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Friday, 5 February 2016

Uncaring youth

Trolley bus had open entrance at rear: good for "legging off"
Kids are insensitive wretches. Tending - at best – to ignore adults, at worst to treat them as enemies. I was a boy you see.

Going to school by trolley bus I never waited for it to stop before descending. I experimented: what was the highest bus speed for "legging off"? Hitting the ground running, to match the speed of the vehicle I'd left. I found my limit and came home bloody. My mother worried but did I care? Not a jot.

A nearby flat-roof garage was set into the hillside. I could walk on to the flat roof, climb its surrounding wall and shuffle round three sides of the building (20 feet above ground at the front) on an elevated pathway three bricks wide. A quandary for watching neighbours: Leave me be or remonstrate, perhaps causing me to fall off? Hah!

Then swimming in an operative canal (say no more), motorbikes and rock climbing. But, you say, I too became an adult. Alas for those who prayed for my just deserts. My kids were girls, too sensible for such idiocies.

Fairness in the after-life?  It's run by Jahweh who probably had a wild youth.

Hardline Hope, a novel (13,369 words)
“Is selling a step up?” Amber asked.

“Not as such but it can lead to different places. Office manager is a dead end.”

“Didn’t Leesha do something like that? On the free newspaper?”


“Caribbean family; one year ahead of us.”

Lindsay waved her hand faintly. “Good grief, I can hardly keep up with our lot, let alone other classes. Why do you mention her?”

“It didn’t do her any good. They hired and fired almost seasonally.”


  1. Yes, we had trolley buses here in Maidstone, Kent when I was a boy. A rather fetching light chocolate and cream. They only operated to the town limits having taken over from the original trams.
    I used to commute to school by motor bus from a country village some 7 miles away. I still remember the bewilderment and subsequent pain when I first tried your experiment of jumping off the back step of a still moving bus. I had not yet appreciated the physics of the procedure and instead of going in the same direction as the bus and hitting the ground running I stepped off backwards and hit the ground abruptly with my face.

  2. I think Jahweh is personified by the sadistic ones “praying for your just deserts”, except Jahweh doesn’t have to do the praying.


    My occupation was managerial, but sales driven as an area manager with the need to achieve ever increasing lending targets. My right-hand man was designated "office manager", and your snippet crystallises what was a problem area for me. The guy always had a chip on his shoulder, for the reason you describe, and I suspect a jealousy of my position, which resulted in negativity, and lack of cooperation.

  3. Avus: Although legging off involves running forward, the sensation (imparted by the widening gap between you and the bus) is of travelling backwards. I think that this at the heart of wanting to leg off; nothing quite like it.

    Sir Hugh: I'd say that not only is Jahweh a manager, head of a universe-wide operation called The After-Life, but he's also sales-driven, keen to see the numbers up. Stick with Hardline Hope (title soon to be changed) I'll have a lot to say about selling, not all of it bad.

  4. Being a girl and a fairly shiftless one, I can't compete with these adventures, but I came to grief fairly mildly by doing something similar off one of those hefty wood and metal playground roundabouts which looked a bit like a device from mediaeval warfare and which have probably been long since decommissioned and banned. A smaller boy I did not know who was also on it had said under his breath moments before, 'You're showing off'. The memory has stayed more persistently than most as a (not always effective) warning against overreaching myself for effect.

    I understand the greatest danger of swimming in a canal is from the diseases and pollution; canal boat hire companies always stress if you do fall in the most important thing is keep your mouth closed. When we were kids the Grand Union, which no longer contained too much working traffic, was a terrific magnet, enhanced by being told to keep away from it. Bargains were struck about not going near the locks, which we always did anyway, but our elders were always torn about how much to scare us with their fears of the 'funny men' who might lurk there. It was lovely, though, the canal, and some of my best childhood memories were from times spent around it; I was neither poisoned, drowned nor murdered and thrown in it.

  5. Lucy: Not so much showing off, but being identified as such. But we need to overreach, don't we, otherwise we wouldn't know our limits. The difference being it's expected of children whereas with adults it's seen as ignoble, we should have "grown out of it".

    Polio was one of the threats at the time and I must confess the prospect of an iron lung was terrifying. And I was a cowardly child. Still, I risked it. These days I just show off with big words - but not with you.

  6. Oh, you are so right about office manager being a dead-end job! I'm looking for something different before I croak from boredom.

  7. Crow: Lindsay sees sales as a way out of the office - not to everyone's taste but Lindsay has mystical ambition. To quote me on her:

    The face she’d designed, the hair she’d arranged and the glasses she’d enlisted had more specific purposes, none passive. Being taken seriously was one, originality another. More than that she wanted – needed - to make her mark...