Chip off the old block

It’s a general philosophy of mine that you don’t look back in life – you only look forward. I used to be good at doing this, but with four small children now it’s difficult not to become nostalgic occasionally. As I lay in bed this morning I had one of those memory moments when I thought back to my early childhood.

I was a quiet child but strong willed and often in trouble – my mother says I “wouldn’t be told”. I went to a boy’s school called Homefield in Sutton, Surrey. When I was 5 there were 30 boys in my class, including a lively boy called Colin who I was friendly with. One day Colin started a gang with him as gang leader, recruiting from our class and the class above. I refused to join.

At break time Colin and his gang would chase down non-members and pressurise them in to the gang – before long I was the only boy in the class who hadn’t signed up, and I became the prey. Every break time after that, as soon as I’d appeared in the playground someone would shout “there he is!” and the gang would chase me down. I’d run for all I was worth, but they always caught me – three or four of the boys would then sit on me while Colin gave me his lecture of the day. A few punches and kicks later and I’d be on my way. I don’t remember how long this went on for, but it felt like an age and it’s one of my earliest childhood memories.

Then came the fateful day. I turned up at school as normal, but Colin wasn’t there – there was a special assembly and we all went down to the main hall to be addressed by the Headmaster. A terrible thing had happened – Colin had died and gone to heaven. We said some prayers for him and went back to class. I don’t think I thought much of it at the time – the beatings stopped which was good, but I don’t remember registering much emotion. I think he was run down by a car, but I never heard the detail.

Jane said she was chatting with Eddie yesterday – he’s nearly six. One of the boys in his class has started a gang, and all the boys in the class have joined except Eddie;

“They’re all silly Mum – I won’t join them” he said with a frown.

It’s wonderful how these things come around. I get frustrated with Eddie because he’s so single minded and always does things his way no matter what, but I should be rejoicing in this. I felt strangely close to him as I helped him through his Maths homework this morning.

I thought the papers were interesting this morning. There are two stories on the front of the Times; a man who beat up an intruder who threatened him in his home is freed from jail, and a mother goes to jail for life for administering a fatal overdose of heroin to her brain damaged son. It’s a similar theme – can our society tolerate people who reasonably take the law into their own hands in unusual circumstances? I like to think that laws are made to be broken and should only be used as a guide – today’s papers feel like a 1-1 draw.