There was a fella in my school who used to eat candles to show off to girls. Seriously we hadn’t a clue when I was a young boy. Things like flicking snot and farting at will,were talents that demanded respect. If you could crack your knuckles, you were probably already growing pubic hair way ahead of the rest of us and turning your eyelids inside out, was a basic entry-level gross out ability.
I’m not sure why being gross was so important to us boys back then. My world was a world of worms, maggots, catching bumble bees in jars, stinging nettles, muck, traversing muddy pools of water using throw as you go stones, eating anything for a dare and generally climbing up things, or jumping off things that would make me dizzy to look at today.
Girls were stupid. Well let’s be honest, what use were they? They were crap at football, except for Imelda Duffy, she was better than I was, but there’s always an exception. Their clothes precluded them from all but the smallest climbing activities, as skirts and dresses had to be kept down or boys would look up them. To be fair curiosity is a strong draw. There wasn’t one on our road that could fart at will and there were some suggestions, that girls did not in fact, actually break wind.
I tore more trousers, ripped more knees, scrapped elbows and despite somehow managing not to actually break a major bone before my teenage years, it’s a wonder I survived at all. Now that I’m all grown up, I wouldn’t dare do half the things I did when I was ten. We were all mad.
There were the “Betcha can’t eat an earwig” type of dares that couldn’t go unchallenged. I saw well mannered, intelligent boys, drink an entire bottle of vinegar because it was suggested they couldn’t. One of my closest friends whipped off his kecks and wiggled his arse cheeks in a field of stinging nettles for a count of thirty, a very slow count I might add, just to prove nothing in particular.
Oh the joy of youth. I blame it on the slow development of technology in the seventies. If those pesky scientist-clever clogs, had only come up with the internet, PlayStation and 24 hour TV when I was a kid, I wouldn’t have had to stay outside all day long, trying to find something useful to do.
Oh yeah … and me Ma. “Get out and play” she’d say. Didn’t matter that I wanted to sit on me swiss doing sweet F.A. for a bit. Oh no… She had to force me to engage with the world of the ten year old- up to no good-what will we do now to pass a few hours- I know something dangerous, type of children that lived in my neck of the woods.
Eventually I got bored of out-stupiding the others and I discovered books. They were my saviour and when me Ma fecked me out to play, I would often sneak off to the top of the shed alone to read some great adventure. Pretty soon I was addicted and the world opened up for me.
In a way I should be grateful for the grossness of my childhood friends, for they drove me to books and without that, I guess I would never have become a writer in the first place. Now it’s my turn to offer an escape from the real world to others. I’ll do me best… Now go on, get up off your arse and get out and play…or better still pick up one of my books..
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Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy
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Little Big Boy https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B00WRP0J8E&preview