Lake Woe, begone

WHEN I was six years old, I made a new friend called Matthew Small. It was an appropriate name at the time, but I expect it rankled when he was older.

I was not one of those children one hears about these days with a garden. We had a yard with an outside toilet. This is not one of those misery-lit blogs – we also had an inside toilet, but nobody was ever so desperate as to use the outside one. I used it once, but it was not the best place to be in the dark at six years old.

Anyway, let us move away from the toilet. This is the second of two consecutive blog entries which mention toilets and I do not want you to think I am an obsessive.

I was lucky that there was a park – Greenbank Park – at the bottom of my road, and when I was not reading or drawing I was there, riding my bike and attempting – and failing – to climb the easiest tree in the joint. This, of course, was in the days before they invented paedophiles.

Anyway, a few days after I befriended Matthew Small, who lived down the road, I was playing at his house, and his mother, Maureen, suggested, presumably in an attempt at damage limitation, that she take us to the park on our bikes.

She had not met my mother at that point, so she took us to my house and introduced herself, asking for permission to take me to the park. “I promise I will look after him,” she assured my mother, and they both chuckled at the very idea that I would be involved in any sort of calamity, and off we went.

To be fair to Maureen, she had not read my column at this point, owing to the fact it was 1978.

Anyway, Matthew and I had a smashing time riding around the park, fully revelling in being six-year-old boys on bikes.


Here is a picture of Greenbank Park. There is a boy standing in the middle of the picture. I do not know who he is, but he is a handy placeholder for my exact location, just before we were to leave the park, when Maureen noticed I had managed to get dog excrement on the hem of my, no doubt flared, trousers.

And this is the point at which I display the cartooning skills which I began to manifest as a six-year-old boy…


I do not know if you have ever ridden a wet bike home while covered in lichen, crisp packets and duck poo, but if not I have experienced it on your behalf.

This is what it was like in the 1970s. It wasn’t all Studio 54 and Welcome Back, Kotter.

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