Friday, October 15, 2010

Stranger Danger

'Don't talk to strangers'.

From a very young age I knew that there was a broken logic to this. What sort of person constitutes a stranger? I'm supposed to be polite to people and ignoring them seemed distinctly rude. How old was a stranger? Should I not talk to people my age who I didn't know? How would I make friends? Should I not talk to their parents? What about kindly old ladies at the supermarket when I was lost? It all seemed a bit arbitrary and complex.

"What would a stranger do to me if they caught me?" I asked.

"They will cut off your toes" my mother said.

Quite a brilliant white lie if you don't want to have to answer the follow up question to the real answer, 'What's sodomy?'.

I liked my toes. What I needed to do was keep on the lookout for people who seemed the kind of deviant who might like to collect the toes of a six year old. I didn't know who that might be but I knew that I'd recognise them when I saw them.

My subconscious filled in the blanks. Every time I dreamt of being chased, it was by 'The Stranger'. His thick moustache. His padded red jacket. His dark sunglasses topped with a blue Terry Toweling hat. My legs wouldn't move. Alleyways would get more and more narrow. Dead ends would leave me trapped and yet unable to scream.

I would awake, gasping in the darkness, knowing that I'd be unable to get back to sleep without his terrifying moustache taunting me. In the future, I'd turn the light on and read until I could distract myself from the horror but for now I would just play the scene again and again in my head.

I picked up the 'reading' thing pretty early on and quite frankly, I got over it pretty quickly too. There's only so many 'Digger' books that you can read before you start to fantasise about 'Digger the dog' running out into traffic.

"Run Digger, Run!" *screech! Thud!*

It was early on a Thursday morning in 1983 and a roll of brown paper had turned up on our front steps.

"Ah-ha! It's here", my mother exclaimed and handed me the 30cm long package.

Inside were two issues of 'Whizzer and Chips'. A British comic for young children full of slapstick, puns and base humour. Suddenly all those months of mundane practice reading about that blasted dog had paid off. This was something worth reading. This was something I could get behind. This... was funny.
Only 8p. I didn't even know what that was, but still a great deal.
But aside from that, I had something to look forward to. Each Wednesday the newsagent would drive his jeep past the house and lob my beloved subscription into the front yard. Just like a newspaper but for kids.

There was a TV commercial at the time that portrayed a subscriber to the Courier Mail (that rag) as being in his garden when the paper was delivered. With a flying leap he managed to pluck the spinning newspaper out of the air as the delivery guy drove past. This image haunted me and I was entranced by the idea of replicating it with my comic.

I knew the delivery was in the late afternoon on a Wednesday. I staked out my position. I tried to figure out statistically where the most likely location for the drop would be. It was a big yard and there would only be a brief few seconds in which to prepare myself. Not an easy task for someone as easily distracted as myself.

I waited. I watched. I prepared. The growl of a car would focus all my energies. Kingswood, Volvo... And then, JACKPOT! A Jeep. It hurtled round the corner and screamed past. An arm whipped a cylindrical package towards me then paused to readjust a pair of dark sunglasses and a blue Terry Toweling hat.

A comic book dropped forgotten into the plush lawn.

3 comments:

  1. Dan, you have an "anus" tag. Really?


    That is such a disturbing phrase to say to a̶ ̶f̶r̶i̶e̶n̶d̶ anyone...

    ReplyDelete
  2. If Dan has an anus tag, does that mean we can take him back to the shop for a refund?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Would that mean "piles" of money??

    ReplyDelete

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