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Mis-spent Youth


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Seeing a status update by Halfwit (doffs cap in his direction) has given me the idea for this thread. In a nutshell, my youth was grievously mis-spent. What we got up to as teenagers is often a source of great comfort to me: many a smile has been wrought from a memory of something we shouldn't have done but did.


To give you some idea, let me take you back to a warm summer evening on the council estate where we lived. There was a small circle of us, four in number, all on bikes and idling away our time just riding around and looking belligerent.


It was as we were passing the dentist surgery that we saw it, the most curious sight of a traffic cone perched on its roof. How it had got there, we didn’t know, but being public spirited, we decided we couldn’t possibly allow it to remain there. So we climbed up onto this roof and retrieved it, and having retrieved it, we discovered something rather interesting about traffic cones: they come in two parts, the inner solid part that keeps it upright and the outer flimsy part that reflects car headlights. And that outer flimsy part, Keith quickly discovered, made a rather fetching hat.


So we rode around the estate for a while, Keith with his makeshift hat perched on his head like some crazy dunce’s cap. And we would have continued to ride around had it not been for the sudden sight of a police patrol car bearing down on us. Keith had no time to remove his dunce’s cap but the car swept past without stopping, the driver just looking at us.


‘It’s okay,’ Tony said, ‘he ain’t interested in us.’


But he was wrong. The car got to the end of the road and swung round, went past us again…and stopped. Someone in a uniform got out, a uniform that was not entirely unknown to us in our various travels.


‘Evening, lads,’ it said. ‘Out for a bike ride?’


It was an obvious question so we gave the obvious answer. Then the uniform pointed to Keith’s head.


‘Nice hat. Where’d you find it?’


‘Oh, just…somewhere,’ said Keith.


‘So it doesn’t actually belong to you.’


‘Er…no, I guess not.’


‘Then I suggest you put it back where you found it.’


Put it back, we mused when he was gone. Okay. Fine. We went back to the dentist surgery, found the rest of the traffic cone, reassembled it and climbed back up onto the roof. It was only as we were making ready to climb back down that we noticed a rather familiar uniform looking up at us...

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