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Cherub Barbarians and B-Movie Terror

June 23, 2013

The great thing about keeping a diary is the way it can whisk you back over the decades, as if in a time-capsule, to a period when the flavour of life was different somehow…

1972 was the first full year of our marriage, when Stella and I lived in Leeswood (Coed-llai), a small village in Flintshire, North Wales.  And oh, what a good year it was.

I love to revisit 1972 through the yellowing leaves of my old diary and savour again that heady sense of freedom and joy with our whole lives before us.  But this morning, with rain beating against my study window, I find a pair of entries rather less rosy than most…

FRIDAY 25/08/72

Barbarians, they are, some kids, when they get together: angel-faced barbarians.  Bright little eyes and whoops of glee in the performance of beastliness.

I came across them whilst out for my walk after tea.  They were on bikes, half a dozen of them, boys and girls of six or seven.  And in the road was a small animal with velvety black fur and tiny eyes.  The mole lay helpless and terrified as the children, those tender infants, made pass after pass on their bikes, ever faster, ever closer, taunting and teasing and whooping with some diabolical passion of the pack.  And looking on was a woman, one of their mums I suspect, for there was something of maternal indulgence in her gaze.

Crunch-crunch: one of the bikes went over the mole and a cheer went up.

As I approached, the child picked up his victim and twirled it in triumph.

“Is it dead?” I asked.

The kids fell silent.  Their eyes dropped.

“Then I think you’re very cruel,” I said.

The word seemed to hang in the air as I turned on my heel, and a moment later the bickering began.

“It was your idea.”

“No, yours –“

“Liar!”

“Liar yourself!”

Little cherubs, I wish you nightmares.

SATURDAY 02/09/72

A hair-raising experience on Dingle Road, setting out for John and Chris’ wedding.

Dingle Road is our back lane, a steep and twisty tunnel of leaves running down to the busy main road.  Our brakes failed on the steepest stretch.  It was pure B-movie as I wrestled with the wheel and gear lever, hurtling into bends with tyres screeching and nearly pranged an oncoming van.  Stella screamed all the way down to the bottom of the hill, where we coasted to a halt on the overgrown verge, just yards short of the main road.

A family member gave us a lift and, much shaken, we made it to the Registry Office with 30 seconds to spare.

Copyright © Paul Beech 2013

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