b3ta.com user Zoroastermouse
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» What nonsense did you believe in as a kid?

Six-year-old criminal mastermind
Sorry for being only tangentally related to the question - This story isn't so much about the thing I naively believed, which was pretty common, but about an unexpected result of that belief...

When I was in infant school, I went through a brief period of kleptomania - egged on by my gleeful bastard of an older brother, (as if that excuses me somehow.) One day a week at my school, we were encouraged to bring in a toy to play with - Most of the boys chose Star Wars figures, or Transformers, or one of He-Man's awful brigade of crap sidekicks. It was a day filled with joy, but also avarice: All these beautiful toys. All these toys I didn't own!

So, one of these days I happened to find myself in the cloakroom alone, with larcenous thoughts on my mind. With a criminal cunning that I seem to have entirely lost in the intervening years, I rifled through all the coats until I found something worth stealing: A red Tonka flatbed truck. It was amazing - I can still picture it today in all its shiny die-cast glory. I quietly hid it away, and at the end of the day managed to smuggle it all the way home without incident.

Victory! I'd learned a fantastic lesson: Stealing is easy! I was free to play with my spoils as much as I liked. And I did. The truck was the perfect size and weight to be launched along the landing and bounce solidly down the stairs just like I'd seen cars falling over cliffs do on TV so many times. It was a shame I couldn't make it explode into flames at the bottom, but on the plus side the truck survived the stunt so I could repeat it as many times as I liked. Which, it turned out, was an awful lot of times.

But there was a snag. It'd never occurred to me that my mum might have a pretty good idea of what toys I owned. So when, investigating the sound of me repeatedly knocking chunks of plaster off the landing wall, she asked, "Where did you get that truck?" I panicked.

Time froze; I simply wasn't prepared for the question. I had nothing - I couldn't admit to the truth, but I had no believable cover story to hand. I could say I borrowed it from a friend, but that would surely only lead to more questions, and I hadn't prepared the sufficient web of carefully considered lies to deal with that sort of cross-examination. All seemed lost.

But then! I had a flash of true genius. There was a single moment, a mere few weeks before, when in all the confusion a new toy could feasibly have passed unnoticed. I thought back to the day; there were loads of new toys, and she definitely wasn't paying full attention at the time. If the red truck had appeared at that moment, it would be entirely possible that she might not have noticed. This was my way out! A bullet-proof, entirely unverifiable back-story for my new illicit toy. I'd won! I'd outsmarted everyone! Smiling smugly, I picked up the truck and informed her:

"Father Christmas brought it for me."

My victim, and his furious mother, stood in stony silence as I recited my shame-faced apology the next day.
(Thu 19th Jan 2012, 2:38, More)

» Terrified!

A moment of stupidity
There are already more than a reasonable amount of car-based terror stories, so I apologise for adding to them, but this is probably the most concentrated sixty seconds of terror I've ever experienced.

It took place during a hungover trip back from an excellent weekend visiting friends in Bristol - it was the sort of hangover that you can grudgingly accept as reasonable payment for the fantastic night before. I felt awful, but also happy. It was Sunday morning, Lemon Jelly was playing on the car stereo, and there were, mercifully as it turned out, few other cars on the M4. My girlfriend was driving, and I was heroically trying to stay awake in the passenger seat so as to make the trip less of a chore for her. Halfway home we stopped into a service station to fill up on water. Not an urgent requirement, but it was a lazy day and it needed to be done.

This was when things went wrong, although we didn't realise it at the time. We pulled up next to the water and air machine and I jumped out. My girlfriend popped the bonnet and I staggered over to the machine. Only to find that it wanted money. And not just a token 20p, it wanted a whole quid for a bit of water. "Fuck that," we both agreed. I climbed back into the car, and we pulled out back onto the motorway.

Careful readers might have spotted our mistake here. We didn't. We sped off, eager to get back home to a cup of tea and a lazy afternoon in the sun, and I drifted back into a semi-conscious haze. It wasn't for another ten minutes that everything went wrong.

I was staring listlessly ahead, my mind empty of thoughts, when suddenly the world went insane. There was an ear-shattering crash, and everything went dark. There were a couple of seconds of blind panic, and I first thought we'd crashed, but somehow we were still moving forwards. Then I realised what had happened - the bonnet had lifted, slamming back against the windscreen at 70 miles per hour. The force of the blow punted the rear-view mirror into our laps, and the windscreen shattered. I shouted: as I remember, my carefully chosen words were "SHIT! JESUS FUCK!" My initial relief that we hadn't crashed was replaced by terror: We were still hurtling along at 70mph, but now we were blind. Luckily, the curvature of the top edge of the bonnet meant that there was a three-inch gap at the bottom of the windscreen, and by leaning across we could just about see ahead. I carried on swearing as hard as I could, but when I looked over to my girlfriend, now in charge of a near-blind ton of metal hurtling through space, she wasn't panicking at all. In fact there was no visible emotion at all on her face - just a pale, overwhelming concentration.

She eventually got us over to the hard shoulder and we got out, waiting, shaking, for the RAC to turn up and take us home. You never know how you're going to react in a sudden life-or-death situation, but that day I learned two things: 1) My girlfriend is pretty good at panic, and 2) I'd have fucking killed us both.

Oh, and 3) - For the love of Christ, if you pop the bonnet, fucking well make sure you push it closed again before heading out onto a motorway.
(Sat 7th Apr 2012, 1:43, More)

» Killed to DEATH

In a mouse-infested house some years ago...
My housemates and I were all as pathetically pacifistic as each other, so we bought a bunch of humane traps (the ones that catch but don't kill,) and baited them each with a square of dairy milk, as we'd read that chocolate makes the best mousebait.

Come the morning, one of the traps was sprung; meaning it would likely contain a very bored mouse, waiting impatiently for his glorious release on to the common, and the gnawed remains of the chocobait. We opened it up, carefully, to find no chocolate at all, just a tiny mouse, only very slightly bigger than the square of chocolate it'd apparently eaten. The mouse was quite dead. The little moron, bereft of anything else to do to pass the time, had grimly eaten and eaten and eaten until it'd ruptured itself to death.

Humane trap? We tried! We really did. We just didn't count on mice being such fucking idiots.
(Sat 24th Dec 2011, 1:03, More)

» Driven to Madness

The three worst words in the English language:
"While you're up..."
(Wed 10th Oct 2012, 15:32, More)

» Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics

I had the misfortune to go to school in Basingstoke - In the early 90s they kicked all the patients out of the local mental hospital as part of the really-well-thought-through 'care in the community' scheme, so the bus station was always full of shouting crazies. One woman used to spend her days wandering up and down shouting at an imaginary child by her side, which was pretty tragic.

Although my favourite bus station mental was a bit more coherent. I was reading a book called 'Nightmare of Ecstasy' (about the wonderfully awful movie director Ed Wood,) and a slightly odd skinhead bloke sat down beside me. He read the title, got entirely the wrong idea, then started chatting away about the many and varied drugs he'd tried. After a few minutes of this, he said he'd been reading a book himself recently, it was really very good, since I like books I should give it a try. What was it called? 'Mein Kampf.' Right, ok.

On a side note, my abiding memory of the station is waiting for the bus to take me home from school, watching a crippled pigeon listlessly pecking at a puddle of dried sick. Sums up the town perfectly.

Truly a wonderful place.
(Fri 28th Sep 2012, 18:58, More)
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