulder for a brief second as she's taking all her pent-up frustration out on me, what do I see but a couple of winos with token alcohol in brown paper bags stood, watching the action infront of them, giving me the thumbs up and appearing to motion some kind of 'give her one from us' gesture, then waved me goodbye and started off on their drunken merry way!

Well, what could I do?

I waved back. After all, in any situation one finds one in, it's manners are always important.

A week later, the girlfriend gave me a call sounding rather distressed and confused after 'some winos' had seen her walking the dogs through the park, and shouted 'THAT'S HER WHO WE WERE TELLING YOU ABOUT BOYS, SHE GOES LIKE THE CLAPPERS!!!'.

They were right.
(Thu 11th Oct 2007, 21:25, More)

» My most treasured possession

I say boy.
When my stepdad first came into my life, we never got on. From the moment it was clear that he was around to stay, a constant friction in our relationship as stepfather to stepson made life really difficult in the Scentless household.

Neither of us helped the situation, bickering became something of an artform between us as we'd always find something to moan at my mum about with regard to each other. It caused some very problematic situations as time went on, and now I look back and cringe at how much this happened.

That said, as I got older, things got easier, and we started to reason with each other and I soon came to realise that the reason we clashed so much is that we were so much alike in our personalities.

Anyway, during my A-levels, I went into some sort of metaphorphosis from class geek to class slacker, and my grades dropped through the floor. Telling your mother that you've scraped an E in your Pure Mathematics 1 paper when only a year previous you were an A-grade wonder is not a pleasant experience.

This kept happening, to the extent where my stepdad took me to one side after one too many poor results. Expecting a big row, I went on the defensive and started being a right royal moody bastard with him. To my surprise, my stepdad just took it, and then let me calm down, and said words that still hit home today:

"Thing is Scentless, I had nothing when I was your age, no prospects, no potential, no nothing. You've got the world at your feet, everything that I didn't have, and you're kicking it in the face... and it breaks my heart."

The man, who battled with me for years, started to cry. I started too, finally realising my predicament, and it was from then on a mutual understanding was formed. We never talked of it since, but that moment had it's impact.

I turned it round, got decent grades after all at college, walked into uni, and got top marks in the class in the first and second years. I took off on industrial placement in the third year (see my many mentioned Basingstoke related posts), and my stepdad volunteered to help me move down and get sorted.

The day I moved, we said little on the trip down, and barely more as we shifted my stuff into my new abode.

However, as we finished and he prepared to leave, he motioned to shake my hand, and as we did, I grabbed hold of me and gave me a big (but totally hetero and non-strange) hug, and said...

"I'm proud of you, son."

Well blow me if that wasn't some rite-of-passage moment. It was the first time he'd ever called me son (hell, I've never heard my biological father call me it) and I finally realised that despite all the shit I'd caused for the poor bloke, he'd seen through it and had faith in me.

After that, he departed and I was left to sort all my stuff out.

On my bed, there was a box I didn't recognise, and inside I found a Foghorn Leghorn (you know, the big Looney Tunes chicken) plush toy.

My stepdad's nickname for me is Foghorn because of my loud voice (imagine Brian Glover with the volume turned up to 11) and this was obviously my stepdad's way of having a laugh after all the seriousness of the day just gone. What my new housemates thought of what they thought was a big strapping former rugby player hugging what was effectively a kiddie's toy whilst drooling over the evening's Hollyoaks I couldn't say, but I didn't care, I felt good.

To this day (7 years later!!!) I still have it, pride of place, in my front room. It's a reminder to me that no matter what happens to me, or how I'm like with my stepdad, I know that he'll always be looking out for me. If I lost it, I really don't know what I'd do. I think I'd even state in my will that I was to be buried with it.

Apologies for the shit, overlong, soppy and frankly unfunny story, but it means something to me, and I felt I had to get it off my chest.
(Fri 9th May 2008, 21:06, More)
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